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Embarking On A Mission Critical HR Transformation Project? Keep Your Cool With These Key Insights from Peter Cablis

The modern world is: volatile, unpredictable, complex and ambiguous, and organizations have had to become like rapid-reaction forces, needing to respond, flex and adapt to suit an ever-changing world. HR professionals have needed to adapt too and have been required to manage multiple change programmes over their careers.

No doubt many of you learned valuable lessons during the change programmes, but how many of you wished you had gone into the experienced forearmed with the wisdom you were set to gain after the project?

Now, while we can't send you into the future, we can at least give you some insight into the wisdom we gained from a recent large scale, complex transformation programme involving:

  • multiple business areas and sites,

  • the introduction of new technology & major office refurbishment

  • ordering and trialling of new equipment

  • transition of new people in to a department & the training of them

  • a major cultural shift for how HR transacts with the business & how business needs to operate

  • limited budget and finite time for implementation

  • a culture of low accountability and silo’s

Despite these challenges, the project delivered on time, to budget and was exactly what the customer wanted. So what were the secrets to this successful programme and what can be learned for future HR change programmes. We shared a few of the key insights below:

This is not an exhaustive list but merely serves as a guide:

  1. Clearly scope out the project. Have clear time-lines and measurements for each activity and phase of the project.

  2. Know the skills and experience you need on the project and select the right people. Ensure they are fully dedicated and clear about their role in delivering the project.

  3. Be clear who the key stakeholders are and engage with them right at the start. Ensure they are co-opted onto the project and make sure they are able to make decisions on how the project should proceed.

  4. Ensure everyone on the project is clear of their roles and accountabilities and what to do in the event that changes occur in the project plan.

  5. Set up a clear project governance board with the right operational people from the project with the right key stakeholders. Review weekly and in some cases daily each part of the project as it proceeds. Make sure there is a Risk, Actions, Issues and Dependencies log. And just as importantly, ensure all members of the project team are kept informed of changes and impacts to the overall project and their areas. Consult regularly with these people and don’t be reluctant to refine the project plan if required.

  6. Chunk a project down into its component parts so that it becomes manageable and if required have distinct work streams.

  7. Always ‘check in’ with the end users / people most likely to be affected by the change to see if you have ‘missed’ anything in the project.

  8. Have a clear communications and feedback work stream. Consider how the change may affect the end users and adapt both your style of communication and the method of communication accordingly. Use multiple mediums to reach out to these people, including, workshops; feedback groups; presentations; regular bulletins and blogs; intranet and so on. Keep the flow of communication going and constant throughout the project.

If you would like to know how to keep your cool and perhaps your sanity during a big-ticket, high-pressure, HR transformation project please contact Peter at EvolvingHR at 

In categories: Business thoughts
Author: Peter Cablis
Date published: 13.09.2019

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