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Mastering HR-Led Transformations: The Crucial Role of Change Management

Part 1 – Analyze

Before we begin…

Welcome to our brand new SHRMLabs newsletter. We are expanding our resources to bring you the best possible information from leaders in HR technology and transformation.

My name is Trevor Schachner, Product Manager and Workplace Innovation Specialist at SHRMLabs. You will hear from me as well as my colleagues every other week with the release of each new edition. Let us know any topics you’d like to hear about related to workplace tech and we will consider them for future editions of the WorkplaceTech Pulse.

Change Management

In today’s rapidly changing business landscape, organizations must continually adapt to remain competitive and relevant. Human Resources plays a pivotal role in driving an organization’s success by managing its most valuable asset: its people. Approximately 70% of most companies’ cost structure is their people, but much of a company’s spend on business transformation and change management is on technical or other “non-people” focused projects (PMI Institute). HR transformations are critical endeavors that revamp the HR function to align with evolving business needs, technology advancements, and employee expectations. Amidst these transformative journeys, effective change management emerges as the linchpin for success. This article is the first in a series of four where we will give you strategies and secrets to know so you can lead effective change. The goal of these articles is to demonstrate the importance of change management and to help demystify change management into an approachable, easy to understand methodology. We will explore the significance of change management in HR transformations, providing a detailed analysis of each building block and the overall approach to navigate these complex initiatives.

I’d like to introduce this editions contributor, Mark Webber. Mark has extensive experience in business transformation and change management. Mark began his career as a Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt at GE. He has since taken on senior leadership roles in change management and business transformation at Bank of America, Cisco, HPE and Google. He is currently leading business transformation at Confirm, a revolutionary performance management company. Mark’s journey includes spearheading strategy and business process excellence within Google’s People Ops, where he played a pivotal role in orchestrating Google’s performance management transformation, HR Ops optimization, and Compensation Alignment initiatives. His career beyond Google, encompasses major accomplishments such as orchestrating the Bank of America/Merrill Lynch merger and integration, as well as driving HPE’s extensive company-wide financial rationalization endeavor. Now I’ll turn it over to Mark. 

Mark Webber

Hi there! I wanted to share a few words before getting started. I have seen change management save the day as well as be the achilles heel of major transformations. A big reason I joined Confirm was that I have the opportunity to deploy change management in a way that is simple yet very effective. I am pleased to share these tips with you and I hope they will be as helpful to you as they have been for me over a 20 year career. Glad to have you along for the journey.

Change Management

This is part 1 of a 4-part series! Want to learn more about change management?

Part 1: Analyze ← This edition!
Part 2: Build
Part 3: Execute
Part 4: Embed

What is Change Management? And why it is important?

Change management is the set of actions that helps take you from point A to point B. Point B being the promised land you’re hoping to get to. It encompasses a structured set of processes, tools, and techniques aimed at minimizing resistance and maximizing the benefits of change. From a technical standpoint, this definition is true, but change management is really about winning the hearts and minds of the people experiencing the change. Of course rigor, process, and organization are critical keys to success, but really understanding how the change will impact employees, why there might be resistance in the organization, and how to not only get employees on board but to also champion the change, is truly what successful change management looks like. The importance of change management in HR transformations cannot be overstated.

Here’s why:

  • Mitigating Resistance and Fear: Change can trigger resistance among employees who fear uncertainty, disruption of routines, or even job insecurity.
  • Enhancing Employee Engagement: Engaged employees are more likely to embrace change and actively contribute to organizational goals. Change management fosters a sense of involvement and ownership and overall engagement and commitment to the process.
  • Minimizing Disruptions: Change management strategies help ensure that the transformation is planned, structured, and executed seamlessly, minimizing disruptions to daily operations.
  • Maximizing ROI: HR transformations demand significant investments in terms of time, money, and effort. Effective change management ensures that these investments yield substantial returns.
  • Optimizing Communication: A key aspect of change management is open and transparent communication, properly conveying the reasons, goals, and benefits of the HR transformation.
  • Cultural Alignment: HR transformations often entail shifts in processes, systems, and even company culture, aligning the transformation with the existing organizational culture, values, and norms.
  • Supporting Skill Development: HR transformations might require employees to acquire new skills or adapt to different tools and technologies. Change management identifies skill gaps, offers training and development opportunities.

Methodology Preview

Before delving into the details of change management in HR transformations, it is essential to provide an overview of the methodology or approach that will be explored throughout the article. We will focus on the building blocks of change management in HR transformations, which include understanding the need for change, setting clear goals and objectives, developing a comprehensive change management strategy, communicating the change to stakeholders, and conducting a thorough analysis of the current HR practices. Confirm’s approach to change management utilizes four phases, “Analyze”, “Build”, “Execute” and “Embed”. Below is a high-level overview of each phase. The remainder of this article will focus on the “Analyze” phase, with the other phases covered in subsequent articles.

Analyze Phase:

  • Stakeholder Analysis: Identifying and understanding the individuals or groups who will be affected by the change and assessing their interests and concerns.
  • Organizational Readiness Assessment: Evaluating the organization’s current state, including its resources, capabilities, and potential obstacles, to determine its readiness for the proposed change.
  • Change Impact Assessment: Analyzing the potential effects of the change on various aspects of the organization, such as processes, systems, and people, to anticipate challenges and opportunities.
  • Culture Map: Creating a visual representation of the organization’s culture, values, and norms to comprehend how these elements might influence the change implementation.
  • High-level Communications, Training & Adoption Plan: Develop a comprehensive plan for communicating the change to stakeholders, providing training to the team, and outlining strategies for adopting the change effectively across the organization.

Build Phase:

Key activities include identifying skill gaps, creating a comprehensive change plan, assessing the change’s impact, metrics.

Execute Phase:

Key actions involve conducting a readiness assessment, refining training materials, defining performance metrics, and delivering a support framework.

Embed Phase:

Key activities involve continuous assessment, performance measurement, success criteria evaluation, utilization monitoring, and recognition to ensure the change is effectively integrated and sustained within the organization.

Building Blocks of Change Management in HR Transformation

Recognize the need for change.

Understanding the need for change in a business transformation is crucial as it forms the foundation for a successful well-informed organizational evolution and strategic transition. Without a clear comprehension of why change is necessary, organizations risk encountering resistance, confusion, and lack of buy-in from stakeholders. This can result in missed chances to streamline operations, enhance productivity, and explore novel revenue streams.

Set clear and measurable goals and objectives.

These goals should align with the organization’s broader strategic objectives and provide a clear direction for the change initiative. Setting specific, realistic, and time-bound goals ensures that the transformation remains focused and measurable, allowing progress to be tracked effectively. In addition, clear goals and objectives paint a clear picture to employees as to what success will look like and allow them to ask questions and gain a better understanding of the change early in the process.

Set a well-defined change management strategy.

This strategy should outline the approach to managing change, including the timeline, resource requirements, roles and responsibilities, and communication plan. The strategy should also address potential risks and mitigation plans to handle unforeseen challenges that may arise during the transformation journey. At Confirm, we have found that many companies lack the available resources to drive the change, and information or education provided about the new tool or process is often not deep enough to really win the hearts and minds of the employees. A customizable approach to account for lack of resources, capacity, and education, must be understood very early in the change process and built into the change management strategy as needed.

Effective communication.

Stakeholders can include employees, management, unions, external vendors, and customers. Tailoring communication messages to address the specific needs and concerns of each stakeholder group ensures a smooth and transparent change process. Regular and open communication fosters trust and empowers stakeholders to actively participate in the transformation. Without clear and timely communication, employees and stakeholders are left in a state of confusion and uncertainty, fostering an environment ripe for misinformation and rumors to flourish.

Comprehensive analysis of the existing “as-is” current state.

A current state assessment serves as a foundational pillar in change management, offering a comprehensive understanding of an organization’s existing processes, structures, and dynamics. This evaluation provides invaluable insights into the company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, forming the basis for effective change strategies. By analyzing the current state, businesses can identify areas requiring improvement, recognize potential barriers to change, and pinpoint key areas of resistance.

Confirm’s Approach to Change Management + Adoption

Confirm is the all-in-one people platform that creates a true reflection of each employee’s impact and influence. Grounded in the science of Organizational Network Analysis (ONA), Confirm unveils who’s actually driving impact in your organization. This section will provide a holistic overview of Confirm’s change management process, which is truly innovative and while the upside of doing something innovative is disproportionate, the risk of “Failure to launch” is too. We realized that while we had made champions out of those who bought Confirm, we hadn’t thought of a scalable way to bring every single employee and executive along on the same journey the buyers had gone through. This led to suboptimal adoption, uneven views of value, and resistance to change. Change management allowed us to bring people along on the journey, at scale, ensuring we minimized time-to-value, and ensured we began engagements on the right foot.

As we developed our approach to change management, we first identified our goals and thought about what success would look like. We decided that our primary goal is to reduce resistance to change by involving stakeholders, addressing concerns, and promoting buy-in, which leads to smoother transitions. Secondly, we wanted to ensure that disruptions were minimized, productivity slips were avoided, and that we wanted to help maintain operational efficiency during the change. Moreover, we wanted a strong focus on enhanced employee morale and engagement, transparent communication and support, and fostering a sense of trust and stability. By building our approach to change management around these goals, we knew that we would increase the likelihood of project success for our customers, as well as lighten the impact on their already constrained resources by providing an efficient and proven approach to change management. Let’s start with the “Analyze” phase.

The Analyze Phase marks the initial step in the change management process. This phase involves collecting and analyzing data to identify areas that require change. Some of the key tools and approaches used during this phase include:

Define Change & Onboard Team:

In this initial step, the change initiative is clearly defined, outlining its goals, scope, and purpose. An effective change management team is assembled, with roles and responsibilities established. This team will lead the change effort, ensuring a structured approach to managing the transition.

Stakeholder Analysis:

Stakeholder analysis involves identifying and understanding individuals, groups, or entities that will be impacted by the change. This step assesses their influence, interests, and potential reactions to the change. The insights gained help tailor communication and engagement strategies to address varying stakeholder needs. Examples could include; IT, C-Suite Leadership Team, R&D and other group that have both obvious and unexpected impact from the change.

Organizational Readiness Assessment:

An organizational readiness assessment evaluates the organization’s current state to determine its readiness for the proposed change. This involves analyzing factors such as existing processes, resources, capabilities, and overall preparedness to undergo the transformation. The assessment highlights areas that need attention or improvement before implementing the change. Examples could include; a lack of trainers or communications experts, which will hinder the delivery of the messaging around the change, or the identification of a group/area that has just undergone significant change and anything further could cause issues.

Change Impact Assessment:

A change impact assessment involves analyzing the potential effects of the proposed change on various aspects of the organization, such as processes, roles, technologies, and systems. By identifying the extent of change and its consequences, this assessment guides the development of mitigation strategies and supports effective planning. Examples could include; the upcoming change will completely change the way data is currently captured and prepared for performance calibration sessions, possibly impacting both the time it takes to gather the data and how the data will be analyzed.

Culture Map:

The culture map step involves mapping the existing organizational culture and identifying cultural attributes that might affect the success of the change initiative. Understanding cultural norms, values, and behaviors helps tailor change strategies to align with and influence the organizational culture positively.

High-level Comms, Training & Adoption Plan:

This step involves creating a comprehensive plan for communication, training, and adoption of the change. It outlines how information about the change will be communicated, what training programs will be offered to support skill development, and how the change will be adopted across the organization. The plan ensures a coordinated approach to facilitate successful change implementation.


In conclusion, change management plays a pivotal role in business transformations within today’s rapidly evolving business landscape. It is critical that each major business transformation is done in conjunction with a well throughout and strongly executed change management plan. In particular, the large capital investments by most companies in their people, necessitates the aligning of the HR function with shifting business needs, technological advancements, and employee expectations. Change management emerges as the linchpin for success in this process, offering a structured approach to navigating the complex journey of organizational transformation.

Ultimately, change management is the catalyst that enables organizations to transition from their current state to a desired future state, aligning HR practices with evolving business demands. By embracing the principles and methodologies of change management, organizations can drive successful business and HR transformations, promoting growth, innovation, and long-term success in an ever-changing business landscape.

Thanks for joining us for this edition of the SHRMLabs Newsletter! And thanks again to Mark for his incredible insight on the topic of change management. And thanks to Confirm for collaborating on this fantastic newsletter. Please click the link below to learn more about Confirm and the great work they are doing around performance management. We will see you next time!

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Confirm is the first platform to inject science into performance reviews, ensuring advancement is based on data, not company politics. Grounded in the science of organizational network analysis (ONA), Confirm quantifies employee influence and impact, and gives leaders clear visibility into who they can’t afford to lose.

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SHRMLabs, powered by SHRM, is inspiring innovation to create better workplace technologies that solve today’s most pressing workplace challenges. We are SHRM’s workplace innovation and venture capital arm. We are Leaders, Innovators, Strategic Partners, and Investors that create better workplaces and solve challenges related to the future of work. We put the power of SHRM behind the next generation of workplace technology.

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