A UK Government department had expanded rapidly, more than doubling as a result of a merger, bringing in staff from outside the civil service.
The HR model was being redefined along the lines of Dave Ulrich’s model, with a move to HR business partners and shared services on a regional basis and specialist services such as disciplinary and grievance, and learning and development.
The need was both to help HR staff from the newly merged organization to adjust to their roles in the new structure and to understand how the new roles fit together to provide one HR across a diverse department.
GP Strategies Solution
GP Strategies* worked with the client team to analyze the development needs of the 80 HR staff involved at regional and area business partner levels and in other specialist roles and created an HR development program. The program included two modules that were designed to help people assess their new roles and understand the interfaces between HR.
One important area was the need to focus on change and transition. Participants, including managers, mapped themselves on the transition curve, which helped to bring out issues around the changes as well as the role of HR in tackling them. Working in small transformational coaching groups, people focused on their current challenges, including how to:
- Build key relationships
- Establish their role in their clients’ eyes
- Let go of old parts of their role
- Handle the difficulties of getting others to take on their old roles, including managers
Another major theme was influencing and increasing participants’ personal impact with an opportunity to review and improve their personal style.
Creating a network across the new department was seen as a great benefit derived from the program. The initiative showed that it was far more effective to bring people together in a learning environment to understand the change and their new role than to leave people to muddle through. It enabled them to start to work across the boundaries that the roles created in each region and to avoid misunderstanding and barriers, or blame, that can easily arise in times of stress. Change is a constant in any area of work, especially central government, and more changes are on the way. But change will potentially be easier for the HR function to cope with as a result of this development approach.
*The services described in this case study were performed by Bath Consultancy Group, now GP Strategies Corporation.