Our colleague Mara Cascianelli leads our HR Operations team. At her clients, they also ensure a great employee experience and a long employee lifecycle. But that's not so easy anymore, because we live in volatile times that are constantly accompanied by changes and challenges – and that affects employee’s motivation and engagement. That's why change management has become a cornerstone of People & Culture teams.
“Our clients constantly question their current organisation, processes, and structures to steadily improve their business model and stay competitive”, says Mara.“Therefore, their employees need to be flexible and agile to cope with changes.”
Mara now tells us what needs to be considered and how organisations can hold the employee experience and the retention rate high in times of constant changes.
To align employees and management, effective communication is key. Together with the CEO or founders, the People & Culture team should explain reasons behind necessary changes, what it means for employees, and how it will impact the organisation. In addition, they should listen to employees, and make them feel understood. During the whole process, it is essential to be transparent and keep employees informed. The goal is to take everyone with you.
With an open dialogue, HR will also get a better understanding of who will be supporting the changes, as well as who will be the doubters or opponents to the change proposals. In addition, they will glean a deeper understanding of the employees’ resistances and fears.
From there, they can build a well-thought-out plan that outlines the goals, timeline, and actions needed to include all employees in the change process and take them on the transformation journey. It is also important to involve leading stakeholders and opinion leaders who are positive about the change. In this way, the People & Culture team helps to ensure that the most important stakeholders and influencers in the company are committed and support the plan.
Due to organisational changes or new technologies, employees may need to develop new skills or knowledge to adapt to the new work situations. Providing training and resources can help employees feel confident and prepared for the change. It is important that this is an unbiased advancement and education.
Up-skilling can also be about job enlargement: This means that employees shall expand their areas of responsibility. These are additional tasks at the same requirement level. These changes also need to be moderated and supported.
Moreover, managers should keep the team spirit and motivation high during the process. To do this, they often need training or coaching themselves, and leadership skills such as empathy, team building, establishing a well-functioning feedback culture and conflict management. They learn how to involve their employees in the change process, and recognise their contributions. They have to develop a very people-centered leadership style.
The model of shared leadership can also be helpful in change management situations. Because when team members take on managerial tasks, such as planning, information and task distribution, they are already on board: They are directly involved, take responsibility, are committed, identify, and actively support the change process.
But everything starts with the right employee-mindset. Therefore, HR should continuously strive to develop a company culture that is open to changes, and promotes collaboration.
“It is our job to ensure that the plan, processes, structures, training, and communication works hand-in-hand during the change period”, says Mara. “Therefore, we have to continuously measure and evaluate the success and need metrics to track progress towards the goals and adjust the plan, if necessary. In addition, People & Culture acts as an interface between employees and the C-level management, and forms the bridge between the management’s vision and the practical work of the employees. This is crucial for a successful transformation.”
Mara has started her People & Culture career at the Max-Planck-Institut and at the PRETTL Group before she joined DONE!Berlin in 2022. As a HR professional and Manager of DONE’s Operation team, she has had the chance to work with incredible people on exciting projects over the years.
One of her best characteristics is empathy: She immediately understands how people think and feel, and this has helped her to successfully tackle customer projects as well as internal communication issues. Born and raised in beautiful Italy, she is also bringing in an open and positive attitude to work!