7 Tips for Change Management when Transitioning into HR Shared Services

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Tip #1: Be a Champion

Joseph Soalheira, an Advisory Board Member for the Shared Services and Outsourcing Network (SSON) and Project Leader at the Brisbane City Council, says that it’s important to champion change when the organisation transitions into HR shared services.
"The biggest obstacle to change is people, and to make it work you must enable leadership and people. Champion what it is you want to achieve by making people feel they are part of it," says Soalheira. Soalheira also says that leaders must be a change champion not just for the shared services itself, but for the new work environment that will result from it. He says that leading by example and building teams to assist your cause is
essential to success. Soalheira states that to "create results requires developing the vision and action plans, [and one must] build understanding of the change within the organisation and see people as members of the team."

Tip #2: Help Others Embrace Change

Although HR professionals understand shared services can mean a huge shift in work process, information flow and work culture, all too often, they still fear uncertainty. Whilst this is a natural response, Soalheira says that "change is as certain as taxes and death. It is a constant state of adaptation and evolution, [so] people need to be part of the purpose and vision."
To do this, Soalheria stresses that leaders must show "compassion, [and] deal with people as [they’d] would want to be dealt with". What this means is to understand why others in the organisation may be afraid of change. Leaders need to understand the agendas of other stakeholders in order to effectively communicate the overall vision to them.
For staff and employees, they may feel their job is in jeopardy and thus fear the change into shared services. What HR leaders must do is to communicate the why and how there is a transition, and what it means to different stakeholders across the organisation.

Tip #3: Success Leaves Clues

Christine Leahy, the Associate Director of HR Services at GlaxoSmithKline led their transformation into an HR shared services model 18 months ago and advises HR leaders to speak to those who have done it before. Although Leahy was involved in a global initiative which made this accessible, she says this was a critical part to GlaxoSmithKline’s transition into shared services.
Leahy explains: "I spend a great deal of time with my colleagues overseas, listening to the challenges they are having and sharing what I consider to be our critical success factors. Interestingly, the challenges across all countries have been much the same."

Tip #4: Clarity of Plans Paves the Way

Leahy says that another part to her team’s success was having a clear project plan. She says it is important to break the plan into manageable parts. For her shared services, she ensured "distinct work streams, each with clear lines of responsibility" so there were also clear communication channels. GlaxoSmithKline’s shared services project plans were also reviewed weekly to ensure all stakeholders were aware of any changes and mishaps.
By breaking the team into distinct work streams, Leahy says it facilitated clear communication channels that were recognised by all parties. Leahy said that her work streams included:
• HR Response Centre
• Recruitment
• Compensation & Benefits
• Learning & Organisational Development.

Tip #5: Start Small then Scale

Part of the success of GlaxoSmithKline’s HR shared services was that they did a test run with one department first to show the organisation that HR shared services was a feasible model. "I’d strongly recommend piloting the new model with one business prior to the full launch," advises Leahy, "We used a business that was likely to provide the most challenges to a centrally supported HR model – they are based 400kms from Melbourne and have many manufacturing staff who have limited access to computers."
By firstly conducting a pilot program within a difficult environment, Leahy says that it showed management that a HR shared services model was possible, and that if could be done efficiently in this department, it could be applied across the organisation. "The pilot was a great success and we shared this publicly, prior to the full launch, which reassured to everyone," says Leahy.

Tip #6: Get Early (and Senior) Buy-In

In an interview with SSON, Jonathan D'Souza, Head of HR Shared Services ANZ for Pfizer Australia says that early buy-in from the business is critical to successful change management. "If your senior leadership can see how this is going to help them and their business, it makes life a lot easier for the project team," says D’Souza, "[With Pfizer] being a global organisation, it really helps to have regional and global leaders sending a consistent message to the local teams." D’Souza advises that there are certain challenges in getting early business buy-in, and says mutual understanding between project teams and managers can help. Leaders must communicate why the organisation is moving to an HR shared services model and explain how will benefit them as managers.
"For us at Pfizer, [this involved] a mindset change. In previous years, we have had the luxury of being able to provide managers with a very high touch approach. This may have been the right approach for the environment that we have been working in, but as the industry in general is changing, we need to be just as agile," says D’Souza.

Tip #7: Listen to the Customer and Employees

To ensure a smooth transition into HR shared services, Patrick Acheampong, Head of Shared Services at Schneider-Electric, says organizations must listen to both customers and employees, since these are the people who can help pinpoint unforeseen obstacles.
"In order to identify the pain points, your primary task is basically listening to the customers, because they’re the ones who will tell you where the things are going wrong," explained Acheampong. He says that simple surveys are effective, since you won’t be secondguessing the end-users’ sentiment towards shared services. He stresses however, that surveys should be done face-to-face to gauge a true understanding of what employees and customers go through when using shared services.
"[Ultimately, it’s about] trying to figure out the best way to provide the best service to customers., Also, doing road shows and monitoring the customer feedback that comes in. Companies also need to act on this and not just put it to one side," says D’Souza. D’Souza also says that by surveying both staff and customers, it helps reveal areas that require improvement, since these stakeholders may have conflicting perspectives on various issues. This gives the organization an opportunity to understand what areas it needs to work on to keep both customers and staff happy.