HR's Perspective on Organizational Change Management


Dealing with change at work can be devastating for employees. A recent study by the American Psychological Association found that change at work was linked to employee stress, distrust, and intent to quit. With all these adverse outcomes, one might wonder why anyone would welcome organizational change at all. You may not always have a choice in the matter, but your human resources team is uniquely positioned to help your company create change with less fear from all sides.

HR is at the heart of any organization

Human resources is the heart of any organization. Most employee decisions are run through human resources. Whether you are a company executive or an entry-level employee, you have contact with human resources. Because HR takes such a centralized role at work, HR professionals are the best employees to deal with issues related to organizational change management. If HR treats employees well, they have the best chance of success during times of change.

Utilize organizational change models to your benefit

You don't have to create your own method of dealing with change at work. Two well-known change models help organizations make strides at work: Kotter's 8-step process and Prosci's ADKAR model.

Kotter’s 8-step change model

One of the most well-known change models out there is Kotter’s 8-step change model that helps organizations all over the world drive substantive change without the struggle.

  1. Create a sense of urgency.
  2. Build a guiding coalition.
  3. Form a strategic vision and initiatives.
  4. Enlist a volunteer army.
  5. Enable action by removing barriers.
  6. Generate short-term wins.
  7. Sustain acceleration.
  8. Institute change. 

Kotter's plan starts by building urgency and finding critical stakeholders within the company. If you can find the right people to back you up, you can create immense change in your organization.

Prosci’s ADKAR model

If you’re looking for an alternate model for change management, you could also look into Prosci’s ADKAR model for change. While the result of Prosci's model is similar to Kotter's, you might find it more helpful for your organization as you are deciding how to change something in your company.

  • Awareness of the need for change
  • Desire to support the change.
  • Knowledge of how to change.
  • Ability to demonstrate skills and behaviors.
  • Reinforcement to make the change stick. 

The ADKAR model truly focuses on positive and negative reinforcement and how it can move people to make change stick.

Use your influence to understand the best course of action

Once you know the different models of organizational change, it's time to make a decision. How will you and your company move forward? You already know who:

  • Your early adopters are.
  • Is going to drag their feet.
  • Is going to need more help with the new system.

Your HR department has an exceptional talent: they understand the organization from a birds-eye point of view, and that information helps you make better decisions about the change action plan your company will take. 

Keep an eye on employee sentiments about organizational change

Your HR department needs to keep their eyes and ears open. What are people saying about the change? How can you make this transition easier for them? Listen to your HR department for crucial takeaways so you can create the changes your employees need.

Think about this: what’s the end result that you are after? You may want your employees to utilize a new tool or fill out a new form. What makes your way of doing it better? As long as it gets done, you may find that your employees have a better idea of how to increase employee adoption.

Don’t be afraid to be firm about organizational changes

Changes need to be adopted to be successful. Sometimes these changes don’t come from within the company. For example, a federal law might be enacted that forces your company to make a change. Your employees need to step up and make the changes you’ve mandated a reality. In both models of organizational change we discussed earlier, there comes a time when you must make the changes stick.

If you want to do this fairly, create a deadline. For example, you can say, "By the end of the quarter, all of our interviews should be scheduled with our new scheduling software." This gives employees time to adjust to the new system. The other part of this statement is the "or else…" What will happen if your employees refuse to use your new system? You need a punishment or something that dissuades your employees from going against your new rules.


Organizational change is scary but not impossible. There is a reason that you have to make adjustments to your company. There are ways to ease employees into these organizational changes. Organizational change management isn't a foreign concept, and with the right framework, you can make change easier for your organization.

Do you want advice on how to deal with change management when transitioning into HR shared services? Check out our resource with seven specific tips that will help your organization thrive.