Have you ever struggled to get stakeholders bought in to a new initiative? You’re not alone. Successful change management is hard! We are thrilled to kick off our Future Perfect Expert Series with Ashley Hoytema, HR Generalist at AdvanTec Manufacturing Canada and former panelist at our event, Future Perfect: Humanizing the Candidate Experience.
Meet Ashley Hoytema!
Agency recruiter turned HR professional, Ashley believes in the power of sales techniques when it comes to getting organizational buy-in for HR initiatives. Ashley attributes her ability to engage stakeholders and demonstrate value to her experience as an agency recruiter. She developed her buy-in skills in agency recruitment, getting candidates excited about a job and getting hiring managers excited about a candidate. For Ashley, it comes down to understanding what people want and then delivering results that count.
You have said before that we’re basically all in sales. Tell me what you mean by that?
People are often confused when I say that HR is like sales. In HR, we create programs, policies and initiatives to make businesses better. But even the best initiatives and changes fall flat if we aren’t able to get stakeholders bought in. It’s change management – and that’s where the sales element comes in. The most effective HR people I have worked with are experts at rallying people around a new initiative, around change. As with selling a solution to a customer, our job is to understand what our stakeholders care about, creating solutions that are relevant and getting their buy-in by demonstrating the value. Focusing on the why and emphasizing benefits.
Why do you think it is so hard to get stakeholders on board with new initiatives?
Stakeholders often see HR programs as more work. As HR professionals, we typically understand the value of new initiatives, and the value seems obvious to us. We forget that we are often talking to people who don’t know the benefits unless we tell them. Many people just see more work being put on their plate. It’s harder and harder to get buy-in, and I think that’s because of how HR has traditionally been approached. As HR evolves into more of a business partnership, it’s our responsibility to explain how we are going to support managers and add value. Especially for successful change management.
What is the best way to make changes stick in an organization?
The most important thing in change management is to stay on top of communication, especially with management. No matter how well you sell something, you have to follow-up because people get busy and forget – even if they see the value in it. Find a way to communicate that is effective for your stakeholders and be consistent with that method. Follow through with what you have promised and keep communicating the change until it has been picked up by everyone. Share successes along the way to keep people engaged and motivated.
You have become skilled at gaining buy-in from stakeholders. Tell us about an idea you successfully implemented into your organization and how did you do it?
Early in my career with Garibaldi I came across a blog post about a company that created a welcome GIF for new employees. I loved the tone this set for the employee experience, and thought it would be a great bridge from the candidate experience to the employee experience.
As a manufacturing company, this approach was very out of the box for Garibaldi – out of people’s comfort zones. It took time and lots of enthusiasm and communication from HR, but we finally got to a point where our employees knew that when we had a new hire, we would be making a GIF. We built the habit. By the time I left, people were excited to be part of the GIFs – they were even bringing in their own props! Employees have really gotten into it, which is largely because we explained the value and showed why it mattered. New employees loved receiving it too!
The Speed Round
1. Where should you start when it comes to change management?
Start by engaging with the audience that is going to be affected by it. Partner with them to understand the best design. Work to understand their pain points. Always stay focused on their pain points and how you will alleviate them.
2. How can you present your ideas to effectively target a range of stakeholder groups?
Figure out who your audience is and how they best receive information. Make sure your message is representative and adjust your communication style to the audience.
3. What kind of tactics have you found to be successful for selling change?
I have found the most success in selling ideas by being as energetic, optimistic and positive as possible. Make change a good news story, showing that you truly care and getting peoples’ energy up. If It’s appropriate for your audience, incorporate humour. Put yourself out there, try something new! Do something memorable.
About the Future Perfect Expert Series
In our quest to make businesses human, we are proud to launch the Future Perfect Expert Series. These Q&A blogs feature industry experts sharing inside scoop on how they are tackling common pain points in their organization. Subscribe today to receive new instalments of the Future Perfect Expert Series right in your inbox!