Leading Change and HR

Businesses tend to consolidate on their competitive advantage using several management techniques like content marketing, competitive pricing and product change, mergers and acquisition (M&A). Irrespective of the business process that is being adopted, it is sometimes accompanied with changes across the organisation. The Human Resources (HR) department is pivotal to the success of the strategic change.

In the case of Merger & Acquisition, attention should not only be focused on assets and financials of the organisations that are involved. Often, equity composition and share value dominate the transactions while the peoples-issue are left till late. Sometimes, HR issues are attended to after consummation of the M&A which might lead to employees unrest and lack of engagement.

As due diligence is being carried out on fixed assets, short and long term liabilities, it is also important to carry out diagnostic HR of the organisations from the word go. An assessment of available talent, organisational culture, salaries and HR policies of all the companies that are involved in the merger.

Huge wage bill is something businesses would want to avoid aftermath of a Merger and Acquisition exercise. Consequently, it is imperative to have a projected workforce size for the new business, desired skills and experience. With these, an effective manpower plan can be designed.

An effective Manpower plan should reveal the number of surplus employees. Then, you begin to calculate the cost of pay off using existing policies on severance package. Where none exists, appropriate sections of relevant Labour Laws on lay off should be applied. This way, number of litigations can be minimised if not completely avoided.

With the required and adequate workforce in place, job schedule and proper placement are next on the agenda. Salaries and other benefits should be harmonized and communicated to employees. Culture change initiatives are necessary for the new group as a clash of culture is prevalent when companies fuse into one.

At the point of assessing available skills and talents, areas of development would have been identified. Learning and development plans need to designed and should begin forthwith. Periodically, surveys on engagement and job satisfaction are carried out to measure the level of success achieved and identify areas needing attention.

HR is the champion of change and should lead the change process of any organisation. It is however surprising to see departments like Business Development, Research and Development in the forefront of changes taking place in some organisations. This is not dispensing the importance of other departments, successful change is strongly dependent on a buy-in from employees and HR is best at achieving that.

Bashir Mudi Baba can be reached on Twitter @El_De_Bash

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