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April 2012
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TD Magazine

Changing the Outlook on Change

Strategic vision, intentional leadership, and an organizational culture that supports disciplined, resilient talent management are necessary for sustainable change.

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Intelligence1
Today's workplace is changing regularly and rapidly. Companies are still operating with lean workforces, yet many individuals remain jobless as employers struggle to secure the right talent for available positions. Ever-emerging social, collaborative, and mobile technologies require new methods for employee development and new mediums for workplace learning. Organizations are realizing the need for an integrated talent management strategy that incorporates change management, to provide structured employee development for today with the built-in flexibility for whatever tomorrow may bring.

According to "Creating Sustainable Change: Practical Techniques for Talent Management Transformation," a recent whitepaper published by talent management solutions provider Technomedia-Hodes iQ, today's business environment requires a disciplined, resilient climate of ongoing improvement. To that end, organizations must treat change as an ongoing process, not an event with a start and end date.

"We have to make a clear distinction between change and chaos," says Marcel Messier, president and COO of Technomedia-Hodes iQ. "The difference is vision and leadership: Change management has to be done in the context of a strategic vision and thoughtful leadership."

According to PricewaterhouseCoopers's 14th Annual Global CEO Survey, leaders from all regions report that talent tops their agendas. Additionally, 84 percent of CEOs surveyed say that they are implementing change within their talent strategies to better compete in the 2012 marketplace.

The whitepaper describes certain best practices that organizations can implement to create an approach to change management that also supports an organization's talent management strategy:

Communicate, communicate, communicate. This is the first priority for any change management process. Ensure employees are prepared for change, understand the goals they are expected to achieve, and know how performance is measured. Town hall meetings, webinars, simulations, and the company intranet can serve as vehicles to deliver these messages.

Define the talent management strategy. It is imperative that all employees understand the integrated strategy and how their roles fit within this holistic approach.

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Document key milestones. Minimize delays and ensure deadlines are met in a timely fashion by tracking change activities and important achievements.

Cultivate comfort. Build interest and engage employees in the change process by soliciting feedback from individuals who are directly affected. This will help employees feel more involved while also uncovering potential opportunities for improvement.

Expand opportunities. Use feedback to identify additional gaps or areas for change process improvement.

Establish executive support. Lasting change starts at the top. Secure executive sponsorship and define leaders' roles and responsibilities to keep them accountable and ensure the project remains on track.

"You must plan for change right from the start for a project to be successful," says Messier. "Technology doesn't do anything by itself—it's what people do with that technology that will bring the real success of a talent management implementation."

About the Author

Community of Practice Manager, ATD  Ann Parker is senior manager of the Human Capital Community of Practice and the Senior Leaders & Executives Community of Practice at ATD. Prior to this position, she worked at ATD for five years in an editorial capacity, primarily for TD magazine, and most recently as a senior writer and editor. In this role, Ann had the privilege to talk to many training and development practitioners, hear from a variety of prominent industry thought leaders, and develop a rich understanding of the profession's content.

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