You Are NOT an Agent of Change

Management consultant and blogger Luc Galoppin flatly declares that HR is NOT a change agent. HR, he says, is about continuity and stability:

HR safeguards continuity in the organization. Let’s face it: By their very nature, the fundamental HR processes are aimed at safeguarding stability.

While he makes a logical argument, I don't agree with the conclusion.

HR has the opportunity to be an agent of change in many critical areas; for example:

  • Talent Acquisition: Designing recruitment and selection processes that attract the best
  • Talent Development: Designing training and development processes that increase capability
  • Talent Retention: Designing performance management and compensation strategies that motivate and retain
  • Organization Development: Designing organizational effectiveness processes (such as leadership development) that renew and strengthen the organization
  • Employee Relations: Designing engagement and alignment strategies that drive productivity

In this era of outsourcing, offshoring, and cost cutting, HR is feeling a lot of pressure. So is IT, Supply Chain, Engineering, and other enabling support functions that don't directly bring in revenue.

How does HR avoid being pushed to the margin? How does HR demonstrate the value it adds?

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 1/20/07


Luc Galoppin said…
Hi Terrence,

I greatly appreciate your feedback on the post of 'HR is not an agent
of change'.

Could you link your reaction as a comment on my blog? I am convinced that multiple opinions like yours make the piece more meaningful.

Also - in the course of next week I will be in NJ for business. Maybe we could meet? Drop me note on luc dot galoppin at reply-mc dat com.

Terrence said…
Hi Luc,
I'm sorry I missed this opportunity to meet you. If you are ever in NJ again, let me know.
George Hathaway said…
If a company looks at its people as the intangible assets that create the difference between book value and market value, then HR is the operation that is resposible for management of those assets. In this respect the function is neither an agent of change or stability. Rather it is responsible for helping the CEO maximize company value.

It is the CEO's decision whether or not change is necessary. However, any manager should realize that stability today means falling behind... and will result in very unpleasant change in the future. Look at the stability that GM and Ford provided to their employees.

A true leader creates change by being innovative. He/she will creat a culture where change is the norm...stability is in change that is channeled in the right direction. Human resources needs to manage the intangible capital in such a way that it not only embraces change but gets ahead of it. The things we do as OD managers should help organizations move ahead by having the right bench strength, HR strategies, competencies, compensation, etc.

So are we agents of stability? Not if we do our jobs correctly. Is our role to be a change agent? Again the answer is no. We are managers of the most valuable assets an organization has.

George Hathaway
Terrence said…
Hey George,
Great comment! You should have a blog of your own.

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