HR Business Partners need a range of competencies and, above all, an appropriate mindset to support sustainable corporate transformation. Without the right mindset, HR cannot offer management orientation and provide a sense of security in times of turbulent change. Any Transformation Partner who wants to shape change must ask himself the following question:

  • How do I secure my mandate as Transformation Partner?
  • How do I speak the language of the management and why is that important?

The good news first: HR can make a value contribution to change, as the following field report shows.

HR as a shaping force in change

How do I transform a long-established, medium-sized company?

This was the question Simon Stock, HR Business Partner at DATEV, a software company with 8000 employees, was faced with. The task was to transform the company into a network structure. At the work-X Festival, he gave insights into this successful transformation.  The influences of New Work, stronger self-organization and agile principles played an important role. The complete presentation (German) can be found in the intrinsify podcast.

New Work – from »nice-to-have« to a real driver of transformation

Today DATEV is one of the pioneers in the field of New Work and Simon Stock is the Product Owner of the interdisciplinary HR team »New Work@DATEV«. Under the keyword »Rethinking HR« he lists a number of basic principles critical to success for the agile transformation of the HR department:

  • Maintaining a backlog that is transparent for all employees, from which the HR team can freely select topics. In other words, the current designated experts have no territorial claim.
  • Consistently practice an iterative This also means: working directly with the specialist departments in co-creation to develop the topics and to incorporate feedback loops!
  • Trust in the principle of »PULL« instead of »PUSH« – e.g. when involving specialists for individual topics.
  • Gather experience on a small scale, test prototypes in sub-areas and try them out together. In other words, transferring the idea of the Minimal Viable Products (MVP) to the change initiatives.

Examples for the application of these principles:

Cooperation with the works council

Here he is calling for a transparent and direct exchange with the works council. So instead of strategically plotting a plan against the works council, how best to take it by surprise, Simon Stock recommends involving it at an early stage (co-creation).

HR Popup Store

In analogy to pop-up stores, which are characterized by a close proximity to the customer, DATEV has experimented with HR Popup Store in order to be close to the departments and to be directly accessible. The principle of »PULL instead of PUSH« is also evident here.

Cultural transformation through action

In summary, Stock emphasizes that providing concrete »tools« for daily work is often more useful than simply appealing to cultural norms. – At the same time, the choice of methods (Scrum, Kanban, …) is less important than the application of basic principles and the appropriate »mindset«.

HR must deliver more these days

Today, the tasks of human resources departments are more diverse than ever. And as the example of DATEV shows, these tasks have long since stopped coming out of the »book of rules«. – Rather, HR itself must also reinvent its role.

A crucial task of HR Business Partners is to support the transformation of the company. And a central challenge in this is to understand the different needs of the stakeholders in the company – and to flexibly speak their respective languages. This is the only way to ensure that the good arguments are understood and get through.

Take the example of New Work: Within HR, the advantages of this new form of work are usually clear. And those involved usually understand the benefits quickly after they have tried out the new working methods for a while. But first of all, management needs to be convinced – because not every management is as proactive as those at DATEV. Often HR has to perform a translation function. This applies especially to all supposedly »soft« aspects of a cultural transformation.

Speaking the language of the management team

The question is: How does HR manage to communicate with the management on an equal footing? In addition to the »standing« that the consultant must maintain vis-à-vis the management, the first step is to be understood. And the arguments are heard and processed »with the ears« of management. HR must therefore be able to use a language of key performance indicators (KPI), benefit and competitive arguments. The natural internal perspective of HR must be open to the external perspective (towards the market, the competition).

Becoming the Transformation Partner

The good news is that this competence can be acquired. By offering the qualification »HR Transformation Partner«, we want to close the gap that internal HR professionals currently still have to bridge in order to be able to contribute their potential to the company.

Together with our colleagues from Synnecta, we offer this internationally proven qualification in three compact modules. Participants benefit from first-hand expertise: Synnecta has been supporting complex change processes in companies for over 20 years – from medium-sized to large corporations.

All contents and modalities of the qualification can be found on the website (German).

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