Managing HR @ Transition

Business models alter with the economic cycle and market swings. Additionally, the change in government policies towards the industry impacts in transformation within an organization. As the production adopts a new model different areas including spending, talent billing, and employee management vary with the flow. Due-diligence allows the transition teams to weigh the impact of the implementations. These transitions results from business scaling up, mergers and integration, de-mergers, revamp and restructure. Here we look at the challenges, their point of differentiation and the polarity of the issues. We introspect how these situations are different yet may have certain parallel issues.

Mergers and Acquisition: The due diligence brings in all the areas of concern on the radar. HR Programs including broad banding, mapping of HR Systems, Integrating technologies, abiding by the legal guidelines, compensation alignment tops the priority list . Numerous Integration management tools allow to manage the work on the books, yet managing the human quotient remains ephemeral. The expectation and fear needs to be addressed up-front including concern areas such as, ‘What’s in it for me’ and ‘How will my values creation still remain visible’. Communication holds the key to the human challenges. As the programs are rolled out, repeated town halls, team hurdles and one-on-one communication helps in managing the employee buy-ins. As mentioned by jack Welch , ‘“Think of a merger as a huge talent grab – a people opportunity that would otherwise take years of searching … Make the tough calls and pick the very best – whatever side they’re on.”

Demergers: Just as the paradoxes are true so are the HR initiatives during the demergers. As the organizations splits into two different entities so does the process which requires new process owners, vendors and sometimes even new domains. Often during the demerger the new entities differ in size. Consequently it can leave a company with bigger strength with far more processes to be managed than its smaller counterpart. Newer registration for the legal entities, more specialised roles for the employees, building the new brand as valued as the earlier joint-entity remains the hub of the HR .

Expansion: The process that impacts the most is recruitment and training. The chief focus remains on getting talent on board and train to place them as billable.  This does impact the compensation bench marking to bridge the salary gap between the new and the old talent during the annual performance appraisal. The concept which the HR accentuates in this situation is ‘What it means to work here’.

Restructuring: Every business cycle goes through a phase where the process of productivity is reviewed to scale up production and minimise cost.  The revamping of production percolates to the restructuring of the work-force. The jobs are mapped to the talent with best-fit. Levels are brought down to few bands and grades. Tata Steel had revamped the work force from 13 to 5 levels redesigning 5100 officers to 4300 officers. The Human factors to be dealt in this situation are the stigma of termination and transparency to build on the trust, of the talent which remains behind. The outplacement offered by the organization, severance pay and elucidate that the employees did not lose the job as they were bad, but that position no longer existed.

The common challenges in all these situations are managing perception. Few HR processes may bear the effect from such transitions. This fundamentally includes compensation, performance management and HR operations. Recruitment and Training and development which may stand impacted selectively. Human fears of losing identity, expecting shrinkage in compensation, low visibility remains principal. These transitions may often seem paradoxical, yet the biggest learning lies in being able to manage them. In the words of Carl T. Rowan,” We emphasize that we believe in change because we were born of it, we have lived by it, we prospered and grew great by it. So the status quo has never been our god, and we ask no one else to bow down before it”.