You might be feeling that HR is a frustrating place to be these days. With government rules and guidance changing frequently; economic uncertainty keeping employers on edge; and employees feeling anxious about working on site, it can be quite overwhelming.
And right now, the technology that would help people work more efficiently doesn’t get signed off, because budgets are tight and future business needs are uncertain. It can sometimes feel like you’re wading through treacle and that progress of any kind at this point is impossible.
But there are some practical steps HR people can take to keep things moving in the right direction despite all the ambiguity.
1. Work with what’s in your control
When change is happening all around you, it can be challenging to find ways of moving forward. But even though much of what’s happening is outside your sphere of influence, there will be some elements of change that are within your control.
You may not be able to get the board’s agreement for a comprehensive employee engagement programme when everyone is in ‘firefighting’ mode, but maybe you could work with managers to help them understand how best to motivate their teams and keep people engaged at a time of uncertainty.
Focus on areas where you can have an influence rather than worrying about those where you can’t. And be ambitious about where you can make a difference – there is often more within our control than we might think.
2. Take small steps
Breaking projects down into small manageable chunks can sometimes help you to make progress.
The finance director may be resisting signing off on a new HR software system because the market is looking unstable. So, getting an all-singing, all-dancing system may be a lost cause right now.
Instead, perhaps you could make the case for bringing in a core HR system with additional modules to track absences or performance management. Be realistic about what you can achieve and accept that some progress is better than none.
Modern systems like Cezanne HR allow you to configure the software system to fit your organisation’s needs as they change.
3. Get people on your side
‘There’s no budget’, ‘It’s not a business priority’, or ‘It’s not worth it because we’re restructuring’ are all common roadblocks that hinder initiatives.
But often, the real reason people are putting up barriers is that they don’t really understand the business benefits or ‘what’s in it for them.’
Put together a compelling story that explains the rationale for what you are trying to do. Back it up with a strong business case that clearly shows how the initiative will help the business navigate uncertainty while saving money at the same time. Dig deep to make sure you understand the reasons why people are reluctant to commit.
4. Keep an open mind
If you’ve done everything you can and your project still isn’t getting through, it’s easy to just give up on the idea altogether. But take a step back for a moment and ask yourself if there might be another way.
For example, if a new training and development plan is considered too expensive and time-consuming right now, think about alternative options. Could you manage some of the training internally rather than using external providers? Are there free or low-cost learning resources online that could meet some of the company’s needs? Is there potential to collaborate with other businesses so that you can share costs?
Make sure you have not become so wedded to one idea that you are failing to explore other options.
5. Work with resistance
It’s easy to get upset or offended if people reject our ideas. But if someone is pushing back on an initiative, what they are actually doing is demonstrating an interest in what’s going to be best for the business. Senior management may be reluctant to introduce a new approach to performance management, for instance, because they are planning a restructure and reporting lines may change.
Reframe the situation and use people’s objections to start a conversation about what might work. For example, an open and constructive conversation might help them see that a more consistent approach to appraisals could help them identify people who have the skills to play a key role in the new structure going forward. If you meet objections with curiosity rather than hostility, it can often help to overcome some of the barriers you are facing.