Talent Management Strategy

I manage the HR department for my company, which is around 550 people. We're doing a very large system conversion on the core systems for our organization. In order to work through this conversion, we're asking for internal volunteers to help out with some of the steps - data validation, business test cases, etc. For the most part, people are really excited to contribute! And that's where things get muddy.

We haven't done anything like this before in my tenure here and there's not a lot of real knowledge on how to manage this process. The systems will probably reduce the need for headcount in some of our departments and change up what it might look like for people that work on the front line with our customers. When we have employees volunteering to help out, their jobs might not look the same when this conversion wraps up 18 months down the road. 

We don't have a strategy on how to work through this. We're in the very beginning stages of it, but I know if we don't develop a strategy now, things won't go well. 

I'm not at all sure what question to ask to get started, so here are a few in my head. Have you done this before? Did you have an overall strategy or generalized framework? How did you communicate to the leaders that they might have to, for lack of a better phrase, figure out how to shuffle duties around while their employees help out with the conversion?

I have many, many questions obviously, and am really just looking to see if anyone has any decent starting off tools for something like this. 

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  • What an exciting and potentially challenging time for you and your team, Wendy!  It's super smart of you to reach out and to address this now versus damage control later.  I went through something like this when the "mom and pop" company I worked for was acquired by a large global corporation.  We went department by department, job by job through the entire organization.

    The advice I would give is to be as transparent as possible in the process and ask both participants and the management team to come to you with any concerns so that you can tackle them together.  Anytime there is a looming question often becomes a source of fear and the stories that get made up around the fear are often worse than the truth.   I would recommend something I wish I would have done in that process, which was check in points throughout the process to gauge how the employees were processing the change.  

    As for the leaders that will need to shuffle duties for a period of time, I think getting them on board with what you are doing, helping them see how it will benefit them in the long run, acknowledging that you understand it may not be easy to do this,  and if at all possible, work co-creatively with them on solutions or even form a committee of these leaders so they can work co-creatively together possibly helping each other find solutions or offering up resources. I think more than anything a "we are in this together" approach is win-win! I also think in your situation it might be beneficial to visit and revisit your end vision throughout the process.  If they can't actually SEE the finish line, they will be able to visualize it.  

    And try to remind yourself often that this is a learning process for you too, and go easy on yourself! (that's the advice I would give my younger self that went through this!)

    Good luck!  You'll do great! 

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  • Hi, Wendy. This sound a lot like a Lean project to me. In addition to Kat's  great advice below, I recommend reading up on Lean principles and systems and I think that you will find many similarities between what you are already doing and lean systems and principles. Lean is about working smarter, not harder, and involving those doing the work in the transformation. A easy book to start with is Creating a Lean Culture by David Mann. The first chapter discusses a Lean Management System, including culture and communication. There are two chapters about People and Sustaining change. There is also an entire chapter on Lean for nonmanufacturing organizations if you happen to not be in manufacturing. Best of luck to you and your team!

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  • Bonita Martin This is a really great suggestion. Thank you so much! I'll have to check into that because there certainly will be some lean strategy we'll need to develop and that's never had to be a strategy of ours in the past. We're a financial institution with about 550 employees, so I'm glad it focuses a bit on that in at least one chapter. Thanks again!

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  • Kat Hoyer These are amazing jumping off points and I so appreciate it! That "we're in this together" piece is what we want from an early of a standpoint as possible. I actually have a meeting scheduled tomorrow with my leader and one of my HR folks who told me today that she'd be really excited to own this process and really get people excited about the potential of helping out with these projects. That kind of excitement from someone I lead actually fuels me with a bit more excitement and a bit less nervousness. Thanks again for these tips!

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