Queen's University IRC

Research Briefs – November 2015

Queen’s University IRC - Research Briefs

   Bringing Practitioner-Focused Research to People Management Practitioners

Nov 2015   

 

 
 

In This Issue…

  1. Communicating During an Organizational Change
  2. Successfully Changing Workplace Culture with the Boundary Theory
  3. Would Roger Martin consider HRM to be a profession?
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Communicating During an Organizational Change
Dr. Carol A. Beatty, Queen’s IRC, 2015

Most experts would agree that communication is a vital ingredient in successful change initiatives, and there is much research to support this assertion. My own research revealed a very high correlation between change success and communications efforts (Pearson correlation r = 0.567, significant at the 0.01 level). Furthermore, it has also been shown that ineffective internal communication is a major contributor to the failure of change initiatives.(1) For example, Sally Woodward and Chris Hendry surveyed 198 employees in U.K. financial services institutions undergoing change and asked them to specify the barriers to change.(2) Two of the six barriers identified were: lack of adequate communications (not being kept informed, receiving conflicting messages, wanting to understand but not being given explanations) and lack of consultation. In my view, expert communication is indispensable when persuading people to support change. Some researchers even claim that the essence of change is communication; that is, that communication produces change rather than merely serving as one tool in its implementation.(3)

Communication efforts during a large change project attempt to persuade stakeholders to adopt a new view of the future, but before they can arrive at this new conviction, three things must be absolutely clear to them: the “why,” “what” and “how” of the change.

The importance of answering the “why” questions is backed by much empirical research. For example, Paul Nutt, in his study of major change at a hospital setting, found that employees were more likely to accept the change if they felt it was justified.(4)

>> Download Article

Successfully Changing Workplace Culture with the Boundary Theory
A Team’s Journey to Manage Culture More Effectively in a Unionized Environment
Neil Culp, Business Consultant, Niagara Region, 2015

Organizational culture isn’t like a sports car. It cannot instantly change directions and make a hairpin turn. Instead, it’s more like a tanker ship that takes time and planning to put on the right course. If you think about how your organization or team arrived at the culture it currently has, it’s unlikely you can point to a single event, or even a few moments, that explain your current culture. Instead, it is the slow changes that happen, unnoticed at the time, which better explain how most organizational cultures develop. Not actively managing your culture doesn’t cause it to quickly turn off course, but instead allows it to drift slowly astray until one day you wonder how you got to Baffin Island when you thought you were headed for Halifax.

This reality came into clear focus about two years ago within the Social Assistance and Employment Opportunities (SAEO) division at the Niagara Region. At that time, I was the Human Resources Consultant (HRC) supporting the Community Service Department (which includes the SAEO Division) of the Niagara Region. As an HRC, I acted as the lead contact and strategic resource for the management team of my client group. Since that time, we have been on an exciting and interesting path characterized by thinking differently about what boundaries mean and how to use them to keep culture on course.

SAEO, one of three operating divisions within the Community Services Department of the Regional Municipality of Niagara, administers the Ontario Works program to approximately 10,500 households within the Niagara region who are experiencing significant financial hardship (Niagara Region, 2014). The SAEO team includes over 220 employees comprised mainly of unionized (CUPE) staff.

Our Situation
In 2005, senior management began examining the work culture and responded by implementing tools and training that would align the day to day operations with a culture that reflected the corporate values of respect, honesty, partnership, choice and service.

>> Download Article

Would Roger Martin consider HRM to be a profession?
Claude Balthazard, Vice-President Regulatory Affairs and Registrar, Human Resources Professionals Association (HRPA), 2015

To be frank, the academic literature on what makes a profession is not very accessible. Here is something of a different take on the topic. For some time, there has been an ongoing debate in the Harvard Business Review as to whether business management is, or should be, a profession. The debate started with an article written by Khurana, Nohria, and Penrice in 2005 entitled Is business management a profession?(1) A cogent rebuttal was published a few years later by Richard Barker in a 2010 article entitled The Big Idea: No, Management Is Not a Profession.(2) The debate drew commentary from many sources, one such commentary was by Roger Martin in an HBR Blog dated July 2010 entitled Management is not a profession – but it can be taught.(3) In this blog, Martin laid out his profession calculus: So my basic calculus is as follows:

If quality can’t be determined in advance and cost of failure is high, the market in question will attract regulation. And if the product/service is delivered by a single identifiable individual, it will become a regulated profession. If it doesn’t attract regulation, it doesn’t matter a whit whether an activity is deemed by its participants to be a ‘profession.’

It is this calculus and its application to Human Resources Management (HRM) which is the subject of this article.

>> Download Article

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

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