One of my challenges in delivering the messages and methods of Adaptive Lean Change has been getting Human Resources (HR) departments to see their role in the process of change.
Lean is often perceived by businesses as being about operational efficiency which overshadows the crucial aspects of workplace climate and culture shifting, areas which are HR’s forte.
The irony is that Lean initiatives are more likely to fail in a business without the involvement of HR.
HR must be involved to fully understand Lean, to intuit the underlying company strategy and the required steps and milestones to get there. They need to grasp the overall holistic picture to appreciate how this is then translated into 'sub-pictures' within the organisation.
It is up to HR to evaluate all this against the current company culture and climate and find ways and strategies to support change and overcome resistance, reluctance, doubts, complacency and the entrenched old behaviours.
Important areas which need to be adapted are:
- Reward and recognition systems
- Performance evaluation system
- Talent reviews
Further, the Personnel department also plays a key role at developing culture and climate in those areas.
They must also develop Lean leadership capabilities:
- Leadership development (different talent reviews and selection criteria)
- Lean People management
- Organisational development
Leaders need to relay the Lean values of freedom, trust and respect which ensure the willing contributions of staff. They also need to study the different perspectives within a company to understand why staff and managers behave the way they do.
HR need to appreciate that change cannot be dictated in a command and control environment by a group of elite-thinking managers: including, of course, HR management themselves.
HR vocabulary needs to be enriched with terms like engaging, leading, learning, and improving and, crucially, be able to explain their requisite meanings.
Finally, HR needs to be ‘the’ department that leads in Lean thinking and practices. If it doesn’t happen there, then credibility in the process suffers.