Adopting a new talent solution, such as recruitment process outsourcing (RPO), managed services programs (MSP) or total talent acquisition, requires a great deal of adjustment. Typical change management strategies, however, aren’t always enough to ensure a smooth transition. Instead, businesses should look toward change leadership, which is a mindset rather than a methodology.

Change leadership means having strong direction at the top to encourage and motivate all teams and stakeholders involved to do their part and reach an ideal state that benefits everyone. Without such an approach, the success of the project will be in jeopardy.

The key ingredient in change leadership is “change intelligence,” a concept developed by authors Barbara Trautlein and Clarence Trowbridge. Change intelligence, or CQ, is described as the awareness of your own change leadership style and the ability to adapt your style to be optimally effective in leading change across a variety of people and situations. The authors also present three fundamental pillars of change intelligence:

High Heart, the emotional element of change
High Head, the strategic element of change
High Hands, the tactical element of change

Whilst all parties influence the High Head portion, decision making for the strategic elements should be left to the C-suite to drive the project. Otherwise, there can be a lack of direction, confusion about responsibilities and neglecting to address how the change will affect candidates, employees and contingent talent.

No matter how strong the leadership is, the success of the implementation hinges on leaders working effectively with other teams to drive the emotional support for those affected by change (High Heart) and practical support to see it through (High Hands).

To ensure a successful implementation from start to finish, consider these tips:

Identify the goals and key stakeholders. The first part in getting people onboard and dedicated to change is to highlight the goals of the project to the right people who can achieve them. For RPO, the goal is to create a positive candidate experience and ensure talent is motivated to stay for the long term. This is something everyone can champion, but especially HR and Talent Acquisition teams, who will drive towards delivering a positive talent experience.

With MSP, it is more tactical. Since the goal of MSP is to engage contingent workers with predefined start and end dates, the process is more rigid, working with third-party suppliers, negotiating rates and connecting your vendor management system with your existing technologies.

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Select the right change champions. An RPO or MSP project is one of many initiatives a business may have going on at the same time, and such implementations usually follow a determined timeline linked to strategic, financial and business initiatives. That’s why change leaders must find change champions — those who can keep the implementation on track, evangelize the benefits and be tactical resources.

Such change champions should include subject matter experts within the business that the RPO or MSP will touch. Think about the leaders within the Finance team for invoicing, HR/Talent Acquisition for ensuring a smooth transition, Procurement for supplier management, IT for integrating the solution and hiring managers. The key is to find those individuals who know how to get things done and empower them to inspire their teams to do the same.

Align with the business continuously from start to finish. Change leadership is essential in driving continuous progress and maintaining enthusiasm, kickoff to go-live and beyond. If the project team and business stakeholders receive updates coming from the most senior leadership, they will be more encouraged to act.

To truly inspire the team, all change leaders need to be future-focused and highlight how the project will carry out the long-term vision for the business. Asserting the value of the project and its benefits are essential for overcoming challenges along the way, keeping the project on track and, overall, driving successful change.

Back what you bought. The most important role of a change leader is to make sure that the teams back what you bought; they see the value in it themselves and want the program to be successful. Achieving that state is the definition of true change leadership — and one that will ensure a smooth implementation with long-term adoption and business benefit.

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