What is the role of managers and HR in digital change? This was discussed intensively in a round-table discussion in the magazine Personalwirtschaft.

My Premiere at the Round Table

Experts from various consulting companies discussed the latest developments in change management under the leadership of editor-in-chief Cliff. For the first time I participated in this conversation. I was very much looking forward to the exchange with colleagues from the other six consulting companies. Cliff Lehnen and David Schahinian from the editorial office welcomed us at Frankfurt Airport. Hardly arrived, the debate about the current trends in change management had already started.

The leadership dilemma

This was followed by two hours of intensive exchange of views at a very high level. There was agreement among the participants on the fact digital change is a major driver of change in most companies. But it also quickly became clear that there is no patent recipe for the perfect change. In the course of the discussion, the role of management and HR in particular was examined in detail and in some cases assessed in contradictory terms.

The colleagues agreed with me managers are faced with a dilemma: they are supposed to give orientation to employees in a disruptive environment, while at the same time their own tasks change significantly. This requires a strong inner compass. The meta study developed by flow consulting shows the resulting seven dynamic leadership competencies are more relevant than ever. Managers must face the dilemma and learn anew.

The role of HR: actively accompanying change processes

HR still uses its influence far too rarely. What is clear is HR is not the leader of change. But HR should actively accompany the change processes. Because digital change primarily affects people. HR must actively set impulses, promote, shape, influence and take employees along with it. And HR also has to have a voice in the change of structures and processes. What is important to me, in every company there are still classic, linear structures in which the use of modern or agile forms of work is not (yet) appropriate. And despite all the changes, this will continue to be the case for some time to come. Therefore, it is important to define the interfaces from agile to linear structures. This is a challenge HR has to face.

The 5 most important findings at the Round Table

  • HR is a companion and supporter of change, but rarely or never a driver. Change projects are initiated by the specialist departments or Business Development.
  • It will be a task of HR to interlink linear and agile forms of work in a meaningful way.
  • In order for change projects to succeed, the focus must be placed on the continuity of the change. “Establishing routines” is crucial in order to prevent the “silting up” effect. In many change projects too little attention is paid to this point.
  • Giving orientation is one of the essential skills that managers need. It is important to find your own compass – supported by coaching.
  • The culture change towards agile organizations needs time, strategy and structural changes. Here it is important to work thoroughly and “stay tuned”.

For me it was an exciting exchange with a group of consultants at peer level.

If you would like to learn more, please click here for a summary report (in German) on the round table with a series of pictures. The title is: The Hours of Truth. You can find the whole report in the print edition of the magazine Personalwirtschaft.

If you would like to experience the seven dynamic leadership competencies, please register for our flow dynamic leader’s lab.

What are your challenges in digital transformation? If you like send me your feedback: silke.engel@flow.de

Silke Engel

picture: nattapong / stock.adobe.com