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Describe a change episode in an organization where HR leadership made a pivotal contribution.

A great example is what’s going on right now in our organization. We have embarked on a growth initiative. With growth comes change. In addition to the organization design and talent management work, HR is playing a key role on the teams driving our strategic plan and growth initiative. HR plays a lead role in developing and disseminating the communications. We use SharePoint as our communication tool and have created pages which are updated monthly with financial data as well as employee and client focused stories that highlight our key strategies. We provide our managers with talking points so they can discuss our growth initiative in their team meetings.

Leadership style can be pretty deeply engrained in a leader’s professional identity. Have you seen a leader truly adapt his/her style to a particularly challenging situation? What enabled that change?

I’ve seen leaders not so much change their identity but rather rise to the occasion. I know of several situations where a manager had been responsible for one department and then inherited the responsibility for several departments. Managers who were successful in this type of situation were not afraid to ask for help. They built a network of individuals inside and outside the organization who could provide them with guidance and support. With hard work and humility, these individuals turned into true leaders. It is always inspiring to see a leader make this type of transformation.

Nowadays, change is less a one-time crisis and more a continual journey of transformation. What are the bedrock themes to leading effectively in this environment?

Communication and transparency are key. You can never over-communicate with employees and the management team. It is important to share not only the “what” but the “why” and “how.” Employees at every level should know the details. It is important to communicate using a variety of vehicles. Managers need to facilitate regular meetings with their teams to discuss how any changes will affect the team. The team needs to be involved in the solutions to the challenges. The senior management team needs to have honest discussions about challenges and ways to resolve them. Be honest when hiring new employees. You don’t want new employees to be surprised by change. You want them excited to be part of the transformation journey.