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In-School Productivity Campaign | Change management through human resource development (HRD)

Published:Monday | January 22, 2018 | 12:08 AMMarina Ramkissoon/Contributor
Dr Marina Ramkissoon

Change management projects often fail although there are some stories of hope. Prosci, one of the most well-known global consultancy companies in change management, often reports on successful change projects which have improved human performance, customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction and finances. Through their ADKAR model, (Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Action, and Reinforcement), Prosci's success has come largely due to its focus on the 'people' element of change efforts such as leadership, appreciation training, resistance management, and identifying with one's organisation. The consultancy company also heavily emphasises the need for research-based methodologies and project management as part of their success.


positive change


For change management practitioners, and leaders who are presiding over a change and/or thinking about hiring a change manager, I suggest that you are more likely to succeed, if the project is grounded in principles of human resource development (HRD). This disciplinary area underscores that development of people can result in long-term, sustainable, positive change. HRD is a multidisciplinary area of study, grounded in an understanding of people's everyday psychological, sociological and cultural life. One of its pioneers, Mary Parker Follett, promoted 'people' and 'learning' as core principles of improving organisational life. To some readers this may sound purely academic but in fact it is not because a multidisciplinary approach helps us to appreciate that each leader, manager and employee has a set of motives, feelings and attitudes that may both facilitate and hinder change efforts. These individuals have also learned a set of values and norms from their social environment with which they are comfortable, and which may prevent them from trusting or engaging with the change process.

Further, HRD allows us to understand that there are also 'hidden' sides to people and organisations that are not easily understood or changed, but which are very real elements of our daily lives. Change managers should pay attention to ego defences, blind spots, unconscious motives and self-awareness, for example, to ensure they have more comprehensive understanding of the factors impacting their change efforts. Chances of success are increased when the practitioner can truly disrupt the sources of behaviour, old habits and culture, to make way for better ones. It is often said that people don't resist change, but rather, they resist being changed.


Awareness key in making change


As change practitioners, you must be aware of your hidden sides. Self-awareness training is key to 'getting over yourself' to effect the change. A lifelong project for sure, the better you are at realising how your actions facilitate or hinder the process of relating and interacting with your clients, the more successful you should be in gaining their trust, being authentic, and appreciating their world views and experiences. Some psychometric tests like the Riso-Hudson Type Indicator, the FIRO(r)Element B (tm) and the Leadership Development Profile assessment are useful in raising awareness for anyone who takes them, and provide recommendations for improving interpersonal relationships with others. A values-driven, authentic and trusted consultant is likely to be very self-aware and can build self-awareness in others, which then increases openness to change.

Emphasis on technical aspects of change management are quite important to the success of the change effort. Assessing systems, processes, structures, policies, regulations etc. are indispensable to creating more efficient and effective organisations. At the end of the day however, they are enacted through people. My suggestion is that a key leverage point is the people: develop the people's capacity to continuously cultivate their dream organisation.

- Marina Ramkissoon, PhD, is senior lecturer in the Psychology Unit, Department of Sociology Psychology and Social Work and associate dean - Graduate Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of the West Indies, as well as productivity ambassador, for the Jamaica Productivity Centre.

Dr Ramkissoon has more than 10 years' experience teaching human resource development, work motivation, organisational learning and social psychology, and will expound on this at the 'Cracking the Productivity Code Workshop', which takes place February 7 at the Jamaica Employers' Federation Conference Room, 2a Ruthven Road, St Andrew, starting at 9 a.m. For more information, call the Jamaica Productivity Centre at 922-1598/948-6168;; or log on to