As I introduced in an earlier blog, HR change agents with business backgrounds and the right experiences are critical to a company’s success — now more than ever. Even top business school programs have added organizational behavior, organizational strategy and/or organizational development (i.e. HR) to their core curriculum.
So, even with this recognized progress, why is the HR function still rated an overall performance grade of C or below by most business leaders?
The HR brand is in major need of a reboot. Even the best brands in the marketplace have refreshed their brands from time to time (i.e. Apple, Target, Old Navy, J. Crew, McDonalds).
What if the HR function applied a company’s approach to reinvent its brand? A simple model I stumbled upon in a business publication could provide a good starting point for how we might think about HR rebranding:
1. Use research to support brand changes.
Of course, before we make a change, we have to answer why the change is needed. Why now? What is the current perception of the brand? Have we significantly improved the HR function in a way to support changing the brand? We can use quantitative and qualitative data to understand our client’s relationship with the current brand and can then make informed and impactful adjustments.
2. Create brand survey to share with customers.
The most important part of re-branding is to understand the clients — who they were, what they want, what is most important to them and what kinds of change they are willing to accept (and in some cases, provide resources for). Ensure we have the voice of the client in every aspect of the rebranding and that the brand is aligned with the client’s strategy and expectations.
3. Consider a name change.
Sometimes it takes a new name to rid an evolved product or service of old perceptions and beliefs. This can be true for an HR function. A name change can certainly be good for the clients to whom we want to express that change has occurred and invite them to think of HR differently. Additionally, a name change can be inspiring for those who represent the brand as well: ‘out with the old; in with the new’ sort of thing.
4. Ensure the brand update supports the original promise.
The most important part of a rebranding is to ensure the that brand represents what we are committing to. A name change and a rebranding will not be effective unless the business (function) model has truly been improved.
5. Use storytelling to support a rebrand.
Make an event out of the new brand and tell the story as to why we are making the change. Once we understand and validate our clients’ needs and we are able to deliver on their expectations, we can use stories to demonstrate the characteristics and behaviors (and results) the new brand represents.
6. Don’t rush into the rebranding process.
We must take the time to build an effective communications plan. Set milestones to check in with clients to see how HR is doing against the promises of the new brand. Allow clients to build trust and confidence in the new brand. Most importantly, we make adjustments as needed.
The key thought is that a brand revitalization for HR is overdue. In order to continue to attract upcoming generations of talent to the function and be lauded by company executives as a ‘must have’ business partner, we have to do more than periodic repositioning of the current brand.
As change experts, we should take the time to acknowledge and celebrate the history and progress of the HR function. Then, let’s forge ahead to create a brand that clearly represents our new identity while also signaling that more transformation is on the horizon.
What are your thoughts on how HR can reinvent its brand? To learn more about The Change Engineers services and our thoughts on HR, click here.
For Shelle, coaching is not just her job…it is her passion. With over 25 years of experience in leading and creating meaningful change in high performance organizations, Shelle has collaborated with leaders across a wide spectrum. From CEOs and C-suite executives to developing leaders to aspiring or future leaders, Shelle uses her diverse background to instill change with her clients to achieve desired results.