How Can HR Become a Change Champion?


How Can HR Become a Change Champion?

By: Ragland Thomas G, Vice President – Global Organization Development & Strategy

In the words of Alan Watts, “The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it and join the dance.” How true! These days, most people understand that change is the only constant and that change in understanding is due to the enormous amount of change that the world and the people have experienced because of technological, economical, political, environmental, legal, and organizational causes.

When we look at change from an organizational perspective, we see heightened focus on the importance of managing change effectively. This is due to the volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous business environment and the need for organizations to adapt to changing expectations quickly. This focus is also due to the higher possibilities for failures and we have seen evidence to prove that.  According to Harvard Business Review, 70% of all Change initiatives fail. Forbes/Towers Watson reports that only 25% of Change Management initiatives are successful, and according to McKinsey & Company, only 30% of Change programs succeed. So, the question is: What can HR do to increase the success of Change Management initiatives?

As HR Practitioners, we can use Organization Development to drive change effectively. Here are some examples of OD approaches which will help HR Practitioners to be Change Champions at work:

  • Focus the spotlight on the human side of the organization, by highlighting all people related aspects of the change initiative. Work with the Leaders or the Change Management Team to identify and take appropriate “early people related actions”, coach Leaders to become Change Champions, assess & plan for emotional reactions, and develop & involve employee networks.
  • Maintain the systems view and ensure involvement of every layer and part of the organization. Based on the change scenario, this could mean including those outside the organization too- customers, vendors, etc.. HR needs to have a collaborative approach to include everyone and build commitment, using a facilitative approach to help others discover and find solutions to their challenges.
  • Use a data driven and scientific approach to drive Change. As OD Practitioners, we use Action Research and this helps us to systematically collect data, diagnose the challenges, feed the data to the Leaders and facilitate appropriate actions. Action Research plays a critical role in helping HR gain credibility through the use of data, participative & collaborative approach, fact finding and a cyclical approach to finding solutions.
  • Be value driven and support building cultures that bring out the best in people and the organization. Bringing the best out also involves transferring knowledge and helping the leaders and people involved to learn and become self sustaining for the long term.

There are many more actions & approaches which HR Practitioners can leverage from Organization Development to become Change Champions. OD helps HR to go below the tip of the organizational iceberg and bring focus on all the critical aspects of the people side of the organization. When we reflect on what factors derail a Change initiative, it’s predominantly people related. HR as People Champions can use OD to transition to Change Champions. Finally, it’s about how we, as HR Practitioners, can begin the change process in ourselves first and strengthen the Self. As Leo Tolstoy observes, “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing themselves”. The first step to becoming a change champion is to start with the self. OD stresses the importance of the Change Agent as a critical component of the Change intervention and offers several models and approaches to make the change. I encourage you to take that first step today, beginning with your Self and leverage OD to facilitate your journey to becoming a Change Champion!

IOD offers online Organization Development Certification Programs to help participants gain skills to advance in their career in the field of OD.  If you are new to OD, you will benefit from the OD Process Consulting Certification Program (ODPC).  If you have been in the field for several years but lack formal OD training, the Organization Development Certification Program (ODCP) will provide you with the tools and skills needed to advance in the field of OD.

IOD’s OD Certification Programs are offered online over 8 months, meeting 3 hours per month.  Each session is delivered through go-to-training.  Our expert faculty provide interactive discussions, examples, tools, guidelines, and resources to enrich your learning experience.


This certification program provided me with the resources and tools I needed to practice OD.  The structure and process helped me to be more confident and focus on helping the client achieve their goals. The practical experience I learned during this program gave me the confidence to support organization change management initiatives.  I used the skills to transfer my knowledge immediately after each session.


Ragland Thomas G, Vice President – Global Organization Development & Strategy

Ragland can be reached at  For more information about our certification programs and short courses, visit our website


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