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Open approach works best for undertaking business change

Openly sharing information and being transparent with employees is the most effective way to deliver critical, people-impacting, business changes within organisations. By Glynn Davis


Open approach works best for undertaking business change

Ahead of presenting at the 5th Retail Bulletin HR Summit in London on 8 October on the topic of ‘engagement and retention when going through change’ George Wakely, director of retail HR and shared services at B&Q, gave a flavour of his key themes.

“Make sure you explain the ‘why’ things are happening. And the better the quality of how it is described then the better the chance of success,” he suggests, adding that the essential components are recognising the power of honesty, transparency and communications.

In addition, he says: "It’s about how you set the stall out from the start and how you relate to people as human beings." Although he admits that this all sounds like common sense, the reality is that when HR is having sensitive conversations about changes affecting employees, this can often be difficult and as a result "companies talk themselves into reasons why they should not do these common sense things".

"What can make this task easier is if employees have confidence in the capabilities of the people who have to make the changes in the business and the quality of their planning," says Wakely. “You are then far more likely to get the right [people] outcome."

Such is the belief in being open with its employees that Wakely says B&Q has previously chosen to share more information than it had to on the grounds that it was felt it was the “right thing to do”. Determining what is the right thing to do is very much down to the culture of the business and B&Q has prided itself on having a high benchmark, according to Wakely.

“We hear of other good businesses but also others who might struggle with this. Our way reflects the broader organisation. If we were command and control, and not being open, and then we did people changes in a different way it would be unsettling. Our approach [to HR] is grounded in what we try and do as a business,” he suggests.

Although he acknowledges that the transition to a multi-channel business is causing a high level of people change in the organisation Wakely does not believe that it is at any higher level than in previous times.

“All the time change is a constant but what drives the changes might be different. Previously we’ve had changes driven by growth and expansion and maybe now it is about repositioning the business in an omni-channel world. Changes are not new and they’ve not grown in volume. We’ve always had a high degree of change at B&Q,” he explains.

Click here to see further information and to register for the Retail Bulletin HR Summit which will be held in London on 8 October 2013. 

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