Roles of HR in change management: plus relevant skills

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 29 April 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A human resource practitioner plays a significant role in the change management of different organisations. Significant functions of HR, like recruiting change-minded individuals and training them to become efficient staff, have helped most organisations witness a drastic change in their business affairs. Aside from bringing change to an organisation, change management is also concerned with employees and how they adapt to change through a structured approach. In this article, we describe what change management is, the roles of HR in change management and their unique skills.

What is change management?

Change management is a process that helps organisations oversee and implement change within their internal and external processes. It involves establishing necessary steps for change and ensuring the successful implementation of such steps. Change management helps you discover the loopholes within your organisation and also assists you to channel your efforts in enforcing the desired change. It's the responsibility of the management teams to decide how to address, develop and apply their desired change. Change management motivates teams, departments and employees to subscribe to actions and information that makes them thrive.

Related: Change management interview questions (with sample answers)

Roles of HR in change management

Below are the different roles of HR in change management:

Change leader or owner

The human resource person has the sole duty of planning and carrying out their personal change projects. Sometimes, such projects could be changing all HR functions, but on a small scale. For example, HR could introduce a new intranet-based service to promote a secure communication system in an organisation.

Change advisor

The HR plays advisor roles, especially while working directly with employees to lead them through the process of change. Advisor roles can bring useful changes in a wholesale organisation and any other type of organisation. For example, a wholesale organisation could benefit from the advisor role of HR if the sales, logistics or customer care unit requires advice on new work strategies.

Change educator

HR has unique skills to guide people through a new change process. They can also show their expertise in education and educating people through workshops, creating practical tools. They provide other important resources like reading materials and ensure the education of employees on the various change methodologies.

Change participant

HR practitioners can play one or two roles in the change process. They can share their knowledge about change while still managing their change projects together with the reaction and input of other participants. Gaining mastery requires a proper understanding of the structure of successful change. HR practitioners can help guide an organisation to be careful with every vital factor required to add value or change situations.

Related: 10 key HR policies and procedures including examples

Change watchdog

HR plays the role of a watchdog in organisations to monitor the growth within the organisation. They come up with organisational designs that help implement change. HR leadership is visible when the integrity of a company is guaranteed. Likewise, they also control the different change processes a company adopts and ensure they're harmonious and coherent.

Establishes change agenda

Sometimes, when team members rush the process of a project or agenda, the result may not be perfect. HR designs work calendars and milestones that help both employees and organisations become time conscious while working to achieve their goals. A successful change in an organisation happens within a given timeframe. Therefore, working with a calendar can help team members work within a timeframe and also take different duties one step at a time.

Recruitment roles

For an efficient change process, HR carefully oversees the recruitment of new employees. This recruitment process is also called onboarding. They identify the need for a role, write job descriptions, write the required skills for the right candidates, set salary budgets, interview and select qualified candidates. The HR finds this role to be one of his vital duties, as it helps job applicants know the required specifications for the positions they apply for. They ensure the recruitment of the best candidates for vacant positions in an organisation.

Training managers

When employees receive training and guidance on their responsibilities, work operations can be smoother. HR trains managers to become knowledgeable and good change agents. You can make newly recruited managers see the reasons for business transformation. In the training process, listen actively to their questions, opinions and concerns. This makes the whole training process enjoyable and beneficial.

Communicates effectively

The human resource team of every organisation often has the responsibility of communicating with the employees or team members of the company or organisation. Through effective communication, they share their strategic ideas with different departments to help them clarify the company's visions and goals. With their effective communication abilities, they influence transformation or change through vital HR policies.

Employee relations roles

HR helps resolve conflicts between employees and employee relations. For a successful transformation process, HR personnel ensures that good relations exist between employees. They also ensure there's high organisational performance, enhanced engagement and loyalty between staff. Most times, HR acts as an intermediary between managers and employees and can establish fair working rules and regulations as it brings change to a work environment.

Related: Core HR functions and different human resource specialities

Key HR skills in change management

The different HR skills in change management include:


In change management, communication remains an important skill for an HR professional in achieving his goals. Lack of understanding of a change message in an organisation can make you less productive. Communicating with employees as an HR officer can help you know their thoughts on certain decisions. In communication, the HR professional also ensures that employees understand the change messages released. They also help employees achieve clarity over received messages by giving them clearer explanations in a group or personal meetings.

Sometimes, when there's no clarity of information, false messages can circulate and can result in making employees take contrary actions. Hence, the HR professional helps give clarity to employees through different channels, including informal chats, formal meetings, newsletters, intranet and podcasts.

Diagnosis and planning

HR has a key role to play in ensuring that change projects work smoothly. They're often skilled in asking suitable questions to initiate proper and detailed discussions with employees. HR personnel refer to this process as a diagnosis. Likewise, project planning occurs when there are large-scale goals for an organisation to achieve. HR, therefore, helps to educate team members on the mapped out goals and visions of the business. Hence, where the HR team has no diagnosis and planning skills, this can alter the smooth flow of work in the organisation.

Influence change

HR personnel can influence change in typical change management. Most of them can command respect, obedience and followership through their decisions and lifestyle. In preparation for change, HR can assess the readiness of employees, their strength of reasoning, and how large their plans are towards achieving solutions.

The crucial thing about influence is that it works alongside credibility and good interpersonal relationships. A skilled influential HR officer knows when to push, withdraw, ask questions and when to do the talking. The ability to influence change helps the HR department add more value to their work environment.

Active listening

Aside from communicating effectively, HR is also skilled in active listening. This helps you achieve your visualised results and change goals. Learn to listen carefully to the opinions of your employees and also to their feedback from your messages. Your change management plan is not complete if it's not understandable and does not meet your work goals.

So give your employees the chance to express themselves in meetings, share their ideas and dissatisfaction with any given information. It might look like a lot of work in the beginning, but it can later help you achieve your change goals and that of your employees in time.


With good leadership skills, human resource personnel can manage employees effectively. You know the best person for a specific office position, with strong reasons as a backup. Hence, leadership skills involve building good relationships with employees and relating to them both as a manager and as a friend. You can build trust with them and show them you care. Help them get engaged in meetings and make them feel important. Achieving these and more can boost your productivity and influence employees.

Strategic thinking

Strategic thinking gives you the chance to completely change management projects through strong strategies. Strategic thinking involves being limitless in thoughts. You can also think big on the different needs of an organisation and also on the different intricate means and roadmaps of achieving such needs. To think strategically, sensitivity to challenges around becomes very needful. It also involves writing the different steps required, together with possible timelines, for the achievement of the goals.

Related: Essential HR skills


Research allows you to gain extra knowledge and learn from the experience of other people. You get to study the change methodologies applied in different institutions and discover better ways to use them in your new change projects. You can also know about the past events of some businesses and how they developed new business models for their growing business. The research skill of a human resource practitioner can also support his strategic thinking skills.

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