Why do so many change management initiatives fail?

Implementing Unbiased Hiring Practices: How to Practice Effective Change Management

Change, we all know, is inevitable. So why do so many change management initiatives fail? 

Research has shown that a whopping 70% of transformation projects fall short of expectations due to one simple oversight: employee buy-in.  Harry Robinson, Senior Partner at McKinsey and head of the firm’s Transformation Practice notes: “During the early stages of the transformation, [the CEO] doesn’t build conviction within the team about the importance of this change or craft a change narrative that convinces people they need to make the transformation happen. People throughout the organization don’t buy in, and they don’t want to invest extra energy to make change happen.”

What does this mean for new talent management strategies?

Companies with high levels of diversity and inclusion consistently outperform those that don’t. So, as more organizations appreciate the value of diversity and inclusion, many are redesigning their talent management function to increase equity in hiring. 

Unbiased hiring, sometimes called ‘blind hiring,’ plays a key role in removing unconscious preferences from the recruitment process. But the changes required may feel like a significant shift to some of your team. From scrubbing personal data from resumes to relying on skills tests rather than educational credentials, some of the most effective techniques for removing bias from hiring can feel unorthodox.

You may be considering a procedural overhaul or just tweaking existing practices. These change management techniques will help win you the employee buy-in you need to make the transition a success.

Emphasize diversity as a core value

Remind employees that inclusion and diversity are foundational to your culture. This makes new processes or procedures feel less like a shift, and more like leveling up. Rather than asking employees to adapt to an unfamiliar concept, you’re recommitting as a team to the shared vision of a more diverse and inclusive workplace. 

Explains Katherine McNamee, Director of Human Resources at the American Alliance of Museums: “For us, to support AAM’s Strategic Plan focus area of diversity, equity, accessibility and inclusion, our recruitment goal is to attract the most qualified candidates and broaden the diversity of our applicant pools. We review this goal with hiring teams at the beginning of each search. As people began to understand the objective, we encountered less resistance to trying new methods.”

Share your mission widely

Take the time to craft a transformation narrative that explains how a new unbiased hiring strategy supports your organization in meeting future growth and development goals. Consider what feels attainable and desirable to your hiring teams based on feedback, while ensuring that the vision feels realistic to employees.

Identify your Champions of Change Management

Management plays a critical role in any significant change. They’re the ones ultimately responsible for implementing policies and ensuring compliance. But front-line employees are just as important. Single out ‘Champions of Change’ to spearhead new process rollouts and collect feedback from colleagues. A top-down approach can feel heavy-handed and lead to resentment. Therefore, inviting collaboration and input at all levels reduces the risk of resistance and encourages a team mentality. 

Keep communication clear and simple

When discussing a new unbiased hiring strategy with employees or managers, focus on a few key concepts or objectives. Zeroing in on a few key ideas and goals builds a coherent narrative around the transformation process and helps team members at all levels see the bigger picture.

Transparency in communication also builds trust. It prevents gossip from hijacking conversations around shifts in policy or practice that some employees may find controversial. 

Show how unbiased hiring adds value

Demonstrate how a shift to unbiased hiring practices will reduce your HR department’s workload or simplify an existing talent management pipeline. Connect new tools and processes to a need or pain point within your organization’s recruitment and onboarding processes. It creates an immediate, positive incentive and gives employees a stake in creating successful change. 

Provide ongoing change management driven training

If your shift to an unbiased hiring strategy involves new software systems or technical solutions, give your employees ample time to adjust while mastering the technology. Cangrade’s Workforce Development tools allow employees to complete a variety of training at their own pace and repeat as necessary. Some team members may be in need of specialized support. Tailored training pathways ensure that managers and front-line workers alike receive the knowledge and resources necessary to navigate transitions.

Create urgency and excitement around change management initiatives

Crises have a way of bringing out the best in people. This could mean creative problem solving, pulling together as a team, or pushing through to meet the deadline. Obviously, you shouldn’t create an actual disaster to motivate your employees. However, you can produce the same response by proposing short-term, high-priority ‘mini-challenges’ centered around implementing different aspects of your unbiased hiring initiative.

Like any other process rollout, shifting to blind hiring may present challenges to hiring managers or recruiters. Usually, these stakeholders value the efficiency of familiar processes. Making the effort to communicate a shared vision and commitment to company values along with the practical benefits of unbiased hiring processes increases employee buy-in, as well as your chances of success. 

For more information on how to leverage machine learning and artificial intelligence to design an unbiased hiring strategy, contact us.

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