HR will give you advice about compliance and avoiding risk. The HR industry has become, like the legal profession, an ambulance at the bottom of the cliff. By the time you need them, it’s too late. At best HR advice might help prevent you from getting in to court. The problem is that this does not help you raise the bar, it does not help you to improve your organisation’s performance, it does not help you change the culture. It merely helps you avoid being in court.
HR is concerned with the formal lines of communication in the organisation. HR advice follows the organisation chart. What I mean by this is that in the HR world, communication happens in cascades. It trickles down from the managers to the staff through channels that follow the formal reporting lines of the organisation chart.
And in the world of HR and corporate communications, "communication" has come to mean "key messages" that the powerful people want to give to the less powerful people. The key messages are delivered through the formal channels of communication. These key messages are usually about the more powerful people wanting the less powerful people to do things differently. If the less powerful people question this, it is called "resistance."
And yet it is also common knowledge that the informal networks of communication are so important that they can destroy even the best-executed planned communications programme. The grapevine can destroy or subvert initiatives from head office. These informal networks inhabit the white space of the organisation chart.
As a CEO or manager of an organisation undergoing change, I think you must make sure your change initiatives take account of the white space in the organisation chart. In times of change you should be considering the informal communication networks in your organisation as well as the formal reporting lines.
The question is how to do this. I have found engaging in two way conversations rather than one way presentations to be the best way. The danger is that things will go out of your control if you truly engage with them. Don’t worry about that. After all, you never were in control any way. Right?