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You are lucky if you’re the HR practitioner whose advice is followed without challenge and who is consulted oracle-like before any action is taken toward change.  More often, change is already underway by the time HR is first involved: thought processes gone through; decisions have been made; perhaps even action taken. 

Entering the change process at this stage, HR must be able to assess how sound the reasoning is, how much the readiness has been examined, how robust the plans for solutions are  and how much attention is being paid to the effect on the people.  Any weaknesses or gaps found in the assessment put HR in the position of needing to slow things down and get their clients to re-examine earlier decisions, assumptions or actions.  It is impossible to do this without strong influencing skills.

Influence is underpinned by credibility and made easier through relationship and HR practitioners must devote energy to establishing their credibility and building their relationships widely so that when the time comes to need to influence, the ground will be fertile. The art of influence is knowing when to push and when to pull; when to ask and when to tell; when to pace the client and when to lead. It is knowing how to insist without dogmatism; how to compromise without folding; and how to withdraw leaving the way open for future progress.

Without influence, the HR practitioner is confined to executing the will of the leaders and cannot add true value to the direction and management of change.

This article (found on their website) is written by Jan Hills who is the partner at Orion Partners and responsible for the HR strategy and HR capability service lines. Jan co-wrote the Gower book Developing HR Talent which is part of the Gower HR Transformation Series.

Developing HR Talent