Change Management with Mark Babbitt and Geoff Dubiski

Hosted by Chris Dyer, the CEO of PeopleG2 – TalentTalk Radio features engaging conversation with CEOs, thought leaders and HR executives.  TalentTalk connects professionals who care about talent-related issues and having the cultural mindset to embrace the needed diversity of the workplace.

Today’s guests are Mark Babbitt, President of Switch and Shift and Geoff Dubiski, Global Talent Executive at WilsonHCG. To hear the entire show, click here.

On the show today, the guests discuss best practices for bringing about change within organizations, utilizing effective change management and breaking away from traditional approaches.

Mark Babbitt change management

Mark Babbitt currently serves as the President at Switch and Shift, a consultancy that helps organizations make the transition from the industrial age to the social age. “We try to inject and reinject the human side into the business because in the industrial age we lost that a little bit,” explains Babbitt. Hence, Babbitt and his team help develop skills such as active listening, collaboration, and customer and employee engagement.

Babbitt believes that the business practices taught in business schools are still based on a manufacturing environment. According to him, boomers like having command and control and that guides their leadership style. But now that they are asked to listen and collaborate and get answers from others instead of being the go-to people for all answers, it’s a difficult task. On the other hand, millennials are the first generation of workers who have given themselves the permission to actually enjoy work and learn every day. They want to be a part of the solution.

Resistance to Change

Generational issues may be one of the reasons why companies continue to resist a change in the work culture. But according to Babbitt, it all boils down to the “that’s how we’ve always done it” syndrome. It’s a very common problem with legacy companies such as the Fortune 100s, as they’ve had the same layer of management, processes, silos and hierarchy for decades. Thus, when consultants such as Babbitt come in and recommend change, it can be quite difficult for them to accept it.

The other driver of resistance is that there is typically a dip when the changes are implemented and new processes are put in place that can affect core business metrics such as productivity and retention. “It’s when you come out of the dip that you realize how wonderfully it’s working. But it takes some time to get there,” Babbitt explains.

Communication Problems

According to Babbitt it is key to engage the right people at the right time when identifying solutions. If senior leadership continues to make decisions without involving the people who are actually facing the challenges at hand, then it’s not going to solve real problems. It’s just like applying bandage over another bandage but not really treating anything from the root. “Once the root cause is established and you have the decision makers and the front-line people in the same room, you realize how easy it is to find effective solutions,” says Babbitt. However, he appreciates that it is a huge transition in process for most companies.

Creating Pockets of Excellence

Babbitt says that his company follows what his colleague Shawn Murphy calls “creating pockets of excellence.” Essentially, the approach means that you don’t have to change everything at the same time. You can take a small team and decide to be solution-focused and emphasize doing it right. This small team can actually start making a difference. The productivity changes, creativity increases and the team feels more engaged. When these results start showing, everyone in the organization notices the difference and starts wondering how the team achieved it. “Once this pocket of excellence starts to propagate, everyone wants a piece of it. Everyone realizes there’s a different and maybe a better way to do things. That is how we approach implementing change,” elaborates Babbitt. “There is nothing worse than a person shouting that ‘we’re going to change.’ That doesn’t work. There should be real world examples and role models–and that’s our approach.”

Why Change?

In his book A World Gone Social: How Companies Must Adapt to Survive,” Babbitt’s opening line is – “Change is typically the result of unsurmountable market pressure.” He believes that people don’t like to change and they would never want to do it willingly. “The reality is that change is not that bad…change can be refreshing and rejuvenating,” shares Babbitt. He believes that companies should personally involve their people with the mission and what it’s trying to achieve. That’ll make them realize the need for change and will give them both a voice and a role in the transition.

Social Leadership

In the industrial age, employees did what they were told. They were ordered not to bring up a problem or stand out. However, in today’s work environment there is a rise in “social leadership,” which doesn’t adhere to such industrial age norms. Focus is shifting toward creativity, innovation and improving processes. Even a function such as HR has undergone a huge change with this new type of leadership. HR professionals have now started abandoning resumes and job descriptions. They focus on getting the right people who fit the company’s culture and align with the company’s mission.

How Can People Connect With You?

Connect with Mark on Twitter at @MarkSBabbitt.

Geoff Dubiski change management

Geoff Dubiski is a Global Talent Executive at WilsonHCG, after beginning his career as a recruiter 22 years ago. He believes he’s been fortunate to be able to blend his love for all kinds of business and his belief that HR is a profit accelerator for companies. His team looks at all areas that influence talent attraction such as employment branding and employee value proposition. They specifically look into attrition trends, career paths and more importantly, whether or not the business growth plan is aligned with the HR strategies and vice versa. Ensuring the quality of hire, attracting success profiles by going beyond the job descriptions, and taking a look at talent processes from onboarding and training are core elements of Dubiski’s work. The transformation practice that he leads takes very broad implications around the HR operating model and pushes the business partner model to the forefront of an organization. They identify ways in which business partners can align with business leaders to grow the company and retain good talent.

Transforming Talent Recruitment

There’s a constant war for talent, according to Dubiski, and organizations should always be battling for good talent that’s out there. He suggests a different approach to the way in which organizations are attracting their candidates. It’s a “back to basics” approach that focuses on skills and engagement. Dubiski says that organizations focus heavily on the job opening that needs to be filled because of talent shortage. According to him, it’s time to start migrating the discussions from job descriptions to gap and skills. “Technology, competition, service platform and product lines are changing at a dramatic pace. There is an inability in the marketplace to supply individuals that actually have the direct skills needed to address this change. Organizations that have a competitive advantage in the talent space today are the ones that are engaging talent networks and are looking at very broad and diversified talent pools with significantly different recruiting strategies. And once they get the talent into the door, they also emphasize the learning and development of those individuals, which allows for not only retention but also stability,” Dubiski sums up.

Discover, Design and Deploy

Dubiski has a process that he calls “Discover, Design and Deploy”–or the 3D process–where the first step of discovery goes beyond data collection and analysis. Instead, it is about working alongside people who are performing particular functions or talking to candidates who were not chosen for a job or ex-employees. This helps comprehend the psyche of the organization and identify the employer brand and employee value proposition. This process ultimately equips the organization become a ‘destination employer.’

The Design stage is all about going back to basics by examining current systems in place and considering process re-engineering. It’s more about the adaptation of best practices the organization implements versus the gaps that need to be filled. It also looks at both the needs of the business today and in the future.

“The Deploy stage is where the rubber meets the road,” says Dubiski. “It’s beyond contract negotiations for new technology platform or a third-party administrator they may need. It’s the implementation, migration and stabilization under the HR operating model. And the key to all of this is change management.”

HR as a Strategic Partner

HR has traditionally been looked upon as more of an executional role rather than a strategic partner. However, Dubiski believes that HR has come a long way over the years. HR executives are now calculating ROIs on the programs they’re implementing. They’ve also been able to show that accelerated talent acquisition can get sales people up and running sooner, which results in faster production, which eventually results in products hitting the market quicker and affecting the P&L faster as well. “HR has done a phenomenal job at walking and talking the business language. The gap is slowly filling up. HR has demonstrated the values and yet it’s fighting its way to get a seat at the table. It’s a travesty because we have people showing how to get the transactions moved more efficiently at less costs and yet, time and again, there seems to be some obstacle in the leadership’s mind that isn’t giving HR its due. It has started to change little by little but honestly, I thought we’d be much further along than we are today,” says Dubiski.

What Are You Reading?

Dubiski is currently reading Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imaginationby Neal Gabler. The book dives in to the early beginnings of Disney guided by Walt’s phenomenal passion. In the 30’s, the company was a great cultivator of talent and one that understood the importance of investing early on, not only in people but also competitive differentiators that organizations still need today– such as continuously adapting its processes and training its people. The book focuses on the massive success story that Disney has become in spite of the several failures Walt encountered.

How Can People Connect With You?

Connect with Geoff via LinkedIn or Twitter via @TalentScout1.