HR Programs

Navigating Common Objections To Launching New HR Programs

In McKinsey & Company’s recent article titled “Getting Organizational Redesign Right”, research showed that modern companies are in a constant state of flux, and nearly 60% of the executives surveyed had experienced and organization shift in the past two years. In the rush to stay competitive, your Human Resource team is tasked with designing programs to optimize efficiency and reduce costs across your organization. These new programs are often met with opposition from managers that are resistant to change or overwhelmed with their day-to-day responsibilities. Unfortunately, the report suggests your managers have a valid reason to be skeptical because “less than a quarter of organizational-redesign efforts succeed: Forty-four percent run out of steam after getting under way, and a third fail to meet objectives or improve performance after implementation.”’s recent survey of 220 senior-level HR professionals indicated the biggest roadblocks to implementing new programs are time constraints, lack of leadership buy-in and budget concerns. Here are some tips on changing management’s perception when launching a new HR program:

Investment Of Time

A common objection to implementing new HR programs is the time invested in the ramp-up period. The McKinsey & Company article stressed the importance of managing transitional risks such as business service interruptions or poorly timed program launches. For example, if your company’s product has major fluctuations in seasonal demand, you’ll want to plan your HR program launch for the lower volume months. Your HR team needs a plan to provide ample training in advance of the program launch as well as ongoing training to keep internal teams productive. To overcome objections about the time investment, you have to show that you understand your company’s business cycles and that you’ve provided a solution that has the least amount of impact to project schedules.

Management Buy-In

Lack of support from management becomes a major roadblock when implementing new HR programs. A great way to overcome this challenge is to include management throughout the planning phase so they take ownership of the solution. In a recent article for Training Magazine, authors Bonnie Hagemann and Steve Terrell, Ed.D wisely pointed out that when management is not included the needs assessment phase “HR is put in a position of having to “sell” their solution to a skeptical audience, resulting in low sponsorship and support from [management].” Once you align your HR program’s goals with each manager’s responsibilities, it will be much easier to convince the leadership teams to comply.

Budget Concerns

Another common roadblock to implementing new HR programs is getting the budget approved. Many programs require a large initial cash outlay with the projected analysis of costs vs. benefits spread over multiple terms. HR managers need to demonstrate the expected ROI for their programs as well as the opportunity cost of not taking action. In addition, the program costs may be split between the HR team and the departments affected by the program requiring budget approvals from multiple stakeholders. Be sure to tie the immediate benefits of the program back to the firm’s core business objectives to make the most convincing argument.

Overall Value To The Firm

Finally, your new HR program needs to demonstrate its overall value to the firm. Change for the sake of change will likely meet opposition, and HR leaders need to be wary of jumping on the bandwagon each time a new organizational model hits the streets. The program needs to support both the current operations of your firm as well as the changing demands of your industry. The best way to demonstrate the expected benefits of your new HR program is to provide case studies that highlight similar successful programs at comparable firms. By carefully selecting companies of a similar size that have a similar focus, your research will help your management team connect the dots between the documented successes and your new program.

The success of your HR program depends on the adoption rate of the new initiative and the measurable results that can be attributed to the organizational changes. It’s critical to reach outside of your HR department and gain supporters throughout your organization. Launching a strategic program is only effective if your internal teams comply, otherwise it’s just another file in the data archives. Candidly addressing budget and time constraints is a great way to gain trust and foster management buy-in. By proactively seeking supporters and having answers to common objections, your HR team is able to manage expectations about the financial and operational impacts of your plan.