HR is important in change processes, according to two studies by Great Place to Work and Bora. But even more important are the empathy of managers and a trust-based corporate culture.

The favourable financing opportunities are having their effect on the corporate landscape: intentions to tackle mergers & acquisitions (M&A) are at a five-year high worldwide. However, it turns out that more than half of all mergers only partially succeed or even fail.

As an HR expert in the TJP Group, Bora surveyed the factors that determine success and failure among top managers and HR managers in Austria - and presented them these days in a joint event with Great Place to Work (GPTW) at the Management Club.

The central question was what role human resources aspects play and how crucial the HR department is to success. "The empathy of managers and sensitivity in dealing with the cultural fit is the decisive parameter for leading a transaction and integration to long-term success," said the two study leaders Otto Stökl and Susan Jandl. HR occupies an important place in the company and is necessary as a strategic and professional "handler": "But HR cannot replace the role of top management." This statement, emphasised Stökl and Jandl, would be independent of the size of the company.


Change is a permanent theme

Great Place to Work also presented a study on the major topic of change and dedicated itself to the "trust-based corporate culture as a success factor for change processes".

Although restructuring is almost part of everyday professional life, it is always a great challenge for all those involved. Expressed in figures: Three quarters of the respondents were currently in a change process or had recently completed it, said GPTW Managing Director Doris Palz.

The results show that during the change process, preference is given less to communicative, open, self-confident and flexible leaders and more to authoritarian, business-oriented and serious leaders.


Knowing where to go

The prerequisite is a basic trust between leadership and staff. "Authoritative", says Palz, "means above all giving security, because employees need someone in change situations who knows where things are going and whom they trust." Not surprisingly, three quarters of the respondents confirm that a trust-based corporate culture promotes change success.

As part of the study presentation, change experts Raimund Gfrerer (Management Trust Holding), Thomas Dewald (Mundipharma) and Thomas Jungreithmeir (Partner TJP) together with Doris Palz and Otto Stökl, moderated by Michael Köttritsch ("Die Presse"), discussed the aspirations and reality of HR in practice. The most important findings:

  • Setting clear goals, involving and empowering managers in a structured way are the basis for successful change. It is equally important to involve employees and celebrate results.
  • Companies with a developed culture of trust have advantages: Employees believe in their leaders and trust them to manage change well.
  • There are many ways to deal with cultural fit, but you have to do it consciously and in a coordinated way.
  • Companies that place a high value on HR also take HR issues into account during the transaction process.
  • HR's contribution to the success of the transaction is mostly focused on informing and retaining key staff.

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