HR professionals at NIMA offer the following tips on how to build an HR system from scratch in the wake of a merger.
• Start fresh. If you’ve got a diverse assortment of employees and managers accustomed to two very different workplace cultures, you’re only going to risk deepening the divisions if you force either of them to accept the other’s HR practices. Instead, take the opportunity to create a new system that ideally will improve on the legacies and better serve everyone.
• When in doubt, streamline. NIMA radically reduced the number of pay grades and occupational classifications, simplifying the cumbersome setup of its predecessor agencies. The result was a simpler, more adaptable HR system.
• Establish employee ownership. Invite your workforce to participate in the design, implementation, and evaluation of the new system by recruiting them to serve on committees that hammer out the details of your broad vision. People are more likely to support a system that they had a role in creating.
• Understand the nuts and bolts. NIMA’s HR team put a lot of energy into studying the entire range of jobs at the agency, and what sorts of skills and qualifications were required to perform them. Compiling such a database can help you to structure occupational categories and pay scale, and makes it possible for you to develop recruiting, training, and promotion initiatives that serve the organization’s needs with precision.
• Build nimbleness and flexibility into the system. If you want to be able to cope with the unexpected, don’t carve your HR practices in stone. Instead, deploy your system gradually, and set up employee committees to offer continuous feedback and suggest possible improvements.
Workforce, August 2002, p. 48 -- Subscribe Now!