To Change or Not to Change?

Posted by: on Feb 1, 2010 | 5 Comments

One of our top notch HR Bloggers and HR Technology instructor at RIT, Steve Boese, asked the HR blogosphere if we would host some guest blogs for his students.  I raised my virtual hand as fast as I could and I sure am glad as one of Steve’s students sent me a fabulous guest post.

Today I am hosting a guest post from RJ Nicolais. RJ is just getting into the Twitter thing so if everyone could please follow him and give him encouragement to update his BIO and avatar and maybe add a couple more tweets, that would be great. I don’t want to embarrass RJ by mentioning all the wonderful things he said about my blog but lets just say he will go far in life if he keeps up the compliments.  RJ and I share some similar thoughts about HR and technology and all kidding aside, please give RJ your full attention for this great post about being afraid of change.


To Change or Not to Change?

I’ve worked at several different organizations throughout my career in human resources and have noticed that they all have one thing in common: they are afraid of change.  Not just any change, but a special kind of change.  As HR professionals, we are supposed to be the “champions of change” and yet have difficulty changing ourselves.  We can take on wellness initiatives and change whole benefit structures (not to mention that we shoulder the responsibility for broader company culture shifts) but when it comes to technology we’re just plain frightened.  I would have used another colloquialism to tell you how I feel about it but that would be inappropriate.

The rate at which “technology” changes and evolves is totally insane – but that is the nature of the beast.  You can learn to accept it and embrace those changes or you can choose to resist and get left the in the proverbial dust.  I should probably tell you that I don’t think I’m really frightened, so I make that correction to the statement I made above.  There are those of us who truly embrace technology changes and get downright excited about them.  So we demo software and the newest (SaaS) solution for HR and we start to drool thinking about how much we can accomplish in so little time.  We may even start to sweat a little when we see the pretty interface we get to look at every day.

Then we talk to our bosses about it and our dreams are shattered.

“It’s too expensive.”  “There is too much at stake in a change.”  “It’s just not possible this year – maybe next year we can talk about it.” Or, my all-time favorite: “What we have now works just fine.” Those are all valid answers to valid fears.  I think that we need to get past those fears.  HR needs to spend the money to get the right solution at the right time.  Get the product that will be the most use to the company right now when growing the business is more important than ever.

Trying to work within the constructs of old software that doesn’t support the business any longer isn’t productive.  Excel isn’t a means to an end.  That is what scares me – outdated software and massive Excel spreadsheets.  It’s the stuff nightmares are made of.


  1. Ben Eubanks
    February 1, 2010

    RJ, this post hits the spot. I’m working with a fellow HR coworker and tech geek to propose a complete revamping of our corporate website and intranet. We have so many big plans for this thing, and I can see those fears already coming our way. Ugh. Blarg.

    Great post, RJ. If you ever want to hang in my guest house and do a post for me, just let me know. You’ve got it down, even if you tell Mike his site is good. 🙂

    • RJ Nicolais
      February 3, 2010

      Thanks for the encouragement! I work with the intranet at the company I work for and thankfully I wasn’t here for its implementation – I am sure it was a big pain. However, the employees seem to really like it and find it to be useful, which is great!

  2. Steve Boese
    February 1, 2010

    Michael – Thanks so much for hosting RJ’s guest post, much appreciated!

    RJ- Excellent job, and I love the ‘Excel isn’t a means to an end’ line, classic! Very nice and truthful post, good stuff.

  3. Paul Hebert
    February 1, 2010

    Change does’t occur at the speed of technology – it happens at the speed of people. We are still analog (well, most of you anyway) and we need to fit technology changes into that context.

    In my experience (and unfortunately, I have a lot) tech folks need to focus on the people side of the equation as much as the tech side. While I empathize with you on this issue (been there done that) – the backlash against change when forced, coerced, or simply mandated – is more damaging than the damage caused by any adoption lag. You’re still better off a bit late but wholly embraced!

    • RJ Nicolais
      February 3, 2010

      I whoreheartedly agree with you regarding forced change. I wasn’t at all suggesting that “tech folks” should enforce mandated technology changes. What I am suggesting is that companies who are using outdated solutions look into whether a change would be right for them. I don’t think there should be such a clear division between those of us who enjoy technology and “everybody else.” We’re moving too fast for that….or at least we should be.