The power of the right story: how to make your HR project a success

Gaining internal support is crucial for the success of any HR project. But how can you, as an HR professional, ensure that your project receives enough backing? This was the main question during the session by Bruno Bianchi, strategic advisor, at the 2024 SAP HR Connect. In this blog, we reflect on his inspiring session about leadership and speaking the right language.

Choosing the right story. That’s what the visitors of SAP HR Connect 2024 did. After a plenary opening, breakout sessions offered various stories and insights. These sessions took place in several smaller rooms at the event venue DeFabrique in Utrecht. The attending SAP customers and partners chose the story most relevant or interesting to them. “Everyone chooses their own story because everyone has different needs,” said Bruno Bianchi as he opened his breakout session ‘Choose your HR story and let leadership support your project.’ “That’s exactly what’s important to remember. Everyone wants to achieve what’s important to them. That is the core of successful HR management.”


Bianchi bridged this concept to large HR projects, such as rolling out a talent management program or implementing a new HR information system. “To make such a project successful, as an HR leader, you must continuously choose the right story. This means you not only need to have a clear understanding of your project and goals but also recognize whose support you need and how to approach these people.”


What’s in it for me?

“Without the support of leaders, your project won’t get off the ground,” he said. “But every leader is different and has their own problems, priorities, interests, and ways of communicating. A production manager and a CFO, for example, have fundamentally different jobs, rhythms, and cultures. Additionally, you also deal with influential people who are not part of the management team. As an HR professional, you must continually tailor your message to the language of these specific individuals and ensure that you can explain within three minutes how your project benefits them directly. Change your words and choose the right story.”


“Because ultimately, it’s not about you, it’s about them,” Bianchi emphasized. “While you may be focused on HR, others within the organization have different KPI’s and a different perspective. You need to position your HR project leveraging the themes of: delivery of strategy, risk & governance, operations & financial, and other benefits. Only with the right story can you get people on board. Because everyone ultimately thinks about one thing: what’s in it for me?”


Get great at their world

Bianchi shared several important tips. “Use organisational threats or negative events and turn it into something positive by showing what your project can deliver or avoid, e.g., reducing high impact threats. Use benchmarking, data, and sound organisation-specific logic to strengthen your story. Don’t just talk about the benefits, but also be honest about the challenges and potential criticism your project might face, both internally and externally. This ensures your message is taken seriously because it is recognizable and relevant to each stakeholder.”


Thus, an HR transformation is much more than an HR project. As an HR leader, you won’t be able to structurally change or improve something in your organization alone. “Your story must directly align to what stakeholders in your organization want to achieve. Just like here, at HR Connect. You are here because this is relevant to you. Get great at grasping their world, support them, and speak their language… while doing your HR stuff.”


Is your organization ready for an HR transformation and would you like to know more about SAP SuccessFactors or our change management tools? Get in touch with our specialists. Send an email to bruno.bianchi@sap.com.