As 2012 ends and the new year begins, many corporations are shifting to accommodate the new tax law and regulations which are coming down the pipe. Times of changing vision are stressful for all employees. Human resources professionals have a double role in these tense times: Not only are they serving as agents of change in the corporate culture, they’re serving as listeners and support for employees who are frustrated and nervous because of recent changes. Being an astute HR manager means keeping a consistent presence throughout the transition and keeping HR policies up to date, ensuring they reflect the new company direction. This sounds easier than it is, especially during chaotic transitions, but these tips can help you keep your focus in times of realignment.

1. Get to know the strategic plan: A three- or five-year strategic plan outlines the goals and direction of organizational growth. Familiarizing yourself with the growth objectives makes realignment easier, because it helps you determine why changes are being asked for and what type of change will really fill a need. In essence, this allows you to be a strategic partner. For example, a strategic plan emphasizes a focus on technology. A current employee gives his notice and a manager asks you to advertise his position. Knowing that technological changes are coming down the road and that technology is a priority of the company’s strategic plan, you may push back on this one. Advocate that the job as advertised may not be relevant to the company’s needs and suggest that you re-examine the position before hiring, so the company can come out ahead.

2. Keep a focus on people: HR specialists are renowned for their people skills, and in times of change these skills are most important. An effective HR manager is someone who can listen impartially to both sides of an argument. If an employee comes to you with concerns about a coworker, listen to both parties, then reflect upon company goals and directives. Employee disputes may not be a case of right or wrong, but of what the best decision is for the company. Your familiarity with policies and goals qualifies you to settle this dispute and ensure all employees are on board with goals. Outsourcing some of your responsibilities to a dedicated human resources provider can free up time to focus on answering questions and keeping a closer eye on company morale.

3. Write effective policies. Your policies should reflect your company’s direction — and when the company changes direction, policies should, too. Conduct a periodical review of policies, making a point of reviewing and updating internal and external documentation in times of change. Your knowledge of the strategic plan will help you craft policies that reflect the direction of growth. Be aware that writing effective policies is only half of the battle. You’ll need to get feedback from higher-ups to make sure that your new policies accurately reflect the direction of change. After you update policies, hold workshops or briefings and explain the changes to all employees. Be on hand to answer any questions people may have. Employees can feel frustrated or under attack when things change without notice.

For all of these measures, communication is key. Especially in times of corporate shift, communicate clearly and frequently with all parties. This create buy-in to the new policies and reinforces loyalty in times of change. Always keep the end goal in mind when communicating, whether it’s customer service or growth in a new sector, so that you frame policies effectively.