In the current digital age, technological advancements are providing challenges to organizations in every sector, all around the world. The impact of digitization is wide-reaching. Whether it be developing digital business models, using technology to improve both client and employee experiences, or implementing digitized business practices, organizations have to take the steps to evolve their digital maturity. Many organizations make the mistake however of thinking that becoming more digital is as simple as investing in new and innovative technology. The reality is far more complex. Along with investments in technology, there must be new partnerships and processes, tailored to organizational, leader, team, and individual capabilities.
Moving towards digitization will drastically change the way an organization operates. As the organization moves towards a digital future, their work and practices will need to be optimized. This may result in conflict within teams, as the launch of new innovation projects, sees them doing things they never have before, to more pressurized timelines. Success may depend on employees gaining additional knowledge, and learning new skills. To get things done the current trend is to parachute in contractors or resources from other ecosystem partners. These individuals must assimilate quickly within environments that are often quite dissimilar from where they have come. They must also effectively work within diverse teams that demonstrate agility to achieve challenging goals with tight timelines.
At an employee level, the pressure is increasing on both leaders and individual contributors to evolve their mindset and upgrade their skills to work more efficiently and effectively in the new digital environment. Research has proven that for innovation to truly succeed everyone in the organization needs to adopt an owner’s mindset. People also need to continuously think in a client centric way, constantly looking for opportunities to do new and innovative things that benefit their customers, exceeding their expectations, while delivering better business results. Employees must learn to better leverage technology tools to increase personal productivity and work in more collaborative ways with a broader group of stakeholders.
During the demanding process of digitizing a company, there are four steps that human resources professionals and business leaders can take, to increase the likelihood of success:
1. The right job for the right candidate
A digital organization requires the appropriate talent to be utilized in the right places. Talent will thrive when placed in the right job role, contributing greatly to the success of a new digital strategy. If an employee does not have the necessary skills or expertise for the new demands of their role, then some job restructuring may be required. The starting point for this redistribution of talent is to assess what already exists within the organization. To do this HR leaders must ensure that the procedures exist (or are rapidly implemented) to facilitate career conversations between leaders and employees. Redistributing talent to more appropriate roles, not only benefits the individual but also the organization by meeting new demands quicker.
If outside hiring is necessary, organizations need to carefully consider how to find the right candidate. As dramatically different skill sets may be necessary throughout a digital transformation, the short-term hiring of a team of experts for particular assignments may prove more effective than one permanent hire who may not possess all of the capabilities required. Leveraging the talent that already exists within the organization ecosystem is also a viable option. Finally, as the barriers between humans and machines disappear, HR professionals and business leaders will have to learn to leverage technology, automating different tasks to complement the human workforce.
Success in digitization of an organization is dependent on strong leadership. Organizations need to first establish if they have the right leaders—those who can beat the competition and avoid disruption by setting and executing an innovative strategy. An organization needs to be aware of all emerging inside talent, to be able to implement succession plans, so there will be no break in business continuity if leaders retire or move onto new roles. There needs to be accountability at all leadership levels. Competing in the current business environment is more challenging than ever before. Tough decisions are inevitable, and leaders must be prepared to make them, holding themselves accountable for the outcome.
3. Educate in Effective Teamwork
Innovation is impossible if teams cannot cooperate efficiently. Collaboration does not come naturally to everyone, and teams are becoming more diverse, which can lead to conflict and prolong the time to become fully productive. Teams and individuals within those teams must learn how to work in harmony, to minimize unproductive behaviors. Training team leaders how to manage their teams effectively to boost performance is a necessary part of any leadership curriculum. This will also enable the early identification or teams that are under performing, so support can be swiftly administered to get them back on track.
4. Remember Change is Continuous
As organizations continue to evolve, so must their attitudes towards the management of change. In today’s business world, change is not a one-off event it is occurring continuously at an ever-increasing pace. During digital transformation, neglecting the management of change can be seriously detrimental to an organization. It can lead to low levels of morale in employees, increased employee turnover, failure of innovation projects, and even unhappy customers. Programs that address the impact of change, and included in digital planning, are essential in any organization. Furthermore, teaching employees to be resilient to these changes, will help an organization to adjust to the ‘new normal’.