What It Means to Digitally Transform a Workforce

March 22, 2018
Alex Muenzberg

Author

Alex Muenzberg

Instructional Design Specialist | Linkedin

Just a few days ago, a friend of mine shared an interesting graphic on LinkedIn. The graphic showed the different views that management, IT, corporate communication and classic HR typically have when it comes to thoughts on digitally transforming a workforce. Management may typically think, “People have to adapt” and it is done, IT might see the right toolset in the foreground. For corporate communications it might be essential to just “communicate” the transformation. HR and L&D might add “skill set” to the right “toolset” and hope that together it can master the digital transformation of the company’s employees. But that’s not the whole story. There is one important step missing in the very beginning and it does not end with just providing skill- and toolsets.

The missing link at the start of the transformation is the right mindset. As with every change, people need to be aware as to why they should change, why they need new skill sets, what new tools might be necessary, and how all of this will improve their way of working. How does the change help the company or, why is it a necessity for the company to be competitive in the future? What are the benefits for me personally? How does it affect my way of working?

 

Digitizing the business

Change management can be very challenging, depending on the organizational culture and on how aligned people are to a common vision and to the goals of the business transformation. In order to digitize the business the workforce has to digitally transform first. And, here again, it is the mindset that allows them to work more towards a more flexible, collaborative, virtual and productive environment with new digital tools. Once that groundwork is done, we can start to work on the skill sets and start implementing the new tools.

Interestingly enough, several studies (example) show that C-Level management thinks that most of their employees are not ready to start the digital journey or do not have the right skills to reach the intended digital goals. It is that skill gap that they fear, and quite often that fear leads to some fast – and sometimes ineffective – efforts. Efforts that might not lead to the expected goals, or even create more resistance towards the digital journey. With the right mindset created before the implementation of skills and tools, people are more apt to follow the journey.

You might also ask, “Can’t we just hire digital natives with the ‘right’ mindset and with the skills that we need in the future?” To a limited extent, of course! But, you will also need to bring the new mindset and skills to all the employees that are currently working in your company. There is a simple reason for this: you will need to apply the new digital workflows to your business to be successful in the future. You will also need to leverage the proprietary knowledge and expertise of your current employees to do that. They are the ones that know the business in and out, that have the contacts in the industry, and that know what your customers are asking for.

Change is hard for everyone – both veterans in the business, as well as newcomers. However, a culture known as the “modern error culture” can help with this transition. Not everyone has experience using digital workflows and tools, and thus errors (or a learning curve) need to be allowed to keep employees open to the idea of trying new tools, using the new digital workflows and joining in on the path to the digital future. “Try and learn” should be the motto from the top down. Management, and all other employees, need to start experimenting and integrating new digital technologies step-by-step.

Foundation for awareness

As a member of the Learning & Development (L&D) team at SoftwareONE, I am happy to work for a company in which people are acutely aware that we need to constantly transform and disrupt. The foundation for this awareness is our unique company culture and the strong focus on our core values in the daily business. Another important factor is the transparency across the company, with leadership sharing their vision for transformation and being advocates for change.

The buy in from top leadership is the foundation for the L&D team to help bring the mindset and skill set to the employee base to advance on our digital journey. With strong support and commitment from the complete leadership team, we are happy to offer modern training and development opportunities – learning experiences that not only teach our employees how to use the tools and how to acquire new skills, but that also address the mindset beforehand.

L&Ds latest contribution includes a workshop, “Drive Change,” and an associated process to complement the workshop. Both of these have been delivered to the organization to support that important “mindset change.” SoftwareONE is committed to helping our employees and customers embrace the journey towards the digital future.

 

 

 

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