Article: Driving digital transformation with resilient & flexible leaders

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Driving digital transformation with resilient & flexible leaders

Altaf Patel, Director - Business Transformation, Tesco Business Services shares that at the core of any successful digital transformation lies a perseverant, mentally resilient and flexible leadership.
Driving digital transformation with resilient & flexible leaders

Majority of the organizations today are looking to digitally transform their business and internal processes for more efficiency. But before going through the process of transformation organizations need to evolve its culture, leadership and employees to check if they are ready to drive digital innovation. 

Not only digital, but to propel any business transformation organizations require a robust people strategy and a strong leadership. In an interaction with People Matters, Altaf Patel, Director - Business Transformation, Tesco Business Services, reiterates the same and emphasizes on the role leaders play in driving transformation.  

He shares that at the core of any successful digital transformation lies a perseverant, mentally resilient and flexible leadership. 

What are the most common people challenges you often come across while driving any organizational changes?

The most common people challenge is the propensity to change. 

Often, a majority of the workforce in an organization believe that they have little role to play in the execution of an organization-wide strategy or vision the leadership adopts. The biggest challenge is to bridge this disconnect and align colleagues with the vision. Effective communication plays a significant role in creating a culture of belongingness and inclusiveness such that people eventually feel they are part of a bigger cause and be more actively involved in the entire transformation process. 

What cultural traits must an organization possess before embarking upon a digital transformation journey?  

Firstly, a strong leadership should be in place to articulate a vision or a strategy that also aids Digital Transformation. If the leadership has a clear vision as to What, Why and How to achieve it, it becomes easy for the rest of the front-runners in the organization to percolate it to the bottom level. 

Secondly, it is important to have the right sponsorship from the executive level. Leaders often miss out on the importance of sponsorship for  digital transformation or strategy. With the right skills, investments and the tools and buy in from the board level the transformation journey can get a great kickstart. 

How can HR and business leaders help their employees’ transition from being risk-averse to being open to risks in the digital age?

There are lots of news around digital transformation that say Automation, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Machine Learning, etc. are going to make many people redundant or jobless. The thought of becoming jobless clearly affects the job security aspect and then creates a fear in people. Therefore, that fear then tends to make them look away from it rather than embrace and adopt it. 

HR has to play a role here and educate and empower people dealing with that fear and enable them to embrace the change. Organizations should invest in reskilling or upskilling them to become future ready and accept the change by developing net new skills. 

At Tesco Business Services (TBS), we have invested in colleagues’ training programs to train them on how to optimize their respective processes and build their own bots to perform the transactional tasks. This frees up their time to take-up more analytical work in order to serve our worldwide customers. We encourage, educate, engage and nurture our colleagues’ everyday so that they contribute to our digital transformation journey. 

The other important aspect is to prove the impact of the change and celebrate the success. The scale of achievement is not important, each success and milestone must be celebrated. 

What has worked for you at Tesco? How have you been able to lead successful digital transformation? What were some of the key culture pillars you identified to be crucial?

At TBS, our leadership, HR and Communications teams play a pivotal role in encouraging, educating and empowering our colleagues. We have adopted a few new ways of working in order to be more relevant and competitive with a ready-workforce for the challenging future ahead. 

For instance, the Colleague Mobile App, which plays a crucial role in connecting our colleagues globally. With this app, we help our talent be up to date with latest trends and stories around the world and encourage people to share personal information, concerns, issues, celebrations, recognitions, etc. thus bringing us closer. 

What has worked for us is a strong leadership articulating the vision and giving a roadmap to others to follow and deliver it. 

Further, we invested in the right skills by upskilling or reskilling our internal talent or by bringing in the fresh minds from outside. We not only developed new skills, but also ensured we demonstrated the new set of roles that our colleagues could adopt. 

In addition, continuous improvement (CI) has been helpful and successful for us to drive the bottom-up improvement culture ensuring that the outlook of our colleagues are in alignment with the vision. This approach helped us bring all the employees to think differently; develop and execute new ideas at every level. 

In this age of instant gratification, we as an organization need to provide channels or mechanisms through which we can identify and recognize talents on a real time basis. 

Your body can do it. You just need to convince your mind--is a popular saying among fitness enthusiasts. Similarly, how can business leaders build a culture that enables employees to overcome their mental blocks and embrace digital change? 

It is all about empowering and encouraging people to make mistakes and learn from them to become better every day. If we follow these simple yet effective techniques, our colleagues will be in a mind-space that aims to be more productive. In addition, we need to provide the right tools, platform and practices so that people can learn new concepts of digital change and adopt it to grow professionally and personally. 

It is not entirely about internal concepts, training or workshops. Leaders need to subject their respective teams to various industry forums to build their own network and learn. It is also important to identify the industrial changes that are bound to occur. If leaders have an in depth industry knowledge, they will be able to guide the colleagues better. 

The bottomline is organizations need a bold, open and an energetic leadership team. 

Leaders should have perseverance, mental resilience and flexible approach towards the business and the workforce. 

They should buckle-up and embrace the new ways of working. They should have an open approach to learn and share their learnings with their respective teams to transform together as one. Leadership also needs to constantly benchmark themselves. It is important to understand where the business currently stands, what are the skills and capabilities it needs to acquire and develop and lastly, what are the practices to follow to drive the digital transformation they aspire to.

Topics: #LeadTheWay, #Digital Transformation, Leadership

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