Becoming digital role models

A guide to how talent managers can be the digital change they want to see.

Never underestimate the challenge that the HR function has when it comes to preparing staff for the exponential changes we are now facing in the modern workplace. The rate at which these changes are taking place just lends further to the complexity of the current situation.

As HR professionals, most of us are well-versed across the topics of future-proofing the workforce, digitalisation, and agile working. But what can we also do to be an enabler in this journey?


Compelling end goal

About the author

Mark Leong is the Head of UBS’ Leadership Academy for Asia-Pacific, which is part of the UBS University. 

One of the keys in navigating these priorities is to acknowledge that it is indeed a change journey.

This allows you to leverage on an effective change methodology to guide you and the organisation. I would encourage leaders to take the time to craft and communicate a compelling vision of the end goal, and to ensure that this is firmly embedded and interwoven into the corporate culture.

This will mean taking the time to ensure that the majority of the business leaders within the firm understand, accept, speak, and act in favour of the new shift toward digital transformation. When mastered, these values also transcend into the world or product that connects with customers. 

There are many great examples of firms that have built their own internal culture and brought this over to their products and customers, like Dove’s now famous “Real Beauty” campaign. As HR professionals, we can take a lead role in ensuring we facilitate senior leaders’ discussion and partner on this critical aspect of the change.

HR can also be a role model by going digital with its own processes, and use big data, analytics, and artificial intelligence to model quicker, more effective, and more efficient people services.

Create awareness

Creating awareness and educating the workforce is also an important part of the digital transformation journey – and one that HR specifically can take a lead role in.

We are able to help staff to understand the macro-economic trends being faced, as well as the direct implications on the organisation. We can explain exactly what “going digital” means for the organisation, and what it does not.  And we can bust some of the myths around overused terms and help leaders and employees understand the benefits of the digital transformation.

This will aid in gaining acceptance and buy in of people to not just come on this journey, but also be a part of fueling that change.

HR teams can also organise workshops for digital champions to learn the tricks to driving the transformation forward, or develop learning journeys to witness cutting-edge best practices from other industries. This will help augment the change process, and the adoption of best-in-class digital practices.

We need to improve the efficiency of our processes in order to solve complex issues. But this should not be at the expense of the human factor, which is, namely, our employees and customers.

Adopting agile working policies allow an organisation to become truly global and cut across time zones – hence increasing efficiencies and engagement in the way we work and communicate with our employees.

People, people, and people

Perhaps the most overlooked portion of this journey, and one that cannot be over emphasised – is to keep in mind the “human” element as we go into the Fourth Industrial Revolution. How do we ensure the voice of reason (or of the people) is listened to as we embark on this journey?

How do we ensure that the pursuit of automation and technology does not override the need for human interaction?

Klaus Schwab, Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, says that any transformation journey comes down to people and values.

“We need to shape a future that works for all of us by putting people first and empowering them,” he wrote in Foreign Affairs in 2016.

“In its most pessimistic, dehumanised form, the Fourth Industrial Revolution may indeed have the potential to ‘robotise’ humanity and thus to deprive us of our heart and soul. But as a complement to the best parts of human nature—creativity, empathy, stewardship—it can also lift humanity into a new collective and moral consciousness based on a shared sense of destiny.

“It is incumbent on us all to make sure the latter prevails.”  

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