In recent weeks, I have been in touch with certain industry leaders, even employees in the market in Malaysia. I heard many grouses on the ground, some are afraid to lose their job, some are frustrated as their organization are not evolving, some frustrated with their leaders, they felt stagnant, they want to see changes but unsure where to go, some even need help but don’t know where to reach out or afraid to reach out, many of them applied for jobs but in vain and many more.
The above grouses are not uncommon; you hear it day in day out over the years, but what do we do? Are we going to wait for things to happen, stay status quo, or are we going to work and strive for our goal or passion?
I first wrote my article published by MIA last month on “Ready for Digital Transformation, so who to lead the journey?” Today, I want to share that Digitalization starts from your organization’s PEOPLE (employees) the driver of the transformation before you embark on your PROCESS and TECHNOLOGY change, the engine.
In my past journey, I ran two workshops. I started my session with mindset;
- First workshop; attended by blended employees, subject matter experts to mid-managers.
- Second workshop, all guys (disclaimer, I am not discriminative here but maybe because I primarily in the IT industry), from mid-level subject matter expert and managerial role.
Why do I specify my audiences? Well, the workshops are not about change but I like to start to gauge the audiences’ mindset. I, therefore, got them to draw their future in the same organization in the next five years.
The first workshop with blended employees drew their future in their organization with robotics, nice sceneries, a very colourful journey working at the beach, while AI doing the job etc.
In the other workshop, more than 80% of them said the company will remain the same.
These are two different organizations, but the results from both sessions were extremely different.
As a leader, I personally felt this is alarming to hear from the second workshop? Why?
I guess for many leaders, this can be alarming as you can see that your business will remain status quo.
Whereas the employees may felt otherwise, they claimed that the organization are not evolving, leaders are not driving change and many more.
For that particular company, it can be worrying as if you look at 25 participants out of the 100 employees – you can deem that at least > 20% of their mid-level employees are not motivated to grow.
With digitalization on the forefront, how do you evolve change?
Back to the second workshop audiences,
- Most of them have more than 8 or even 10 years of experience.
- They have been in the organization for at least more than 3 years or more
- They probably age between the early ’30s to mid-’40s
- They are family man, the breadwinner of a new and young family
Why did I elaborate on these audiences? Getting to know your audiences, you are able to read this group characteristic, while they wanted change and grow but at the same time, they are also afraid of change and have many grouses. On the other side, the leaders are waiting for them to improve business performances as outputs are stagnant and not agile. Therefore, finger-pointer at the verge and it goes on.
We must remember that PEOPLE are the driver of the journey. Similarly as new car driver, first they need the necessary skills to drive, once they have the license, they need to have the confidence to drive, and once they master their driving skills, they will be proud and passionate to drive you in their car. The skills start from a change mindset that sees challenges and failure as the beginning, not the end.
For companies that are looking into transformation or digitalization, I like to echo Jeff Bezos’ philosophy; “it’s always Day 1 in Amazon, as it begins with a company that functions with speed, nimbleness, and take risk mentality”…..
Therefore, as leaders we have the upper-hand to set the pace again, take the risk, change is critical, re-work your structure, and find the right driver to lead your journey with you. A growth mindset is crucial here. If you are going for digitalization, you have to act as a leader by leading digital, then get everyone think digital, and if you are in day 2 operations, the leaders need to govern your digital thoroughly, stay always like Day 1.