New Era, Same Approach to Talent?
January 18, 2024
Under the theme “Rebuilding Trust,” global leaders at this year’s World Economic Forum will be discussing solutions and actions needed to ensure future growth and jobs. In today’s world, digital transformation breakthroughs are reshaping industries, changing the way we learn and automating tasks and entire value chains — as well as reinventing collaboration and reimagining products, services and processes.
Alongside technology, people with highly sought-after soft and hard skills are critical to success. These people need the right support in place to make the shift and strive in a new era. Adapting traditional talent management strategies is no easy task, and the leadership playbook on how to accomplish this is currently being written.
The conversations about tech and artificial intelligence (“AI”) at Davos this year have made one thing clear: we will need our workforce to implement new technologies — more than we intuitively think they will. New technology may change the way we work, but demands for a workforce will remain, so companies must consider that in their people planning.
The digital era is as much about reshaping the workforce as it is about technology. Here are three key impulses that CEOs and business leaders can embrace to steer this transformation:
Encourage Collaboration and Shared Ownership
It’s tempting to position digitization, automation or adoption of new technology as an initiative, as a moment of change that will allow your company to achieve specific goals. In reality, change is constant in today’s world. By transforming employees’ mindsets to continually move where customer data is pointing, you will help them understand — and ideally take ownership of — the need for ongoing evolution, rather than letting change be something that happens to them.
The impact on long-term retention and morale can be significant — and that, in turn, has real benefits for the company’s time to innovation and ultimately, its bottom line.
Adopting a Coaching Leadership Approach
Maximize the strengths of existing talent, even as you chase the next generation of innovators. Specialized talent will be necessary to drive innovation agendas. The market for this talent will be competitive, and employee success will depend on an ability to both assimilate with and evolve organizational culture.
Acquainting new joiners with current talent close to your customers, current technologies and cultural norms will be the fastest and most pragmatic path for many organizations, which means your current high performers must also feel valued and secure as you activate your next-phase technology goals. Being proactive in helping current talent develop new skills, coaching them towards the best opportunities and recognizing and rewarding their contributions ensures that your pursuit of new opportunities does not come at the expense of the core.
Treating employees with respect and actively working to keep them employed (where possible) is also a smart play for your corporate reputation and employer brand.
Spending More Time on People Now
Ensure that all employees understand their responsibilities in risk mitigation, since innovation no longer happens within a single team. Discussions about how AI can be used effectively are taking place in boardrooms around the globe, and indeed, companies have been deploying this technology in some spaces for many years.
The difference now is that whereas AI-driven technology used to be developed and push out via centralized research and development teams, many employees today intuitively use third-party AI tools to drive efficiency in their work. The need to communicate and enforce clear guidelines about how various tools may be used, what information should be fed into third-party databases and what disclosures are required when AI tools have been used is urgent and immediate. Your leaders must be prepared to identify and manage risk, and all employees must embrace their responsibility in protecting your company’s license to operate.
As stewards of change, you will know that this all comes down to culture, which directly impacts how people think and feel about their work and the organization. Your success, and that of the organization, will be amplified if the culture that you and your leadership team design places people at the very center of each progressive step.
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