The Role of Leadership and Employee Engagement CEO and Founder of Avature, Dimitri Boylan, took to the stage to give a talk about the best approach to a digital transformation strategy at the Future Talent Summit, the foremost global gathering of leaders dedicated to improving human talent opportunity and capability. During this talk, he spoke about the future of talent and how leadership and employee engagement, the implementation of workforce management best practices and an organization’s digital transformation tools will make the difference between winning and losing in the current climate. Where and How To Start Your Digital Transformation Journey Many organizations are trying to evolve to stay competitive and are pegging their hopes on technology as an approach to digital transformation. But agile technologies are in many ways seen as a silver bullet for challenging the disruption the market is experiencing at the moment, and this is not the case. What is missing from this conversation are the components needed for any digital transformation strategy to be effective. Components so vital that if they are not in place, the digital transformation journey becomes much like buying a brand new car without an engine. The body of the car is nice and shiny but will remain stationary if there isn’t something there to power it. The engine in this analogy is talent transformation. This not only embodies the agile HR technology and the acquisition of senior leadership but the development of a culture that gives all its employees license to drive the organization forward creatively. A Harvard Business Review study claims that digital transformation is about talent, not technology. Thus, one of the keys to conduct an effective digital transformation strategy is investing in culture and employee experience. The truth about employee engagement is that it is now widely recognized as a commercial imperative as the standout performers that transform organizations will almost exclusively stem from the most empowered and engaged employees. Investing in people management skills and tools will give place to the benefits of digital transformation while making an organization more competitive. Employee Engagement and Performance The way people are currently managed is outdated. What we have now comes from the industrial revolution. The idea that one person comes up with the idea and then the rest of the people just come in and do the work simply isn’t effective with the current generation. Somewhere along the line they have been taught to be creative and company cultures should be adapting to this if they want to hire and retain the best talent. — Dimitri Boylan The issue facing many workplaces and operating models at the moment is the implementation of outdated people management processes. The common current workplace and adjoining business strategy is a product of the industrial revolution which characteristically uses the command-and-control approach to drive an efficiency model. This means it focuses less on employee motivation strategies by empowering them to increase output and develop, and more on a top-down diktat to streamline existing processes and chip away at the bottom line. The use of technology often reflects this because, for many years, it has only been seen as a means to drive efficiency. This is an undeniable benefit of technology, but certainly not its most valuable use. As a result of this model, employee engagement and performance are faltering. According to Gallup’s latest State of the Global Workplace report, eighty-five percent of employees are not engaged or actively disengaged at work. As this issue is systematic, until employers decide to work on their people management strategy, neither will the attitudes of the employee, generating an obstacle in the digital transformation journey. To improve our digital transformation strategy we need to understand the close relationship between leadership and employee engagement and start creating environments that allow them to thrive and bring their best selves to work. Do you need to improve your employee engagement and retention strategies? Our Great Retention e-book contains tips and tools to actively engage your workforce. By implementing employee motivation strategies, employers enable authenticity and creativity while also promoting diversity, leveraging the close connection between employee engagement and performance. The Critical Role of Organizational Culture Many organizations often point at technology as being responsible for market disruption or the loss of their market share. However, technology in itself is not the disrupter, technology is merely a tool. What really lies at the heart of this disruption is a culture of innovation, at the epicenter of which is the talent, garnered to create value through agile technologies. The power of culture in disrupting the market therefore cannot be underestimated. Culture has the power to induce commitment, intent, cooperation and learning. Even if you have done the hard work to source and hire the best talent to take your digital transformation strategy to the next level, without strong people management skills that encourage a culture to nurture their potential, it is as good as not having them at all. For Dimitri, at Avature the importance of employee motivation is a key element, so he implements his workforce engagement management skills to enable a progressive culture and encourage employees. An essential element of this is creation; bright employees that have the ability and expertise to come up with creative solutions for clients’ needs are empowered to do so. This employee motivation and empowerment procedure that nurtures intuition and human spirit gives Avature the opportunity to be agile. The organization, then, becomes itself a successful digital transformation case study, putting leadership and employee engagement at the center of the stage. The Meaning and Importance of Agile Technologies The concept of being agile is so commonly used that it can often end up being disregarded as a hollow buzzword. This makes it vital to define what it actually means for you. Agility in Avature’s case is achieved through a platform release cycle of every two weeks with feedback and new developments being continuously incorporated. This includes building code as and when it’s needed. All these small steps keep the platform relevant allowing it to adapt and react to market demands, allowing space for employees to exercise continuous creativity. And this is a result of effective leadership in digital transformation. Too often technology is still seen exclusively as a tool to implement standardization and control. Off the back of this, platforms and products are being created for human resources teams striving for uniformity across markets. But agile technologies are also digital transformation tools that enable adaptation to market requirements. It is clear that markets such as the US, China, Germany and the UK simply do not operate in the same way. Shouldn’t we be using technology to adapt to market requirements, not forcing the market to adapt to the technology? This is why for Avature it is so important to provide one centralized, agile system that can then be easily adjusted to the local needs and processes of different markets. Built into this are a range of AI-powered tools that can automatically understand and adapt to different languages and intent, which alleviates admin and makes time for more valuable and engaging work. There has to be a greater trust in people’s ability to think and to act with their intuition and their knowledge. If you don’t create that trust and if you don’t let people bring everything that the human person brings to the table, they are not going to compete. –Dimitri Boylan Becoming a Disruptor of the Future After a Talent Transformation Knowing what technologies enable digital transformation is important. But conducting effective workforce engagement management to motivate and encourage the talent that is in charge of putting it to work is a must to improve your digital transformation strategy. Effective leadership and employee engagement is not about top-down commands but about empowerment, creativity and responsibility. The talent platform you have in place to attract candidates and engage them from day one as part of your valuable workforce should reflect that. Having a total workforce management and understanding the important relationship between employee engagement and performance will give them the flexibility to create their own tools that adapt to the market they operate in. It will not only keep the best talent engaged, but can drive your organization to be more competitive in achieving its digital transformation journey. Hearing from HR masterminds like Dimitri can help deliver insights on how to optimize your digital transformation strategy. Watch a snippet of the original presentation, or discover another interview with Dimitri on the topic of talent transformation.