Investing in people is the key to successful transformation

People can be your most important catalyst for digital transformation or the biggest obstacle. When human-related challenges to the progress of transformation arise, the problems are usually very easy to identify but much more difficult to solve.

The challenge is not awareness. Organizations are realizing that cloud transformations are difficult and that they need highly qualified, motivated staff to carry out projects. But they are still struggling to build the processes for creating these employees and as a result are achieving other project-focused goals.

“By frequently celebrating achievement and innovation, you reinforce the behavior of the role model and develop the momentum of ordinary people for change initiatives.”

Where things stand

Based on our customer engagements, we assessed the company’s progress in the capabilities in the eight domains that make up the HPE Edge to Cloud adoption framework.

The People domain is the one in which organizations struggle the most to make progress, with an average maturity of 1.7 on a scale of 1 to 5, where a score of 3 indicates a cloud-ready organization (see Figure 1). .

Figure 1: Organizational maturity in the eight areas of perception of the cloud model

This does not mean that they are bad employers. They can evaluate employees themselves and strive to increase their overall level of talent, but still fail to fully implement talent initiatives. They can create talent development plans, but fail to align them with cloud-focused initiatives. And they can commit to doing a better job of building a talent base, but not exercising the organizational muscle to make it happen.

The struggles that cloud-focused organizations have on the human front can be traced to four of these factors (see Figure 2):

  • Attracting and retaining talent
  • Talent activation
  • Communication
  • Strategy and planning
Figure 2: Organizational maturity in the field of people

While most organizations at least try to deal with each of these factors, many do not have the intentional plans needed to drive complex cloud transformations.

A methodological approach to identifying well-defined initiatives that can be implemented in measurable steps can go a long way in addressing human-related barriers to the progress of transformation.

Attraction and retention: Competition for specialized skills

Start by attracting and retaining talent. In today’s competitive IT environment, it is critical for organizations to bring in the specialized skills they need. Each company competes for the same hybrid, public cloud and edge talent. But organizations are struggling with traditional implementation techniques. Job search and CEO search often do not reach people with the right skills. Compensation packages are becoming expensive. Geographical requirements are often too strict.

In the population of organizations we work with, those who lag behind in cloud maturity are simply not effective in acquiring the talent needed to do the job, and do not expand their internal plans to retain the talent they have.

In contrast, leaders on the human front are developing systems to discover and sustain this talent. They already have a solid foundation for managing productivity and talent and adapting it to meet the needs of new areas such as hybrid cloud security, hybrid networking and the Internet of Things. Culture, salary competitiveness and non-monetary incentives play a big role in how effective an organization is in identifying talent and recruiting success.

Leading organizations identify new job functions and new areas of practice where exciting growth opportunities can be used to compete for attention. They attract talent beyond the traditional equivalent full-time roles by developing strategic relationships for contractors, partners and other non-FTE workers.

An insurance company we worked with built a program to establish comprehensive information about the company’s skills and abilities, which allowed it to develop a risk and continuity plan and focus on selective areas in which to acquire external public cloud skills.

Talent activation: Modernize training to accelerate skills development

Once the workforce is in place, organizations need to put in place plans to sharpen skills in important areas of IT – from security to infrastructure to application development. Legacy stores typically rely on passive learning techniques such as courses, webinars, and pre-booked training. But they often have incomplete course catalogs as hybrid cloud and peripheral skills evolve rapidly. This means that they do not have the available training offers for people.

Leading organizations in our client population generate better results by creating study tours focused on more measurable, active learning measures. Coaching and mentoring are a long-standing practice that builds confidence in organizations that introduce new sets of tasks, platforms and responsibilities. They install job rotations in roles and contexts.

They also conduct so-called two-in-a-box techniques, in which experts are attracted by an external partner to work with staff. These additional hands provide services while training employees to handle tasks related to a new cloud initiative – essentially fishing, while helping workers learn to catch their own. The five most popular banks in the United States we worked with used this approach, emphasizing active learning techniques and students’ contemporary experiences.

Communications: Leading and communicating through change

We find significant variations in communication capabilities among our customers, which affects the effectiveness of the transformation.

Transformations affect workers in different ways. Organizations that show maturity in this ability use new platforms, create new jobs, work on new schedules, and often report within newly configured team structures.

Where we see communication problems, organizations often do a bad job of explaining the new landscape and helping workers adapt to new expectations. Management’s commitment to building awareness and a meaningful understanding of the changes made will help prepare and enable staff for the next phases of the transformation path.

Organizations with effective communication strategies understand that it is important to use communication not only as a mechanism for informing people about changes, but also for celebrating individual and team achievements. This can be done through internal channels such as joint communication platforms, newsletters and internal recognitions. It also helps to use external channels such as social media and LinkedIn to spread success.

By often celebrating achievements and innovations, you reinforce the behavior of the role model and develop the momentum of ordinary people for change initiatives.

Strategy and planning: Manage risk and create flexibility through continuity planning

Despite all the work organizations do to retain employees with roles that are critical to the success of the transformation, employees are still leaving. They may make personal choices that have nothing to do with their commitments to their company. So what happens if a key director or group of critical programmers chooses to take on another job? Does the company’s transformation suffer?

Among our clients, leaders and lagging behind differ significantly in the way they conduct continuity planning. The lagging behind do not understand the risk associated with their human capital and often do not build continuity plans to absorb the outcomes of critical IT roles. And if you don’t have that plan, business and IT operations can be disrupted.

The first step in dealing with this situation is to make sure you understand the skills and competencies you have in your organizations. Prepare a risk assessment that assesses the impact on operational and business continuity if an important person leaves. From the risk assessment, you can build a continuity plan and install cross-learning plans to ensure that skill levels in critical areas are supported within the organization.

Leaders often go a step further. Advanced organizations with well-functioning talent plans have a clear awareness of where these critical roles lie in new areas in practice. They create mechanisms for identifying and rewarding the highly effective in these critical areas.

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