How Great Leaders Can Support Digital Transformation Within Their Organizations
Written by: Sheetal Jaitly, CEO and Founder of TribalScale & Alvin Fong, Senior Engineer Manager at TribalScale
At TribalScale, Digital Transformation is our process for fundamentally improving the way our clients build software and digital products as an organization. Tangible outcomes are defined at the outset, and TribalScale’s experts guide the team in making changes to their workflows. The transformation leads to both an improvement in the development process, while delivering a product of tangible business value.
As your organization begins its digital transformation journey, we should be cognizant of the impact leadership has on the team’s effort. Great leadership facilitates the team’s work, and focuses efforts towards desirable outcomes. Being a great leader for your team is not only having a certain set of managerial skills, but also about consistently demonstrating support for the team. Here are some tips on how to be the best leader for your team during this period of change and uncertainty.
1. Achieve buy-in from top leadership
Buy-in and motivation needs to exist from all levels of the organization, in order for digital transformation to succeed. In particular, it would be very difficult for team members to recognize the benefits of transformation without senior leadership being on board. Promote why the initiative is important and what value it brings to the business. Examine similar companies with similar issues that have undergone transformation journeys.
Digital transformation can be thought of as balancing business continuity with process innovation. As a business, your organization is likely doing many things right — ensure that those positive aspects are not lost. Showcase the shortcomings in your processes, and demonstrate to your peers in leadership the strong ROI that digital transformation can bring. Acknowledge and mitigate any risks associated with the effort.
2. Communicate effectively with the team
Clear and effective communication is essential for any leader. During digital transformation efforts, an organization should anticipate many changes to processes and workflows. Some of them could be radical to team members who have settled into one way of doing things. Support your team by providing transparency — share your view of the organization’s pain points, and provide contrast against your vision of how things should be. Emphasize the reasons why these transformation efforts are happening, and encourage the team to have an open mind regarding necessary changes.
Provide channels for safe, honest, and anonymized feedback. Share important information with your team, while actively listening and responding to their feedback and concerns. Such impactful communication can help with several critical factors:
- Build trust and foster a positive team environment.
- Validate suspected pain points that the organization had set out to mitigate.
- Refine and iterate new processes that solve said pain points, and improve efficiency.
3. Set clear goals and expectations
Your organization’s digital transformation would have tangible goals in mind, focusing your team’s efforts on doing the right tasks to create positive impact, while improving the development process. The transformation journey requires a clear vision for your team, and the leaders to effectively communicate that vision.
Your vision should be summarized as a set of goals for the team. A popular framework calls for setting specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals. SMART goals can help ensure that your transformation efforts bring maximum return with less wasted resources. Ensure clear communication of these team goals — your team members will be in a better position to judge what tasks will positively support the defined goals.
Similarly, have your supervisors work with your employees to set up SMART personal goals. As a great manager, you should have a clear idea of where your reports want to take their career. Aim for synergy between your team members’ personal growth and the digital transformation goals. As the employee performs their tasks in support of the transformation effort, they can contribute achievements towards their personal goals- filling two needs with one deed.
4. Provide training and resources
Any leader worth their salt will have a solid understanding of their team’s capabilities and strengths, and recognize that their team members need proper support and resources in order to be successful. Three important support factors are skills, will, and tools.
Skills are your organization’s technical competencies, both in terms of the team’s capabilities and individual members’ abilities. As a manager, you will have an understanding of your team’s abilities and strengths — compare those against the skills required by the transformation effort.
Allow a safe space for your team to self-assess their familiarity with the needed skills. Set up a plan to upskill contributors in whatever area is needed. Identify and encourage team members that can share expertise and mentor others. If needed, provide external mentors that can support the team from technical or process perspectives.
5. Empower and motivate your team
Will is your team members’ belief in the transformation mission, and how willing they are in supporting the effort. As we explored in section 1, one critical step is to provide clarity on why the transformation is happening. Be on the same page with your team regarding why the effort is necessary. Acknowledge their concerns and feedback, and adjust the transformation process as required. When you are confident your team is onboard with the transformation goals, be supportive of their efforts and provide frequent feedback on their progress.
Great leaders understand that their team members are their most valuable asset. It is critical to empower them by giving the autonomy and support that they need. This can include providing regular feedback and recognition. Are your organization’s incentive structures set up correctly? Success towards the transformation effort should translate into commensurate rewards, whether in terms career growth or compensation growth.
6. Foster collaboration and teamwork
Finally, provide the right tools for your team during the transformation journey. Does your team have the right tools to finish their mission? Listen to your team’s feedback on what tools they would like to harness, and provide these tools. Each organization will have different needs, but here is a short list of possibilities:
- Collaboration spaces, whether in-person, hybrid, virtual, or even in the metaverse
- The right amount of meetings, involving the right people, contributing the right insights.
- Software tools including instant messaging, whiteboarding apps for video sharing, etc.
- Opportunities for team building
Encourage your team members to work together, and provide them with the time, support, and resources they need to succeed.
Digital Transformation isn’t just a change in protocol, or changing up processes. It is also a transformation in you and your team’s mindset — and thinking about what can be improved in your work cycle. Team success requires leadership to provide a clear vision and logical expectations of the desired outcomes, plus the skills, will, and tools to achieve those goals.
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Sheetal Jaitly, CEO & Founder of TribalScale and Alvin Fong, Senior Engineer Manager at TribalScale, have both been involved in building out our digital transformation services. Evaluating our processes from a leadership standpoint has drastically improved the quality of the unique solutions we provide to our clients.
TribalScale is a global innovation firm that helps enterprises adapt and thrive in the digital era. We transform teams and processes, build best-in-class digital products, and create disruptive startups. Learn more about us on our website. Connect with us on Twitter, LinkedIn & Facebook!