Digital Trailblazer, including CIOs and CDOs, about the most demanding aspects of leading
digital transformation, and they’ll respond with the challenges of leading
people and changing mindsets. Whether building executive support for
converting detractors to supporters, or working with department leaders on business process evolution, Digital
Trailblazers must develop superior people skills to drive the culture
changes required for digital transformations.
Evolving the culture has many challenges, and digital transformation
initiatives are a significant driver of new ways to collaborate, innovate,
and experiment. But do CHROs and CIOs partner on defining a vision and
executing a plan for digitally driven culture transformation?
I recently wrote this in a blog post:
“When I speak to CHRO, human resource leaders, learning and development
officers, and HR IT specialists, they question why they aren’t directly
involved in digital transformation strategies.” –
What are HR’s Important New Roles in Uplifting Digital Transformation.
Digital transformation is the door for a CIO and CHRO partnership, and the
question is whether the CIO opens it and if the CHRO invites their way in.
“Organizational culture is no longer solely the domain of HR,” says Emily
Sperring, senior business agility enablement coach at
Project & Team. “With
digital tools becoming an integral part of daily work, the CIO’s role in
shaping a conducive organizational culture is more significant than
The challenge is that cultural divides can impact employee experiences. When
the CIO seeks data-driven experimentation,
agile ways of working, or customer centricity, the employees often “get it” and embrace
practices and mindset while their managers struggle to adapt.
CIOs and CHROs who partner and focus on employee experiences can drive a
bottoms-up culture change
required in digital transformations. Below are three key priorities.
1. Guide employees and managers on developing agile mindsets
“A culture that embraces digital transformation, lifelong learning, and
agile methodologies can fuel innovation, productivity, and employee
satisfaction,” says Sperring.
Many employees embrace agile, especially when organizations
balance self-organization principles
while creating and adopting standard ways of working. Employees want a say
in their organization’s
that guide innovation and productivity and
seek team happiness
to help drive continuous improvement.
But convincing stakeholders of
agile planning and delivery benefits
isn’t easy, especially when they have demanding priorities they want to be
delivered yesterday. Agile leaders also struggle to get managers to separate
expressing their business problems from solutions, and many agile teams
really bad technology decisions
when managers select them without a documented
“CHROs, with their deep understanding of employee needs, organizational
dynamics, and culture, can provide valuable insights to CIOs in creating
digital strategies that cater to these needs,” suggests Sperring. “On the
other hand, CIOs can assist CHROs in understanding the technological
possibilities and constraints, allowing them to design HR policies that
leverage technology to improve employee experiences and work-life.”
2. Align performance management and hiring practices with transformation
Let’s consider some data.
According to Dice’s survey, 80% of tech professionals want hybrid work, with more than 50% of their
time working remotely.
that 86% of CIOs find more competition for qualified candidates, and 73%
are worried about IT talent attrition.
Gartner reported in 2019
that 81% of HR leaders are changing their organization’s performance
management system. “Efforts to use performance management to improve the
effectiveness of collaboration typically fail as employees don’t see a
clear individual benefit to effective collaboration and/or they don’t
understand what specific actions they need to take to collaborate
This data points to gaps between talent management and digital
transformation objectives, a top-down issue that both CIOs and CHROs face.
Are CIOs and CHROs aligned on strategy and challenge their peers on a
combined front, or are they tackling these issues independently?
“Workplace experience, talent development, and employee engagement are
high-priority areas where CIOs and CHROs should partner regularly to improve
employee experiences,” says Abhijit Mazumder, CIO of
TCS. “It is also very important to keep
evolving the performance management system to align with organizational
My recommendation is to measure performance quarterly with this simple
formula, P = (LD*T)X , where:
- P = Performance measure
LD = Personal performance on meeting their learning and development
objectives and demonstrating where they are applying them in their
T = Team performance based on meeting quality releases that deliver
- X = A factor based on the organization’s meeting transformation objectives
3. Reward learning, experimentation, and data-driven practices
My performance formula places learning and development at the center of what
employees can directly control. I believe
transformation must be a core organizational competency
that only happens when leaders promote a learning and experimenting culture.
CIOs and CHROs should be primary sponsors of digital and data learning
Rajesh Varrier, EVP and head of
Infosys Americas agrees on the
importance of setting learning objectives. “Organizations should build
continuous training and lifelong learning into their culture, processes and
offerings,” he says. “It’s crucial for employers to keep focus on employee
development programs by giving employees on-demand learning tools to upskill
and gain new, in-demand skills.”
Beyond learning and development, transformation requires smart
experimentation and maturing data-driven practices. To drive a future way of
working, people must have access to data and
tools such as data viz for building dashboards, RPAs for automating work,
for building applications.
But CIOs know that deploying tools and providing training are just the
starting ingredients. Driving adoption, developing standards, and delivering
outcomes require a
transformation management program
that includes developing a vision, communicating priorities, and rewarding
And that’s where CHROs can be a critical partner. CHROs can help answer what
communications will resonate with employees and which incentives the
executive team is more likely to embrace. Furthermore, communications must
address which technologies and business processes will phase out during the
transformation and how best to quell fears and help prepare employees for
new digital practices.
“An organization needs to be aligned on which new technologies are being
adopted and which legacy technologies are being left behind,” says Varrier.
“Ensuring alignment across the organization leads to greater success in
adoption, better business outcomes, and growth.”
CIOs and CHROs need a generative AI game plan
Generative AI capabilities that will
drive the future of work
are creating the next leg of the transformation management marathon. AI will
consumerization of search, require organizations to
revitalize their intranets, create a new paradigm for
software development, and radically
evolve digital marketing.
Are CIOs and CHROs ready to partner on AI, guide employees in the
transition, and lead their organizations to strategic and competitive
capabilities? Better start yesterday.
Join us for a future session of
Coffee with Digital Trailblazers, where we discuss topics for aspiring transformation leaders. If you enjoy
my thought leadership, please sign up for the
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