Your teams are not as ready for a digital-first world as you think

While the past couple of years have been challenging, they have enabled unexpected growth opportunities for businesses that were unfathomable during pre-pandemic times. Companies have needed to digitally transform with accelerated timelines—and the businesses that have been able to do this successfully have found work-arounds for tasks that used to be done in person, representing an enormous shift in the way they work. However, we can’t lose sight of the fact that as companies accept and adopt such transformation, many are finding themselves burdened by uncharted growing pains.

Let’s go back to the basics for a minute. A leader’s primary responsibility can be encompassed in one word: growth. Speaking from experience, as a CRO enters their position, it’s imperative to remember that sales opportunities alone do not correlate to growth opportunities. Instead, a good CRO considers both the short-term implications and long-term consequences that will emerge and affect a company’s growth with every decision made across the organization. A successful CRO understands the even bigger picture—that growth is rooted in an organization’s willingness to invest in and prioritize its people.

Of course, this notion is not restricted to the role of the CRO. Three actions that leaders can prioritize to successfully manage today’s hybrid working world and keep their company’s revenue, people, and culture on an upward trajectory include:         

Investing in retaining existing employees while welcoming new talent

The effects of the Great Resignation are beginning to settle in across companies and organizations. Compensation is no longer the main factor of what drives someone to a company. People want to work for a team, manager, and organization that takes the time to invest in their long-term career, their personal well-being and general interests. 

McKinsey data found the top three factors employees cited as reasons for quitting were that they didn’t feel valued by their organizations or their managers, or because they didn’t feel a sense of belonging at work. Pair that with nearly half of the respondents in Grant Thornton’s recent “State of Work in America” survey stating they would give up a salary increase for more flexibility, and the writing is on the wall: Investing in your people starts and ends with listening to what they value most about working for your organization. 

For existing employees, you must help them see a path where they can visualize individual growth. For new talent, it’s about communicating the benefits—short and long term—of joining your team. So where do you start? If you’re not ready to make culture commitments, invest in your employees’ professional development. Take a look at the Global Digital Skills Index from Salesforce, which found that not even one-third of Gen Z respondents feel “very equipped” for a digital-first job right now. This worsens with older generations, with less than one quarter of Baby Boomers believing they are “very equipped now” for digital-first employment. Show your team (and your newcomers) that you care about their careers, and that you’re ready and willing to provide the training needed to help them succeed not only today, but also well into their future.

Embracing technology to increase employee engagement

Working from home has added an undoubted layer of hesitancy among leaders as they consider keeping their employees engaged and productive. Ultimately, there’s nothing more crucial to one’s success than time—and integrated technology has become essential to keeping your team both captivated and satisfied with their work each day. In fact, the Jabra Hybrid Ways of Working: 2021 Global Report found technology coupled with clear guidelines can lead to higher-performing teams with a healthier work-life balance.

Humans and technology must work together constantly to increase performance and attainment. Embracing technology means improving current practices to automate repetitive tasks and increase productivity in other areas. With that, creating a culture in which technology can be viewed as an impactful teammate means more human interaction and engagement from your entire organization. Of course, effective engagement requires employee buy-in. Your team needs to understand why and how this technology will improve their work.

Creating the right balance between process and autonomy

Sometimes we need to take a step back to find the best path forward. Retrospectively looking at the bigger picture allows you to see clearly and pinpoint factors like redundancy and overlap within the current processes. It’s crucial to take inventory of all the existing tools and practices being used within the business to see what can be streamlined or what needs to be reconsidered. 

For instance, as people work remotely, many leaders have heightened requirements for tracking productivity to stay aligned with how their teams are operating. However, while productivity metrics make leaders feel they have more visibility and control into what their teams do each day, we must acknowledge that they do not directly correlate with overall performance and success. Leaders need to remain flexible. KPIs and performance metrics must constantly evolve, and leaders should let their teams know they’re willing and able to adapt to these changes.

At the end of the day, keeping growth top of mind means iterating on everything that feeds into a company’s development. Yes, increased revenue and market share are always part of this equation, but so are employee retention, customer success, technology adoption . . . the list goes on.

While these actions cannot be adopted over night, they can be over time–and there’s no better time than now. Understand your starting point, and build trust along the way—because the leaders who invest in the betterment of their teams, embrace technology to increase engagement, and find balance between process and autonomy will be the leaders who enable their businesses to thrive.

Tiffani Bova is the global growth and innovation evangelist at Salesforce and the author of the Wall Street Journal bestselling book, Growth IQ: Get Smarter About the Choices that Will Make or Break Your Business.

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