The Silver Tsunami and the Great Resignation have spelled serious upheaval for the workforce lately. 2020 saw a major increase in the number of Baby Boomers retiring. Then, in April, almost 4 million people quit their jobs. That’s a 2.7% national quit rate, the highest since the Bureau of Labor Statistics started tracking it.
These pandemic-fueled statistics are striking because they represent real people, millions of them – hanging up their legacy thinking, choosing different career paths, and yes, stepping up to take on new challenges.
If you’re in that last category, this article is for you. If you emerged from recent workplace churn a newly minted tech executive, I have tips to save your sanity and engage your team. A roadmap to stop being busy and start being productive. But the FIRST thing you need to do is . . .
Claim Your Seat at the Table
Whether your new gig came with it or not, you need it to be effective. So, step up and take your seat at the C-suite table.
If your company still puts CIOs and/or CTOs under the CFO on its org chart, you’re getting company priorities filtered through the finance lens. This may relegate you to an order-taking role where budget constraints drive decision-making.
“If you emerged from recent workplace churn a newly minted tech executive, I have tips to save your sanity and engage your team.”
Outdated corporate structure ignores today’s reality: All companies are becoming tech and data companies. Remind your fellow executives which team got them through lockdown. You need to be at the table setting direction with the CEO and CFO. Now, more than ever, technology is driving innovation and revenue growth. Emerging tech can absolutely help your company do what it does better. It is your job to consistently make that case in the C-suite. Help them understand what’s possible.
Now that we’ve taken care of the little matter of efficacy via influence, you can start working my mantra. It is a checklist for change-making. These are the 3 steps to un-busy and empower yourself and your team.
Inventory: Taking Stock
Digital transformation has to start with assessing the situation on the ground. Determine your assets and liabilities. As a tech exec, you need to inventory your people, processes, and data. Process documentation is particularly important in the current automation acceleration. Data has been the MVP for several years running. Our Chief Innovation Officer Tim Kulp has a webinar on how to harness data and turn it into intelligence. But we are Mind Over Machines, known for our human-centric approach. We believe people are the most important component of any undertaking. Senior Director of Product Management Jeff Kalb has talked about how to assess your team’s skills. I want to focus on how to assess potential for growth and change.
You want to find the people who are driven to make a difference, the ones who align with your passion, vision, and organizational mission. Ideally, you hire for that fire, but it’s easy to spot on-the-job too. People who seek out and embrace change. They have the drive to disrupt and take control of the market. They’re always looking for the better way, never too busy doing their job to think about it.
In your rush to empower these reflective high-performers, don’t forget to take inventory of your rules too. Governance isn’t sexy, but it’s a critical part of this first step. Set up your guardrails to ensure everyone has access to what they need to be effective, but no one can run roughshod over other people or guiding principles.
Automate to Liberate
The goal of automation is always to free people from working like robots. The first phase of Workforce Ascension℠ & Enhancement (WAE) is determining which tasks are best handled by humans and which should be delegated to digital assistants. Play to your strengths. When it comes to data entry, you can’t beat a robot, and that’s okay because human time is better spent creating, collaborating and problem-solving.
When you start automating, prioritize the repetitive, rule-based processes currently sapping the most staff time and energy. Enterprise-wide automation initiatives are built on quick wins that get people excited early on. Target stable, fully digital processes pulling from structured data. Our online Automation Suitability Calculator is a fast, easy, and free way to find your best candidates for automation.
Remember, you don’t need to automate for every possible contingency. That’s expensive, time-consuming, and exhausting. You just want to alleviate the bulk of your team’s mindless busywork. It’s okay if the digital assistant needs to kick occasional outliers and exceptions to a human for deliberation. Automating 75% of a task that used to take 40 hours a week is still a huge win. You’ve just been gifted 30 hours. Take it, run with it, and use it to . . .
Innovate and Delegate
You didn’t see that second part coming, did you? As a new tech exec, delegating to your team can be one of your biggest challenges. It flies in the face of everything that got you this far. Your individual contributions made you a rock star, and you were rewarded with an executive position. But it’s not about you anymore. It’s about the success of your team and the growth of your company. Delegating innovation duties promotes a collaborative environment and shared ownership of your organization’s vision for the future.
This final step is where you grab the ride-or-die crew you identified up in your inventory stage, the people who share your vision and are ready to roll. Have them devote the time saved by automation to coming up with big, new ideas. They are working to grow the company; you are working to grow them. By instilling a growth mindset, you are investing in your workforce. Make sure people understand they don’t have to stick to their job title. They are expected to evolve. You will help them tackle new challenges because when one person grows, it makes the whole team stronger.
On individual and companywide levels, you can effect powerful change when you stop being busy.
Mike Rolfes could have been a George Washington University-trained engineer. He could’ve been a professional baseball pitcher. He did stints in both the Atlanta Braves and Milwaukee Brewers minor league systems. Luckily for us, a college course in computer programming awakened his IT brain: “It just made sense to me, breaking a problem down into its parts and solving the puzzle.”
After earning his chops as a developer and solutions architect, a well-timed personality test gave Mike just the push he needed to embrace business development. Now he helps clients analyze and innovate for smoother, more efficient business processes. The best part of the job is all the brilliant, fun people he gets to meet.
Ever an athlete, Mike brings discipline and motivation to every challenge, whether he’s coaching his two sons or his clients. As his Brazilian jiu-jitsu coach taught him, “Whatever you face in life, you either win or you learn. Both are pretty great outcomes.”