Does your team reward risk takers?

'You can't just buy a piece of technology without thinking about strategy and execution'

Does your team reward risk takers?

There is a gap between the enlightened and unenlightened in the face of digital transformation.

The first group consists of risk takers – those who focus their energy on improving strategic HR practices. The second group consists of the timid who stall in the face of rapid change.

Those who confront the challenges of transformation head on often implement bold and widescale HR projects – such as the shift to automation and cloud platforms. As a result, 72% end up changing their management style in the process, a KPMG analysis shows.

READ MORE: How can employers build trust digitally?

In contrast, organizations that fall behind either adopt new tech but maintain their old management culture – or remain clueless about where and how to introduce a culture of transformation.

When an organization is unwilling or unable to ride the wave of change, it’s important for HR leaders to assess their company’s digital maturity first.

“You have to meet people where they are,” says Anna Foat, director of global digital transformation at Sun Life Financial.

“How much change they can consume; how fast they think they can consume that change; and how willing HR is to really help people along with that transition,” she tells HRD.

Her advice: plan out your strategy, execution and technology. “You can’t just buy a piece of technology without thinking about the strategy and the execution,” she says.

READ MORE: The three forces shaping HR right now

In her two decades of working in Canada’s tech industry, Foat believes businesses that succeed in their digital strategy give their people greater latitude to embrace change and master their tools.

One roadblock on this journey, however, is the failure of organizations to motivate the risk takers in their team, such as when a company’s compensation system isn’t set up to reward bold thinkers.

“Why won’t people be more open to risk? I always say, ‘Well, how are they rewarded for sticking their neck out?’” Foat says.

On one hand, HR leaders are faced with the pressure to innovate. On the other, they need to continue managing their everyday tasks. “People at that level say, ‘I’m not going to get a raise or promotion for taking a risk. I’m definitely going to get reprimanded or demoted if I don’t do my job, so I’m not really that interested,’” she says.

In the end, it’s up to HR and business leaders to steer transformation – but they can only foster a culture of transformation by supporting their people first.

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