What are HR’s Important New Roles in Uplifting Digital Transformation

CIO and IT leaders are frustrated about “not having a seat at the table” when the executive committees debate important strategic decisions.

But 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.

It’s a big, strategic miss when CIOs leave out HR or only request human resources to take on administrative responsibilities and tactical assignments.

HR Uplifting Digital Transformation

Digital transformation leaders acknowledge it’s working with people – customers, employees, and partners – that’s the most important and challenging aspect of transformation. CMOs and marketing leaders are typically involved in the transformation from a market and customer perspective, and similarly, HR leaders should be participating from an employee perspective.

So what are HR’s roles in digital transformation? Many! But in this post, I will concentrate on their roles in uplifting digital transformation.

Three reasons IT leaders need HR’s partnership in digital transformation

Here’s the backdrop of why I know CIO and IT leaders need HR’s participation

  1. I want teams participating in digital transformation initiatives to feel safe. Their creativity and drive are inversely proportional to the stress from demanding stakeholders, managing too many priorities, and resolving the complexities in transforming business processes.
  2. I want aspiring transformation leaders – what I call Digital Trailblazers – to feel supported and not stressed by the target on their backs.
  3. Organizations will always be transforming because the innovations delivered today will require ongoing enhancements and quickly become tomorrow’s legacy technologies. Transformation must become a core organizational competency, and Digital Trailblazers in IT, HR, and other departments must partner on this objective.   

I speak to many digital transformation teams about the challenges of always transforming. It’s tiring and emotionally draining. It’s not easy going from one set of accomplishments to the next set of objectives without much time to catch one’s breadth.

How HR leaders can uplift digital transformations

HR leaders can take on many roles in digital transformations, and I will cover more of them in future posts. But here are several ways HR leaders can uplift digital transformations:

  • Redefine rewards and incentives for employees leading, participating, and being collaborative partners on digital transformation initiatives.
  • Take active roles working with detractors because it takes strong personal skills and lots of time to change mindsets, especially when people’s roles and jobs change dramatically.
  • Create learning and development programs for Digital Trailblazers who need richer programs than skill development and generic leadership training. They require transformational coaching and identifying new areas for personal growth.
  • Cheer team successes by developing employee engagement programs that draw attention to transformation initiatives and objectives while championing their leaders and teams.  
  • Elevate the organization’s technical and data acumen by scheduling education sessions and sponsoring citizen data science and citizen development programs.

Bottom line: Digital transformation is about changing the business model, and that helps drive a new future of work. How can HR not be involved, helpful, and strategic in uplifting employee experiences? They can and must, but CIO and Digital Trailblazers must give them a  seat at the table.

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