Emerging Digital Trailblazers: 15 Ways to Hire and Train for Entry Level High Potentials

When interviewing for an entry-level role, would you know if you had a future Digital Trailblazer sitting before you? That was the topic at a recent Coffee with Digital Trailblazers, where we discussed how to evaluate, hire, and train entry-level employees in product management, DevOps, data science, marketing, information security, and other roles with high potential to become Digital Trailblazers.

Hire and Train Emerging Digital Trailblazers

Thanks to Joanne Friedman, Joe Puglisi, Karen Lippman, Martha Lewis, and Janette Gleyzer for your input.

Hiring emerging Digital Trailblazers: What to look for

Below are six ways to evaluate and hire emerging Digital Trailblazers. Look for people who are

  1. Passionate and have a breadth of interests – Pursues activities outside of technology and their fields, shows zeal about their objectives, and demonstrates they are not singularly focused.
  2. Curious and creative – Asks probing questions, tells stories, and shares how they applied creative problem-solving skills in their work.
  3. Collegiate competitors – Plays sports or enter other forms of competition. It’s not just about winning; it’s also the mentality of now wanting to lose.
  4. Adaptable – Has a structured way of getting work done, staying on task, and meeting deadlines – but also shows they can realign to changing priorities, new requirements, or stakeholder feedback.
  5. Lifelong learners – Has excellent research and problem-solving skills. They describe topics they’ve learned on their own, discuss opportunities where they’ve taught others, and share what they’ve learned from their mistakes. 
  6. Team leaders – They share how they’ve led teams, clubs, or other groups. They discuss what made them successful and describe what they did to improve team performance.

Coffee with Digital Trailblazers hosted by Isaac Sacolick Digital Trailblazers!  Join us Fridays at 11am ET for a live audio discussion on digital transformation topics:  innovation, product management, agile, DevOps, data governance, and more!

Training emerging Digital Trailblazers: How to develop them

Here are several recommendations on training, developing, and mentoring emerging Digital Trailblazers.

  1. Provide opportunities to build digital skills – You may have hired a software developer, but how will they learn other skills such as test automation, data science, and security? Digital Trailblazers must have a breadth of digital and transformation skills, so providing them opportunities to learn and work outside their primary functions is crucial.
  2. Aid in setting personal goals – Many people new to the workforce may not have a three-year plan or long-term objectives, but they can usually describe their interests and passions. Listen for how they describe their future selves and help translate them to personal goals.
  3. Coach on the why and be ready to reverse mentor – Many of us come from the analog generation, while entry levelers are digital natives. Leaders must dedicate time to share the why behind business objectives and can learn a ton from how digital natives apply technology.   
  4. Educate on compliance and quality functions – Entry level candidates may understand consumer digital, but they may be “deer in the headlights” regarding security, governance, compliance, regulations, and minimal quality standards the business requires. Training helps, but more importantly, leaders must discuss these requirements in the context of their work.  
  5. Share frequent feedback – Developing Digital Trailblazers requires more than direct managers to provide feedback to entry level high potentials. Leaders should discuss how more people up and diagonal in the organization must provide advice, ask questions, or offer guidance to high potentials.
  6. Establish experimentation as a primary objective – Digital Trailblazers need room to sort out what problems to focus on, which customers to target, how to define value, and what paths to take in defining solutions. Lifelong learning starts with the time and freedom to experiment on both problems and solutions.  

Three leadership recommendations on a culture that fosters Digital Trailblazers

Join the community of StarCIO Digital Trailblazers

The last three recommendations touch on acclimating Digital Trailblazers to the company culture and evolving the culture so that more Digital Trailblazers are successful.  

  1. Guide them on building relationships – High potentials are often introverts who need help to open doors. Get to know the high potential well and find out what they like to do outside of work. Then, use their aspirations and interests to help build relationships with more people in the company and programs it offers. 
  2. Ensure they understand the organization’s values and principles – Don’t assume the posters and HR programs go far enough to ingrain the company’s mission and values. Leaders illustrate values by example, help people, create decision-making principles, and coach high potentials on building confidence.  
  3. Digital Trailblazer by Isaac Sacolick
  4. Incentivize communication, collaboration, and teaching – Digital Trailblazers are go-getters and problem solvers, but what worked for them as individual contributors won’t be sufficient when leading digital transformation initiatives. Leaders must help build onto emerging Digital Trailblazers’ team leadership skills and shift their incentives from getting work done to leadership outcomes. Encourage strong communication skills, servant collaboration practices, and acumen to teach others new ways of working.   

I cover many of these topics in my book, Digital Trailblazer. If you’re looking to develop Digital Trailblazers, please consider StarCIO’s Digital Trailblazer coaching and advisory programs.

Isaac Sacolick
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 Driving Digital Newsletter and read all about my transformation stories in Digital Trailblazer.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments on this blog are moderated and we do not accept comments that have links to other websites.


About Isaac Sacolick

Isaac Sacolick is President of StarCIO, a technology leadership company that guides organizations on building digital transformation core competencies. He is the author of Digital Trailblazer and the Amazon bestseller Driving Digital and speaks about agile planning, devops, data science, product management, and other digital transformation best practices. Sacolick is a recognized top social CIO, a digital transformation influencer, and has over 900 articles published at InfoWorld, CIO.com, his blog Social, Agile, and Transformation, and other sites. You can find him sharing new insights @NYIke on Twitter, his Driving Digital Standup YouTube channel, or during the Coffee with Digital Trailblazers.