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Enabling Digital Transformation in your Organization

While digital transformation has been a vastly overused buzzword of late, it’s not just the latest fad. Organizations that are able to adapt to the changing times and adopt new-age technologies are able to remain competitive and relevant, and stay ahead of their peers. But digital transformation programs often fail. How can you ensure that yours doesn’t?   Quotes: Technology is constantly redefining our lives, giving us easy access to amazing tools and resources and creating limitless paths to shape the future. Digitisation has shrunk the world and blurred boundaries across societies. Mobile and cloud computing, big data, the Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are revolutionising industries and generating innovative, smart business strategies. Online learning has become the new educational paradigm, allowing learners in remote corners of the world access to the most advanced learning concepts. Smart homes offer the ultimate in comfort and convenience, optimising resources and helping to keep the planet green. Digital transformation reimagines value creation for the end-users, connecting people, data, and processes to maintain a competitive advantage in the digital-first world. Adoption of digital technologies has become an imperative more than any other, redefining and reshaping every aspect of our lives. Through a successful value-creation strategy, businesses can improve processes and enhance productivity, create customer delight and employee engagement, and mitigate risks while optimizing resources.   The current pandemic has turned the world on its head, disrupting almost every aspect of our lives. One of the far-reaching consequences it has brought about is, as the Economist put it, “the infusion of data-enabled services into ever more aspects of life.”  In the uncertain times caused by the pandemic, digital transformation has assumed even more strategic importance than ever before. To survive and thrive in the competitive marketplace, businesses must stay afloat in the waters of the new digital oceans. Going digital will help them build the resilience that the future demands.  But in reality, research indicates that  70 percent of large-scale transformations are known to fall by the wayside, without achieving their objectives. Why so? The most obvious shortcomings include poor employee engagement, lack of guidance and support from the leadership, disconnect between cross-functional teams, and a lack of accountability.  To accelerate digital transformation and ensure successful adoption across the enterprise, several factors are key: Companies must take a people-first approach: Along with investments in technology, investing in the workforce is what will drive innovation and create sustainable change. Analysis shows that successful transformations are hinged on changing the company culture in tandem with the upgrades in technology. While technologies can be bought, successful implementation requires a sea change in the people’s mindset as well. Employees must be empowered to adapt to new ways of working. Technology should be paired with the right human skills, and even the most brilliant innovation will become redundant if the workforce is not equipped to use it.  There are two proven ways in which companies have driven successful employee engagement through the transformation. First, establishing and reinforcing new habits and ways of working through formal mechanisms such as continuous learning. And second, allowing employees to offer their opinions on how and where to adopt digitization. When they feel they are being heard, they are more likely to adapt to the change when it happens. According to this “State of the Global Workplace” report, around 87% employees are not engaged, which leads to a loss of $7 trillion in productivity each year.  Hire savvy, far-sighted leaders For any change to be successful, it has to be driven from the top down. Actions speak louder than words, and what the leadership does will significantly impact team performances. The mindset and values that are followed by the most senior leaders will be the main differentiator that enables the effectiveness of the organization’s transformation. MIT Sloan’s Management Review research initiative titled  The New Leadership Playbook for the Digital Age shows that only 12% of the respondents interviewed felt that their leaders had the right mind-set to lead their companies forward into transformation.  Investing in top talent, and paying a bit more to hire savvy, far-sighted leaders can make all the difference. Impactful leaders who can connect on a deeper level with the workforce will be able to motivate them to outperform, taking any innovation in their stride. Senior leaders who encourage employees to experiment, without being chastised for small failures, will be far more likely to create a successful blueprint for change. This involves being bold enough to take risks, and to challenge old, traditional ways of working. People in key roles who ensure that they collaborate well with others at all levels, and are available for open discussions on challenges faced by the team, are more likely to report success. Implement digital upgrades wherever possibleFor employees to fall into new ways of working, the right digital tools and processes can go a long way to support success. Making the adoption of digital tools an organizational norm can facilitate rapid analysis of complex data, improved communication and ease of access to information, and create a network of cross-functional, self-organizing teams that are each accountable for their own tasks. When organizations are able to modify their traditional operating procedures to integrate digital technologies, they are already well on the way to a successful transformation. Research by McKinsey shows that leading businesses are investing heavily in upgrading their technology, adopting innovations that will help them meet the challenges of the present and the future. Build organizational capabilities for the future of workIt’s not just enough to install the digital upgrade, and expect that it will be adopted seamlessly. How ready is the existing workforce to take on this change? The right upskilling and reskilling programs should be in place to ensure that the people who need to use the tools and technologies have the capabilities they need to adapt. In the era of rapid technological change, skills become obsolete very quickly and the workforce should be able to continuously adapt to evolving conditions. Cultivating the right capabilities will create tangible benefits through value delivery for the company, its employees and its customers alike. These capabilities encompass not only technological skills, but also social and emotional skills such as communication, empathy and resilience to change. Amazon is leading the way, by pledging $700 million in order to equip its workforce to deal with transformations and disruptions of the coming years through training and upskilling.  What is the roadmap for a successful transformation? Every organization must define and manage its own roadmap towards a digital transformation effort, taking into account the many change initiation programs needed to realize success. It should first assess the digital maturity of the business today, and then define the future digital vision that is sought. Along the way, intermediate business goals and measurable metrics will ensure that process is achieved one step at a time. A successful business transformation is one that is well positioned to hold its own in the competitive marketplace, attracting more revenue and winning the hearts of customers. 
Enabling Digital Transformation in your Organization
KnowledgeHut

Enabling Digital Transformation in your Organization

While digital transformation has been a vastly overused buzzword of late, it’s not just the latest fad. Organizations that are able to adapt to the changing times and adopt new-age technologies are able to remain competitive and relevant, and stay ahead of their peers. But digital transformation programs often fail. How can you ensure that yours doesn’t?   Quotes: Technology is constantly redefining our lives, giving us easy access to amazing tools and resources and creating limitless paths to shape the future. Digitisation has shrunk the world and blurred boundaries across societies. Mobile and cloud computing, big data, the Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are revolutionising industries and generating innovative, smart business strategies. Online learning has become the new educational paradigm, allowing learners in remote corners of the world access to the most advanced learning concepts. Smart homes offer the ultimate in comfort and convenience, optimising resources and helping to keep the planet green. Digital transformation reimagines value creation for the end-users, connecting people, data, and processes to maintain a competitive advantage in the digital-first world. Adoption of digital technologies has become an imperative more than any other, redefining and reshaping every aspect of our lives. Through a successful value-creation strategy, businesses can improve processes and enhance productivity, create customer delight and employee engagement, and mitigate risks while optimizing resources.   The current pandemic has turned the world on its head, disrupting almost every aspect of our lives. One of the far-reaching consequences it has brought about is, as the Economist put it, “the infusion of data-enabled services into ever more aspects of life.”  In the uncertain times caused by the pandemic, digital transformation has assumed even more strategic importance than ever before. To survive and thrive in the competitive marketplace, businesses must stay afloat in the waters of the new digital oceans. Going digital will help them build the resilience that the future demands.  But in reality, research indicates that  70 percent of large-scale transformations are known to fall by the wayside, without achieving their objectives. Why so? The most obvious shortcomings include poor employee engagement, lack of guidance and support from the leadership, disconnect between cross-functional teams, and a lack of accountability.  To accelerate digital transformation and ensure successful adoption across the enterprise, several factors are key: Companies must take a people-first approach: Along with investments in technology, investing in the workforce is what will drive innovation and create sustainable change. Analysis shows that successful transformations are hinged on changing the company culture in tandem with the upgrades in technology. While technologies can be bought, successful implementation requires a sea change in the people’s mindset as well. Employees must be empowered to adapt to new ways of working. Technology should be paired with the right human skills, and even the most brilliant innovation will become redundant if the workforce is not equipped to use it.  There are two proven ways in which companies have driven successful employee engagement through the transformation. First, establishing and reinforcing new habits and ways of working through formal mechanisms such as continuous learning. And second, allowing employees to offer their opinions on how and where to adopt digitization. When they feel they are being heard, they are more likely to adapt to the change when it happens. According to this “State of the Global Workplace” report, around 87% employees are not engaged, which leads to a loss of $7 trillion in productivity each year.  Hire savvy, far-sighted leaders For any change to be successful, it has to be driven from the top down. Actions speak louder than words, and what the leadership does will significantly impact team performances. The mindset and values that are followed by the most senior leaders will be the main differentiator that enables the effectiveness of the organization’s transformation. MIT Sloan’s Management Review research initiative titled  The New Leadership Playbook for the Digital Age shows that only 12% of the respondents interviewed felt that their leaders had the right mind-set to lead their companies forward into transformation.  Investing in top talent, and paying a bit more to hire savvy, far-sighted leaders can make all the difference. Impactful leaders who can connect on a deeper level with the workforce will be able to motivate them to outperform, taking any innovation in their stride. Senior leaders who encourage employees to experiment, without being chastised for small failures, will be far more likely to create a successful blueprint for change. This involves being bold enough to take risks, and to challenge old, traditional ways of working. People in key roles who ensure that they collaborate well with others at all levels, and are available for open discussions on challenges faced by the team, are more likely to report success. Implement digital upgrades wherever possibleFor employees to fall into new ways of working, the right digital tools and processes can go a long way to support success. Making the adoption of digital tools an organizational norm can facilitate rapid analysis of complex data, improved communication and ease of access to information, and create a network of cross-functional, self-organizing teams that are each accountable for their own tasks. When organizations are able to modify their traditional operating procedures to integrate digital technologies, they are already well on the way to a successful transformation. Research by McKinsey shows that leading businesses are investing heavily in upgrading their technology, adopting innovations that will help them meet the challenges of the present and the future. Build organizational capabilities for the future of workIt’s not just enough to install the digital upgrade, and expect that it will be adopted seamlessly. How ready is the existing workforce to take on this change? The right upskilling and reskilling programs should be in place to ensure that the people who need to use the tools and technologies have the capabilities they need to adapt. In the era of rapid technological change, skills become obsolete very quickly and the workforce should be able to continuously adapt to evolving conditions. Cultivating the right capabilities will create tangible benefits through value delivery for the company, its employees and its customers alike. These capabilities encompass not only technological skills, but also social and emotional skills such as communication, empathy and resilience to change. Amazon is leading the way, by pledging $700 million in order to equip its workforce to deal with transformations and disruptions of the coming years through training and upskilling.  What is the roadmap for a successful transformation? Every organization must define and manage its own roadmap towards a digital transformation effort, taking into account the many change initiation programs needed to realize success. It should first assess the digital maturity of the business today, and then define the future digital vision that is sought. Along the way, intermediate business goals and measurable metrics will ensure that process is achieved one step at a time. A successful business transformation is one that is well positioned to hold its own in the competitive marketplace, attracting more revenue and winning the hearts of customers. 
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Enabling Digital Transformation in your Organizati...

While digital transformation has been a vastly ... Read More

Role of HR in the Post-COVID Work Environment

A study published recently in the Journal of Applied Psychology found that, “the pandemic has resulted in people getting more stressed and less engaged at work”.Covid-times have brought to the fore the shortcomings of the traditional workplace. Organizations are relying on HR to deal with new age disruptions like lack of engagement, employee retention and motivation. The solutions adopted by the most successful HR teams?—Go agile while helping employees re-skill and up-skill.The millennium has brought with it extraordinary advancements. There are no technological borders anymore and projects have gone pan-global. Forrester terms it as ‘customer obsession’, and what an obsession it is, indeed! The customer is the king and everything an organization does is geared towards giving the customer, who is the most important stakeholder, an unparalleled experience. The bar has been set high, and organizations have to scale up to survive and grow in this competitive market.But the convergence of all these expectations can take a heavy toll on the workforce.  Just as innovations are being introduced at break neck speed, so are millennial employees expected to out-perform and bring to the table new skills that will fuel the innovation needed to meet new-age customer demands.Add to this, old management styles, hampered by processes and policies that are now termed ‘old school’ can seriously stagnate any form of innovation and progress. Today’s extraordinary circumstances, be it the economy or the COVID crisis, has put the spotlight back on the drawbacks that are holding back organizations and people from reaching their full potential.Challenges facing HR in the next normalLack of agility“An agile workforce has emerged as a key differentiator between successful and non-successful organizations” — Accelerating Workforce Agility and Resilience - AonA monolithic human resource structure is not nimble enough to keep up with changing ideas and business solutions. Fast changes in the environment, markets and employee attitudes require policies and processes that help in taking quick decisions and implementing impactful solutions.Remote working has changed the work landscape and forced HR to re-think employee allocation, potential and adaptability. A non-agile workforce is unable to adapt to or support change, and this skill-gap has become more conspicuous in the remote working scenario.  Research by McKinsey indicates that agility has the potential to improve the customer experience by up to 30 percent.Lack of employee engagementThe millennial workforce is a new breed altogether.  They have a different set of expectations, a different vision and different motivations.The COVID situation has further deepened this divide and the HR cannot engage the workforce as before.Changing the status quo and addressing this individualistic workforce is a major challenge. Successful employee engagement leads to a more motivated staff that is empowered and puts the focus back to where it needs to be—on the customer.An analysis by McKinsey showed a 20 to 30% financial improvement with improved employee engagement.Decreasing productivity“70 percent of organizations believe that the single biggest concern for continued remote working is a fall in productivity” - Research study by Ernst and Young.Managing the remote workforce, re-prioritizing processes and solutions and helping employees cope with newer working technologies and models is a challenge for HR in most organizations.According to the survey, “less than 35 percent organizations are prepared if the crisis escalated and less than 10 percent have undertaken contingency and scenario planning.”Lack of collaboration and cross-learning among team membersIt’s not always a team that is super talented or the most brilliant that completes a successful project, but one that is most collaborative.For an HR team, ensuring this collaboration could well be an unprecedented challenge. As projects go global and team members spread across the world, the HR team has to make sure that people from different cultures and diverse languages collaborate efficiently and implement improvements to meet organizational objectives.A lack of collaboration between team members creates silos, inhibits the process of continuous learning, teamwork and commitment and breaks the business value chain.Long-term impact of remote work on collaboration and organizational cultureAccording to a survey by Harvard Business Review, as teams become more remote, there is a decline in cross collaboration.Sure it also helps to have team mates who will join you in your coffee breaks, but collaboration is more than that. It’s about sharing work, knowledge and experience. Interaction and team activities help enhance collaboration.Collaboration leads to innovation. Collaboration fosters not just the team spirit but enhances individual confidence and contribution.But having team building activities can be a challenge when working remotely. The HR needs to be more proactive in establishing a collaborative culture and ensuring that the process of cross learning remains continuous.What must HR do to ensure continued business excellence?HR is more than just recruiting and policy creation. In today’s world they are a key partner in ensuring organizational success. And it is the HR that recognizes and fosters talent through a process of continuous learning.“It’s about getting the best people, retaining them, nurturing a creative environment and helping to find a way to innovate” - Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo.So, how does one do it?Invest in a learning culture"Organizations that focused on helping their employees upskill were ahead of the competition and more confident of the future” - PwC Talent Trends 2020Continuous learning should be part of a company’s DNA. Upskilling and reskilling will keep employees engaged and updated with the latest technologies, a fact corroborated by the best minds in the industry.41% of the CEOs who were part of PwC’s 23rd Annual Global CEO Survey said that “their upskilling programme has been “very effective” in creating a stronger corporate culture and engaging employees.”Introduce an Agile cultureAgile adoption leads to significant improvements in ROI, accelerates growth and fosters innovation and stability. And it’s not just about the bottom lines.This research by McKinsey found that agile organizations did a better job of handling the COVID crisis than their peers. Agile teams were better able to adapt to changing business priorities and models and ensure customer satisfaction.The HR department is a key contributor to ushering in an organization-wide agile transformation. Enabling training to help leaders embrace agility and turn into coaches, breaking up large teams into small, high-performance and self-functioning bodies, creating an environment of continuous improvement and learning and encouraging strong policies of engagement and transparency are some of the ways.Improve remote collaborationIn the coming years, work from home and remote working will be the norm more than an exception.The Gig economy is growing and soon will influence federal government policies. According to stats, more than 50% of the US workforce will be a part of the Gig workforce by 2027.HR will have to come up with policies that will help talent fruitfully engage with the organization remotely, while keeping the pace of innovation and progress steady.In conclusion, a nimble and pro-active HR is the cornerstone for an organization to remain relevant in the next normal. The role of HR as a business partner in ensuring organizational success is crucial in these times of disruption, more than ever before. Being able to recognize, accept and adapt to change will be the key differentiator between success and failure.
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Role of HR in the Post-COVID Work Environment

A study published recently in the Journal of Appli... Read More

How to Re-engage Your Employees Post Covid-19

Slowly, but surely, we are heading back into the office. The world is reopening and we’re ready to embrace it with open arms. After months of lockdown, you might assume that employees are keen to get back to work. Unfortunately, that is not the case. In this guest post, Natalka Antoniuk) shares about the challenge that Quadrant2Design, an exhibition stand company, are facing with no restart date for their industry yet. She shares insights from their experience with tips to re-engage employees and get your business up and running again.Employee engagement is key to rebuilding a business however, a study by Dr. Nick Keca shows that on average only 29% of employees in your company are actively engaged. They are loyal, committed, more productive and easier to retain which is why they are vital to business regrowth.Employee engagement as per a study by Keka ResearchJust over half of your team are likely not engaged, meaning that they can be productive, but they are not psychologically connected to their company.These are the employees who will miss workdays and are more likely to leave.A fifth of your employees are actively disengaged. These are the employees that you need to work with. These individuals are physically present but are unhappy and psychologically absent. Furthermore, these employees share their unhappiness with others which can influence others who are not engaged. “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.” - Steve JobsAs a business owner, employee engagement might not be at the forefront of your mind given the current situation. With businesses starting back up, and huge VAT reductions to encourage economic growth, you are probably more concerned with customer relations and closing deals.  If you don’t actively work towards re-engaging your employees, this might not be possible.After almost five months working from home, employees have realized benefits such as saving time and money by not commuting. They are asking for flexible working patterns, the ability to work remotely, and an openness to new working styles.   This shift in attitudes is going to have a ripple effect when offices do reopen. Although individuals have missed the social aspect of the office, they have made it clear that they want a change. Admittedly restructuring your business amidst a global pandemic isn’t the smartest choice, employers are going to have to do something to keep their staff engaged.  How do you engage employees? Trying to engage your employees, and keep them engaged, was hard before the global pandemic. Now, with the looming recession, job losses, two months of working from home and a virus still in circulation, it is going to be even harder.How do you engage employees?Nevertheless, the traditional methods that employers have used for years will still be effective and shouldn’t be ignored in your struggle to reengage your team. Reopening your office will take some getting used to after the lockdown. Trying to keep on top of the basic pillars of engagement will go a long way towards keeping your employees happy and motivated. Recognition Employees are more engaged when they feel like their contribution has been recognized. Although remuneration, benefits and rewards are common ways to show your employee that your value their input, you might not be financially stable enough to give these kind of rewards post-COVID. So, what do you do? Fortunately, over 80% of employees value recognition above any rewards or gifts. As long as your employees feel like you appreciate the work they are doing, they will be more actively engaged.  The type of recognition that you give your staff also matters. Over two-thirds of people believe recognition as an individual was more motivating than recognition as a team.Almost 90% of people find praise from their managers to be very or extremely motivation. And three quarters said the same thing about praise from their peers. Recognizing your employees and praising them for their contributions doesn’t cost you any time or money. Look at everything that has been achieved whilst we’ve all had to work from home and get ready to offer individual praise when your doors finally reopen. Growth Employees are more engaged if they feel like there is the potential to grow and develop their career within your organisation. In fact, the majority of people listed opportunities for growth as a more motivating reason to stay at a company than receiving a pay rise.  This is why employee engagement tends to be better in a growing company, as staff members understand the correlation between business growth and new job opportunities. The problem that most businesses will have is that the post-pandemic recession is likely to halt any growth. Whether you are open with your employees or not, there will always be tell-tale signs whether your business is growing or taking a hit. If your staff feel like the business is struggling financially, they will likely disengage quickly. Although growth and career progression might not be on the cards right now, job security is becoming increasingly important as we enter a global recession. Where possible, you need to make every member of staff feel like their job is safe. If you have made any redundancies, then they will likely feel insecure about their position within your organisation. Continue offering praise and recognition for their work so that they feel confident within their role at your company. Fun Without a doubt, the easiest and most effective way to keep your team motivated and engaged is to provide a fun working environment. Nine out of ten employees list fun working environments to be very or extremely motivating.  This doesn’t mean that you need to turn your office into a trendy London agency or Google HQ overnight. Simply building strong relationships and encouraging their out-of-work hobbies can go a long way. Most people are just looking for a healthy work environment. Fun with employeesRemember, the vast majority of people have enjoyed the time and money that they have saved by working from home. They have had more time to develop new hobbies and will likely be looking for a better workand life balance.  One of the things you can do to create a more fun working environment is open new avenues of communication. Make your employees feel comfortable coming to you to discuss ideas like flexible working. In building relationships with immediate supervisors and colleagues, your employees will be happier, more motivated and you will notice increased employee engagement.Expect unengaged employees One of the problems business owners are facing is the shift in attitudes that has led to previously engaged employees feeling unmotivated and disengaged. With all of the changes that 2020 has already brought, employees are looking for a sense of normality. Having spent months out of the office only to return to a new socially-distanced environment will take its toll. It is understandable when you look at the three pillars of employee engagement listed above. For months, each team member has been working from home without their colleagues around them. This segregation will have led to a decrease in praise and recognition both from management and on a peer-to-peer level. Furthermore, they are likely to have lost confidence in their job security. With media headlines focussing on the looming recession and the vast number of job losses, many employees are worried about the safety of their own roles.  Finally, any element of fun that was provided in your work environment before has been stripped bare by the 2m social distancing requirements, plastic screens and lingering smell of hand sanitiser. Employees got used to a life working from home where they had more free time available for their family and new hobbies. Now they are back in the office with regulations in place to stop any kind of relationship building.  Of course, the measures we listed above will help you overcome these difficulties. But the truth is that you have a lot of things to consider at the moment. This is a global pandemic and you’re working hard making the right business decisions. Nobody blames you for letting employee engagement slip. But in doing so, you will cause more damage to your business.Expect unengaged employeesHow do you motivate a disengaged team? It is much harder to motivate an individual who has recently become disengaged. Although we can make assumptions as to why this has happened, you can never be completely sure. That means no employer will ever know a quick fix. The problem is, once an individual becomes disengaged it is hard to get them back on course. A disengaged employee isn’t satisfied with the job that they are doing, they don’t find it exciting and they spend their day clock watching.  Under normal circumstance, when an employee reaches this point, they are likely to be searching for a new job. In the current situation, disengaged employees may feel trapped or threatened by the decreasing job pool. This can lead to further problems down the line as they will vocalise their issues to the other employees, and their negative attitude could start to rub off. Although you don’t want negative people on your team, cutting staff could lead to further disengagement. It is also incredibly cost-effective to actively reengage a current member off staff rather than recruiting new people. So how should you do this? Career development Okay, so you might not be in the best situation to start promoting your employees and dishing out pay raises and bonuses – but you can still let your staff know that their position within your business is safe. Encouraging your staff to attend training programs that enable them to develop new skills will make them feel appreciated. It shows that you intend to have them working for you in the future, giving them a sense of job security.   Be open Share all the company news, good and bad, with your employees. In doing so, you are telling everyone that they are a valuable member of the team. It will help them to engage with the business, company goals, and align themselves with your mission and values. Furthermore, you may find a handful of hidden talents hiding amongst your team. When an employee is disengaged, they pass the day by doing the bare minimum and clock watching. Engaged employees go above and beyond for their company. By being open about the current business situation, your team will become more actively engaged and could even provide solutions to company problems. Lay out your expectations Your business goals will have to be adjusted to help you face the crisis. You may find your product offering, your distribution methods or your marketing strategy have to change. If you are open with your employees, they will already understand that their roles may change slightly moving forward. Make this transition easier by sitting down with each of your employees to discuss their new roles and setting clear expectations, goals and objectives. In doing so, you reiterate the importance of every member of staff and they feel more secure in their job roles with clear targets to work towards. At Quadrant2Design, we are patiently awaiting a reopen date for our industry. Normally at this time of year we are busy designing exhibition stands, however our day-to-day working pattern has changed. Rather than designing stands, we have been creating free resources to help individuals with their exhibition planning and budgeting.  It has been a great exercise for our highly creative team, and something that has seen different groups working together. Overall, we have found this to be extremely helpful in re-engaging our employees. In summary Believe it or not, your employees want to engage at work. Nobody wants to be sat at a desk clock watching for a third of their life. Engaging your team will not only boost your business but make your office a better place to work. The truth of the matter is your employees will find it much easier to stay motivated and engaged at work if you provide the right atmosphere for them to do so. You can do this by following everything that we have outlined above.   Providing an open atmosphere by working on colleague relationships, particularly with supervisors and managers, and keeping the team up to date with the current business situation will be key to this. Furthermore, adjusting to the changing attitudes of staff by encouraging hobbies and becoming more flexible may also benefit engagement. Offer employees the opportunity to grow and develop their career, even if you currently are not in a financial situation to promote and reward them. Letting employees know that their job is safe and there will soon be an opportunity to progress will also be key to maintaining employee engagement.  Finally, take it upon yourself to have a one-to-one with every individual. It could be that their job role has changed as you’ve had to adapt your business offering. Set your expectations and give them personal goals and targets to work towards in this new role. Keeping everyone on board will be crucial in business regrowth post-COVID19.
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How to Re-engage Your Employees Post Covid-19

Slowly, but surely, we are heading back into the o... Read More

How companies can become truly Agile in the wake of COVID-19

Agile is touted as one of the best, most important work methodologies. In what ways is it relevant (or not?) through a crisis like the one we’re facing brought on by COVID-19? We caught up with experienced Agile Coach and KnowledgeHut trainer, Kumaresh Krishnamoorthy, on why an agile mindset might be one of the most important skills for the emergent new normal.  Kumaresh is a leading industry expert in Agile with experience in IBM, General Motors and Hewlett Packard. He specializes in Agile Transformation from Waterfall to Agile to Scaled Agile using (Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe®), Disciplined Agile (DA®) and other Agile frameworks and processes. In this interview, Kumaresh talked to us about what it means for a company to be truly agile, the crucial role that leadership plays in agile transformation and the need for enterprises to upskill their workforce to face the challenges and take advantage of the opportunities in the post COVID-19 world. In this article, we share excerpts from the interview along with the video for you to follow along. Watch our interview with Kumaresh Krishnamoorthy, Agile Coach and KnowledgeHut TrainerCustomer centricity at the heart of the Agile mindset What I observe during this challenging time is that different companies seem to have different approaches towards dealing with the sudden and massive disruption. In smaller companies and start-ups, the focus is always customer centricity and they build in a design thinking framework around this. The company is this network of people and every single person in the network is focused on providing value to the customer, irrespective of how many changes come up from the customer’s side. This is how small companies start growing. But as companies grow, a hierarchical structure emerges with processes to be followed. There are policies and departments and as companies keep growing, the focus on customer centricity slowly starts diminishing and instead, they start focusing on the process itself. This is where the issue lies, and the company struggles to deliver true value to the customer. What happens is that the process has taken over, the hierarchy has taken over, the traditional way of thinking has taken over.  Now, when the customer wants a change, the bigger companies will usually insist on a change management process. Every change will probably take around two months to be implemented.What agile brings about here is a change in mindset which helps every person in the network focus once again on customer centricity and design thinking enables this.  It isn’t that hierarchy is bad. Structures, policies and procedures are very important for every company, but we also need to realize and learn from the things which worked well when the company was small. It is true that change is inevitable and is the only constant in life; the important thing for us to understand is how to adapt. The company that adapts fastest keeping the focus on the customer is the one that will be successful. The customer focus is what Agile brings about. Why do so many organizations fail with their Agile transformations? If you notice some of the big companies like Blockbuster, the video rental company - they did not adapt and eventually fell apart. But look at Netflix, which started after blockbuster - they understood the reason for change; they understood the Agile way of thinking. They truly adopted Agile. They trained their employees to be truly agile and to be innovative. They trained their employees to take chances and this is how they grew to be so big today. Similarly, companies like BlackBerry and Nokia, all these companies fell apart while Apple, Samsung, and the like have thrived in adapting to change and been immensely successful. It is most important for companies to understand what the drive for them is to change. Don't change just because others are changing. Understand the reason for you to change. If you don't, someone else will overtake you. That's the drive that every company needs to understand. And based on that understanding, they need to provide their workforce with autonomy and give them the chance to succeed. Train them, educate them and give them the leadership support, which is often missing.  Don't change just because others are changing. Understand the reason for you to change. There is a big difference between “doing agile” and “being agile”. Many companies feel they that they are agile because they have adopted some of the frameworks and methodologies in their working until it does not work or they find they are not able to deliver value to customers. If these companies do a deep dive, they will soon realize that they are just “doing Agile”, not “being Agile”. “Doing agile” boils down to external reasons – I’m doing it because my neighbour is doing it, my friend is doing it or my competitors are doing it – without an understanding of the reason behind the need to become agile. So,the first and foremost important thing is to recognize your need for change. Unless you are convinced, you will not be able to do justice.  The second reason companies struggle is because they do not understand the true principles and values behind agile. When companies make decisions without understanding the principles behind them, they are not able to make right decisions. The thing I always tell companies is that if you want to be truly agile, you need to understand what the values and principles behind agility are all about. Once you understand these and start believing in them, the decisions you then make, based on these principles and value statements are what will make you truly agile.The difference between “being agile” and “doing agile” is understanding the principles.With companies that are struggling, you will notice that these companies are trying to be agile only at the team level. The management feels that they don't have to be agile and that it’s only the IT team who actually has to be Agile - that's a huge misconception. And that's why companies are struggling quite a lot, because ofthis kind of hybrid model wherein on the top, you are traditional,but at the bottom, where the work is actually happening, you try to be Agile. This causes a huge disconnect between the thought process at the leadership and management level and the team that’s actually delivering value.Agile is not process implementation. It is a shift in mindset.Enterprises need to adopt the agile mindset because it's not just the teams who are doing the work – the whole enterprise needs to be agile. This is where the Scaled Agile framework or SAFe® comes up. The reason Scaled Agile has made a lot of progress and has become really popular is because it’s a framework which caters to all levels of an enterprise, not just at the team level. Scaling is not an option nowadays; if you don’t scale, you’re dead. It's important for leadership to understand what it is that they must do to be Agile; it’s not just about the teams.  And what leaders must then do is to provide the right environment - an environment of trust, an environment of respect and an environment of support. This is what brings about the passion in the team to actually deliver true value to the customers. This is where the magic happens and transformation begins. It all begins with the mindset at the leadership level.  Make the best of the lock-down and slowdown to upskill Unfortunately, we are in the middle of an economic slowdown and companies are struggling. But this gives an opportunity for companies to make sure that their employees take the time to introspect in terms of how they have been doing the past - have they been delivering true value to their customers? Are there perhaps better ways to do it? Investing in training and education helps the company grow. This is very important and now is especially a very good time to focus on this. You must do it to prepare for what comes after the crisis.Companies will then have to ramp up and deliver things really fast, faster than ever before because they have to catch up with the economy that will look to rebound rapidly.  When companies want to ramp up, especially in scaling Agile, it should not be just at the team level. It should not just be, for example, Scrum. While that’s one of the skills, there are several other frameworks – there’s Kanban, Lean thinking, Disciplined Agile and several others. So, there’s multiple areas they need to upskill themselves on. It’s also important for companies to learn how to choose the right agile solution for their situation. Not every project is “agileable”; the idea is that teams need to understand which projects Agile must be applied to and which projects they must continue in maybe a Waterfall fashion. Even in projects where Agile must be applied, you need to have different strategies as required - one project may require Kanban and the other Scrum, the third may require Lean or even SAFe®. There are different ways to apply your knowledge but the only way you can make this decision is to gain that knowledge.  The way to gain that knowledge is by talking to professionals, enrolling for training, and learning about best practices through case studies.  How can companies best prepare for the new normal post COVID-19? The next 6 months to a year is going to be really crucial in terms of how companies wrap themselves around the problem. To build character, adaptability, and flexibility and deliver true value to the customers, the work must happen now. When things come back to the new normal, things will need to really speed up. Enterprises will then need their work force equipped with the skills and the right frame of mind to really help the company grow at double the speed. That's why this transition period during the lockdown is crucial for companies to prepare their employees for what's coming up in the future. The best part is that all training which has traditionally been delivered as classroom training, whether CSM® or Leading SAFe® are all being delivered online now. People don't have to get out of their homes anymore; they can get trained safely and from the comfort of their homes. So, as companies are trying to adapt, this is a great opportunity for people to make use of their time and upskill. Ready to start or grow your Agile career? Check out our latest courses, learn the skills and get the personalized guidance you need.
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How companies can become truly Agile in the wake o...

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Integrating Realm with Xamarin (Includes Realm Sync)

When it comes to mobile applications with database support, the first thing that comes to mind is SQLite. However, there are a few drawbacks with SQLite such as no support for data encryption and low performance when dealing with large data.In this article, we take a closer look at Realm, a non-relational database and a solid replacement for SQLite and core data. It is quite efficient and works seamlessly even with a large amount of data.Why use RealmEasy to use Provides data synchronization Fast and Efficient Provides Encryption of data Ways of using Realm Using realm locally: This creates a local file in your mobile app. Using realm cloud: The data lives in realm cloud and will be synchronized with the local database. In this article I will show how to integrate realm in the Xamarin Forms project. I will also show how to use realm as local database(Part-1) and realm cloud(Part-2) Prerequisites Visual Studio 2015 Update2 or higher for windows Visual Studio for Mac 7.0 or higher Part-1: Using Realm Local Database Firstly, create a Xamarin Forms project in Visual Studio for Windows or Mac. Go to the NuGet packages and install the realm package in all your solutions. Always prefer to install the latest one. It automatically adds fodyweavers.xml. If not added, please add it manually in all your projects.  Go to PCL project>—>Right click—>Add—>New File—>XML File—>FodyWeavers.xml Go to Android project>—>Right click—>Add—>New File—>XML File—>FodyWeavers.xml Go to iOS project>—>Right click—>Add—>New File—>XML File—>FodyWeavers.xml Add the below code in the fileFodyWeavers.xml        Let's create a model  public class Animals: RealmObject  {          public string Name { get; set; }          public int Age { get; set; }  } Opening Realms  Opening a Realm can be done by instantiating a new Realm object.  // Get a Realm instance   var realm = Realm.GetInstance(); Note: If nothing is passed, it creates the default realm. You can add realm name as below var realm = Realm.GetInstance(“Animals”); This will create realm db with “Animals” name To add/delete/update or do any operation of realm, first you need a Realm instance. 1) Add elements var _realm = Realm.GetInstance();  Add elements  _realm.Write(() =>                      {                          var entry = new Todo{ Name = “Dog”, Age =3 };                          _realm.Add(entry);                      }); 2) Delete elements  var param = _realm.All().First(b => b.Name == “Dog”);   using (var trans = _realm.BeginWrite())                   {                       _realm.Remove(param);  trans.Commit();                   }   3) Update elements  _realm.Write(() =>                      {  param.Name = “Cat”;                          _realm.Add(param);                      }); Part-2: Using Realm Cloud Now let's see how to use realm cloud. The setup is still the same. Here we need a few more additional steps. 1) Create an account in realm cloud at https://cloud.realm.io/ (one-month free trial account).  2) Create an instance in realm cloud by clicking on create an instance This instance ID will be further used for authentication  There are two types of Realm sync Full Sync: All the data present in the cloud will be synced locally Query Based Sync: Only partial data i.e the result set that is queried will be synced into the local copy. Here I am going to show you how to use full sync as Realm recommends using Full sync. Client Authentication:  Realm supports two types of authentication Simple Authentication: To simply get started one can use simple authentication which uses username, password and other one is anonymous login. JWT Authentication: It is recommended to use JWT Authentication for a better experience. The below code shows how to use simple authentication with username and password.  var authUrl = new Uri("https://myinstance.cloud.realm.io");  var credentials = Credentials.UsernamePassword(username, password, createUser: false);  var user = await User.LoginAsync(credentials, authUrl); To authenticate, you must supply a server URL. This is the base URL for your server, such as https://myinstance.cloud.realm.io Note: Here “myinstance" would be the instance id that you generated while creating your account  Create Realm through realm studio or through code. If the realm has not been created, while calling the realm instance it will automatically create. If you have already created through realm studio, you can just call the instance. Example: public static string realmPath = "realms://instanceId/realmname; Here the realm path consists of instanceId followed by realm name. Something like this public static string realmPath = "realms://instanceId/Animals; Now let’s login and call realm instance public async Task GetInitialize() { await StartLoginCycle(); } private async Task StartLogin() { do { await Task.Yield(); } while (!await LogIn()); }//Call the login methodprivate async Task LogIn() { try { user = User.Current; if (user == null) { var username = "DevUser"; //Pass your username var password = “User123"; //Pass the password var credentials = Realms.Sync.Credentials.UsernamePassword(username, password); /// Log in as the user. user = await User.LoginAsync(credentials, new Uri(RealmConnectionString.AuthUrl)); } Debug.Assert(user != null); Console.WriteLine("Login successful."); await GetDataFromRealm(); return true; } catch (Exception ex) { ///await Application.Current.MainPage.DisplayAlert("Error", ex.Message, "OK"); return false; } }//Call or create realm instance: public static async Task GetDataFromRealm() {                  var configuration = new FullSyncConfiguration(new Uri(realmPath, UriKind.Absolute), user);                  Var   _realm = await Realm.GetInstanceAsync(configuration);               var param = _realm.All();  //Adding/updating/deleting operations are same as above  } ConclusionIn the above sections, we have seen how to integrate realm local db and realm cloud into your xamarin forms project. You will also be able to perform operations like adding items, updating items and deleting items (showed in Part-1). These code snippets are the same for realm local database and realm cloud. You can find how to use linq queries in the below reference link. However, few features are not supported such as: groupby, union, intersect, distinct,except,  select, selectmany, join, group join, concat, skipwhile, take, skip and takewhile.  Note: Opening the realm instance asynchronously for the first time is recommended. Once the data is synchronized, the instance should be called synchronously.  You can also download realm studio, create a realm file, and add the data. This helps to minimize the code in your application.   Below are a few reference links that might help with further information Using realm with xamarin: https://realm.io/docs/dotnet/latest/ Linq support: https://realm.io/docs/dotnet/latest/api/linqsupport.html Realm Encryption: https://realm.io/docs/dotnet/latest/#encryption 
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Integrating Realm with Xamarin (Includes Realm Syn...

When it comes to mobile applications with database... Read More

8 Career Tips During the Coronavirus Era

The situation is extremely challenging, as the Great Depression in the 1930s. However, we must have faith in our resolution to not let this Coronavirus outbreak turn as bad as the Great Depression. Presently, the job market has been going through a phase of rapid layoffs and working remotely. Both large-scale and small-scale, companies are working remotely to fight the coronavirus pandemic. Searching for a job during this terrible and chaotic outbreak is leaving people with nothing but anxiety towards an uncertain future. Companies are recruiting at a sporadic pace and number. However, the search in hiring strong new talents required to take over and solve challenges remain as the priority. Companies are hiring lesser candidates, thus spurring a lot of competition to get the job slots. So the necessary thing for the applicants to do is to be strategic, intentional, and go for a job type that they will love to do. Yes, people will get multiple options to work now, either as full-time employees or part-time, as freelancers as companies are hiring to have their project and contract-based positions filled in. There is always a silver lining at the end of a rainbow and similarly, during this pandemic, there is a great scope for people to enhance their skill set, connect with professionals on platforms like LinkedIn and show people that they are up for the next challenge. This results in a quicker hiring process and cycle. Below are the 8 career tips to pursue jobs during the period dominated by COVID-19. 1. Timing the job search based on the level of urgency This one is crucial for people who feel a sense of urgency to restlessly looking for jobs if they are currently unemployed. They can also consider searching for a full-time job if they just need a position quickly. The best suggestion for a candidate would be to stay calm and set a timeline for when he or she would like to get a new role to match up to the expectations of the hiring companies. Instead of blindly applying, candidates should focus on managing their network to get additional opportunities and keep track of their progress. 2. Build-up connections with online networks Check the job networks online, some could involve friends, mentors, and colleagues. This helps in spotting someone who employs or to find open roles in organizations. Looking for professionals in a similar field of work would allow candidates to talk to potential contacts about job opportunities, events, and virtual networking. Joining online communities, like Facebook or LinkedIn, will further facilitate the need of seeing jobs and networking. This provides the perfect opportunity to build fresh and genuine links and revive old ones during this epidemic. 3. Identify and apply for companies that are adapting well during Covid-19 This is the perfect time for candidates to recognize and submit their job applications to companies that are coping well with the COVID-19 outbreak and get used to the new work environment. To keep things running as normal, most professional firms have their offices moved to work remotely. Furthermore, the demand for multiple roles in the healthcare and manufacturing companies is also growing fast due to the emergency caused by COVID-19. 4. Upgrading resume and online profiles Applicants should patiently update their curriculum vitae and online social networking profiles to reflect their career’s recent successes, preparation, interests, and abilities. If they market your skills and brand to the employers, then this will stamp the fact that you are on a quest to embracing better opportunities. Such applicants will also have an edge over the others. Reading the job description carefully when applying for remote jobs to demonstrate the skills relevant to the job description is also a good protocol. 5. Upskill with online courses to build up your professional skillJob seekers should utilize this spare time to take up legitimate online courses related to their profession. This will allow them to hone existing skills and learn new ones as well. Applying for new positions with the added credibility of these certifications will greatly boost your chances. Due to the current situation, a variety of online training companies have been providing free technical education and courses. 6. Flexibility in working and utilizing temporary opportunitiesIt is recommended to the job applicants to stay in the flow by embracing freelance jobs. Entering as a freelancer for the first time means that job seekers should have the best skills at their disposal and search for ways to use them appropriately. They can think of ways to use their hobbies too. In these hard times, agility and flexibility is the key to save and rejuvenate your career. 7. Virtual interviewing and working remotelySince we are practicing socially distancing, the new method to attend interviews will be virtual, so job applicants need to adapt accordingly. Before the interview, it is necessary to watch out for the surroundings to find a spot that is quiet, comfortable, and well-lit - almost simulating an interview room. The required video call software should be installed in the compatible devices before the interview. Ensure a fast internet connection is available for a smooth interview. 8. Be patient during the hiring process Lastly, it is necessary to stay calm and patient during the hiring process. As much as this is a tough time for us, so is it for the companies. The challenges being faced by the hiring companies are quite daunting and going through so much change in a short time and adapting to the same is quite difficult. Keep in mind that the hiring and onboarding processes will take some time as everything is being done remotely and without any face-to-face interaction. Moving AheadAs Joseph P Kennedy has famously quoted, when the going gets tough, the tough get going - as humans, we can endure the global pandemic with our perseverance, tenacity, and zeal. This mass pandemic has given people the chance to look at their opportunities on a broader spectrum and utilize the skills that they never thought they could harness. Thanks to the option of working remotely due to technological advancements, the COVID-19 outbreak has indirectly given us the chance to test our resilience under an unexpected situation and grow even stronger, mentally, academically, and professionally. Stay safe and keep learning!
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8 Career Tips During the Coronavirus Era

The situation is extremely challenging, as the Gre... Read More