Imagine sitting next to a career coach with 10 minutes of uninterrupted time to seek help for the most burning issues in your career. You know this will help you grow. In the last of a four-part series, HR influencer S.V. Nathan, chief talent officer at consulting firm Deloitte India, talks about how employees can ease the adoption of new technologies through reverse mentoring. Edited excerpts:
Am I trying to move a mountain in thinking like a start-up within a mammoth set-up? Does it help?
Thinking like a start-up is good! Consider the qualities start-ups are known for—optimal resource use, “plug and play" culture, innovative product or service suite, client centricity, and people who are versatile. We expect start-ups to reinvent the rules, and being that way is a great learning opportunity for individuals as well as established organizations. I would, in fact, recommend that organizations have a safe space that looks and feels like a start-up, because often, they become compartmentalized and bureaucratic. Having a space and a mindset like a start-up will help them renew themselves.
Changing technology and increasing information make work feel like a race. How do I wrap my head around this?
Whether we like it or not, the pace of work has changed. We need to accept it and prepare ourselves to adapt to it, rather than fight it. It is technology that has affected this change. It has enabled “anytime anywhere" work. You can also make technology work for you. Many organizations are using the flexibility that technology offers, to provide flexi-working, or work-from-home arrangements. A dial down in times of need is possible, and so is a dial-up (upskilling and cross skilling using digital resources).
As far as information is concerned, it is not an excess of information that is overwhelming but that of unprocessed data. You need to gear yourself to sift through this mass of data and get to the part that is actually useful for you, and that is precisely what analytics—enabled by modern technology—is helping us do, across fields.
Does generational divide affect the adoption of new technologies in an organization? What role can millennials play?
Millennials are voracious consumers of new ways of doing things. But they do not stop with consuming. They also want to share the experience, and to influence others to do the same. The whole digital transformation is on account of the huge need of the millennials to be mobile, and always remain connected. This drive is the one that forces a need to change. They do not stop there, they drive the use and influence in their groups. This quality means that millennials can be used to make technology adoption in an organization easier. Millennials work on it by easing it through reverse mentoring, where they coach older generations in the usage of new-age technologies and processes. This in a way reverses the mentor-mentee relationship. It makes it easier for senior employees, and provides an excellent opportunity for the young mentor to get close to the senior professionals.
What characteristics of millennials make change management easy?
Millennials will already be waiting on the other side of the street, when Generation X would have just registered the change in the signal. Millennials are early adopters. They take to technology faster and are willing to experiment without the fear of failure. They like to be change champions and will go beyond adopters, by taking charge and helping the change management in a seamless way. The open mindset and willingness to make changes without the fear of being judged, and a certain “individuality" goes to their credit for making change happen. Years ago, when automation came in, there was a widespread fear of losing jobs and it needed a big campaign and a change management process to have automation in place. Today, we speak of artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics and while this needs a big change, watch the way the millennials take to it. Not only will they experiment with it, explore it and build on it, they will also make the use of AI easy at work, while explaining the virtues in a changing world. While standing your ground and “look before you leap" is a good thing, being able to mould yourself according to changing circumstances is vital.