As a Traction on Demand delivery manager based in Toronto, working with many great local and global organizations, I was excited to help host our company’s first ever TractionForce in Toronto last week at Steam Whistle Brewing. Speakers from a wide range of industries, corporate and nonprofit, were brought together to discuss how their organizations have approached the concept of Shift or Drift, and how they are working to keep up with the consistent changing landscape of the business world through investments in their people, process and technology. This was a main focus of our CEO keynote from Traction on Demand’s Founder, Greg Malpass.
Whether an organization considers themselves a shifter or a drifter, they need to be ready for change. Here are some interesting nuggets I took away from the day that I’ll be taking back to my clients.
1. Create a Culture that Promotes New Ideas from All Levels of the Organization
Ideas can come from all divisions, layers and seniority-levels of a company. Organizations that create a culture of empowering employees to share their ideas will come out with more diversity of thought and a more engaged workforce.
Dave Borrelli, Salesforce Canada, spoke about how some of the best ideas that they run with come from developers, customer success managers and mid-management. Peter Cibula, Linkedin Canada, drove the point home by explaining that “employees cannot have a founder’s mentality if they are working inside of a culture that doesn’t allow them to share their voice.” Leaders should encourage idea sharing through all levels of the organization in order to influence company strategies and development paths.
Consider the impact this type of culture can have on a technology transformation project, like those undertaken by my clients with Salesforce; reinforcing a culture of idea sharing ensures all levels of employees feel included in the process and systems are built with their input, ultimately creating better engagement and buy in. Which leads in well to my next learning…
2. Change Management
Oh, change management; every leader’s favourite topic! What was great about the second panel of the day was the focus on the reality of how organizations actually approach change management. If you are McCarthy Tétrault, you may employ guerrilla tactics to enforce the lawyers to login to new systems. If you are the American Marketing Association, there is probably a coloured balloon at your desk that indicates if you’ve completed your learning modules. If you are Rainbow Railroad, you’ve woven the organizational purpose intentionally throughout the projects so that every member understands that they need to keep up with the technology and process changes so that they can save more lives.
Change is hard, but the leaders on the panel made a strong case for gamification. Adding fun and personal incentive to the big hairy topic of change management works and is effective to getting staff on board.
3. Focus on People
Ultimately, the focus of the conference for me was people.
It’s easy to forget that behind every business challenge, digital transformation or change management process, there are people and the leaders who learn and adapt their strategies to encourage healthy hearts and minds of their team members will win in the long run. Winnie Luk, Rainbow Railroad, spoke about how a key metric to determine project success is the morale and energy of her team members. Tim Davison, Morneau Shepell, spent time in different roles in his organization, which allowed him to build empathy for the different divisions because he had walked in their shoes. Finally, at Traction on Demand, Greg encourages policies and strategies that are employee-first because when a company takes care of their employees, their employees will take care of their customers and community, leaving the world a little better than we found it.
Traction on Demand is focused on building new ties in the East Coast community, connecting with local nonprofits and bringing together leaders to talk about top-of-mind issues. We are here for good.
If you’re interested in either working with or for Traction on Demand in Toronto or eastern Canada, please reach out here.
Written by Amanda Perkins, Strategic Solutions Team Lead at Traction on Demand.
Amanda is a Toronto-based Tractionite who works on large delivery engagements. In her free time, she enjoys travelling, yoga and the vast food scene in Toronto.