Economic downturns, supply chain issues, global pandemics, disruptive geo-politics: there are innumerable crises your organization will face throughout its lifetime. These crises can be a forcing function for transformation, but how do you motivate your talent to get (and stay) onboard? Hear from three AWS leaders as they discuss how to build a culture of trust that will weather-proof your organization from future, unknowable storms.
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Communication and change management
Chris Hennesey (00:06):
I really encourage customers as they go through these periods of downturn to really amp up the level of communication and change management involved, especially through a digital transformation. Because a lot of people are worried about how their skills will need to evolve. And the more you can communicate the intent and the purpose of what you're doing, but also paint the picture of what the future may be, it really gets people excited about what the future is. And that could even be in a place where they are going to maybe pull back. I see a lot of companies where they want to maybe increase IT development capacity, but drive efficiencies in operations. So the operators get worried around what does the future of this mean for me? I think businesses need to balance all sides of what they're trying to do through this, but communicating and being open and direct with them, with plenty of lead time is a pattern I've seen work well with transforming customers.
Understanding the frozen middle
Mark Schwartz (00:53):
I know I hear a lot about this frozen middle, you know, there's middle management and they just won't change no matter what we do. I hear that from CIOs a lot and some of it probably has to do with the kind of communication you were talking about, but how do you answer that? How do you think about that?
Jake Burns (01:18):
Well, I think there could be a frozen middle. There could be a frozen top and a frozen bottom. Right? You know, I've seen all of those, but I think to Chris's point, and I couldn't agree more over communication, right. And I think we focus on certain kinds of communication, not on others, right? Just like we kind of focus on certain kinds of trust and not others, right? So I think people having trust in their leaders is super important, but trust is more than leaders having the best intentions for their people, right? And that's the kind of trust that we usually think, do I trust that he's not going to fire me? But also there's the trust of competency.
Do I trust that this person can lead us? I trust that this person can keep the lights on, but do I trust that this person can take us through the other side of this transformation? Because it takes a very different kind of leader to successfully do that. Right? So having both of those kind of trust is important. And so when you're communicating, you communicate what career paths are going to look like for your team through this transformation. If their plan is to keep everyone, communicate that certainly, and also communicate why are we doing this transformation? Why do I want to keep every one of you that's here? I feel like we can re-skill you to do a job that's probably more interesting than what you're doing today.
Right? The classic example being somebody's racking and stacking servers, they don't know why they're doing it. They’re marking down the days until their vacation and so forth. And then they get to become a cloud engineer, which is closer to the business. They're actually building things. They have a much more fulfilling job and they have a career path that's leading somewhere, right? To having more value in the marketplace and more fulfilling job in general. So communicating those things and establishing that trust with your people, I think goes a long way.
About the leaders
Mark Schwartz, Enterprise Strategist, AWS
Mark Schwartz is an Enterprise Strategist at Amazon Web Services and the author of The Art of Business Value and A Seat at the Table: IT Leadership in the Age of Agility. Before joining AWS he was the CIO of US Citizenship and Immigration Service (part of the Department of Homeland Security), CIO of Intrax, and CEO of Auctiva. He has an MBA from Wharton, a BS in Computer Science from Yale, and an MA in Philosophy from Yale.
Jake Burns, Enterprise Strategist, AWS
Jake joined AWS as Enterprise Strategist in October 2018. In this role, Jake works with enterprise technology executives to share experiences and strategies for how the cloud can help them increase speed and agility while devoting more of their resources to their customers.Before joining AWS, Jake was VP of Cloud Services at Live Nation Entertainment, where he led the company’s cloud transformation strategy, including an accelerated all-in migration to AWS which reduced IT costs by 48% in the first year and a half.
Chris Hennesey, Enterprise Strategist, AWS
Chris Hennesey is an Enterprise Finance Strategist at Amazon Web Services (AWS). As an Enterprise Finance Strategist, he works with enterprise executives around the globe to share financial management experiences and strategies for how the cloud can help them increase speed and agility while devoting more of their resources to their customers. Prior to joining AWS, Chris held multiple senior technology finance roles at Capital One. Chris has a BS in Finance and a Master’s in Business Administration.
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