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Change management with Nellie Wartoft

The CEO of social learning platform Tigerhall shares about foresight, employee well-being, and lessons learnt from the pandemic.

In a time of great flux, one of the biggest challenges for companies is not how to change, but how to help employees adapt to said changes. After all, it would be pointless to implement a new system if it isn’t wholly embraced or efficiently used. This all boils down to managing human resources, and helping employees upskill – something that Tigerhall CEO Nellie Wartoft has plenty of experience with, given her extensive work with enterprise clients in developing their employees’ soft skills. The Peak speaks to Wartoft about the basics in helping employees adjust to transformations within a company. 

What were some of the biggest lessons you have picked up from 2020’s Circuit Breaker with respect to helping companies adapt to changes? 

When driving change, it is important to pique an employee’s curiosity as to why this change is happening. Build excitement and give them sneak peeks of the new technologies and new opportunities you are introducing. Get them involved first before telling them what and how it’s going to change. 

Leaders who are successful in overseeing change are usually very transparent about the reasons behind why a particular change is being made and why it is important to adapt to new procedures or processes. 

The approach we take to inspire change is also crucial. Instead of a forced, top-down approach, change is usually more well-received when we give employees the power and control to adapt and learn about change at their own free time and convenience. 

What do organizations usually have the most trouble with? 

Beyond the obvious challenges like team collaboration and making people feel unified, I’d say the number one thing organisations struggle with is making employees think long-term. In a pandemic, people think very much of the here and now. When the shorter term takes a lot of focus, long-term strategic priorities take a back seat. Companies that can keep a view on the horizon and continue to think long-term during short-term challenges will see much better outcomes. 

As a consequence of the lack of long-term thinking, people might struggle to see their career progression and learning opportunities, and lose a sense of meaning in what they do. Keeping people focused on professional growth, development, and opportunities in this new normal is important. There are tons of new business opportunities that have opened up, with subsequent interesting career opportunities for people to pursue. Making people see that is a challenge, and very important. 

Another aspect that organisations struggle with is finding a balance between focusing on new business opportunities and trying to recover losses from the pandemic. Seeing new opportunities emerging is hard when you’re in the middle of a crisis. Helping employees keep this mindset must be a key priority. Companies which embrace new opportunities instead of grieving over the losses will do much better, and have much happier employees.

What are some of the things companies often overlook with respect to employee wellness? 

This ties back to the point I shared in the previous question, about helping people see beyond the crisis, beyond the here and now. This perspective will give them much-needed hope for the future, and make them excited about new opportunities. To a large extent, wellbeing is about a sense of purpose – even more so in the current environment. 

What kind of work has Tigerhall done in this aspect?

One of our clients is a leading bank across APAC that wanted to transform digitally and build an entirely digital customer experience. The pandemic accelerated their timelines to achieve this goal, and Tigerhall was entrusted to nurture the future and current leaders who were responsible for seeing this vision through. With access to industry’s most successful people and a robust social learning platform, participants were equipped with the skills and knowledge required to proactively spot new digital business opportunities, apply AI and blockchain to banking services, develop a digital-first mindset and find new ways to add value to customers through digital means. 

The organisation’s leaders got to pick up game-changing outside perspectives from Tigerhall’s Thinkfluencers, including the likes of Google’s Managing Director, PwC’s former Chief Digital Officer, Sequoia Capital’s Principal and more. It was a pleasure supporting participants who were thoroughly engaged, with many of them spending more than two hours per week on the Tigerhall platform growing their skill sets. This campaign was a true testament to how businesses can continue growing and capitalising on available opportunities despite operating in one of the worst economic downturns in history.