Company-X associate Richard Rayner

In the modern workplace, technology has become an indispensable tool, seamlessly integrated into our daily routines. Like the captivating Venus fly trap, it beckons us with its allure, promising increased productivity, and efficiency. Yet, just as the unsuspecting insect falls prey to the plant's enticing nectar, we too risk becoming ensnared in the digital web, our attention consumed by the incessant demands of technology.

This pervasive presence of technology in our workplaces can transform us into automatons, our eyes glued to screens, our minds preoccupied with endless streams of emails, notifications, and virtual meetings. This relentless digital onslaught disrupts our focus, diminishes our creativity, and erodes our human connection.

Like the Venus fly trap's digestive enzymes, technology can gradually consume our vitality, leaving us drained and disengaged, or as someone more articulate once said, ‘comfortably numb.’ As organisational leaders, we must recognise this behavioural tendency and proactively work to ensure our teams stay free from its clutches.

By reclaiming control over our digital engagement, we can emerge from the technological mire, revitalised, and empowered. Just as the Venus fly trap releases its prey after digestion, we too can release ourselves from the clutches of technology, rediscovering our human potential and fostering a more harmonious workplace environment.

We can do this by cultivating a culture fixated on outcomes rather than checkboxes. Here is how:

Focus on outcomes, not tasks

Encourage your team to view their work through the lens of outcomes and achievements. Rather than asking, "What are you doing this week?” ask. “What does success look like for you this week?” It is about moving from a task-oriented mindset to a results-oriented one.

Share the vision

People want to be part of a purpose that they belong to. So, ensure that every member of your team understands the big picture, the strategy, and the current focus of the business. This should not be a one-off broadcast; it requires regular updates and reinforcement.

Get learning

A well-trained team is an empowered team. Provide opportunities for your staff to upskill, especially in areas that enhance their ability to achieve and measure outcomes. Encourage a culture where knowledge sharing is the norm, where successes and failures are discussed openly, and lessons are learned collectively.

Align Technology and Business KPIs

Technology should serve the business, not the other way around. Ensure that your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for technology are inextricably linked to your business KPIs. This alignment ensures that technological efforts are always contributing to business success. Recognise and reward the people responsible for technology outcomes when the business succeeds.

Reward achievement, not compliance

Recognition should go beyond merely ticking off tasks. Celebrate those who achieve significant outcomes, who innovate, and who contribute to the company's success in meaningful ways. Share these success stories widely to inspire others.

Be bold in your decisions

Sometimes, progress requires tough choices. Be prepared to 'slaughter the sacred cow' if necessary. This means being willing to abandon outdated practices and technologies that no longer serve the company's best interests, even if they have been part of the organisation for ages. You cannot take hold of heaven if you do not let go of hell.

Trust your team

Trust is the foundation of any successful organisation. Have faith that your staff will fulfil their responsibilities. This trust fosters a sense of ownership and accountability, which in turn drives better outcomes.

Lead by example

Finally, embody the change you want to see. Use technology as a tool to achieve outcomes, not as an end in itself. When leaders demonstrate this approach, it sets a powerful precedent for the rest of the team. Teams will follow a leader, so be the leader you want them to follow.

It is all about leveraging digital tools to enhance our capabilities, not diminish them. Let us not be slaves to the screen; let us be masters of our digital domain, using technology to propel our organisations to new heights.

  • Richard Rayner is an Associate of Waikato software specialist Company-X.