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The secrets behind  upskilling 7000 employees

In Episode 5 of The WFM Show, HR superstar Anna Cau shares what she’s learnt about digital transformation and change management in her glittering career.

If we don’t adapt to change, we’re stuck in the same place. And if we’re stuck in the same place while others around us adapt, we can quickly find ourselves going backwards.

It’s why change management is such a hot topic.

But it’s tricky to know where to start when it comes to successfully managing change and transformation. That’s why, for Episode 5 of The WFM Show, we brought in HR superstar Anna Cau who shares what she’s learnt about transformation in her glittering career.

As the person responsible for HR at all of Ericsson's factories globally, and the former Head of HR Sales Operations at H&M, she knows a thing or two about getting the best from the deskless workforce and managing change.

Here’s what we learnt from her:

1. Always look ahead

Digital transformation is sweeping through countless industries and, when the rise of automation is thrown into the mix, huge numbers of jobs are put at risk. 

When Anna joined Ericsson, her mission was really clear from day one.

“Considering the technology transformation in our business, the processes and our ways of working, we needed to digitally transform,” she says. “For example, we automated our production and we digitalized our supply value chain, which drove a shift in skills and competencies. 

“The company directive was super clear, we were no longer going for the big reduction programs that we had in the past. We needed to work with the people we had, meaning we had to be intentional and proactive in our work.

That left Anna and her team with the mission to upskill and reskill almost 7,000 people spread across eight different countries.

In order to tackle this challenge, Anna looked into the future. She and her team mapped out the skills and competencies needed to achieve and execute the business strategy and, with them, build a competency-based workforce plan.

By identifying how the business was going to change, and what new job roles and competencies were needed, they were able to create upskilling and reskilling programs that they rolled out across the whole organization.

Anna adds: “The re- & upskilling programs are designed to support the transformation in our company, and I think more companies have to go down this path right now if they haven’t already started.

“In terms of competence shift, start early and be transparent. Don’t wait for the big bang. Dare to speak about where the business is going and provide people with that information. Then they can make fact-based decisions and responsibility for their careers.”

2. The best learning comes from practice

Through managing these programs and the transformation of the workforce, Anna learned that training isn’t the key to learning; practice is.

“70% of our learning comes from practice,” she says. “So that's why we’ve also initiated the global virtual job rotation and job shadowing program, that we’ll launch very shortly. And that’s because we see an increased demand in having an end-to-end understanding of cross-functional understanding of our organization and how we operate. People are very satisfied with working for Ericsson and very satisfied with their roles. But we’ve identified, because we’re in this transformation, we’ll benefit from having more rotation than we do today.”

When launching the program, Anna is hoping to see even better employee engagement, employees who are curious to explore more, and more cross-functional movements within the organization.

She adds: “I hope both to increase the cross-functional knowledge in our organization, but also challenge managers to do things differently when they recruit. I hope they might see, from this rotational program, that you can actually bring in someone who might not be the super perfect candidate or profile for the position but can bring in new perspectives.

She believes that the new diversity of perspectives will help create even better teams and can open minds across the organization.

3. Technology is the great enabler

“Ever since I was a child,” Anna says, “I’ve never been scared of failing. I’m not afraid of failing in public. When I fail my leaders and colleagues are there to support me. I’ve always felt I’m in a safe place and it’s driven me to stretch myself and jump into the unknown.”

Jumping into the unknown is exactly what Anna did when she had to onboard hundreds of people to Ericsson’s new state-of-the-art 5G factory in Lewisville, Texas – before the factory was even built. By using virtual reality, they managed to onboard all hires to Ericsson’s production environment by virtually transferring them to their factory in Europe. This meant they could interact live with production experts. Not only was the VR onboarding a success, so was the factory itself. In less than 18 months, Ericsson built a state-of-the-art 5G Smart Factory. One year after opening production, they were nominated for a Global Lighthouse by the World Economic Forum.

Anna adds: “The use of VR is all part of how we develop people and in this case, newcomers. Technology is always shifting and developing. We have mobilized our culture, our people, our ways of working, and an Agile mindset to support the organization through this period of transformation.”

Like all the other stars we’ve had on previous episodes of The WFM Show, Anna says it’s the people and the culture which are the key ingredients to developing an edge over your competition.

If you want to take a deeper dive into all things HR and learn more from Anna, listen to the full episode - you won’t regret it!

Listen now


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