For many consultants in the ICT sector, becoming “out of date” is their greatest fear. There’s a rapidly changing need for new skills, combined with the market’s demand for the latest technical knowledge.
This means that IT consultancies need a plan for how they’ll boost the competence of each individual employee. Nora Thøgersen and Lillian Rygg in TietoEVRY think the answer isn’t just creating a plan, but rather: building a community.
“Our industry changes all the time and for us as employees, it’s natural to reach out to other people for backing and support. That’s how we grow, and what Lillian and I do is basically to manage a system for that natural need people in TietoEVRY have” says Nora Thøgersen.
Since 2019, she and Lillian Rygg have been volunteering as “competence leads” in TietoEVRY. In this role, they’ve created a framework in which knowledge hungry co-workers can thrive. In short, they push and enable community leads to arrange learning lunches, share webinars on specific topics and arrange discussions between departments. The end goal? Turning the organization towards a “learning culture”.
There are seven competence leads in TietoEVRY. Nora is the one focusing on “AI, Analytics and Insight”, typically how businesses can leverage data using new tech. Lillian is the competence lead for “Business Applications”, focusing on the partnerships TietoEVRY has with Microsoft, Unit4 and other companies and how their latest developments affect our customers.
“Consultants especially can feel a bit “isolated” because they’re out of the TietoEVRY office, doing work with customers. And in between customer assignments, it’s hard to find time to develop. If you do have time, “where” do you start? So, the need for support and learning is even bigger within that group of employees”, says Lillian.
How to build a learning community from scratch
(Nora Thøgersen has been working as the "competence lead" for AI, Analytics and Insight in TietoEVRY)
Both Nora and Lillian were nominated for their roles back in 2019. At the very start they were handed all the building blocks they needed to create an ecosystem. They knew that there were several learning initiatives, but someone needed to connect the dots and tailor it into a framework.
“It was a bit overwhelming at first, but we realized that to kick it off we had to create “competence guides” for each of our areas – a sort of “how to get started in your development” guide for our colleagues. We spent the summer of 2019 doing exactly that, and after a short while the journey could begin”, says Nora.
Even though the initiative has developed since 2019, with regular “coffee talks”, “competence lunches” and more volunteers joining the communities, Nora and Lillian still see the need for someone to drive it forward and streamline the initiatives.
Got backing from the CEO and top management
After the merger of Tieto and EVRY however, things looked uncertain for the work they had put into building their communities. Would the initiative be continued in the new company? Needless to say, they got a green light to go ahead with the plans and even to widen their scope.
“The backing we got from the top-level management gives us a lot of credibility. Now we have even more resources to lean on and we’ve been able to reach even more people”, says Nora.
During the pandemic, they both feel like the engagement from colleagues has skyrocketed. Before a time of home office, it was hard to find time in colleagues’ calendars for “learning lunches”. And geography would often be a barrier. Now on the other hand, more people attend the virtual meetings, participants come from all corners of the TietoEVRY world, and discussions run hot in the internal channels.
Nora and Lillian’s biggest challenge right now is to keep up with the activity level.
“We spent a lot of time back in the beginning communicating the initiative to employees, and we still do. Now however, we feel like the organization really keeps pushing the learning culture with us – so that has been great. Together with HR and our management, we want to make sure our 24 000 colleagues have a learning community around them that lets them thrive”, says Nora.
Going forward with the principle of “keep learning”.
Right now, they’re working on creating even more themed communities. Nora, Lillian and the other competence leads have been mapping out a list of new areas and technologies where they could replicate the success from the original communities. They summarize the efforts in a principle called “Keep learning”.
(Lillian Rygg has been the competence lead for Business Applications in TietoEVRY)
“Again, the technological environment is changing all the time, so we have to stay on the edge of our seats and be proactive. That’s why we want to create new forums for employees to talk about bugs or updates – or just have a community they can reach out to with questions about their specific field” says Lillian.