Giving employees freedom and responsibility paves way to success

Key messages
  • Digitalization in the workplace
  • Career development in technology industry
  • Find your passion

Working with passion and commitment paves the way to success, for employees and their organization. Giving employees freedom and responsibility also does. This is the view given by experts in IT Joachim De Vos (CEO Living Tomorrow), Bart Donné (General Manager Westpole Benelux) and Wim Dierickx (Leader Tri-ICT). TriFinance’s Blue Chip Boutiques Tri-ICT, CroXcon and MI&S (Management Information & Systems) brought them together for an online talk on career development in the technology industry.

"We will say in 2030: 'It happened in 2020'. The corona crisis is accelerating and deepening the changes in how we organize our work. Employees and companies have to adapt to a world that is digitalizing ever faster. It's best if they take the necessary time to do so", explains Joachim De Vos. "Organizations need to ask themselves what their 'mission' is and what added value they will have in the future. Their modernization plans must have a horizon of 5 to 10 years and employees must be given certainty. Partly by being able to train themselves in the necessary skills of the future".

Joachim De Vos: "Take the necessary time to adapt to a world that is digitalizing ever faster."

Bart Donné believes that digital novelties should not be introduced blindly. According to him, it is important to find out what works and what doesn't, to introduce them step by step and to strive for a good balance. He says he is 'people-oriented': "You can have the best ideas, but you always need people". The General Manager of Westpole Benelux adds: "I was already in business when the PC started its success story. Now we are in the age of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. We are evolving towards a situation where computers manage computers. Jobs for people will change".

Wim Dierickx "Maybe next time our holograms can sit together to do this meeting."

For Wim Dierickx we must never forget that it is about people, around whom everything revolves. “Technology is great but people should be able to use it. It is also about the will to go digital.” The Leader of Tri-ICT has a déjà vu feeling: "Digitalization has been going on for 30 years and we are facing new evolutions. Maybe next time our holograms can sit together to do this meeting". Joachim De Vos: "And to think that 25 years ago I invited Bill Gates by fax to the opening of my first 'House of the Future', in Vilvoorde. “Technological innovation started in garages at the time. Now garages are becoming living rooms as teleworking is becoming the new normal".

The panel members believe that in a career it is sometimes better to take one's time and, in order to be able to build something, not to change jobs too quickly. "Learn, seed and harvest, for yourself and for your organization. And when you leave an employer, do it in a good way", Wim Dierickx points out. Nevertheless, he says, organizations have to adapt to the faster career moves of their employees.

Joachim De Vos emphasizes: "Go outside. Talk to people. Find your passion. Think about your role in the future. Surround yourself with people you can learn from. Learning is something you do throughout your entire life. For the CEO of Living Tomorrow passion is "a positive virus that helps a career forward". Wim Dierickx mentions commitment as a more important element than planning to make a career successful and Bart Donné says he didn't have a career plan. "But I did have a direction in which I wanted to go. I grabbed the opportunities that presented themselves on that path". The three gentlemen are on the same wavelength as Professor Ans De Vos (Antwerp Management School - UAntwerp), who assumes that those who are successful usually do not have just one static career plan.

Bart Donné: "One day we will no longer speak in terms of 'job' but of 'projects'."

To the question of what managers can do to support their team members to grow, the panel members give parallel answers such as: give employees freedom and responsibility. Wim Dierickx emphasises that each member of his team has the opportunity to represent the whole group. "An employee is like a company that is developing - me incorporated. As a leader, I am above all a facilitator".

For Bart Donné, it's also about giving employees the possibility to gain experience. "One day we will no longer speak in terms of 'job' but of 'projects'.” He puts his employees in the right direction and then gives them freedom. Joachim De Vos prefers his people to ask 'forgiveness' rather than 'permission'. "Give them enough freedom to try new things." "And a manager must have respect for what employees are good at. Look for the skills people are good at and respect your employees for it, even when they are not a high potential. By doing so, you can reach great results," adds Wim Dierickx.

Freelancer mindset

It brings us to the question of employee retention. The experts experience that more and more employees have a freelancer mindset. Although the corona crisis is slowing down this evolution somewhat. It is pointed out that, remarkably enough, the pursuit of freelancing goes hand in hand with the desire to have some sort of security, a safety net. But today, you can’t profit from the best of both worlds. A new statute between that of employee and freelancer could perhaps remedy this. "We have not seen a lot of legislative work on this in recent decades", says CEO De Vos. He concludes with the advice: "Do not fear the future. Again and again, there are more opportunities than dangers".