Advanced Technology Team Foundations
One foundational element of a high-performing R&D team – or any team – is psychological safety; knowing that it is safe to speak up with ideas, questions, and concerns. Good teams aren’t afraid to debate. They know how to respectfully disagree but fully commit to final decisions.
Another element is the ability to collaborate.
“Our tasking requires that we hire for specific credentials, and we have experts, the best in their field,” Kyle said. “But our top hiring priority is – and will always be – developing a strong team culture, where employees can do their best work. No matter what you know, it’s critical to be a team player. The smartest person in the room still doesn’t have all the answers, so emotional intelligence with active listening and consideration of another point of view must be the norm.”
That practicality is important because, “We can’t do effective work in isolation. Research is a contact sport,” Kyle said. “Our process is designed to support a customer-facing needs and specific business objectives, real-world problems – often before customers can even articulate the issue.”
Creating a world-class research and development team means enabling people to concentrate on what needs to be done and stay clear of what’s not. “If everything is a priority, then nothing is a priority,” Kyle said. “As an organization we build and maintain high-quality, low-drag processes that focus on disciplined execution so we can deliver results that are timely and business relevant.”
“Our simple charter explains what we do, how we do it, and what success looks like, supported by common sense tools that work for us, not the other way around,” Kyle said. “Simple is not easy; it’s how you know you are working on the right things, and how you mark progress and better practices for next time.”
So many of the now commonplace advancements in industry started in AT. For example, extended reality and remote assistance, both crucial to maintaining manufacturing throughout the pandemic, were new ideas just a few years ago.
“We’re like scouts,” Kyle said, “thinking ahead to what we can do, what we should do to create secure, user-friendly technology to support companies in the future. Rockwell invests in those ideas because of the potential to super-charge change.”
This work, Kyle explained, is for people who value substance over style.
Technical Path or Leadership Role? Try Both
Two people who value that substance are Anita Slater and Murad Jaber. Both are at the beginning of their careers, and both joined Rockwell for the culture as much as the technology.
“As part of the Leadership Development Program (LDP), I wanted to spend time in AT because it’s the heartbeat of the company,” Murad said. “The systems here are set up for success. I was immediately paired with an amazing mentor, AT’s Scott Griffiths, PhD, and this relationship has helped me continue to develop strong technical skills.”
“When I started, I was at a crossroads,” Anita added. “I felt like I had to decide between a technical path and a leadership role. And then I discovered that I do not need to have both feet planted in one place. Here, I can do both. Your career here is as individual as you. Career development frameworks guide you to learn how to make the most of what you are doing right now to develop in the way you feel is best for you. Its freedom supported by empowerment. You can flex your leadership muscles while enhancing your technical skills.”
AT brings together experts from different backgrounds and specialties. “It’s this collection that makes innovation happen,” said Anita. “Rockwell Automation encourages exploration outside of your area of responsibility. I have a lot of crazy ideas and my team always encourages me to explore them.”
One of those ideas became a company-wide program, the Rockwell Early Career Connector (RECC). This app supports relationship- and culture-building across career programs and with program alumni, promoting cross-business unit collaboration and visibility for early career associates completing rotations across the company.