Vital Management Skills for the Digital Workplace

author Carol Mentis, January 18, 2017

Digital Workplace Management Skills | Claromentis

When it comes to navigating a successful digital workplace transformation, the vision and knowledge of the organisation’s senior leaders is paramount in implementing the changes. There are a number of key skills that every digital leader should know in order to make the transition as smooth as possible.

Embracing a truly digital workplace is crucial, both for employees and for clients as well, as it produces improvements in efficiency, engagement and revenue. In fact, a lack of capability and knowledge among an organisation’s senior leaders can actually hamper efforts to bring the workplace into the 21st century.

Driving digital value

Studies have found that 65% of senior executives view digital technologies as increasing their organisation’s income. This in itself is a surprisingly low percentage, given the rapid advances in technology that have enhanced the workplace in recent years.

Of those who recognise the importance of enhancing working practices, such as using the intranet software effectively, for example, it’s been found that some senior managers don’t fully understand the new roles and behaviour that they must adopt to drive “digital value” in their company.

Without the people at the top understanding the vision, the major transformation that the digital landscape can produce will fail. Digital leadership is a skill in itself and it’s a fact that many C-suite executives tasked with the role don’t have the necessary skills and experience to spearhead a digital programme.

Understand data and metrics

The essential skills that digital leaders must possess start with a basic knowledge that data and metrics are where the power lies. Tracking user behaviour and search practices are essential for the decision-making process, for example, when choosing the intranet tools that will be most useful.

Anecdotal theories, such as someone saying they used a particular system at their previous workplace and it “seemed to work okay”, isn’t precise enough. It’s necessary to track the trends and to place value on the research into these trends.

It’s important to recognise that the digital landscape for employees, customers, and supply chains is constantly shifting. If you’re investing a lot of money in major strategic improvements for your organisation, you need to have carried out research into what’s required to ensure its future success.

User-centric mentality

Fundamental in any digital improvement programme is a user-centred mentality. For example, test digital services with users long before the official launch and refine them based on what users like and don’t like.

This is an important practice that produces some valuable data sets. Utilising data from user testing and research puts you on a solid footing. Any executive who doesn’t possess this knowledge may seem out of their depth.

Another important skill for digital leaders is to understand the language and descriptions used in the digital workplace. Across industry, it’s necessary to be familiar with a whole host of new terms, such as APIs, tools, software, intranet, and many other words that describe the various aspects of the system.

Debunk the myths

It’s also important to realise that digital transformation centres on process simplification, rather than on grand visions. It’s necessary to debunk the myths and understand that the digital workplace isn’t some mysterious place that other people in IT will handle. It’s about everyone working from the same page and aspiring to adopt efficient working practices that will make everyone’s role simpler and yet more effective.

Digital leaders also need to understand that integration is of vital importance in the digital world of work. Don’t let a lack of understanding make you fall under the spell of every major technology vendor who tries to convince you that their latest product is the one that will transform your organisation.

While technology is amazing and has endless capabilities, the main problem faced by a lot of companies is the lack of integration between tools. Many tools live in their own separate “digital universes”. Employees and suppliers need a fluid, smooth flow between one digital service and another. Don’t be dazzled by new technology and instead, keep focused on the tools that will enhance integration.

Demographic changes

Finally, understand how demographic changes must be explored and incorporated. In general terms, the edges of organisations’ workforces are changing and expanding. Those at the bottom of the ladder are often young and possess an increasing amount of know-how about all things digital. At the other end of the scale, some workers are staying past retirement age, increasingly because of a financial need.

This expanding age span results in different generations co-existing within the same company. Everyone has their own digital needs and level of knowledge. Everyone has their own comfort zone.

Successful leaders will recognise the importance of these demographic shifts. After all, they are as important as regional and cultural differences in ensuring diversity in the workplace and subsequently employee satisfaction, no matter what the age of the worker.

Balancing all of these skills together will produce an ideal senior leader for any digital workplace. It may sound complex, but over time, it becomes second nature as everyone gets to grips with the technology and the new working practices.

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