According to a recent webinar run by management school Roffey Park, leaders tend to fall into one of two camps when it comes to our increasingly digital world. They are supposedly either enthusiastic adopters who regard digital as the holy grail that will solve all our problems—or have their heads buried in the sand, believing that nothing much has changed and we can all go about our business as usual.
I suspect the truth is that many of us fall somewhere in the middle. We recognize that digital is impacting everything—from the way we do business to how we connect and communicate with current employees, or people we’d like to work for us in the future—but we’re struggling to figure out what to do about it.
Denial is not an option. Witness the demise of the many high street chains that insisted on clinging stubbornly to physical stores alone without building an online presence, or the almost meteoric rise of companies that have embraced (or been built upon) this new way of working—and are attracting the best talent as a result.
For HR, perhaps the biggest challenge is shifting the business from a mind-set of “digital doesn’t matter to us”, to one that acknowledges that digital is having a profound impact not only on how we do business, but on what customers and employees expect from us. If organizations are to thrive in a digital age, they need their leaders to develop new skills and to behave differently. Many of the management techniques leaders have been schooled in are simply not enough for an increasingly digital marketplace—and HR has a significant role to play in recruiting, developing and continually monitoring the competences of employees to ensure the workforce matches up to what’s needed.
So, as an HR person (or a leader charged with developing managers for the future), what are the key questions you should be asking both yourself and the business to make sure you do not fall into the trap of becoming “digitally deluded”?
1. What impact is digital having on the way we conduct our business? In Roffey’s recent Management Agenda report, 61% agreed that digital technology and social media was “changing the way we do things in our business.”
2. Do our managers and leaders have the competencies to lead successfully in this new and constantly evolving environment? What can we do to identify the skills required and provide appropriate development? In the Roffey survey, 66% of respondents agreed their organizations needed to recruit or develop new leadership capabilities to take advantage of digital technologies?
3. Does the business understand the need to connect and engage in a new way with a multi-generational workforce in a digital environment? Are managers, for example, equipped to cope with the challenges of leading virtually, of building trust in an ambiguous environment or to deal with the consequences of greater employee voice?
4. Is the business taking full advantage of the people-related insights that the latest HR software solutions can provide? How can HR work collaboratively with colleagues in IT and other functions to exploit this information more effectively?
5. Is my personal digital know-how up to scratch? What can I do to develop my understanding of the impact of technology and the new skills and behaviours required?
In a poll conducted as part of the Roffey Park webinar, only 38% of participants said their organization had a clearly defined and well communicated digital strategy. How does your organization match up and how can you as HR help the business develop its digital maturity?
One action to take this week: Watch the Roffey Park webinar on digitally deluded leaders, downloadable from http://www.roffeypark.org.uk/