How to Lead Employees in the Digital World

“The integration of digital requirements into most work processes and growing employee digital dexterity are leading to a world where every employee is a digital employee”, stated Gartner, Inc. appropriately. Today’s employees increasingly use the latest technology and different applications during their free time and have, thus, experienced the many benefits and opportunities they provide. When the use of technology grows in the other aspects of the workers’ lives, it will naturally push digital solutions to the workplace and as a result increase the employees’ understanding about the business benefits of digitalism.[1] Similarly, the employees’ expectations towards their employer and manager change – they start requiring their managers to have an ability to lead and give them opportunities to succeed in this new kind of environment. So, what does this mean for the companies and their leadership in practice?

Lead the employees in the digital world

In order to respond to the changing needs of the employee and the work life, the leading organizations have started to execute a new kind of work environment – the digital workplace. In this kind of work environment one can integrate the different technological solutions the employees use in a way that lowers the communication barriers and improves the employee experience by investing in effectiveness, innovation and growth. There are many possible benefits. When successful, this strategy can enhance the positive changes in the company culture and help them to:

  • support different work methods, which increase transparency and help the employees to take advantage of their social networks at work.
  • combine offline and online communication by offering the employees chances to e.g. access company information and tools though mobile devices anywhere and anytime.
  • create positive and new kind of employee experience by offering the personnel choices, flexibility and personal experiences that are very similar to the ones they have in their private lives.
  • support virtual teams to work and communicate effectively while taking into  account their privacy and risks.
  • lower the costs and increase the productivity by offering the employees the right tools and information at the right time.
  • win the competition over the talented workforce by offering advanced and innovative work environment, which top candidates already expect. [2]

It is quite clear that if the company ignores these changes, it can easily fall behind the leading organizations.

Digital work environment puts the leaders to a new kind of situation. Managers can have teams that are dispersed in different countries and time zones and the managers should be able to engage and inspire them without physical meetings. Complexity is increased by faster and faster business cycles, project-style working and regular changes in team composition, which are all part of the new work life. [3] This new kind of environment requires new kind of leadership.

We recently published a blog “Modern Leader“, which discussed the characteristics required from modern day leaders. One of these was understanding the benefits of digitalism. Even if the leaders cannot use all the latest innovations, they should primarily understand what opportunities digitalism and technology bring for the business and they should try to advance those in their own company and team. In many cases this requires giving up many prejudices and being available to support the employees when they start using the new technologies.  It also requires the capability to see the opportunities for integrations in new places. Technology can additionally change many basic functions of the leadership (e.g. following the progress or work and design, giving feedback, rewarding, communicating and giving encouragement) to a more virtual direction, which in turn requires learning and managing new things.

As the leaders need to change their leadership style and take advantage of digitalism, the companies face pressure to support them in this work. Professor Riitta Viitala from University of Vaasa recently stated that also leadership should be led: “The problems related to leadership most often arise, when the company has not defined what being a leader or supervisor really means. When the tasks are not clear, the work of building the management is left too much on a single person’s shoulders. The executive committee should agree upon the rules and implement them in practice from anything to giving feedback and to holding the meetings.”[4] For this reason we can see that in order to reach all the benefits from digital workplace, the top management should state how to they want their employees to be led in the digital world and support the managers both with tools and training.

In order to react to the changing needs of the work life, TripleWin has developed NOOA. NOOA is a gamified platform for renewal, which helps the companies to implement their strategic goals and makes the change leadership faster,more engaging and more transparent. NOOA offers the top management a way to set the direction and the leaders variety of tools with which to lead the workers in the digital environment. You can read more about NOOA here: www.nooa.global.


Sources:

[1] Gartner, In.c (2015) Gartner Says Every Employee Is a Digital Employee. 

[2] Deloitte. (2011) The digital workplace: Think, share, do. 

[3] Manninen, O. (2015) Palvele ja Innosta. Ekonomi 6/2015.

[4] Manninen, O. (2015) Palvele ja Innosta. Ekonomi 6/2015.

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