Sam Button, Head of Growth, Roar Media
Leadership has been the pillar of successful organisations throughout history, however, whilst the environment has been ever evolving due to digital innovations & changing customer habits; the workplace has never seen such a rapid transformation in such a short amount of time.
Supporting your team through change is vital, successful digital transformation projects usually have plans to ensure individual employees have the correct training to proficiently utilise technology at implementation. However, the recent instantaneous switch to a fully remote working environment was both unplanned and unpredictable. Business leaders & team leaders had to think on their feet throughout the crisis to ensure their teams needs were met and they felt supported through the adaptation in terms of communication, collaboration, comfort, happiness & feeling incorporated within the team & organisation.
Company culture has been key to attracting the best talent, external communications of this are common place and have been for a long time. However, there has been a recent rise in pride and the promotion of how companies have dealt with the crisis and maintained the happiness, cohesiveness and collaboration of their teams. Whilst it is unclear what percentages of this has been truly agile adaptations and or employee attraction, it is clear that the digital workplace has been a vital element of navigating through the crisis and the digital first culture has enabled companies to prosper.
Remote working presents numerous challenges for teams & leaders. Having the right technology in place negates some of these but strong leadership, transparency, support and an encompassing company culture are required for lasting success.
Empathy is a key element to consider when leading a team or business in a remote setting, understanding each individual role enables you to plan the resources, tools, permissions and support required. You need to bridge a connection between teams in order to share resources but not overload certain employees by providing a clear and transparent view of ongoing projects each individual/team is involved with. Each role requires unique digital tools to achieve proficiency, whether these be specific programs to enable them to perform functions or collaboration software to work efficiently as a team. Whilst some programs are universally utilised, many need moulding to an individual job role which requires user research, UX design, testing, implementation and training. Permissions also need to be set to govern employees access to business critical documentation & information. Support is necessary to ensure individuals & teams are happy and able to consistently perform at high levels, this includes the correct training and opportunities of progression through the organisation. All of these elements need to be considered to be an effective digital leader & all of these are also much more difficult to manage in a remote setting.
It is important to listen to your employees in order to improve employee experience, if your company is looking to utilise remote working as a new normal, it is important to research the current user experience of your digital workplace. Feedback can be more difficult to attain whilst working remotely but helps instil a strong digital first culture by including all individuals within the digital strategy & planned improvements of your current ecosystem. This also aides your design, software development & architecture teams to deliver products which make an instant difference with shorter implementation time in terms of staff training. Having individuals & teams involved in the design enables them to understand and learn new software or processes easier, as they feel involved in the project.
Similarly, as a leader we must understand new stresses effecting our teams on both a business & personal level. Remote working has been a completely new experience for some individuals, some of whom are less accustomed to using technology as part of their daily job, most are utilising technologies they may have never used before. It is important to provide support for all roles with engaging training, this can be delivered online, one to one or as a team activity. Buddy systems can also be helpful to reinforce this learning and answer any daily queries on software. As a manager you should be aware of all individuals within your team and check in on their proficiency with new technologies, creating a culture where no member regardless of age or digital literacy feels comfortable to share with the team.
It has also been a challenge to promote workplace happiness, adapting to a new environment can be difficult emotionally & this can’t be something which is overlooked. Management need to look at ways to ensure employee satisfaction remains high and remote working as the normal makes it hard to provide similar benefits socially and in terms of comfort and emotional support, motivation, praise and unity.
Leaders have needed to adapt quickly, they have needed to be supported by technology and financially in order to make quick decisions for the good of their team/organisation. It is now time to look back on the internal innovation over the past few months, digest all employee feedback and look to the future, designing a digital leadership strategy which promotes a digital first culture, remote support, collaboration & innovation.
Digital leadership was a topic that was extensively discussed at our Online Digital Transformation Conference in June and will be a key topic for the upcoming Online Digital Transformation Conference taking place on September 16-17.