Employee competencies & development for a digital age

Employee competencies and development are going to need to be a careful balance of different behaviours and skills as the world continues to move to a more digital and virtual format.

Written by Lynsey Whitmarsh

Chief Experience Officer & Director of Strategy

4 Minute read

6 July 2020

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Employee competencies and development are going to need to be a careful balance of different behaviours and skills.  The largest change in how we work together in the digital age is around collaboration and sharing knowledge; with less hierarchical structures and more emphasis on the role and knowledge-based competency, it will not be the case that the most senior person in the room or virtual room is correct or gives direction.

To enable a truly collaborative culture, there needs to be trust in the employee’s talent and knowledge about their area of the business.  An example of this is where employees who work in social media/ digital are teaching other employees how to use LinkedIn or other social platforms. To enable this ‘teaching’ culture there needs to be trust and respect for employees being an expert in their role without prejudice of age or length of tenure. 

The complexity of collaborative culture is that they can become bureaucratic and slow to implement projects and change initiatives as there are too many different opinions. One of the key competencies for leaders in the digital age will be to a great facilitator and can consensus with a pace that feels inclusive. This means giving others a voice and ensuring employees are heard but balancing that with swift decision making and knowing who has the right experience and expertise to make the final decision. 

As the world moves to more a digital and virtual format, it is imperative for employees to have really strong core skills in time management, diary management, clarifying purpose and structure for meetings, and how to conclude and set action plans. Having back to back virtual meetings can leave employees feeling overwhelmed and overworked. A key discipline will be to build in breaks, build in time to think, and to ensure that at the end of each meeting there are clear expectations and calls to action. 

Successful virtual meetings are those where all attendees are clear on purpose, roles, and responsibilities. There may be more people involved in meetings and connections are more joint up than in a normal face-to-face work environment. The virtual format forces people to think, who do I need in this meeting, what functions, and what data and who can provide this.  In face to face interactions in the workplace, you may have a meeting with people who are in the office that day but aren’t necessarily the right or all of the right people to be in the meeting to get a truly holistic picture of what you are trying to progress.

The competencies needed to thrive in the digital age are really about excellent collaboration, effective time management, and trust and respect in the talent in the business.