6 Practical Tips For Improving Your Team’s Digital Skills
With digital transformation being a top priority for modern organizations, the digital intelligence of your team is the key to striving in this age of technology. In this 7-minute read, you’ll find out what exactly is digital IQ, why it’s important and how to improve it within your team.
DIGITAL IQ, by definition, is the measurement of an organization’s ability to harness and profit from technology. It also represents the mindset that unlike many technological influences, we have control over how we shape the human experience in our businesses. We can and we must develop a flexible, sustainable approach to innovation in an era of constant change. Empowering your team with respective knowledge is your opportunity to keep up or even stay ahead of the competition.
The challenge is there will always be new and smarter ways to get work done and improve your business. According to Moore’s law, the growth of technology is exponential, so it’s getting harder and harder to keep track of emerging opportunities and update your skill set. The latest Digital IQ survey by PwC found that the number one barrier for successful digitalization is lack of adequately skilled teams.
While some of your applicants might still highlight MS Office and Outlook proficiency in their resume, in 2018 we are way past computer skills. The total list of modern digital competencies would be too long to compile, as today it’s “digital everything”. But to give you some examples of which digital knowledge your business might require:
- using cloud-based business solutions
- digital business operations management
- digital team, work and time management
- online communication and collaboration
- remote work collaboration
- cybersecurity and privacy
- information and data literacy
- solving technical problems and errors
- user experience
- digital marketing
- real-time tracking and reporting
The list goes on, but not to get your head spinning – the first and foremost action is to give your team the daily tools they need to be more productive and get better results. This means combining a seamlessly integrated and fluent digital system, which will also be a supporting foundation for the even more significant changes in the future.
Although new technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Reality, are changing our businesses already today, we can’t take three steps at a time, right? Industry leaders are paving the way in these fields, but according to a survey by PwC, most companies are still catching up with cloud-based solutions.
This means there’s a chance you have a huge gap between your team’s:
- current skill set vs the skills actually needed today vs the future competencies you already need to be preparing for.
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Here are 6 practical suggestions to make the transition from computer skills to advanced digital competencies as successful as possible.
1. The management mindset will make it or break it
This is a principle everyone knows, but too many tend to forget. Fortunately, leaders have started to grasp the importance of digital – only 52% of 2,200 surveyed executives rate their digital IQ as strong. The lowest percentage over a decade translates into a fresh perspective and realization of their abilities and knowledge. Nevertheless, this is a good thing. Being aware and realistic is the first step to success.
Actionable tip: Audit your current situation.
Does your team use any sophisticated digital tools for their work, or is it rather spreadsheets, notes, and lots of email folders? Maybe you have gone a bit further and implemented some simple tools, such as Trello or Pipedrive. Still, do you have an overview what’s going on in real-time, or are you struggling? Take some time to see which digital solutions are currently on the market, what are your strongest pain points, and what would you achieve once you have the best tools.
I dare you to dream big! It is possible to increase efficiency by 100%, and more. For example, a Consultancy agency in London is saving 240+ hours per month, only by using the right software.
2. Understand your team and align new tools with their needs
Before you start deciding on any digital tool, make sure you understand how your team currently works. Ask their feedback on what would make their workflow more efficient and smooth. Unfortunately, making the right choice is not easy. The risk is adding annoying chores and the burden of creating double-entries into multiple systems. Sometimes instead of the “my team lacks digital skills” scenario, the “our current tools slow my team down” version of events is more likely.
Actionable tip: Brainstorm with your team.
Prepare by letting your team audit their own situation: Which tools they use daily? Which ones they like, and don’t like? Are there any unreasonably time-consuming tasks? Where does the time get wasted the most?
During the brainstorm write down all needed feature sets and criteria the software should fulfil. Also, take notes for benefits and the end result you want to reach. Is it saving on costs, faster project delivery, better communication, better overview, or something else? The more clarity you have before-hand, the easier is to try out different tools and make a final decision.
Read further: Top Takeaways From The Adobe 2018 Digital Trends Report
3. Align digital strategies with your business processes
As mentioned before, the list of possible digital opportunities is needlessly long to fulfil it all. To lay a solid foundation, start with tools for business management and collaboration – take your work and data into the cloud. Even as a starting point, this is a great challenge because there are so many single-feature tools (which are great in a niche), but too few comprehensive business management solutions. The overwhelming multitude of various tools on the market is a blessing and curse at the same time.
Look for providers, who:
- offer quality support in all phases – consultation, implementation (onboarding), and after
- offer a free trial period
- cover a wide array of features for holistic business management
- have multiple updates and new feature releases per year
- do not try to impress you with low pricing
Actionable tip: Map your business processes.
With the input from your team(s), it’s time to get a full overview of your business processes. If you want to make sure your digital tools connect with each other seamlessly and are combined into a holistic system, you have to look at your business, team and customer as a whole. Gather information about:
- Company structure – all teams from marketing to finances. Also bring the functions you outsource, for example, accounting.
- Communication and collaboration tools between the teams – from face-to-face to email to instant messaging apps, etc.
- Customer Journey – all steps from the awareness phase to retention.
- The data you store about the customer – contacts, communication, documents, projects, and what else?
- Team and customer communication – which tasks have to be completed to successfully attract, onboard, and hold onto a customer.
If you google Business Process Mapping, the results can be quite terrifying and the task might seem enormous, but don’t worry – there is no need for complicated diagrams and legends. The more specific you get, the better, of course, but even just writing it all down can help you understand how to integrate digital tools into your processes. It also helps you to go through software trial periods and demos with deeper comprehension.
4. Explain the benefits of business tools
Although you have taken your team’s input into account, a 100% satisfaction is not statistically possible. Brainstorming is fun, but breaking out of old habits – not so fun. It is much easier to stay in current routines than to overcome the learning curve. It’s especially demotivating to do something just because you’re told so with no reasoning behind it. As simple as an explanation will help – tell your team why it’s important to use this new software and how it will benefit them.
Actionable tip: Organize a kick-off meeting
Instead of sending an email with instructions, schedule an introductory meeting. After your grand speech, let everyone try out the new tool and answer their questions on the spot. Make sure everyone understands why you have decided to go with a certain management and collaboration software.
5. Conduct a proper onboarding when implementing new software
A great tool is useless in the hands of a fool. Research shows that when team onboarding is done correctly, it leads to better performance levels and higher job satisfaction. Every trustworthy software provider offers some kind of assistance for their new users – webinars, e-courses, online guides, or real-time training.
Actionable tip: Get support from experts.
With more advanced software, definitely think about including Onboarding Specialists, who know the software inside out and will configure it to your needs. Onboarding in other terms is new software training, which is a 2 – 6 weeks long project to get your whole team on the same page and set up. Your input and coordination of the project are also necessary, but the support and guidance of Onboarding Specialists will assist your migration and make sure your team has everything they need to get started.
6. Set a strategy for continuous learning
When you have proper digital business management and team collaboration solution in place, it’s about the right time to start planning for the future. You have now “caught up” with the competition, but you want to get ahead of it, correct? Putting together a 3-year training program might seem a good idea, but hold your horses.
Unluckily, technology is evolving at such a rapid pace, that modern Human Resource Managers find it hard to compile very strict training plans. The team members are often much wiser regarding upcoming trends in their specialty, but often lack the time and motivation to take up something new.
Actionable tip: Incentivize digital learning initiatives.
Instead of creating a training program, develop a system to motivate your team to find new learning opportunities by themselves. Finding a way to integrate learning and work to cultivate a continuous study process could be your golden ticket to hacking innovation. But how exactly? Well, this is mostly up to you to figure out, but for example, you could:
- Create a guide to self-initiated learning.
- Create a best practices discussion group for the whole team – where to find courses, which ones are the best, etc.
- Organize quarterly (or some other time period) events, where you discuss past discoveries and future study plans.
- Assign responsibility to team leads – let them also push and advise their team members.
- Make it a friendly competition and give out annual rewards in various categories, for example, “the most innovative learning challenge”, “the most actionable learning challenge”, etc.
Digital competencies no longer entail only computer skills, such as sending emails, creating Word documents, and doing a simple web search. To strive in this era of technology:
- teams need advanced technical, analytical and digital collaboration skills,
- and business managers need smoothly integrated business management tools to have complete control and a real-time overview.
The challenge – nearly half of the business leaders say that their teams lack the necessary capabilities, yet find it crucial to raise their digital IQ.
- Awareness and management initiative is the first step to transformation,
- followed by mapping out your current team workflows
- and business processes,
- explaining the benefits of selected digital tools,
- conducting thorough software implementation,
- and most importantly – engaging the team with continuous learning.
Your team’s spontaneous study process could be the key to staying on top of your game. Find a way to integrate learning into daily or weekly work routines, and motivate your team to take the initiative for broadening their digital knowledge.