Article by Maria Papazoglou published on the thriveglobal on March 19, 2021.
Digital skills, such as adaptability and foresight, are among the top personal skills, that this new era demands from executives and businesses. As a result, many traditional ways of working have fallen victim of Covid-19.
The change was rapid and with much of the global population in lockdown, entire business sectors like tourism, hospitality and catering have shrunk and struggled while sectors like digital services and e-commerce have been the beneficiaries of unprecedented growth. During this pandemic, a great number of businesses have adapted to the new world and highlighted the need for strong personal skills that are crucial to their for survival. Now more than ever the need for such skills is imperative as remote working forced many employees to invest already scarce time into the development of such personal skills through coaching and mentoring sessions.
Anyone with basic knowledge of the worldwide economic reality knew that a radical change was under way. Research from the McKinsey Global Institute was warning of the need for transformation in the interpersonal skillset of 14% of workers since 2017. That translates to 375 million people that the research gave a transformation deadline of 2030. In a more recent research by the same institute, a shocking 87% of executives spotted huge gaps in the skills of their teams and had no idea of how to “fix” them.
Coronavirus demanded that these skills should be addressed immediately, so that the expertise of a new technological era could provide immediate benefits to workplaces. These new working conditions have made absolutely imperative that one can organize online meetings, participate effectively in online working groups and complete many tasks without physical presence.
The end of Technophobia
The ever-growing speed of technological innovations and digitalization of every aspect of work and life made it perfectly clear. The role of the market leader in each and every industry will belong to the companies that will invest in their teams to effectively integrate into the digital world. The laggards, the ones that hesitate to invest, will have a challenging time to stay relevant. International experience and seamless adaptability of companies that employed people with enhanced digital skills showed that the investment in digital “education” gave them a clear head start at the race for economic survival in the testing grounds of the pandemic.
With the majority of work and services steered into the information highway, the need for organization becomes essential – digital “traffic” jams that could bring any kind of productivity to a halt have to be avoided at all cost. All employees are forced to tune in a “work from home” mode and “telework” state, where they must find way to organize, coordinate and control their tasks, from wherever they can get a decent internet connection. Executives with strong leadership skills that can lead their teams from a distance and take out the best of their team members, will be invaluable. “Online Workflow Moderation” is already a highly sought after job benefit and can be an effective tool in recruiting top talent.
One of the most useful skills executives are called upon to instantly develop in Covid-19 times is communication. Since the majority of the workforce is working from a distance enhanced digital communication skills provide clear and effective channels of communication among the people that geographically dispersed. Executives have to deploy “antennas” and have their empathy turned to the max, so that they can directly get their customers pulse, work with them through a rebounding economy and take advantage of developments in new markets and opportunities. Leaders are being called upon to inspire and encourage their teams, and corporate training courses will be their most useful tool.
The effects of this global crisis in the already accelerating change in the worldwide business environment demand swift and drastic measures, now more than ever. Foresight and problem-solving abilities, before they escalate to disasters, will determine the successful executives and companies in the future. Issues that can emerge can include anything from the lack of available laptops in the market to the inability of the courier service providers; from the inadequacy of the IT department and hardware to the workers themselves to telework. The one who will “run” the problematic scenarios in advance instead of running behind the problems when they come up will be the winner.
In these demanding times, both executives and employees have to ensure that they can unfold the right personal skills in a methodical way; in a comprehensive process delivered through coaching sessions that focus on these challenging times.