The Skills You Need to Lead Digital Transformation


Over the last twenty months, organizations in the United States have transformed overnight. This metamorphosis changed many staff roles. And because change involves multiple elements: people, process, and technology. It is crucial that leaders upskill since they “own” the employee experience.


Simply put the engine behind digital transformation is change. Typically these efforts involve multiple areas of an agency and impact various staff because you are literally changing the way work is accomplished. Ideally, management (department heads) plays a key role in this transformation.


A “very particular set of skills”


The skills needed to confront the evolving digital workspace are a mix of management, tech, and project management. In this case, it will benefit the organization if leaders are “jacks of all trade.”


  • Coaching and measuring performance- One of the biggest differences with leadership skills today is that you need to help your organization succeed in a work environment that encompasses home, the office, and partner offices. For those who are used to managing by counting the employees who are physically in the office and how many hours they work, this is a huge challenge. In particular, employee onboarding and ongoing training or certifying will require automation, approvals and auditing to ensure that details don’t get dropped. When a significant percentage of your team is remote, you don’t get the organic reminder of a drop-by or watercooler chat—so automation can trigger the appropriate action (reviews, certification award, vacation requests, etc.) to ensure effectiveness with employee management. Management’s role in digital transformation will be to both identify what roles and tasks can and should be automated and what skills will be needed by employees to carry out those tasks but also help them develop those skills, or partner with an outside company.

  • Change management- Managers need to understand that project management is a practice that involves more than a task list. Digital transformation updates the way employees work.In many organizations, Management is responsible for leading and modeling the cultural change effort: identifying, communicating and reinforcing behaviors that align with new digital ways of working and overcoming cultural resistance to change.In addition, management needs to think through and manage the impact of these new experiences and understand how changes might affect other areas of work. For instance when building workflows, inevitably they will affect interdepartmental work. So the other departments need to be part of the change effort.

  • Tech and analytical skills- Managers do not have to be experts in technology. However, they do need to have a clear understanding of how technology works. That also includes the data available through the implementation of new tools, and how data and technology enable better information to support strategies and decision-making,

  • Soft skills matter- Effective, precise communication smoothes many digital efforts. Consider writing an artice in your organizational newsletter or inviting staff to a large retrospective via your web coms tool. Relationships matter also, because at their worst, digital efforts can sometimes alienate staff who are not tech-savy. Including team members in feedback will ultimately help engage them and encourage their by-in. Digitization can’t be successful if staffmembers refuse to use the tools.






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