Remaining Relevant at Work or My Dad Couldn’t Use the DVR

Labor Day reflections: how to help your team win in a digital environment.

My dad couldn’t use the DVR. More accurately, Dad wouldn’t use the DVR. “It’s too complicated,” he’d bemoan.

This shouldn’t infer that Dad wasn’t an otherwise capable person. He earned a graduate degree and held a successful leadership position. In other words, Dad had talents. They just weren’t the sort of skills that would make Dad successful in today’s digitalized work world.

Forget the DVR, Dad would struggle with performing the task of delivering a package to someone’s door, taking a picture of that completed delivery, and then triggering an automated message to the customer alerting them that their purchase was waiting for them and that their transaction was complete. As a customer, I love this, especially when the delivery person frames one of our dogs in the picture. Aw.

In other words, it is hard to think of any job that hasn’t been impacted by digitalization and doesn’t require the use of technology. Something formerly as simple as delivering a package has been changed by digitalization. And, it’s accelerating. To quote US General Eric Shinseki, “If you dislike change, you’re going to dislike irrelevance even more.”

Change is inevitable – how to stay relevant

Yes, the buggy whip business was doing well back when Labor Day was enacted as a national holiday in 1884. And, if ice cutters were still delivering sawdust-covered blocks of ice to customers’ wooden chests today, they’d be doing it using GPS and digital tools designed to propel deep customer insights.

In 1884, we were at the height of the Industrial Revolution in the United States. People were flocking from the countryside to cities for jobs, and our borders were awash with immigrants doing the same. The working conditions were dismal, unsanitary, and unsafe. The work was labor-intensive, as people worked 12-hour shifts, toiling in mills, factories, and mines across the country. Child labor was also common. On Labor Day 2019, we see the Digitalization Revolution in full swing.

And, yet, are we prepared? Do workers have the talent to perform today’s jobs and tomorrow’s?

A 2018 study by McKinsey Global Institute indicates roughly 50% of today’s jobs are poised to be replaced by technology. The expected net gain from this is a 75% increase in production, furthering the case for the importance of workforce preparedness for digitalization.

However, a vast majority of CEOs worry they lack the talent to compete in the digital world. According to a 2018 CEO survey by PwC, conducted with over 1,200 CEOs across 85 countries, company leaders list attracting, retaining, and developing employee talent at the top their list of concerns. Particularly, CEOs worry their leaders do not have the digital skills to execute.

Winning in the Digital Environment

So, what can employers do to ensure they win?

Fortunately, businesses do not need wholly new capabilities in the digital era. Rather, existing capabilities need to be reassembled to address the new challenges.

As a first step, organizations need to identify the contexts of their Digital Business Environment. What challenges have digitalization created for your business? Accurately diagnosing the context enables organizations to identify the best-fit talent for any given role.

Then, determine the competencies required for your digital contexts. It is critical for organizations to align talent with the challenges of the job.

Lastly, assess the digital readiness of your workforce. Do your people possess the agility to adapt and execute?

Our research has shown that workers and leaders who will be successful, in the digital age, do not require new or different core competencies. They are simply more effective at applying existing competencies to new digital contexts, especially competencies like:

  • Continuous Learning & Innovation
  • Critical Thinking & Analytical Insight
  • Collaboration & Network Performance
  • Execution Excellence

None of the talent domains listed above are new. They don’t require specialized, advanced skills. And, people higher in these areas will learn how to use a DVR, among other technologies.

That is great news and should come as a relief to company leaders.

Innovation and Creativity in our Digital landscape

The building blocks that made organizations successful in the past will propel their success in the digitized future. The key is identifying, developing, and promoting the people who have “more of it.” And, by more of it, we mean the ability to embrace change, drive innovation through creativity and continuous improvement, understand data analytics, influence people, develop productive relationships across networks, passionately execute, and create deep customer insights. These are the underpinnings of a truly agile workforce; one ready for the digitalization of Labor Today.

Contact us today to learn more about how SHL can help you ready your employees and organization for digital transformation.


Author: Doug Wolf