A woman leaning against a desk with a coffee

The digital human

Managers need to stay real in the digital space

Pandemic working conditions have now become standard, and digital technology is king. Asana, Monday, Zoom, Trello, Teams … they are part of our professional and personal life and they won’t be going away.

In many ways, the introduction and our acceptance of this digital technology has made managing staff much easier. Whether it is getting your people to Toggle their timesheet, or tracking group conversations in Slack, oversight and transparency seem bizarrely more achievable with us all so far apart.

What might be in short supply though is humanity. As a digital manager it is much easier to see your people as numbers on a chart, pixels on a screen, boxes to be ticked. It is much easier to cross a professional/personal ravine when it is a digital, rather than a physical valley you need to scale. What you find on the other side might not be in the best interests of your organisation.

Digital distance

Digital technology changes our relationships. We are ever present on the other side of a glowing screen, and inhumanity occurs when your demands don’t take into account family, or downtime, or hobbies. It’s all too easy to phone or text outside of office hours because we are all at home now anyway.

From lacking intentional plans to nurture a creative culture, to failing to build trust in relationships, there are many mistakes that managers make with remote teams, but a standout is disregarding social and emotional well-being. It really gets to the crux of the issue for managers – that if their people aren’t always present in real life, then their empathy can begin to wan.

Find your humanity, focus it on purpose

Research worldwide shows that mid-and-post-pandemic employees expect their jobs to bring a significant sense of purpose to their lives, and employers need to meet this need or see their staff turnover increases. Areas that influence a worker’s sense of fulfilment include purpose outside of work, purpose from work, and purpose from the organisation. It is that last one that is essential for managers to grasp and act on, because it is all about fostering a thriving organisational culture.

Skills Consulting Group revealed in recent research that 93 per cent of HR managers are expecting employers to prioritise employee wellbeing. This means that these organisations have realised the importance of employee experience; the way employees interact with their manager, their co-workers and their company is essential to productivity and staff retention. The key skills for the future aren’t all digital, they’re interpersonal. Learn how to be a good leader, a good mentor, how to manage expectations and facilitate solutions. In the rush to learn ongoing new digital technology, it is easy to forget that at the end of the day, we are just people operating it.

The future is human, and the skills to achieve success are ultimately human as well.

Find out more about IMNZ’s Elevate leadership course, and their Think on your Feet communications course to see if they can help you develop your people skills.

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