Unless you’ve stumbled onto this article accidentally, there’s probably no point in convincing you that digital transformation is vital – you already know it is.
There are few absolutes in life, but for businesses that want to remain competitive, you would be hard-pressed to find a more universal truth.
An equally universal truth that plagues HR and L&D Heads the world over is how to convince the tens, hundreds and even thousands of employees under their care to – in the name of all that is profitable – take this seriously.
If that describes your situation, let us first offer you a digital hug, and four guiding steps to digitally upskill your employees.
1. Start with ‘why’
You’ve probably seen Simon Sinek’s famous ‘Start With Why’ video, in which he explains that people do not buy into the ‘whats’ of the world, but the ‘whys’. Arguably, this can be interpreted as ‘purpose’. Purpose (conscious or otherwise) is what drives decisions, and all actions are simply a byproduct of that purpose being realised.
Digital upskilling, and all upskilling for that matter, is a ‘what’. In other words, it cannot hope to receive employee buy-in unless grounded in a powerful ‘why’.
While smaller outfits and social enterprises may easily unite under the company’s vision, larger organisations often have a bigger challenge to reliably convey the same message.
However, there is one universal ‘why’ that cuts across companies of all sizes and inspires action like nothing else: survival.
Why do so many smokers make no attempt to stop? Besides the physical addiction, their why of ‘instant gratification’ outweighs that of ‘long-term good health’. When a heart attack enters the equation, the why of ‘not dying’ suddenly becomes priority number one. Don’t you think they would do everything they could to give up the habit?
Companies must communicate just how important business relevance is for everyone. Lost clients, rejected tenders, forfeited opportunities and more await those that lag in the digital race.
Furthermore, it is dangerous to wait for them to happen before taking remedial steps to resuscitate what is left. Your employees must understand that by the time that happens, it may already be too late: not everyone survives that first heart attack.
2. Provide guided-learning content
The realm of technology and digitalisation is practically endless.
Employees don’t need to know all of it, or even most of it, to be good at their jobs. They don’t even want to learn any of it – but being the survivors they are, they will want to do what it takes.
So we must do just that – tell them exactly what it takes, because chances are they don’t.
Here is where a difficult question must be answered honestly: if they don’t know what to do, do you? If the answer is a confident ‘yes’, that’s awesome. Anything else, and it just makes sense to get outside help, doesn’t it?
In fact, the larger a company is, the more scalable the help needs to be, and ironically there may be no better solution to teaching technology than technology itself.
There must be about a million online learning platforms by now, and some of them are bound to have guided content on technology and digital transformation. Most are powered by artificial intelligence, and the really good ones combine it with the power of human experts. Oh, that’s right, we do that!
3. Provide personalised content for deep dives
As a rule, there will be general topics that everyone in the company should at least be familiar with. Depending on certain roles and job functions, a deeper understanding of certain parts will be required.
For example, a news portal may want its entire staff familiar with basic SEO, but those that manage ad space on the site will need to go deeper and immerse themselves in marketing tools and analytics.
Building on the use of online learning platforms, one of their biggest advantages is their ability to offer detailed customisation of learning plans at prices conventional training simply cannot compete with.
Depending on the type of learning experience needed, the same platform can host multiple groups, each learning based on their own individual plans and at their own pace, complete with tracking and feedback systems to monitor adherence.
Remember that ideally this database of knowledge should be made accessible to all employees. They need to be shown which parts they need to know, but should they wish to go deeper in their own time (believe it or not, some people do enjoy learning) they should be able to access the same content and delivery method.
4. Make learning part of your company’s DNA
Leaders who don’t practice what they preach will always find it harder to get buy-in from employees.
It’s the classic case of the parent telling the child to fasten their seat belt while the parent doesn’t.
Culture cascades downwards. Wherever you find employees at the executive level that lack clarity and direction, you can often follow the trail upwards to reveal the same problems there.
Remember how we spoke earlier of the need to communicate the urgency – the imminent danger of death – to the company? How well that message cascades down is highly dependent on the actions of the leadership team, and their willingness to ‘fold up their sleeves and get their hands dirty’ so to speak.
This is not to say that the top level must be experts, quite the contrary. Again, there will be topics that everyone in the company should familiarise themselves with.
The leadership’s role in these circumstances would be to commit to the company’s upskilling efforts by understanding and believing in their purpose, and be willing to step out of their comfort zones to lead this movement.
Only then will the best learning content and platform be able to serve its purpose effectively.