Learning needs in the post-digital

Pirjo Leek looks at the turbulence that arises during the digital transformation process, and explores how to bring stability to the transitional organisation while preparing for post-transformation success.
Change is frightening at first, whichever way you spin it. It’s only human to be slightly apprehensive about fundamental shifts in the way work is done in your company. These disturbances are emotional as much as practical, but don’t necessarily have to become a serious problem. With forward planning and careful change management, the digital transformation process can be an opportunity to revolutionise the way work is being done and thought of which benefits your workplace culture and makes your role more exciting and rewarding at once. Digital transformation is not about simply introducing gadgets and software, it runs a lot deeper than that.

As a first step of a truly effective digital transformation process, the whole mindset needs to change. To drive engagement and ensure your learners thrive in the new environment, they need to be ready to change and supported on the journey. One part of it is communication – being aware of what is going on and how it will affect them. The second part is being comfortable with the new environment where changes are not a one-off inconvenience but an inevitable part of everyday life.

You can’t expect new and necessary patterns of behaviour to spring up organically out of nowhere – it needs to be modelled, demonstrated and taught. New systems of managing data, information and skills need to be deployed if you’re going to keep your edge as you evolve into a post-digital business. The behavioural change you seek can be delivered by digital learning solutions tailored to your specific needs.

After your learners and clients alike have adjusted to change as a constant, they need to become proficient in the new digital tools to make the most of the opportunities these provide. The deeper you dive into digital data and use its insights to illuminate and understand conditions out here the real world, the more you can align yourself to your customers and the better you can react and adjust to the inevitable changes.

It is an emerging responsibility for L&D teams – often uniquely placed within the organisational structure, at the nexus of digital transformation – to transform the processes used in your company to enable agile adjustment to new circumstances. In order to be able to do so, processes need to be reliable and focussed on the result – the new result – rather than doing it the way it has always been done. The processes need to be second nature to your employees to be able to react to any changes in the market, and this kind of fluidity cannot be taught top-down and case-by-case. It can only come from an embedded learning culture that supports and enables self-directed learning.

Digital transformation is not individual entity who barges into your offices one day and makes itself at home. Whether done right or done wrong, it eventually forms an inseparable part of your company culture. In some ways, culture is the starting point for the whole process. You can’t run new models without somewhat adapting your mission and mentality. The transformation process must encompass your culture, values and messages you use to share and communicate them.

And all of this starts and ends with the people in your company.

In the era of Digital Everything, and as that era starts to give way to the tech-integrated future beyond, it can be easy to focus on technical over soft skills. However, as changes happen very rapidly, disregarding soft skills could be a serious mistake. Communication, teamwork and problem-solving skills are vital in a post-transformation working environment.

Empathy and understanding of your clients’ and partners’ human needs is something that automated online systems can’t do so the human touch is more important than ever. Moreover, the introduction of new systems is often accompanied by new interpersonal stresses that employees will need coaching and mentoring on. An effective rule of thumb is that in the face of change, don’t try to funnel your learners towards a particular solution, but provide them with the tools to reach it themselves. Take care of your people so they can take care of the organisation.

Our own research suggests that 100% of L&D managers are going through a process of digital transformation. If it isn’t already, soon that energy will be flowing through the heart of your business. Nothing is left untouched by it, so you need to be prepared for the fundamental behavioural shift. Your employees need to be ready for it and motivated to optimise the opportunities arising from it.

If you want to talk to us about designing the perfect end-0to-end learning solution for your transformation process, just get in touch.

Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash.

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