Updated: Oct 6, 2020
In the wake of COVID-19, we said goodbye to face-to-face catch ups and hello to online meetings. It’s now important more than ever to have skills to work in the digital age. Marcus Sandmann, Chief Marketing Officer at the Australian Institute of Project Management (AIPM) explains what these skills are and how you can use them to ensure your projects run smoothly over the coming months.
While it isn’t uncommon for people to have a ‘work from home day’, working from home has now become the enforced norm. Some people may have found this adjustment easier than others but many people aren’t properly set up in an ergonomic workspace. There are many articles discussing health and wellness whilst working remotely as well as keeping social connections for mental health.
Apart from getting used to the idea of working from home, another topic that should be explored is the skill set needed for working in the digital age. This is something we have talked about for some time at AIPM and is largely influenced by artificial intelligence (AI).
In recent years, AI has absorbed many of the manual tasks such as data collection, tracking and reporting. This allows business leaders time to build on some of the essential soft skills for managing projects and teams, such as developing good communication and leadership skills. These soft skills are unlikely to be impacted by artificial intelligence as they are human in nature.
So when it comes to working digitally (or during this time, should we say remotely), consider your emotional intelligence. Do you have the following skills or could you build on them?
Whether you’re in a management position or a team member, the way you communicate will have a significant impact on how effectively you deliver your projects. You don’t need a communications degree to be a good communicator, but it’s an essential skill.
Take the time to consider the type of non-verbal language you use in emails and online chats. Your language and tone might not be something you’ve had to think about before, so if you’re unsure how to address your colleagues and stakeholders, imitate the way they communicate with you.
Have you heard of the term “servant leadership”? As the name suggests, this type of leadership involves serving your team and leaving your ego at the door by having the end goal as your main priority. With the whole team working towards one greater goal, you’re more likely to work positively together and end up with a better result.
A manager who embodies servant leadership will be good at listening to the team and stakeholders and have empathy for what they are saying. However, keep in mind servant leadership doesn’t mean you should shy away from making decisions that may be unpopular but that are best for the project.
Another soft skill that is necessary for the digital age is being aware of the motivating factors which drive yourself as well as your colleagues. If you’re a leader, consider each team members’ strengths and weaknesses.
If you’re aware of what motivates your team, you will have the right person working on each task and they will put more effort into it. When someone is working on a project that makes them feel valued and their skills are put to use, they will typically get it done faster and produce better results.
The COVID-19 pandemic may have changed the way businesses operate forever, however the soft skills we need for the digital age remain the same. While artificial intelligence is taking on more of our manual tasks, there is more opportunity for managers and executives to work on their soft skills. With less face-to-face interaction, these are the skills that are the most important: good communication skills, empathetic leadership and understanding what motivates both ourselves and others. This will help businesses succeed and keep them on track with their projects.
Marcus Sandmann is the Chief Marketing Officer at the Australian Institute of Project Management. Marcus is a senior marketing professional with over 18 years’ experience in marketing products and services to businesses and consumers.