A few days ago, I was on a bus when a young girl jumped on, I imagine she was in her mid 20's. Out came her smartphone and she pointed it towards a QR code on the wall. That was her paying for her bus fare. There was no pause in the music she was listening to and no required interaction with the bus driver, or anyone else. It was very task-led and transactional.
I began thinking more and more about how we go through our days using technology and the amazing advancements it brings us. Paper mail that used to travel for weeks over land and sea now arrives within seconds via our handheld devices. And who doesn't love ‘Amazon Prime’, where I've just ordered a new phone charger that'll arrive before I get home tonight?
However, is technology good for us all the time?
The advantages are clear to see but are we aware of what we might be losing? I worry that in years to come we'll have a population of business leaders that can create apps from the back seat of their driverless cars but they won't be able to have a meaningful conversation with someone. They could struggle to inspire a workforce around their vision or more importantly to communicate an effective business strategy. The only thing I see moving as quickly as technology is the rate of change businesses are experiencing in this increasingly VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) environment. And so the skills needed to lead successfully today, are different to what many leaders are accustomed to.
If I was hiring in years to come, I'd want employees who can operate and reinvent technology that allows us to execute processes efficiently, but not at the detriment of the people and communication skills needed to lead. It takes a lot more than the press of a button to ensure that employees feel valued and engaged to perform at their best.
Here are 3 key tips that could help get the balance right:
1. The workplace environment should promote collaboration between employees. Cross team relationships and the ability to openly discuss amongst your peers can build trust and encourage the development of ideas. After all, it is through these interactions as well as any management edict that the culture of your business is created. To what extent is your working environment fit for purpose?
2. We know there is a direct conflict between focusing on creating innovation vs. internal processes and it can be a challenge to focus on achievement, while balancing employee well-being. However it is important to pay equal attention to these factors and striking the right balance to ensure you aren’t neglecting these key areas within the organisation.
3. Does your organisation promote a fixed or growth mindset? If you rely too heavily on millennials to communicate using technology, they could ultimately lose the ability to; build trusting relationships, collaborate with colleagues and manage conflict effectively. Promoting a growth mindset within the organisation can encourage both new and old employees to collaborate effectively, to ensure the organisations goals are met in the most effective way.
It is important to use the technological developments to our own advantage, but at the same time to continue developing effective interpersonal skills required to build successful working relationships.
These are just a few tips that could help you strike the perfect technological balance. I’d be interested to know what tips your organisation uses to promote a healthy balance?