You lead a team of cross-generational employees that include millennials, baby boomers, Gen X and Gen Z folks. Your team members come from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds and have varying levels of technological familiarity. They work across roles, levels and locations. Some report into managers while others are managers themselves.
What’s more, today, they all work remotely most of the time.
What does that mean? In case of conflicts, you do not have the advantage of sorting out issues over coffee. While introducing your senior colleagues, you do not have the opportunity to use your body language or gestures to convey respect. To build team camaraderie, you do not have the option of conducting outdoor group activities that used to be excellent icebreakers.
This rapidly evolving landscape has left managers at a loss. It is the beginning of a tectonic shift in how managers design, monitor and manage work digitally. So, how do you ensure that each of these intergenerational workgroups feels included in a digitally led environment? How do you ensure that their productivity and motivation levels do not fluctuate while being a virtual workforce?
Here are a few ways that could help you create a digitally inclusive environment for your team to make everyone feel valued and welcomed.
Accept that everyone has a different starting point. Be emotionally aware
Yes, the work culture has changed. However, some people are accustomed to the digital culture, while others are not. Some will bring creativity and enthusiasm to the digital work ecosystem. Others harbor deep-rooted fears and even have panic attacks before having to present their ideas virtually. Hence, the starting point for everyone is different. That means you need to have an emotional understanding of your team members’ digital competence and varied learning levels. Only then can you deploy meaningful methods toward enabling a digitally inclusive environment.
Encourage digital upskilling and position it as an opportunity to feel elevated, not intimidated
Put your team members on upskilling programs and position that as a source of strength. Don’t let members from the older generations feel that they need to upskill because they are weak or not relevant. Position it in a way that it’s a motivator and not a course-corrector. Keep conversations open and reinforce that the upskilling programs are a part of the organization’s continuous learning journey where you use technology as a resource for an inclusive work environment.
Keep an engagement and mentorship plan ready for new joiners
If you have new members in your team who joined in remotely or will be joining the workforce remotely, be prepared. Think hard and deep about their mentoring, and from their perspective. They need even more hand-holding in a remote environment. And remember, no mentor has been through what today’s new joiners are going through. While existing employees who moved to work remotely share some camaraderie, a new joiner can suffer from isolation. Avoid unexpected fallouts through a sustainable engagement and mentorship plan.
Make it comfortable for people to open up
Being visible just does not mean switching on your video and asking your team to do the same. It means creating forums for informal conversations, where everyone feels comfortable to talk about their interests besides work. This helps build rapport and confidence. The basic principles of foundational building blocks of positive work culture don’t change with new technologies.
Be a good listener and collaborate. Make each one feel valued
Remote working brings unique stresses, insecurities and sometimes communication gaps. Catch those signs. Actively ask for team members’ views. You can nip these pain points in the bud if you listen. It is not enough to gather your team’s thoughts. Post that, collaborate. Integrate them into a decision-making journey. It will reduce stress as your team feels motivated and secure.
However, there is no one perfect way to become a digitally inclusive manager. So, try different combinations depending on your team’s starting point. Convert the unpredictable and discomforting digital scenario into a positive space where everyone feels included, valued and recognized. You are then on your way to reaping the benefits of productivity gains and emotional and digital wellness.