Blog

by: Mr. Ivan Steenkamp 

The Importance of Digital Skills in the Workplace - Published on 15 April 2020

Digital technology has revolutionized the way we work – but many smaller businesses that lack digital skills are being left behind. These skills can be anything from answering emails to uploading a document to a company’s Google drive –  now essential skills in today’s labor market. More needs to be done to ensure the digital skills gap doesn’t become a skills crisis. By creating a digital culture in the workplace – and equipping employees with the right skills – businesses stand to benefit in a number of ways.

Here are some of the reasons to embrace digital skills in the workplace:

1. Digital Skills can increase business productivity

With the right training, employees can use digital technology to become more productive at work. For example, digital documents can be created, stored, and accessed more efficiently than printed versions, but only if employees know how to locate them, use them, and share them confidently. If they struggle with this, it has a knock-on effect on how employee time is used in the workplace – with consequences for business productivity.

2. Digital skills can help to develop a competitive edge

According to Microsoft, in the next two decades, 90% of jobs will require some form of digital skills, and there will be a higher demand for technical skills to give businesses a competitive edge within their market. By investing in the right training for your employees, they are more likely to outperform their peers at rival organizations – helping your business stay ahead of the competition.

3. Digital skills can provide new ways of working

Technological advances will continue to provide new ways of working. Businesses that embrace those changes will reap the benefits of a highly satisfied workforce, keen to collaborate, communicate, or create using new tools that allow them to do their jobs more efficiently. This could include better access to remote working, relevant software, and cloud-based applications or widening the availability of online training.

4. Digital skills can help increase revenue

Most businesses now recognize the need for a strong online presence to help increase revenue. Traditional forms of sales and marketing are becoming outdated as consumers turn towards digital channels to make that final purchase. Most buyers now consume online content like blog articles or short videos to finalize their purchasing decisions. If businesses hope to increase revenue they need to be where their customers are, using a range of digital skills to engage, persuade, and drive demand through their preferred online channels.

5. Digital Skills allow businesses to build customer relationships

Consumers now spend more time on digital channels and there is a high demand for an improved online experience. Businesses need to respond to changing expectations, engaging with their customers, and building relationships through a diverse range of channels – these could include email, social media, mobile apps, and more. It’s vital that employees have the right skills and ‘netiquette’ to ensure the online customer experience is a positive one.

How to Start Developing Skills - Published on 04 May 2020

Skills development is the process of (1) identifying your skill gaps, and (2) developing and honing these skills. It is important because your skills determine your ability to execute your plans with success.

1) Start with the core skills

If you’re starting from ground zero, such as learning programming when you don’t know anything about coding, it can be intimidating as there are a multitude of things to learn. Start with core skills first.

  • Core skills are skills you absolutely need to succeed in your goal. They have a direct impact on your success.
  • Secondary skills are of lower importance vs. the core skills. While they accentuate your success, your expertise in them do not make or break your goal.

For example, when I started my business, there were many skills I had to pick up. I started with the core skills that I felt would be instrumental to my success: writing, coaching, training, and web marketing. These skills had a make-or-break effect on my goal. On the other hand, Pinterest, Facebook marketing, Twitter, and fancy web design, while helpful, were not instrumental to my success. These were consequently my secondary skills. While I took some time to learn the secondary skills, I dedicated the bulk of my time to mastering my core skills.

What determines a core or secondary skill? It depends on your goal. As long as the skill has a critical impact on your goal, it is considered a core skill. If your goal is to be a life coach with a team of sub-coaches, then life coaching, leadership, team management, and training will be your core skills. If your goal is to be a life coach with an online setup, then life coaching, web marketing, content writing, and good technical skills will be your core skills.

In times when it’s not effective to learn certain skills, I recommend outsourcing instead.

2) Break into little steps

With each skill, break the learning into small steps.

Back when I was learning life coaching, I identified the sub-skills that would make a good coach, including listening skills, questioning skills, empathy, and patience. I subsequently gave myself a rating of 1–10 on each skill and worked on these skills by giving free sessions, taking a coaching workshop, reading books, and most importantly, working with people. I also developed my own coaching guidebook, which is my repository of coaching concepts and frameworks to coach people. I would collect feedback and review my performance after each coaching session, including identifying things that I did and didn’t do well in, so I could improve.

2) Break into little steps

With each skill, break the learning into small steps.

Back when I was learning life coaching, I identified the sub-skills that would make a good coach, including listening skills, questioning skills, empathy, and patience. I subsequently gave myself a rating of 1–10 on each skill and worked on these skills by giving free sessions, taking a coaching workshop, reading books, and most importantly, working with people. I also developed my own coaching guidebook, which is my repository of coaching concepts and frameworks to coach people. I would collect feedback and review my performance after each coaching session, including identifying things that I did and didn’t do well in, so I could improve.

3) Learn from the best

One of the best ways to learn is to learn from the best. That’s because you can understand from someone who’s “been there done that” and get their wisdom rather than proceed unguided. Here are some tips:

  1. Who are the people you know, who have experience in this area? Approach them for advice. Ask them: How should you build your skill in this area? Do they have any tips for you? What should you watch out on?
  2. Engage a coach. Getting a coach isn’t cheap, but if you have the financial resources and you get the right coach, you can shave hundreds of hours off your learning curve. My clients, through our sessions together, have saved hundreds of hours and sped ahead in their goals, compared to if they had struggled and dealt with these issues alone.
  3. Get a mentor. Is there a senior in your company or your network of contacts who would be willing to mentor you?
  4. Study experts in the industry. Who are the experts in your field? Study them and understand what makes them so good at what they do. Model their behavior, while adapting it to fit you.

5) Attend trainings

Courses and workshops are great ways to quickly develop skills. Think of it as a concentrated source of information that has been organized into a structured program for your learning. Depending on the workshop, some workshops with a lot of activities allow for experiential learning, which means you get hands-on practice rather than learning through theory via reading. When you attend a training, you are in the company of like-minds, which gives you added motivation and social support in your goal.

When looking for a training, be careful to look for one with actual content and taught by a credible trainer. Ask for a breakdown of the course curriculum. There are many courses today that are filled with fluff and taught by people who are more interested in profits than in the teaching, and you want to stay away from these.