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Future of work requires both digital skills and emotional intelligence

Speaking only ‘digitally’ is not enough to influence and motivate others

Digital transformation is all around us, and the need for digital literacy in the workplace is evident. Digital skills are fast becoming how employees can access and secure mid- and high-skill jobs – and digitally intensive jobs tend to pay more on average than jobs that don’t require digital skills, according to a Capital One report.

In order to stay relevant and prepare for career advancement, it is critical that you invest in developing strong digital skills as well as enhancing your emotional intelligence, or EQ. Both of these are required for the future of work.

Use technology to enable human connection

Whether you are a director managing sales or an executive overseeing marketing, it is critical to embrace the opportunities technology presents and to have the desire to learn to leverage them. Take advantage of any and all opportunities to improve digital skills – learn about new tools or shortcuts on your computer to create efficiencies, and ensure strong digital security knowledge. Just as important, lift your head up from your devices frequently to forge human relationships.

Gathering and using data about what clients – internal and external – need and want is very powerful; however, it is even more effective if it is complemented by human connection. Leveraging existing technology is a great start – ensure you have good-quality data and then maximize it by sharing data with colleagues to help support better planning and execution of your business strategy.

It is simple to run a report and hand over the data; however, the human element of thoughtfully analyzing the data is where the true value sits. Start by looking at the data on a regular basis and identify the story it is telling you. What are the trends you see? Are there any anomalies? Are they positive and do they require a plan to maintain this success, or are the results moving in the wrong direction, requiring some potential solutions?

How you present the data to others is key to building both relationships and your credibility. Be prepared for the conversation by demonstrating your knowledge and findings with confidence. Where required, help others to see the big picture. Provide some suggestions or participate in problem-solving exercises that relate to how to lead the team and organization in the right direction. Ask lots of questions, and listen actively so you can apply this learning both in the present and in the future.

The importance of EQ and soft skills in the world of digital transformation

According to the EQ-i 2.0 assessment – a tool used to assess emotional intelligence – there are five areas used to measure EQ: self-perception, interpersonal, decision-making, self-expression and stress management. Each of these is critical to being both aware of and able to manage daily interactions with others. Speaking only “digitally” is not enough to influence and motivate others. While the focus of our learning on technology is important to keep up with the pace of change these days, our own self-awareness and communication styles are also key areas for development that need to continue.

Technology is not likely to be leaving us any time soon; however, it’s the relationships we have that make work truly meaningful.

Lori Howe is assistant vice-president of human resources at BlueShore Financial. She has over 20 years of experience in human resources in a variety of industries.