The workforce today is a mixed bag with four or five generations working side-by-side. Some of these workers have witnessed massive change over many years; others are fresh out of school, where they learnt on the devices now infiltrating the workplace. When it comes to technology, the older generations are using tools that didn’t even exist when they were at uni. What does it mean for them? And how can they help you drive digital transformation in your business?
[A caveat before we go any further: we at DocuSign are not age-ist. We respect the skills, perspectives and life experience that all age groups bring to the workforce. That said, when you hear that schools in America have removed analogue clocks from classrooms because the kids these days don’t know how to read them (watch this hilarious clip from The Ellen DeGeneres Show to see one kid try), you can’t help but wonder.]
[Another caveat: our writer today hails from the X generation, which was loud with the tick-tock of analogue clocks.]
The over-40s can own digital transformation
While every generation has its strengths (and, some would argue, weaknesses), you can’t slot people into digital stereotypes based on their age. Just because younger generations were practically born with a device in their hands – and may therefore be quicker than others to acquire new digital skills – this head start doesn’t mean that they will use their skills in the most advantageous way for your business.
Put simply, you can’t correlate age with digital capabilities. Rather, the acquisition and adoption of digital capabilities at work depends more on mindset. Some people are good at embracing change; others are not so good. Age is no barrier here.
With this in mind, and to accelerate digital transformation in your organisation, it’s a great idea to seek out the change-makers, whatever age they may be. You’ll likely find some of these change-makers in leadership roles – they haven’t got to the top by accident.
Pair the change-makers with the digital natives
Once you’ve identified the people who are good at embracing change, then you could set up some cross-generational mentoring. Everyone has something to give – the younger generation can teach older employees how to use the latest digital platforms to work smarter and faster; the older generation can teach the young kids the leadership skills that got them to where they are today.
Peer to peer learning like this is invaluable in creating a culture of change, which in turn is so critical to digital transformation.
Lead by example
Business leaders (who, let’s face it, are generally over 40) can take the lead with digital transformation. To do so, it’s important that they don’t let the millennials lead the revolution. Just because a hip young thing says that the latest collaboration tool is, like, seriously phat, it doesn’t mean the tool is going to deliver value to your business.
Gen X-ers and Baby Boomers have a real opportunity to apply their experience and skills to help assess the relevance and value of new technologies and tools.Take eSignatures. Ok, so we do think they’re phat. Or dope. Or whatever the young kids are calling the cool stuff these days. But it’s only because eSignatures deliver significant value. Business leaders can quickly see just how much money, time and trees that an eSignature solution like DocuSign will deliver – and they can easily take charge of the transformation of systems of agreement from traditional paper-based formats to secure, digital formats.
No IT degree or digital nativity needed. Just good, old-fashioned common sense.
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