Employee Motivation: How to Lead Your Employees into the Digital Age


The change for a digital company comes with many advantages, as well as with some major challenges. The most important factor to a successful digitalization is, above all, the one of the human being. That is why this article examines the most relvant aspects of employee motivation and the required characteristics of an executive.

Employee Motivation: How to Lead Your Employees into the Digital Age

What Makes an Executive a Digital Leader?

The most important question at this point is how to lead a team to a successful digitalization. Ideally, this works in guidance of a leader who fits his role. This means that this leader should come with certain leadership qualities[1]. In order to motivate their employees efficiently, the perfect leaders should start with themselves: The study "Productive Disruptors"[2] of the personnel consulting group Russel Reynolds established the concept of the Digital Leaders, meaning the ideal leader in times of digital change.

According to the study, a digital leader should be innovative, disruptive, determined, socially adept and bold in leadership. However, access to the employees is particularly important when it comes to involving them in decisions, taking their worries seriously and seeking solutions. What is crucial, is to go the way as a team, even when things are getting difficult, but at the same time the leader has to assume the greatest parts of responsibility.

Google has also adopted this topic in an internal study named "Build better Bosses". The result is a list of six characteristics and requirements an executive should bring along in the process of digitalization: mindset & values (willingness to develop oneself consistently), a certain amount of emotional intelligence, management transition (willingness to ask for guidance even though one is the leader); coaching skills (address the needs and abilities of the team), an authentic but thoughtful feedback culture, as well as the ability to make decisions with a vision of the future[1]. Emerging from these results, Google has launched a learning program for digital leaders, which could generate improvements by 75% in these demands according to studies.

Hands-On: How does Motivation Work?

Both studies show that the most important factor is the employees themselves and the executives should focus on them. There are different approaches when integrating them into the digitalization process. In order to allow motivation for digital transformation to arise in the first place, it may be useful to bring together digitalization supporters with skeptics. By this, the optimists can highlight new points of view and opportunities – seen from the point of view of a peer, not of a superior. It is also crucial to break old patterns without hurting employees who have been using them for years. Transitional solutions, helping the employees get used to new structures at their own pace before finally implementing them, make sense, too.

Ideally, your employees should always be confident to express their thoughts, ideas, but also concern openly and to try out new things according to the trial & error principle. This does not only encourage a pleasant working atmosphere, but also boosts creativity, sustaining the motivation on the long run. However, this point can also be emphasized on the part of the executives: Employees will be less reluctant to experiment on new things, if their executives sometimes admit own failures. The factors of sincerity and transparency are also central in this.

But the safest way to destroy motivation is to take every effort and achievement for granted. Recognition and appreciation are the food of any motivation, making a fair and appreciative feedback culture a must[2].

But even if they take all these points into consideration, there is still a decisive factor on the way to digitalization: continuing education. Regardless of age, level of education and position, there is much to learn for all employees when it comes to digitalization. Support them! Create individual learning opportunities, ideally also with learning target controls. By this, your employees always receive their personal feedback and the motivation is kept high. Online videos are the easiest tool to realize this.

With our ViMP software you can meet all these requirements. Read more on this subject with our article on Corporate Learning, or contact us for more information via +49 (0)89 1200 1020) or with our contact form.

Overall, these non-material factors are more effective and constructive in the long term when it comes to employee motivation. And this is the key to a successful digital change.


[1] Brandes-Visbeck, C.: „Die neuen Chefs: Wie Manager ihr Team im digitalen Zeitalter zum Erfolg führen.“ http://t3n.de/news/neuen-chefs-team-erfolg-847762/2/ (21.08.2017).
[2] Russellreynolds.com: „Productive Disruptors: Five Characteristics that Differentiate Transformational Leaders.“ http://www.russellreynolds.com/insights/thought-leadership/productive-disruptors-five-characteristics-that-differentiate-transformational-leaders (24.08.2017).



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