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Created on 01.07.2020

Digital change: different ways of working and a new understanding of management

Digital change also has an impact on management style within companies. Eve-Marie Lagger, who works in the Development unit in PostFinance’s “Working Environment”, tells us all about the new understanding of management PostFinance is working on.

PostFinance is on the way to becoming a digital powerhouse. Why is it important to also look at management during this process?

In an environment of increasing complexity and accelerated change, it is no longer as easy to set clear, long-term objectives, and to achieve them according to a fixed plan. People are increasingly adopting an iterative approach to work, which means that working cycles are getting shorter, and procedures are continuously being adapted. This requires more flexibility, greater risk appetite and more transparency, which also applies to management.

How can management be successful in the age of digitization? What understanding of management will prove conducive to digitization?

Working methods are changing. In future, we will increasingly work virtually and use agile methods. This will require an agile mindset, and subsequently a new understanding of management. The challenge for management is to provide a sense of purpose and to point everyone in the right direction – in other words to define the “why” and "where”. The “how”, on the other hand, is something we want to leave more to the teams themselves, and by doing so, we can encourage self-organization and personal responsibility. This change in management style dovetails with the overarching cultural shift going on at PostFinance.

How will the role of management change at PostFinance in the digital age?

In the age of digitization, how managers go about networking is what it really comes down to. Even today, line managers do not get very far anymore by insisting on hierarchical power, making decisions by themselves and simply issuing instructions. To meet the complex challenges that digitization presents, it is important to have access to different points of view and skill sets, and that in turn means we need to be able to cooperate across different disciplines. What’s more, younger employees, who have key digital skills, want to be part of the process and to have their own say as well. It is becoming increasingly important to try to involve employees as much as possible. After all, line managers are more effective when they listen to their employees, and by acting as a mediator and driving force, they can achieve a lot more.

What exactly does this mean for managers: what lies in store for them? What new management skills will they need to acquire?

Managers will need to engage a great deal with digital trends and working methods such as design thinking, Scrum and Kanban . Above all, however, they need to be inspiring, and to be quick, bold and decisive. Managers will have the greatest impact if they embrace progress and demonstrate a willingness to learn and commitment, and if they also expect this in return from their employees. They should be prepared to take new and unconventional directions, ensuring the customer remains the focus at all times.

Please show using an example how management works – or no longer works – in the digital age.

As we have already mentioned, the “command and control” approach is simply no longer viable in the digital age. Line managers cannot keep their employees locked in a routine for the sake of efficiency either. The rapid, disruptive changes we are seeing mean that the types of work people do are also changing. This means employee development is one of the core responsibilities of management. It isn’t enough to just give employees development opportunities. What managers need to do is stimulate them so that they surpass themselves and continue to learn new things throughout their lives, completely independently. An initiative to achieve just that was launched in 2019 in the form of “Fit4Future”, where every employee sets themselves a development target. Managers were also empowered to conduct appraisals with their employees and to support them.

And what lies in store for employees?

Employees, too, need to be agile in how they think and behave in order to meet these changes head on. The work is changing, and so too are the skills required for it. This is why it is important we foster a culture where everyone is always open to learning new things. This is because knowing we can always learn new things and acquire new skills will give us the security we need as we go through change.

How do you support managers and employees to help them understand the changes in management, and to ensure they can have their say?

Firstly, it was important we understand how exactly management at PostFinance is going to change. In co-creation with over 100 line managers and employees, we discussed the challenges faced by management today and tomorrow, and asked ourselves what management roles, skills and values will help to ensure PostFinance’s success in the future. This resulted in a new understanding of management that is now (starting with the Executive Board and senior management, and then moving onto middle management and all the employees) very gradually being implemented. The fact this new understanding clearly goes hand in hand with our own mindset and our own cultural priorities helps everyone to clearly see the direction that PostFinance management is moving in. But remember: any understanding of management applies to all employees, not just individuals in managerial roles. It gives us key information about how we want to have an impact, and how we want to be an influence on others. This brings us to three central questions: How can I do my bit? What do I want other people to feel? What do I want other people to do? These are questions we can all reflect on at work. 

About Eve-Marie Lagger

Eve-Marie Lagger works in the Development unit in PostFinance’s “Working Environment”. In the “move2digital” project, she is responsible for management, and for cultivating the new understanding of management. 

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