Three New Management Skills Since the Digital Age

Joseph Stubblebine
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The management skills required of modern supervisors have changed significantly over the past decade, largely in response to new devices, programs and communication options. As the American workplace changes to keep pace with rapid technology development, managers must also adjust their practices. By making sure your management skills are up to par, you can increase effectiveness and productivity.

Cross-Cultural Communication

In the digital age, the world is shrinking. Armed with an Internet connection and a simple application, a manager in New York can collaborate in real time with a designer in India. Companies across the country have the power to work with dispersed teams, and, in many cases, those teams include members from around the globe. In other companies, managers work with international customers, vendors, government officials or customer service agents on a regular basis.

To effectively supervise a diverse workforce and serve a global customer base, managers must be masters of cross-cultural communication. Although it is not necessary to have an in-depth knowledge of every possible culture, you must be aware of the potential for different norms and business practices. When you develop a high level of awareness, it is easier to spot potential pitfalls, recognize situations that require research and help your team navigate confusing situations. You must also be able to modify your behavior to suit different cultural interactions, a behavior that the Harvard Business Review calls "cultural code-switching." In many businesses, this type of global mindset is one of the most crucial management skills.

Technological Developments

For many managers, one of the most challenging management skills is the ability to keep up with rapidly changing technological developments. In the digital age, staying current with technology is crucial for success. As a modern manager, you must have a working knowledge of a range of topics: search engine optimization, digital advertising, data-driven analysis, social media and project management applications, just to name a few. By educating yourself about the latest developments related to your industry, you will better lead your employees and recognize excellent ideas when they come up.

For some managers, getting up to speed may require a massive effort on the front end; as time goes on, however, it will take less effort to absorb new information without becoming overwhelmed. And, when you can wield your smartphone as effortlessly as the newest intern, it is easier to avoid the reputation-killing stigma of being "old" or "technologically deficient."

Privacy Control

In the age of Facebook and Twitter, privacy control has become one of the most important management skills, particularly when it comes to social media use in the workplace. Employees have the power to snap a photo or video and share it with the world in seconds, often violating customer privacy in the process. Managers must be able to monitor and police such activities, taking action quickly when necessary. More importantly, you must develop the ability to anticipate potential problems and enact policies that prevent privacy breaches. In doing so, you protect your customers and develop a reputation as a safe, responsible company.

Over the past 20 years, management skills have shifted to meet the needs of a changing workplace. Whether you are a new manager or a seasoned professional, developing new skills can help you perform well and motivate your team effectively.


(Photo courtesy of Ambro /


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