A Grand Canyon Digital Divide Between Employees And Their Bosses – Forbes

Corporate culture has been identified by employees as one of the biggest hurdles to becoming a digital organization, according to research by Capgemini.

The Digital Culture Challenge: Closing the Employee Leadership Gap report revealed that 62 per cent of respondents see corporate culture as a huge barrier to becoming a digital organization.  The survey of more than 1,700 respondents in 340 organizations across eight countries unearths a significant gap in perception between senior leadership and employees when it comes to the existence of a digital culture within organizations.

While 40% of senior-level executives believe their firms have a digital culture, only 27% of the employees surveyed agreed with this statement.  The survey asked respondents to assess their companies’ digital culture based on seven attributes: their collaboration practices; innovation; open-culture; digital-first mindset; agility and flexibility, customer centricity and a data-driven culture.

Key findings revealed that there is a profound disconnect between leadership and employees on all dimensions of digital culture. Innovation is still not a reality for many organizations with only 7% of respondents saying that their organization can test new ideas and deploy them quickly.  This figure reflects employees’ sentiment about the culture of innovation, experimentation and risk-taking against 75% of senior executives.  There is also a strong disconnect between leadership and their employees: leadership believe they have a digital vision whereas employees disagree.  The research found considerable differences between what leadership and employees perceive as a clear digital vision. Nearly two-thirds of respondents in leadership positions affirmed they have a well-defined strategy to achieve their digital goals while only 37% of employees agreed with this statement.

One of the reasons for this disconnect between the perception of employees and their bosses on whether their workplace has a digital culture is due to the level of bureaucracy, remarks Claudia Crummernerl, head of executive leadership and change at CapGemini. “It’s also about being able to work across silos and collaborating. Companies have ways of bringing forward ideas but the process is so complicated and troublesome that employees often don’t see the outcome of their ideas.  Organizations that have a gap in perception lack a clear vision and lack role models on a leadership level.  One reason that this gulf in perception is that the majority of companies don’t have a digital culture across the organization; they only have it in one part of the organization. Digital implementation of technology initiatives are isolated.”

The research also identified a group of digital culture ‘front-runners’ who performed consistently well across seven dimensions of digital culture and whose leadership has largely succeeded in aligning the wider organization to the desired culture.  The UK, Sweden and the US have a strong representation of digital culture leader organizations.  These digital cultural front-runners tend to hire differently than their digital slow-moving counterparts, consciously looking for behavioral traits such as creativity and autonomy when recruiting compared to their digital slow-moving counterparts.

Organizations that fail to embrace a digital culture will lose their competitiveness, warns Crummernerl. “These firms will struggle with their markets. It will also have a big impact on employer attractiveness for a younger generation who will look at companies that have an innovative mindset.”

So what can organizations do to create a digital culture? Crummernerl argues that a less hierarchical structure is needed. “Leadership also needs to act like a role model and show they are approachable and employees can speak frankly without being scared.  It’s not enough to build agile skills to build a digital culture.  Organizations need to adjust their key performance indicators (KPIs) to support the change process and look at what steers behaviors that are hindering digital culture.  Digital transformation is a change process and dialogue is key with employees.  There also needs to be a culture of trial and error within the organization as failure is very important when it comes to innovation and experimentation.”

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