rockstar employee
July 10, 2018

5 Ways to Be a Rockstar Employee in the Digital Age

Right now it’s more important than ever that businesses employ rockstar employees. I’m not talking about employees who show up on time, meet deadlines, and are reliable, although those characteristics are certainly important.

I’m talking about true rockstars — those who are ready for the future of work and have what it takes to be successful in a changing digital landscape, where work is faster paced, automation is on the march, and the Hollywood model of work is in full swing.

WPP, the largest advertising company in the world, reported that last year’s earnings were the worst it has experienced since the financial crisis, a trend that is being seen across the industry.

To combat slipping revenues, WPP is embracing what it calls “horizontality,” a simplification of its structure and internal systems in an effort to get its agencies, teams, and workers to collaborate better. One way it is doing this is by rolling out its internal production management platform to all its employees.

The world of work is only getting faster, which will require other businesses to follow suit by finding better ways to manage their work and requiring more from their knowledge workers—in other words, to find and retain truly irreplaceable talent.

Here are 5 ways you can be the employee businesses need when the very nature of work is changing.

1. Embrace Transparency

Rockstars aren’t worried about their managers, teammates, and coworkers in different departments knowing what they are spending their time on or what their workload looks like. They know that increased transparency will just reveal how awesome they are.

In fact, when people hoard information or worry about internal transparency, it’s often because they are insecure about their work.

For businesses to really thrive in the future of work, they will need employees that are open to using project management methodologies that require others to have complete visibility into their work.

When tasks, deadlines, documents, and other information is easily accessible by everyone, work becomes much more smooth and cohesive. Teams are more productive because they waste less time searching for what they need and more time doing their best work.

cross department work management

2. Welcome the Hollywood Model of Work

The Hollywood model of work is becoming more popular and will eventually be the norm, according to Workfront CEO Alex Shootman. In explaining how it works, he says:

“Work is going to be more in the way Hollywood makes movies. A project is identified; a team is assembled; it works together for precisely as long as is needed to complete the task; then the team disbands.”

Hollywood model of work

To be a rockstar, you need to be flexible enough to move from team to team as businesses dump the traditional approach to work—siloed departments—and adopt a model where work and teams are organized around temporary, collaborative projects.

You can really up your game by volunteering for cross-functional teams and making yourself known as the person other departments can count on as they look for workers to fill knowledge gaps and bring specific skills to their projects.

3. Be a Digital Pioneer

As businesses use digital tools to make effective collaboration possible in a new world of work, they will need employees who aren’t afraid to look for cutting-edge solutions.

Sandeep Raut of Digitalist Magazine explains how important it is to cultivate a workplace culture that is open to taking on new technologies:

“Culture is a key determinant of successful digital transformation. We can change our technologies, our infrastructure, and our processes, but without addressing the human element, lasting change will not happen.”

[Why We Work: 5 Ways to Engage a Disengaged Workforce]

No matter how amazing and transformative a new software platform may be, if the employees aren’t on board, the initiative will fail. Your company needs you not only to jump in with both feet when new tools are introduced, but also to actively encourage your coworkers to adopt new ways of getting work done. Bonus points if you’re the one seeking out and suggesting innovative new solutions to your team.

4. Become a Master of Change Management

Helping to initiate change is one way you can stand out as your company tries new processes and tools to increase productivity.

Anthony Imgrund, project manager at advertising company Foote, Cone & Belding stressed how essential an employee ambassador was as their company implemented Workfront:

“A technology solution only works if you’ve first taken the time to figure out how it fits in your overall process. We talk to people ‘on the ground.’ These subject matter experts help us know the reality of the processes embedded in the culture.”

Anthony Imgrund

Become that “expert on the ground” that your manager can look to as he or she implements change.

Change management expert Kayla Lamoreaux said that sometimes people don’t see the need for change. “Sometimes the people most impacted by the change don’t see the need to change. They like the way things are. So even if someone in authority is moving the change forward, there can be cultural resistance,” she said.

Businesses need employees to help implement change by influencing company culture to make it more open to change, and being this kind of employee will make you invaluable.

5. Never Compromise on Quality

Finally, as digital transformations unfold, it can be hard to keep all of your regular work moving, learn a new way of doing things, and maintain quality standards at the same time. To really be a rockstar, be that employee your manager can rely on to always have a sharp eye for quality and attention to detail.

[The Mindful Way to Actually Focus at Work]

Despite how it might feel at times, it is possible to be on time and on budget without compromising quality. Here are a few tips:

  • Plan in advance and build in slack time.
  • Use a solid request management system.
  • Keep scope in check.
  • Make budgeting part of planning.
  • Don’t stop communicating.
  • Truly successful employees put systems and processes in place to ensure quality is always a high priority, regardless of the situation.

As businesses enter the future of work, employees will need to be prepared to take on a fast-paced environment, increased digital integration, and automated work technologies to really bring value to their companies. With these five tips, you’ll be a rockstar that everyone wants on their team.


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