Jun 6, 2007

Are teammates not talking to each other enough?

As the workplace speeds up, and time pressures become ever greater, are you in danger of having faceless business relationships with clients and colleagues?

A british report reveals that we are increasingly reliant on email and text messages at work, and that good old talking is taking a back seat. Xerox company quizzed 500 of their managers across the UK about the way they communicate in business, and the results were startling.

UK businesses are finding that their competitiveness and productivity is being seriously affected by overloaded e-mail inboxes. Over 70 per cent of managers said that up to half of their e-mails had attachments, many of which were not relevant to them or contained multiple versions of the same document.

More than half of the managers admitted they have business relationships with people they only contact by email, not only have they never met, but they have never actually spoken. A similar amount of people also said they received far too many emails about issues that could be better resolved with a quick phone call or a conversation.

Are people not talking to each other enough, and are we putting our social skills of personal interaction and communication in jeopardy?

The report finds that 83 per cent of managers believe that by choosing typing over talking we risk losing our ability to relate to one another. And, worryingly, the under-thirties in the survey -the first texting generation- saw no problem with the abundance of keyboard-generated messages.

You can't build effective relationships between teams, or with clients and colleagues, purely with electronic communication. Business is about people, and to understand each other clearly, we need other prompts, such as voice tone, facial expression and body language. Misunderstandings caused by email are extremely common.

Opting out of verbal communication also risks damaging performance. How can you get the best from someone by firing off an email giving them work to do? It's an imposition; you have no idea of their workload, or priorities - or if they are even there! Dumping on people via email puts pressure on them, and causes stress, overload and resentment.

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