• 30th June 2009 - By proteman

    Corporate America has been hiding behind technology for the last five years. Why the biggest “new” trend of 2010 will be real human interaction.

    Email. IM. Twitter. E-learning. CRM. 24-hour BlackBerry. Sales force automation. Online goals systems.
    I propose a radical thought. How about actually talking?

    Don’t get me wrong. I value technology. I’m glued to my Blackberry 24/7 like most other business people. I admit that it’s often a struggle to stop my compulsion to tap out an email (while doing other work and checking my BlackBerry) instead of picking up the phone.

    However, in my consulting practice over the past five years, I’ve noticed a disturbing trend. People are burying their heads in the sand of technology – diving into email, spreadsheets and technology to avoid actually having conversations with live humans. It’s an example of how something created for good can become destructive (like prescription medication or pizza). Anything good taken in extreme doses can be lethal. Similarly, overused technology can kill good communication, collaboration and high performance in organizations.

    Too Much Doing?
    It’s not surprising that we’ve gotten to this state. Events over the past five years have created the perfect storm that has pushed people (employees, leaders, internal partners and customers) to retreat further into their computers and often hide from real human interaction.

    Increasing economic pressure has thrown many organizations into “doing mode”, where individuals put their heads down like worker bees and just get things done (whether they’re high-value or not). There’s so much activity that there is little or no time left for thinking, planning – or actually talking to each other.

    In this whirlwind of activity, it seems quicker and easier to simply fire off a quick email to a colleague when you’re having a conflict or exchanging viewpoints. After all, a real conversation might take time. And what if there are real, uncomfortable issues that come up? How much time will that take?

    “Y” Talking to the New Workforce is Critical
    In a letter to the editor of Harvard Business Review magazine (July-Aug 2009), Emily Sawyer-Kegerreis, MBA Director at Mississippi State University, observes: “Undermanagement is at an all-time high level of crisis in the workplace. This is becoming increasingly problematic as a new generation of workers demands constant feedback and mentoring.”

    I couldn’t agree more. Research shows that while the generation now entering the workforce is adept with technology, they crave direct human interaction. Teamwork, a sense of belonging, making a difference and regular feedback are top drivers for this generation. It’s true that some of these drivers can be addressed through technology – via online collaboration, regular email and company intranet sites – they’re not a replacement for talking “live” (in person, on the phone or via web conference).

    My prediction is that organizations which hide behind technology and use it as a convenient replacement for conversations will suffer, in terms of eroded customer loyalty, employee engagement and ultimately bottom line results. Let’s integrate live, direct communication with technology…a recipe for business success in the future.

    © 2009. The Loyalty Group, Inc. Sherman Oaks, CA.

  • One Response to “Why “Talking” is the Latest Management Trend”

    • Carole on July 1, 2009

      I couldn't agree more. I would add that relying too much on technology to communicate (versus real-time, in-person and on-the-phone discussion) also erodes trust – a commodity in short supply these days. Stifles innovation as well.

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