Supporting Harmony at Work

5 Communication Tools

Recently I joined a new venture and a key objective has been to be connected as quickly as possible. Within 24 hours I had access to core business applications, I established links with the entire team via over Skype & LinkedIn, set up a Slack Team to exchange with the Board.

Connected .... Anytime, Anywhere and about Anything.

Over the course of my career I have accumulated countless stories on how the use of the wrong communication tool affected performance, motivation and overall project success.

Reliance on applications like Same Time and Skype can create an expectation of immediate response to such an extent that missing a message or a delay in reply results in concerns over performance.  I have personally received updates on key business decisions in unplanned phone conversations during which I was not in suitable location to be able to engage appropriately in the conversation.

Poor communication is not limited to the technology used: abuse of face-to-face conversations may cause meeting*atis:  effectively slowing down the completion of daily tasks, bringing distractions and accumulation of unproductive times – we always go to get a coffee, take a break before meetings – and after we might linger in the corridors for a friendly catch up!

Technology tools support us in enhancing performance and speed. Here a short guide on how to use 5 communication technologies:

  1. VIDEO CALLS (Skype, Google Hangout)

PROS: it facilities distant conversations as it is possible to read body language and encourages attention by all involved. It does require learning of appropriate video behaviour like how to take turn to speak and an appropriate body language when on camera. 

CONS: it is still a mediated conversation and it might not suitable for highly sensitive conversations regarding performance and behaviour in the workplace. Dependent on technology functioning well, to have a serious conversation with sound/video delays would challenge the most effective communicator.

  1. INSTANT MESSAGING:

PROS: extremely efficient tool for short conversations which require immediate answer/action. Any conversation that leads to a decisions should be summaries in an email, adding to the conversation other key contributors and potentially follow up with a call/meeting to validate findings.

CONS: not easy to use for long conversations. Complex thoughts are not easy to read as the txt format does not allow the eyes to identify clearly paragraphs and overall sentence tones.  Easy to get distracted and multi-task using other applications or having multiple conversations

  1. SLACK:

PROS: communication style is close to that of instant messaging with is the opportunity to have easy access to past conversations historical –  multigroup chats (teams) and makes it easy to share knowledge between different participants.

CONS: fast accumulation of content – easy to fall back on the reading. Trails of communication overlap when used in the “Team” mode.

 

  1. FACEBOOK at work (old Intranet)

PROS: creates an internal area of communication – like intranet which supports the communication of news and events. It encourages employees' participation in the communication network.

CONS: like social media it can be distracting at work and replicate the culture of the long chats at the coffee machine. Team and users would require suitable training to be able to distinguish content that is relevant to the work team rather than using the tool as an internal exchange system.

  1. EMAIL:

PROS: email communication is now pervasive in our society as well as in business. Excellent tools for communicating content that requires some consideration and planning.

CONS: not useful for short communication - notifications like “can you please close the file as I need to access it” fills in the inbox unnecessarily and a Same Time conversation APP is best suited. Drafting email content is also to be carefully planned – do not fill the content of an email with information that should be contained on a more structured report. 

 

Conclusion

 

The core to my learning rests on the principle that the WHAT determines the HOW:  we must carefully consider which piece of information is to be communicated, to whom and how the recipient is most likely to react.

 

To address any sort of performance concern other than in a direct and in person conversation will prove ineffective and demoralising.

The feedback giver must adjust tone of voice according to the reaction to the first words, to avoid challenges in listening or undesired resistance and confrontation. Immediate reading of body language (reactions) can only be done by experiencing each other body language, live and in an unmediated form.

Digital communication allows to bright the gap of time and space between co-workers. It should not, however, be used as a substitute to in-person interaction.