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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, October 08, 2017 1:00 am

Technology can help with communication

LISA GREEN | The Journal Gazette

Technology can be a help or a hindrance.

A report last month on workplace communication and employee engagement from Fierce Conversations and Quantum Workplace outlined when it's best to use technology and when it's not.

Forty-six percent of respondents to a survey thought technology-assisted communication – email, texting and the phone – was more susceptible to miscommunication than in-person communication. But almost as many respondents – 43 percent – believed both were equally susceptible to miscommunication.

The survey of more than 1,300 people focused on perceptions, miscommunication and how workplace conversations are linked to employee engagement. I shared some initial findings from the “State of Miscommunication” report last week.

Fierce Conversations is a training company, and Quantum Workplace is an employee engagement software company that provides surveys and other services.

Engagement was higher among employees who rated conversations with co-workers and managers as great or excellent. Employees who rated conversations with co-workers as bad had a particularly low level of employee engagement.

Common roadblocks tend to revolve around poor communication, the report said. Disengaged employees don't understand how they fit into the future, how managers view their performance or where the company is headed.

“How technology is used, and when it is warranted, is a key skill employees should understand to limit the level of miscommunication caused,” the report said.

Technology should be used when your intention is to:

• Communicate logistics and simple directives

• Share small praises and appreciation

• Touch base on plans

• Share a personal epiphany or accomplishment

• Talk through simple scenarios

• Summarize a conversation

Technology shouldn't be used to:

• Respond to criticism – especially a knee-jerk, emotional response

• Connect on a deeper level

• Coach a person or team

• Convey anger or other complex emotions

• Attack, berate, mock, blame

• Confront

• Gossip

Most of the suggestions seem obvious, when you think about them. But I've seen violations, and certainly committed a few from those guidelines, in the rush to respond or for efficiency.

Workplace cultures are different, and so are employees. What works for some is a stumbling block for others. But I'd like to think when the best interest of the organization and those involved are the focus, we can be on the road to healthier communication and employee engagement.

Loyal teams

Being part of a team should be a rewarding experience. You can share the responsibilities and work.

But teams – having to manage working with diverse personalities – can also be the source of mistrust, avoidance, disconnection and lack of communication. There goes successful collaboration, unless you're open to some suggestions from a team of female authors.

“The Loyalist Team: How Trust, Candor, and Authenticity Create Great Organizations” was released in September by Linda Adams, Abby Curnow-Chavez, Audrey Epstein and Rebecca Teasdale (with Jody Berger).

The authors have a combined century of experience working with such organizations as PepsiCo, Ford Motor Co., Newmont Mining, Accenture and Level 3 Communications. The book is designed to show how “every team can be exceptional,” according to a synopsis.

The authors offer tips on getting to the heart of why teams break down and identifying the weaknesses on teams.

Loyalist teams, they said, have “members who ensure each other's success as they work to ensure their own, operate with absolute candor, and value loyalty and authenticity to deliver results, create a healthy work environment, and help companies succeed.”

To share a thought, a favorite quote or other wisdom about leadership, email Lisa Green at lisagreen@jg.net. Lead On also appears online as a blog at www.journalgazette.net/blog/lead-on/.