More walking and talking

Why is it so hard to pick up the phone these days? The quality of business communications is becoming very poor as people avoid phone calls and face-to-face meetings in an often misguided quest for efficiency. I recently had a client defending his handling of a staff member who caused a small problem by saying “I don’t know why they didn’t understand the issue. I must have sent a dozen lengthy emails recently about the subject”. I swiftly explained that a brief conversation followed by a concise email would have probably prevented the issue within a few minutes, and saved him time in the process. It’s always much better to walk and talk rather than sit and type. Don’t get me wrong, communication methods such as email, instant messaging and skype have changed our lives for the better but sometimes its much more efficient to pick up the phone or talk in person. Why not pick up the phone? As technology has evolved, so has business etiquette. As ive said, people tend to rely primarily on email and text messaging because these communications are precise and less disturbing, while a phone call now signals that a matter cant be solved by ordinary means. To break down this new barrier to effective communications, make face-to-face employee contact part of everyday life in your office. If you’re not doing it, you are missing out on one of the most inexpensive and effective management methods around. Relax and have fun, ask questions and listen. Jot down anything that strikes you as worthy of a follow up. Most important is to catch employees doing something good and recognise people’s strengths and achievements on the spot. On the flip side, if you stumble upon a problem, handle it quietly one on one instead of in front of all your staff. When you make the effort to foster relationships with employees and colleagues, a real community spirit is the result.