Posted by Dr. Linda Sharkey on 6.14.2018
Every month, leadership expert Dr. Linda Sharkey answers your most burning questions about future-proofing your workplace. Dr. Sharkey is widely acknowledged as one of the world's preeminent thought leaders on global leadership development, and her book, The Future-Proof Workplace, proves the future is here and is altering the way leaders and their teams work.
“Dr. Sharkey, I believe the future of work rests on technology’s shoulders. New developments promising to improve the way our employees work and communicate are made every day. While this seems like a positive, I can’t imagine the amount of technology in the workplace by 2030. What can I do to ensure I’m using the right technology to engage and effectively communicate with my employees without overwhelming them?”
First, it’s important to remember not everything is going to work or be useful. Nor should you jump on every bandwagon when it hits the street. Let’s remember MySpace. Who uses that today? And AOL is on it’s last gasp.
However, this doesn’t mean you should ignore what’s coming out and bury your head in the sand until the best technology hits the workplace. For one thing, simple is better -- today and in the future.
If you try new technology and it’s not intuitive and simple, step aside until it’s updated. Be sure to stay abreast of the new trends. You may not want to invest in them until the bugs are worked out, but you should be aware of what they are, how they are evolving, and how they will change and facilitate communication.
Technology, as a tool for internal communications, is here to stay. Think about it. We all may be communicating with a central robot that can synthesize connections and help us all create networks that would have taken months or, in some cases, years to make contact.
Adding a personal touch
Technology, however, won’t replace the need for face-to-face personal connections and eye contact. People need to feel connected to feel the heart and soul of the other person.
That said, technology is getting more and more realistic, allowing people to connect visually and create authentic, virtual internal communications. Rather than taking face-to-face interactions away, I think technology will make them even more powerful.
Acknowledging and respecting time
With so much technology already in the workforce, and even more coming, set guidelines are important. We live in a world that’s connected 24/7, but people do need their time off respected. To be truly effective, our brains need that downtime, something neuroscience is proving more and more.
I know a global company whose management insisted that people communicate within 30 minutes of receiving an email or text -- no matter where they were. This created so much stress and was clearly disrespectful. I think the litmus test ought to be, “Is communicating now respectful to this person’s working time?” If not, wait to connect.
Today, you can set internal communications to go out at certain times that are appropriate. Of course, there are always exceptions, but make sure the exception is really worth the interruption and not just satisfying your needs or lack of planning.
Knowing what works best
When it comes to knowing if your communication technology is engaging employees, I am a great believer in asking. Don’t assume your internal communications are helping business objectives. Instead, ask for feedback regularly and collect data.
Remember, newsletters and emails have always been the least engaging form of internal communications, but companies still love to send them. It has been proven that face-to-face discussions are always best. Allow employees to connect and engage in this manner using new technology. Then, test how well internal communications are being received and quickly respond to any questions or concerns.Dr. Linda Sharkey is a best-selling author and in-demand speaker and coach. She is dedicated to helping businesses prepare for the future and developing leaders and teams to support company growth.