My first management experience was back in college and back then email was not the main communication tool you used with your team and cell phones were only used in the movies. As an Assistant Director of the Residence Halls, I managed a small team of Resident Advisors. It was old school communication; you met with your team in person and set expectations, reviewed the policies and procedures of the hall, asked questions, and even enjoyed moments of pure fun without the distracting email or texting clickety clack noise in the background.
Technology has helped communicating with teams in many ways, especially when many teams have virtual or remote locations. But some days I long for the good old days when communication took place first and foremost in person and without cell phones, emails, or texting capabilities.
- The Unspoken Language: I miss the non-verbal cues that are present in an in person meeting. Something is missed when a team meets on a conference call. You can hear the voice inflections but you can’t see if they are rolling their eyes, read their facial and body language, or even know if they are actually paying attention during the call.
- Free Flow Conversation: Meeting with a team in person can be beneficial not only for getting things done but for also connecting and bonding with your team. The one off conversations before and after a meeting seem to flow easier than if the meeting was on Skype or a web conference. Technology burps happen, those unexpected hang ups, disconnects, or heaven forbid user error events disrupt the flow of a meeting and it takes people 10 minutes or more to get back on track and refocused.
- Cloud Distractions: Before the days of cell phones, email, and texting the biggest distraction during an in person meeting might have been the big puffy clouds floating outside. And if you were in a brainstorming meeting those big puffy clouds could have inspired the next breakthrough product idea. Today it seems as if we are in a constant holding pattern, like trained dogs that come when their owner whistles we hear the incoming email or text noise and our immediate reaction is to look. Despite our greatest efforts not to look we still do! The number and magnitude of distractions have increased along with the expansion of technology.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy utilizing technology and harnessing the amazing benefits that it has to offer but I also like to harness the amazing power of bonding with a team in person. Managing and inspiring a team is more of an art than a science. The next time you schedule a conference call and you are all in the same building why not meet in person, I double dog dare you!
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