By: Adam Pressman, Managing Director, Americas
Over the last 5 years, we have seen a significant increase in the use of technology to allow people to communicate with one another on a more frequent basis. The use of virtual collaboration tools, employee message boards, instant messaging, and on-line employee feedback systems have become more prevalent in most companies. But have new technologies made a difference in our ability to connect with our employees and communicate effectively?
Looking at our employee survey data from the last 5 years we see some interesting trends. More employees tell us that management makes an effort to get input, ideas, and opinions from employees and management takes action on employee ideas and opinions1. These results are encouraging and show real progress.
In today’s VUCA world, effective communication is a critical element of building a strong and sustainable culture. Technology improvements can help to enhance your communication practices and build engagement. However, it is important to use them correctly and understand which tools will work for which purposes. Here are some suggestions:
- Helping employees feel heard and stay informed: continuous listening vehicles such as frequent pulse survey technologies can play a role. Message boards and social media style internal communication applications can help keep employees up to date.
- Clarifying expectations: any piece of technology that provides more transparency and access to information can play a role here. Collaboration tools, project management software, and other applications offering quick and instant dialogue, such as instant messaging, can also be helpful.
- Mutual understanding and connection: this requires an active 2-way exchange between two or more parties. While in person or phone communication is still the tried and true approach here; video chat, live collaboration applications, virtual meeting tools can also be quite useful.
- Active problem solving: when individuals are able to interact live and real-time, they are better at tackling tough problems. People can build on the ideas of others, throw out hypotheses around root cause and debate the best course of action. Technology plays a major role in terms allowing this to take place when everyone is not in the same room. There are also other forms of “in-meeting” technologies that can enhance brainstorming, instantly poll your team on potential solutions, or enable solution design to take place as a group.
So, evidence suggests that technology is playing a role in improving dialogue between employees and management. However, it is important to remember it is not going to be a magic solution to driving engagement and productivity. Technology is what we make of it and it should be used to enhance live communication between managers and employees and not replace it.