Why is it that the most difficult part of management, i.e., people management, constantly moves backwards?
Managers from the Greatest Generation tried to manage by memo.
That lasted until the 1970s when Boomer and Gen X managers took a giant step backwards and started trying to manage by email.
Millennials have taken an even larger step in that direction by trying to manage by text and have swept many of the previous contingents along with them.
Granted, people at all levels often look for and find ways, frequently turning to available technology, to avoid, or at least minimize, the most frustrating and difficult parts of their jobs.
However, that doesn’t work when the frustrating part is 90% of the job.
Every time this comes up I find myself quoting something Terry Dial said to me decades ago.
“People are 90% of our costs as well as the key to customer service and satisfaction. The only thing that should take priority over hiring a new employee is keeping a current one.”
Wally Bock puts it this way (and offers excellent advice on how to do it.)
In the Marines, I learned that when you’re responsible for a group, you have two jobs. One of them is to accomplish the mission. The other is to take care of the people.
I personally guarantee that you won’t accomplish the former if you ignore the latter.
You cannot “care for your people” by email or text — it requires face time.
It requires one-on-one conversations — wherever they take place — and not just about performance.
Conversations need to be human, that means family, hobbies, food, sports, etc.
Face-to-face humanizing contact is critical for teams, too, whether they are in a different office around the block or around the globe.
“Building trust is a multisensory experience,” she says. “Only when people are physically present together can they use all of their senses” to establish that needed trust. Without a bond, conflict or disengagement can more easily arise and is more difficult to resolve.
So whether you consider yourself a manager, a leader, a boss, or just a plain working stiff honing your in-person communication skills will not only improve your career opportunities, but also all parts of your life.
PS I just saw this article on IBM’s move to have teams in-person face-to-face.
Image credit: gorfor