We just don't talk anymore
It starting to feel like we’ve all checked out.
The here and now doesn’t feel enough any more. We’ve checked out from being completely present in the moment, from looking around and making eye contact. Instead, we are all in the same pose, heads bent, scrolling through our smart phones interacting with friends afar through social media channels or replying in seconds to emails from colleagues. We are filling our minds with ‘stuff’. It isn’t enough to just be waiting in the queue at the supermarket gazing around and taking it all in, or riding in a lift to the 20th floor in quiet contentment. We use every moment to communicate – digitally.
Moving into our professional lives. We react to emails in seconds, the action inviting an instant reaction in the recipient – the time lag for responses acceptable a few years ago has vanished. We often send email responses to colleagues who are sat beside us, rather than talking it through. Socially, we no longer need to ask our colleagues what they did at the weekend before Monday morning even arrives – we’ve already seen and ‘liked’ it on Facebook!
We are ahead of the game at the start of the week because we’ve started pinging off emails on a Sunday night. Trouble is, we are all ‘ahead of the game’, so Monday now starts on Sunday night – or even Sunday afternoon. We’ve checked out from our families to work…
We are slowly losing the art of basic, human communication and this new, silent but reactive world can be deadly for employee engagement. Why? The things that connect us fundamentally as humans are conversation, reading body language, gauging reactions in the other person’s face and eyes and hearing the tone in their voices. It’s how we developed from new born babies to adults - it’s how we connect and how we gain the feeling of acceptance and of belonging. Yet, this vital survival skill is turning into a silent conversation punctuated through likes, emoji’s, rushed emails and can easily turn into a misunderstanding, frustration and a real feeling of disconnect. For the the first time we could actually be creating a sense of loneliness at work.
Sounds a bit dramatic doesn’t it? But think about our shift to digital conversations and add to this the trend in hot-desking, flexible working and video conferencing. For some, those water cooler moments have become the highlight of their day…
In this new world, employee engagement is now more important than ever before. How can you give people feel a sense of belonging if they are moving desks continually throughout the day? How do you build a sense of trust and a good working relationship if you mainly communicate eyes down and through screens? How do you know how they actually feel if you never actually talk to them?
There’s a real opportunity to be smart about all this. Let’s harness the new digital age to our advantage and use it to support our employees with information, with resources which can make their work lives better, but let’s be primeval about how we engage them – through conversation – real conversations. Strategically led conversations so that they carry meaning and purpose. So that you and your employee and your wider team feel satisfied, connected to you, to each other and the wider organisation. To feel happy at work.
To engage properly we really need to think about what information we need to impart – eye to eye, face to face. Let’s talk and importantly, listen to how people are doing at work, how they feel, what they are working on. Are things going ok? Are they struggling, are they motivated by what they do? Do they feel connected to the organisation outside of their teams – do they feel connected to their teams outside of their desk – their hot desks!
This can feel a bit daunting. We are all getting a bit out of touch with the art of the conversation, but we can help. We are experts in employee engagement and have developed a range of tools to help managers – including our 8 engaging conversations which can be used in team and 1:1 situations.
Take a look and if we can help – give us a call. We’d love to chat!