Are You Phoning It In?
With our geographically distributed workforces, we're seeing more and more meetings occurring via conference call and webchat. Certainly, the collaboration software industry has exploded over the past 10 years. I'm all for using technology as it is not only more efficient but better from a green/sustainability perspective as well.
However, there's a time and a place to "phone it in" and then there are situations where person-to-person contact is necessary. A few years ago, I served on a project which had dozens upon dozens of individuals spread from coast to coast. While it was very expensive for them to do so, the executives paid for the team to meet once a quarter (usually in an airline hub city like Denver or Chicago or Minneapolis). We presented our findings and results and progress to each other, but mostly we were able to build real face-to-face relationships. People would go out for dinner or drinks following the presentations, and tensions during conference calls and email exchanges were generally minimal during the life cycle of this project.
If you think of communication as a task rather than as an investment, the channel through which it is delivered won't matter much. Ironically enough, the most dysfunctional communication behavior I ever experienced was from the CEO and founder of a collaboration software company. Sometimes, you have to get up out of your chair and have a real live conversation.
How can you arrange a face-to-face meeting with the important people in your professional life?