Recently reacting to one of my columns, a reader asked, technology and social media is making personal touch redundant, do you think it has caused a quick saturation syndrome, where folks move on to the next level quickly?
This got me thinking about technology and social media… Are they just a fad? How has technology changed my life personally and professionally? We all know about the technology invasion in our personal lives. But at the workplace, in the rat race to build a “connected company” have organisations and employees lost the valuable “people connect” that only humans can build and nurture? Have both employers and employees found a perfect balance between the need for offline connect and technology-enabled connect? Does lack of human connect lead to trust deficit?
There is no doubt that technology has made global organisations boundary-less. It has also ensured communication is seamless. Live streaming has ensured that leaders can communicate with their team from anywhere in the world and anytime. This has made the traditional town halls a passé. Live broadcasts provide tremendous reach and speed of communication.
Some lament it has compromised the quality and depth of conversations. A friend working in a technology company that hosts online townhalls every month, once quipped that their town halls are a place for digital dialogue. While it has made interactions with employees globally easy, it has not increased the trust quotient proportionately.
Expression has a new language and channels
Millennials have crafted a new language of communication. It is more of short forms, emojis and less of text. This has provided communication etiquette with a new set of rules. Online communication is another form of anonymous communication. We get the license to forget there is a person on the other side of the screen. We can say anything without considering how the other person receives or interprets our messages.
One of my HR colleagues pointed out in the good old days, an employee quitting an organisation would meet her or his supervisor and then hand in the resignation letter. Today resignation over email comes first, and meetings happen later. This may lead to misunderstandings. Perceptions are built even before the discussion, leading to a breakdown in cordial relationships.
I have observed the art of giving graceful feedback is dying. It is easy to say whatever one wants to say online, as they are not seeing the person, and they are not concerned about how it will be received. They end up like customer complaints online. While the complaint is actioned and resolved, marketers tend to take the feedback with a pinch of salt and less of trust.
Faceless Communication is here to stay
I recently watched an Indian Super League (ISL) football match in a stadium. I observed a few young fans of the home team, who were hitherto strangers to each other, meet, click selfies and exchange mobile numbers. Their conversation face to face lasted a couple of minutes. This brought home the point that faceless conversation through technology may be eternal.
The needle of the trust moves clockwise or anti-clockwise based on how we use technology in communication. Is it a means to the end, or the end in itself?
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