A few days ago, I was on a bus when a young girl jumped on, I imagine she was in her mid 20's. Out came her smartphone and she pointed it towards a QR code on the wall. That was her paying for her bus fare. There was no pause in the music she was listening to and no required interaction with the bus driver, or anyone else. It was very task-led and transactional.
I began thinking more and more about how we go through our days using technology and the amazing advancements it brings us. Paper mail that used to travel for weeks over land and sea now arrives within seconds via our handheld devices. And who doesn't love ‘Amazon Prime’, where I've just ordered a new phone charger that'll arrive before I get home tonight?
Technology is definitely convenient, but is it always good for us?
Does it pull us away from our daily, relationship-building moments? Do our people have the social skills that they used to? It worries me that in years to come we might have business leaders who can create apps from the backseat of their driverless cars but they won't be able to have a meaningful conversation with someone. Leaders who struggle to inspire a workforce around their vision or to communicate an effective business strategy.
If I was hiring in years to come, I'd want employees who could operate and reinvent technology so we could execute processes efficiently, but not at the detriment of the people and communication skills needed to lead. It takes a lot more than the press of a 'send' button to ensure that employees feel valued and engaged to perform at their best.
Here are 3 key tips that could help get the balance right:
1 - The workplace environment should promote collaboration between employees, sometimes this can be virtually but make sure that sometimes your people are in the same room! It is essential to invest in team relationships, build trust and create safe environments where people will take risks, make mistakes and learn. After all, it is through these interactions as well as any management edict that the culture of your business is created.
2 - We know there is a direct conflict between focusing on creating innovation vs. internal processes and it can be a challenge to focus on achievement while balancing employee well-being. However, it is important to pay equal attention so that none of these key areas within the organisation are neglected.
3 - Does your organisation promote a fixed or growth mindset? If you rely too heavily on millennials to communicate using technology, they could ultimately lose the ability to build trusting relationships, collaborate with colleagues and manage conflict effectively. Promoting a growth mindset within the organisation can encourage both new and old employees to collaborate effectively, to ensure the organisation's goals are met in the most effective way.
It is important to use the technological developments to our own advantage, but at the same time to continue developing effective interpersonal skills required to build successful working relationships.
These are just a few tips that could help you strike the perfect technological balance. I’d be interested to know what tips your organisation uses to promote a healthy balance?