Electronic Communication: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Today, the "information age" style of electronic communication through email, mobile technology, and social media is transforming our lives at warp speed, both individually and in the business world.   Business owners and leaders are now saddled with the responsibility of how to define, prioritize, and manage the effective usage of these delivery systems within the business environment. To advance on the benefits of this technology while mitigating the disadvantages is the key to success in the future.

These sources of communication are highly efficient and beneficial to organizations if managed effectively. The ability to communicate quickly and concisely to large and geographically disperse audiences at one time, as well as, staying attuned to industry or market changes in real time is definitely the benefit. Additionally, social media has drastically increased the opportunity to expand an organization's marketing footprint and hiring practices. It truly has become much larger than a local perspective and businesses must continue to adapt and be flexible on how to be successful in this new world of communication.

However, team members from various organizations are expending significant portions of their daily routine reading, browsing, and responding to emails, texts, and social media. Many times, I witness these team members using this as their sole source of communication. The potential hurdles that arise are:

1) Effective Time Management - Composing email, texts, and posts to communicate complex business discussion is not time effective. The time it takes to execute this back and forth communication far exceeds face to face or phone conversations. Additionally the time to review and respond to all these communications daily, needs to be defined, restricted, and outlined within policy and the technology to allow for daily production and performance goals to be met.

2) Intent of Communication - A person's feelings or true intent of a communication by email or text is very often lost, hidden, or misconstrued. This leads to confusion, frustration, and can harm a team's morale and culture. Some use these sources to state a point or opinion to others as a "crutch" versus the willingness for open and collaborative discussion.

3) Communications are a Permanent Record - All emails, texts and posts are permanently imbedded in networks, cell phones, and computers. Communications not intended for scrutiny by others should be avoided.

4) Information Security - In today's risky Cyber-world, all of these digital documents created by emails and texts can be, have been, and will be hacked and used by criminals. Any private, sensitive, or non-public information should not be transmitted though these sources.

In these continued times of new technology and advanced means of communication, organizations should define policy and procedure for managing the above areas of concern. It will take creativity, training, and accountability. Communication is always the key to overall success. How we continue to evolve and manage these hurdles will measure and determine our success against our competitor's performance. A business that can adapt but also manage these hurdles will excel.