Why do managers hide behind email?

I wonder how many managers saw the news story last week  about Carlisle City Council telling employees to ‘clock off for non-work chat’ and thought ‘that could have been me’.

An email sent with good intention to raise productivity has had exactly the opposite effect by disengaging employees and of course generating the type of publicity that every organisation dreads along the way.

For managers faced with a difficult message to tell their teams ‘hiding behind’ an email rather than have a face to face conversation can feel like an easy option. They haven’t got time for a discussion on the matter, they don’t entirely agree with the message or they simply prefer to avoid confrontation (who doesn’t?!)

With so many ways to communicate now it becomes more important to select the right tool for the job.  And when it comes to difficult messages, particularly where there is a chance they will be misunderstood or prove controversial, nothing is better than a face to face conversation.  Sending out an email might be a quicker way of getting a message to everyone but it doesn’t allow you to gauge reaction and refine the message accordingly, to read body language or to provide instant answers to questions.

Of course most managers understand this but many just don’t feel equipped to have those difficult conversations.  Some basic communication training can empower managers to talk confidently with an audience, diffuse aggression, avoid confrontation and be open to feedback.  Regular face to face communication can strengthen teams, improve engagement and provide the opportunity for dialogue.  Can your business afford not to encourage this?


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