In the 1990s the late Bob Hoskins irritated a nation in a series of TV adverts for British Telecom that ended with Hoskins looking into camera and telling us that ‘It’s good to talk‘.
In today’s world, dominated by email communication, texts, and social media we seem to be in need of Mr Hoskins again.
In a recent survey I carried out looking into internal communication trends, the biggest gripe was lack of face-to-face communication and the opportunity to ask questions. What was interesting was the perception that questions that are posted onto an intranet noticeboard or emailed to a suggestion box won’t get answered.
“They say it’s two-way communication but those things are like a deep well. Throw in a question and you’ll be lucky to hear it hit the bottom let alone get answered.”
The danger here is that staff are becoming disengaged but more importantly the organisation is cutting itself off from a source of great ideas and potential innovation. If getting your thoughts is impossible then people will give up. That means that before too long the entire organisation is being developed with the ideas generated by fewer and fewer people. That’s not good.
A few weeks ago I asked a group of people how many emails they received a day and how many they actually read. The numbers were staggering. Hundreds of email per person per day. Those that were willing to admit to how many they read confessed to ditching/ignoring or ‘filing’ anywhere between 25%-40% every day. How many ideas for saving money, improving service, increasing productivity are sat in the thousands of emails that one person ignores every year?
There were 205 billion emails sent last year, if 25% went ignored that’s 50,000,000,000 emails – what are the chances that some of those were good ideas?
Email and other digital communication are, on the face of it, efficient. But are they effective? Certainly not all of the time, which is why staff are crying out for more face-to-face contact with management. Bob Hoskins was right, it is good to talk and we need to do more of it.