I’ve been studying managerial communication during my University studies, but it took me almost four years until I really got to understand, how important it is. I even wrote bachelor thesis regarding this topic and main idea had been that communication integrates all managerial functions and therefore it is superordinate to them, but I had to wait for four years until I experienced it.
When you are with your colleagues in the same office (or even in the same building), you somehow communicate and even though you do not, you usually know what’s going on. You can overhear something when you walk through corridors. You can overhear your colleague’s telephone call. Or in the best case, you know what’s going on from the company meetings. Whether it is formal or informal source of information, it’s quite easy to have one. Situation changes rapidly when your team is spread all over the country.
This is the situation I am currently experiencing. One year we had full trade fair team together on one floor. All the information I needed, had been just two steps away behind next door. Year after, one colleague quitted, second moved to different city and works externally, third came after maternity leave, but just like part-time employee. Suddenly the information flow slowed down and sometimes even stopped. Another example of badly committed communication occurred recently.
My new colleague from the office (let’s call him Arthur) is discussing something with my former superior (call him Brian, he is working externally now). My experiences with Brian are just great. It had been my mentor and the boss whom I would follow to the business hell and back. This Arthur got different opinion, because of the three day unanswered e-mail. If this situation would happen in the office, Arthur would just ask Brian when they meet in the canteen: “Hey Brian, did you have time to take a look at the e-mail I send yesterday?” and answer would be: “Sorry Arthur, I got to deal with this this this, but I will definitely check it today.” Because they don’t have this opportunity to communicate like normal co-workers, they miss the relevant info. Brian doesn’t know that this matter is important to Arthur. On the other hand, Arthur doesn’t know that Brian had to deal with plenty of other work. This lack of communication really violated their professional relationship, even though my experiences with both of them are good. How to deal with such problems?
The only answer that came up my mind is: COMMUNICATE! Use modern communication tools such as instant messengers, video conferences and cell phones. When you do not meet in the office, try to overcome this lack of direct contact with increased activity in the field of indirect communication through mentioned mediums. Information means power and lack of communication gives you less information and therefore less power.
I certainly hope, that my colleagues are about to communicate more and I also hope, that problem occurred in our company would give you at least small advice how to prevent such a situation in yours.
Best regards, Frank