Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Face-to-face vs. Emails

This bog entry has nothing whatsoever to do with wargaming but ...

I have just come from the usual Tuesday Staff 'Briefing' (only seven more to go!), and whilst I was sat there listening to the long list of 'pronouncements' from the Senior Management Team it struck me that I seemed to be in a world where things were rather topsy-turvy.

Why is it that management always wants to tell you things face-to-face that they could send you as an email ... but send you an email when it is something that should really be said face-to-face?

18 comments:

  1. Email is a great way to communicate quickly. But in the private sector (and I assume also in the public sector) emails also seem to convey a certain amount of anonymity to the sender. Yes their name is on the top of the email but in my experience colleges behave totally different when communicating electronically than in the real world face-to-face.

    Managers especially seem to think they can get away with more if its said via email instead of in person. Its the perfect example of the old internet maxim: The Internet + Anonymity = A***hole!

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  2. Many years ago I was sent on two training courses. One was 'Effective Meetings'. The other 'Time Management'. The latter I forgot to go to (they didn't appreciate the irony) but the former was well worth it. Meetings are about decisions. NOT passing on info. You can do that in a Team Brief via email. No meeting should last more than an hour. And Any Other Business should be kept to a minimum and tagged for inclusion in the next meeting if needed. There was more to it than that but now, working in Local Government I really wish everyone had been on the same course as I have sat through soooo many pointless meetings...

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  3. BigLee,

    Another problem that I find with emails is the 'well I sent you an email about it' excuse used by some people to cover their backs whilst 'dumping' on you.

    This seems to be especially true with people who send you an email asking for things to be done by yesterday ... and then copy in everyone else in the command chain to point out how useless you are, and how you need to be told to do things!

    Too many emails also lead to information overload, and a diversion of effort away from the main objective. How can I read the 50+ emails I get each day, reply or respond to them, and do my job as well? I can't ... and it is the job that suffers in the end!

    All the best,

    Bob

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  4. Andy McMaster,

    Some time ago my Head of Faculty decided that each of the members of the Faculty would take turns in running the weekly meeting.

    When my turn came I got through the agenda in less than a quarter of the usual time ... by effective chairing. This meant keeping to the agenda, stopping people going off at a tangent, and making people talk to the point under discussion. It worked ... and I have never been asked to do it again!

    All the best,

    Bob

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  5. We now have propaganda meetings. My school's administration gives it a snappy title like "budget forum," which would imply decision-making toward the end of solving our enormous financial problems (we've undergone non-stop cuts for ten years now). But instead the top administrators spend the time explaining how they're not mismanaging things, how their financial plan is valid, etc. An hour or two of glittering generalities, euphemisms, buzz-words, and half-truths. I only had to attend one or two before I caught on and stopped going. Fortunately they are not mandatory!

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  6. Bard,

    And I bet there were lots and lots of badly put together PowerPoint presentations as well ... usually with charts and graphs that you could not read or that did not make sense! In addition, the presenter also read to you what was written on each slide, just to make sure that you could understand.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  7. Emails are ass covering aswell but the new mantra aswell is the face to face to show they care and that the point is made or the job done.

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  8. The Angry Lurker,

    Very true. The problem I have is the display in insincere 'sincerity' that I am subjected to in some of the face-to-face discussions that I have with senior managers.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  9. I had a Boss who disliked confrontation. He was only a few cubicles down and when he was upset he tensed up and hit the keyboard hard which meant you could hear the e-missiles being launched.

    National and regional teleconferences were our thing. Much harder to stay awake when no one can see you but if you could drag a friend and a couple of cups of coffee into a conference room with a speaker phone one could hit mute, keep an ear open on the off chance someone would say something interesting or pertinent, and have a good chat with your feet up. If not, it was down to doodling.

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  10. Ross Mac,

    This blog entry has really hit the spot with quite a few people!

    Emails have one big advantage over face-to-face discussions; it is much more difficult to get annoyed or irritated with an email than it is with a real person, and there is no risk of the recipient inflicting some form of physical injury on them!

    I love the image of groups of bored people sitting in rooms all over the place, supposedly listening to important discussions but actually having chats with their mates. If the talking had stopped, would anyone have noticed?

    All the best,

    Bob

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  11. I fear that it is the zietgiest Bob!
    cheers
    Alan

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  12. Tradgardmastare,

    My fear is that you are right!

    All the best,

    Bob

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  13. The trouble with emails, is they are not personal, you can very easily misread what people have written and take the email completely out of context.
    Face to face is always best, but as some have already said, some people don't like confrontation.
    Going off at a slight tangent, email is far far better than texting, my kids text talk to there mates all-night, again its so impersonal and annoys the hell out of me.

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  14. Bob:

    Regarding the powerpoints, you must be absolutely psychic!

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  15. Ray Rousell,

    Texting! Well, that is a whole new area for discussion!

    I do send texts ... but always use correctly spelt words and punctuation. I cannot stand the messages like 'i will b l8 2day' I get sent to me by students. What is worse, they then begin to use text-speak in their written work!

    If you have a mobile 'phone, why not use it as such? If you want to send message, why not email? To me, texts are something I will use when the alternatives are not available.

    Rant over!

    All the best,

    Bob

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  16. Bard,

    Not psychic, just someone who has sat through so many!

    The worst was some years ago when a very serious English adviser gave the assembled staff a talk about the level of literacy in the population. Her presentation was a very simple 'black on white' one ... which is not a good combination to use as it can give viewers eyestrain.

    She did not like it when, in response to her reading out aloud to us the text of a PowerPoint slide that said something like 60% of the population was functionally illiterate, we all laughed!

    "No", she said, "This is very serious. Most people would need this information read out to them because they are unable to read it for themselves!"

    More laughter, and she became even more distressed.

    PowerPoint presentations can be very informative and very helpful as visual reinforcers of a message ... but as the only method of getting the information across.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  17. Bob,

    Here's an idea that may serve to brighten every day you have left there: get a large picture of someone particularly obnoxious at work, or "OFSTED" in big red letters, or such like. Over this draw a graph of 28 squares, or however many days you have left at work. Each day totally fill in one of the squares. As if by magic, you will gradually see the obnoxiousness in your life disappear! It may not be advisable to put this up in your room at school, but on the other hand, what are they going to do about it? Let you go?

    Best regards,

    Chris

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  18. Chris,

    It is a very nice idea ... almost like an Advent Calendar in reverse!

    I may well make one ... for my home office of course!

    All the best,

    Bob

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