Years ago, it wouldn’t be uncommon to hear a supervisor on the factory floor, barking, “Stop talking and get back to work.” After all, the formula for success was work equals productivity and talking equals wasting time.
I recall a study conducted by Robert Kelly of Carnegie Melon University asked people, “What percentage of the information that you need to do your job is stored in your own mind?” In 1986, the answer was 75%. In 1997, the answer was 15%. We can only imagine what that statistic would be today, but I’d guess it’s closer to 15% than 75%. This means that communication is more important than ever!
With the proliferation of communicating via email, face-to-face communication has become a thing of the past. When I cofounded Team Builders Plus in 1991, most of the team building programs that I conducted were for groups that all worked together on the same of floor of the same building in the same town. Now, groups are geographically dispersed around the world in places with different time zones, languages, and values. Is it any wonder that communication is typically identified as a major issue in organizational climate surveys?
People need to stop typing and start talking. The telephone is better than email, but face-to-face communication is best. How else are we going to get the information that we need to do our jobs?