#WFH: Are You Communicating Effectively Online?
Managing in the virtual environment is very different than managing F2F. Like so many other things where technology is the interface, it can even be counterintuitive. There is no doubt that the trend to-ward a growing virtual workforce will continue. Organization leaders need to learn how to effectively manage in the virtual workplace and this presents a challenge. A survey conducted by Cisco in 2006 determined that 37% of the managers surveyed found managing virtual teams to be a very different experience. It takes more time to produce a connected level of engagement. It requires a very different style of management. Core competencies for managing virtually include a strong affinity toward technology and good social skills. Psychological profiles of man-agers that were successful included resilience, low levels of neuroticism, extroversion, self-confidence and effective communication (Sundin, 2010).
Communication in any organization is a complex process. In a F2F environment it can be challenging. We communicate primarily to get what we want. We all do. We come at communication from our own perspective and we approach it with our own limitations. We want positive tangible results from our efforts both physically and emotionally. We want to be understood, to get our point across. If the other person seems to be okay with it, all the better. But for most of us understanding is secondary to being understood. We all think communicating is easy. We talk to others all day long. We can be in the same room or halfway across the planet because we have multiple devices that can connect us in an instant. We operate as if what we mean is what we say and what we say is what they hear, what we put out is exactly what they take in. Well, not exactly! Actually, it is miracle we can communicate at all. There are distractions all around us. We operate as if what we mean is what we say and what we say is what they hear, what we put out is exactly what they take in. Well, not exactly! Actually, it is miracle we can communicate at all. There are distractions all around us.
We all have patterns of communication. Some of these patterns we learned in childhood. Some we have picked up from interacting with other humans along the way. In the F2F environment, we have a background structure to ground this communication. We put on our business voice for the office. We use kiddy talk to communicate with the little ones and pets at home. And we have nonverbal gestures. We raise an eyebrow, roll our eyes, tilt our head, or wrinkle our forehead to show what we really mean. In the virtual environment, these cues are filtered. The nonverbal cues are gone or at least not as strong as they are in a physical environment. This leads to more misinterpretation. When we are paying attention, our ability to interpret communication is the strongest. Most of us are limited in that. Our attention wanders.
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