I get the importance of e-mail and text messages in today’s business environment, but a pet peeve of mine is that we’re pushing the boundary with the use of such tools and getting away from core verbal and written skills.
The reason I say this is because I will get correspondence or resumes sent to me and my first reaction is `Are you kidding me?’
At some point, we all have to be able to write a letter, make presentations and make use of conversation and, as young people come into the business, they may be relying too much on e-mails and text messages, making them their primary method of communication.
This is where mentorship comes in. I need to make sure that my staff is capable of communication several different ways if they are to move on into future roles as executive professionals or general managers.
Are text messaging and e-mails important? Absolutely.
I can get a lot done late at night or early in the morning and get responses back quickly, so e-mails and other communication tools are important to me as well, but there are so many times when face-to-face communication is more effective.
Here’s a perfect example.
You make a decision at the club level and three or four members will figure at 10 or 11 at night that they will send you an e-mail to let you know their concerns and that’s fine, but I don’t reply that night.
I pick up the phone and call them the next day and ask if they have time for a coffee.
I might not really understand the message they are trying to get across because e-mails can be choppy. Also, you never know where your return e-mail is going – the member that receives it might pass it on to 20 members and those 20 members could suddenly be in an uproar over something that isn’t a big deal.
I always feel that, if I can talk to somebody directly, I can understand where that person is coming from and that person can understand where I’m coming from.
There’s something to be said for looking somebody I the eye, or at least having a conversation. If something isn’t clear, the person can clarify right away instead of it taking four e-mails.
E-mail is an efficient way to get things done and I quite often use it for day-to-day business, but when it comes to important things, I try to contact people.
With Lyle Edwards, our owner, I’ll send him the odd e-mail, but usually talk to him once a day at least. I’m about 35 or 40 steps from our professionals, so I don’t need to send an e-mail when I can walk out my door and go and talk to them. I run an open door policy, so they can talk to me too unless the door is closed.
If I’m going to take three or four days off, I just tell people instead of sending a memo to everyone and with the board of directors with the Alberta PGA, I’ll make a phone call and say, `Hey, how’s it going?’ and then get to the point of whatever we’re discussing.
I’ve been in meetings and you will see people pulling out a Blackberry. I usually ask, `Is anyone in this room a brain surgeon on call today? If so, you can check your e-mail, but if not, turn if off and put it in the briefcase.’
So, while I’m not against the use of e-mails and text messaging, my main concern is that we’re pushing the boundary of appropriate use and becoming too insular with our dependence on them.