I read an interesting article recently written by a “social media expert.” He pointed to other marketing professionals who write about how to use digital communications devices and social media, yet they never talk about digital collaboration. He made an excellent point.
In today’s world, most people are communicating via texting, instant messaging, social media, and e-mail, but for the most part over electronic devices—pad, smart phone, or laptop.
I was in a meeting this week where we were discussing wireless high speed Internet for a large community event that attracts people from around the world. The event director said just a few years ago no one would have thought about people bringing laptops to a music festival, much less streaming video from a phone that fits in the palm of your hand. He said now people from around the world come to the festival equipped with a smart phone that does everything except clean your house, an electronic pad, a music pod, and other electronic devices. People “expect” to have access to Wi-Fi so they can stay connected through e-mail, social media, and texting, as well as immediately upload photos and stream video to send to people around the world.
Almost everyone is communicating digitally, and generally not “voice talking” either. In a world where success depends on collaboration, and younger generations thrive on it, it is imperative that we collaborate digitally as well. Digital technology can be used to collaborate, and very effectively.
I point to some personal experiences. I usually text all my siblings and other family members at the same time to provide updates on family members, plan gatherings, and just extend greetings. At work, my colleagues and I collaborate via text—call it “conference texting”—you know, like a “conference call.” They all respond in-kind. The same method applies to Instant Messaging or e-mail. Remember when your day was filled with face-to-face meetings. This is nearly a thing of the past for most organizations. Why drive hours to have a face-to-face meeting when you can schedule a video conference, or host a web meeting and share the presentation you are speaking about via your desk top. Collaboration via technology!
Creating a culture where everyone collaborates and shares has never been as important as it is today, and will become even more so over the next decade as Boomers continue to exit the workplace, and younger generations who thrive on autonomy and inclusiveness, dominate the workplace. Furthermore, collaboration leads to organizational learning, innovative thinking, performance, and employee satisfaction which impact everything. But collaboration will be different than it has been in the past.
The younger generations—the Gen Ys and Gen Zs still in school, have collaborated via digital devices and social media nearly since birth. This is their preferred method of communications. Instant communications and gratification! I laughed this week when I saw a niece’s post on FaceBook: “My mom told me today that I had sent over 10,000 texts this month…” I see my young friends and everyone else for that matter, collaborating via social media every day.
From a leadership perspective, the younger generations prefer to work in a collaborative workplace. Yet, remember that their preferred method of communications is digital. To maximize workplace performance, encourage collaboration—in any venue, even face-to-face, but with the increased use of digital communications, teach and encourage your employees to “collaborate” digitally.
Collaboration also creates a process of continuous learning—a spiral of continuous improvement. A learning environment is in constant motion—energizing and transformational. It is self-perpetuating.
Copyright © 2013 by Patricia Hatley. All rights reserved.