A strong workplace culture is built from deep and trusting relationships that are based on honest communication. To create these strong relationships, face-to-face meetings need to be a part of the way you communicate. Every day, once a week, or once a month, it doesn't matter how often, but, if you want to build a strong culture you do need to spend time together.
There is nothing like a face-to-face conversation. The emotion, the engagement, the satisfaction, the body language and all of the non-verbal communication that happen in a face-to-face conversation can't be matched. I can recall nearly every face-to-face conversation I've had today. I can take myself back to the moment, revisit how I felt at the time and understand the situation. I enjoyed nearly every one of those 100-odd face-to-face conversations I had in the last nine hours. Can I say the same about the 50-odd emails, 17 sms's, 12 tweets and 3 facebook comments that also happened today? Not a chance, they are a blur.
One of the face-to-face conversations I had today reminded me just how important seeing people in person can be. Here's how...
An email in my inbox had been sitting there for days, Sean was waiting to hear from me. I grabbed my phone and started typing a text to respond. But I immediately knew that wouldn't do. I needed to speak to Sean. I made the call and quickly dealt with the issue from the email. However, from the moment he'd answered, the energy and positivity that I love about Sean just wasn't there. I could tell that something was up and I asked if I could help. Sean, ever the trooper, said all was a-ok and the phone call ended.
Later in the day, I dropped in to the client site where Sean was working because I wasn't convinced he was ok. A 5-minute face-to-face chat resulted in Sean telling me he was "overwhelmed by all the work on his plate" and "desperately needed some help." Sean was stressed, worried and quickly becoming disengaged. But, despite the emails, texts and phone calls we'd been having, I didn't know. No one knew. It took a face-to-face meeting to truly understand the situation.
Emails, texts & social media of course are valuable tools and I use them every day. But, for strong relationships that will last and build a strong culture, there is absolutely no substitute for an in-person meeting. Thanks to today's reminder, I'll be locking in even more face-to-face meetings in the future.
What do you think? Are in-person meetings old fashioned and not required or are they something you look forward to and know are important? Please let me know by commenting below. I'd love to hear from you.