The value of face-to-face communications
Face-to-face communications are still relevant today. And here’s why.
Given the ease, convenience and accessibility of online resources, a colleague of mine recently questioned the value and importance of face-to-face communications in today’s corporate society. In fact, he suggested that we “get rid of” such communications altogether.
A dangerous suggestion, I believe, as face-to-face communications still hold significant value and importance in today’s corporate communications. And given our reliability on self-help tools such as the internet and intranet, face-to-face communications are now more important than ever.
The case for face-to-face
Human contact fulfils a biological need. After all, employees don’t work for organisations; they work for people.
People are naturally hard-wired to send and receive communications in a face-to-face setting. And in fact, a lot of that information is derived from non-verbal cues such as:
is a primary outcome of face-to-face communications. Employees
who can associate a corporate message with a business leader will be more likely to trust the message – because they trust the person who delivered it
This leads into my third argument: Face-to-face communications serve well in raising the profile of business leaders
within an organisation.
Some may argue that face-to-face communications feel largely alien and uncomfortable. And for many organisations, this is due to various factors, including:
- A lack of trust in the organisation or its leaders
- Employees do not feel involved in the organisation’s processes
- Meetings are not a regular part of the corporate culture
- Communications tend to be pushed onto employees, rather than be multi-directional.
If this is the case, there is still value in face-to-face meetings; however, you will need to consider the type of face-to-face meeting that will have the best outcome for your organisation.
Types of face-to-face meetings
There are several types of face-to-face meetings, depending on the level of management.
Senior managers can conduct meetings in a variety of settings:
- Large group briefings: This may be an annual or quarterly meeting for all employees led by senior management
- Town hall meetings: These are similar to large group briefings but are less formal, and operate like a workshop to provide sufficient opportunities for questions and responses
- Manager meetings: Monthly or quarterly meetings to help managers understand the messages to deliver to their reports
- Floor-walks and off-site visits: Leaders should never pass up an opportunity to meet and mix with employees of different business areas and facilities.
- Recognition events: Leaders shine recognition on employees and teams who reflected the values and behaviours the company wants all employees to emulate
- Breakfast/lunch sessions: Informal gatherings where a small selected group of employees are invited to dine with a key business leader. It provides a Q&A opportunity for all.
Middle managers act as a conduit of information. Forums for middle managers may include:
- Staff meetings: Regular meetings to communicate information to their reports and convey the business’ progress towards contributing to the company’s success and overall strategy
- Floor-walks: Feel out employees to see how well they understand their role in executing the company’s business plan, then deliver key messages to reinforce their commitment to the achievement of the plan
- One-on-one: Private sessions to ensure their reports understand their role in achieving the business plan and communicating it to their teams
- Team meetings: Explain how the team efforts link with the overall company strategy.
Front-line supervisors have an important role in ensuring individuals understand how their role aligns with the company’s strategy.
They need to be able to answer burning question such as: “What’s in it for me?” or “Why should I care?”
Front-line supervisors need tools, resources and training so as to deliver these messages effectively, translate messages, answer questions and, most importantly, build employee trust and engagement.
You don’t achieve all of this by simply on-forwarding an email. Face-to-face communications are therefore relevant and vital in today’s corporate society.
I rest my case.