Are you a Technologically Reliant Project Manager?
In the professional world where technology is omnipresent, we as project and program managers are used to tying our personal and professional lives to technology and gadgets like smart phones, tablets, GPS, etc.
As a result, some organizations are trying a "day without email" on Fridays and/or weekends to encourage more face-to-face and phone contact with customers and colleagues. How do you think this would be received by a multigenerational project team?
For baby boomer and silent generation team members, face-to-face may be a preferred communication method. But for members of Gen Y, not communicating by email may make them feel like a fish out of water because of their preference for virtual communication.
As the "day without email" idea progresses gradually, employees in these organizations are probably realizing that business functions are about human relationships. This is an opportunity to foster a coaching environment in which Gen X and Gen Y will be able to hone their interpersonal skills supported by senior project team members.
For those project team members who use technology frequently, discuss alternatives that will reduce the dependency of email in their daily activities.
How much do you depend on technology for your daily activities? How would your project team survive the "day without email" policy? Would you enjoy having a day free of email?
I think face-to-face is quite critical, maybe not practical all the time, but definitely needs to be part of our business, as it adds the emotion that you can't get via email.
Nothing really can replace the personal communication and attention through a conversation.
One thing to note though, is that the email usage or gadget dependence is a result of the behaviour that's been developed, not necessarily due to all the technology that exists, but the technology that is triggered as a need due to the way we manage the business now: more in virtual teams, less travel, more communication across the borders and various geographical locations.
It's interesting to view that from this angle and see how technology isn't often adopted just because it exists, but created to deal with the changes in our environment and the business needs.
So if we are to deal with it, we could look at the reasons the business is the way it is today and how can we maintain the human contact and not go to the extreme of trying to replace with technology what could and in some cases should be done in person, through face to face communication.
Of course to even try this out, people need to be responsible enough as to not use the excuse not to work or produce results due to lack of email access.
Anyone that's reading this post is thinking of trying to implement "no email fridays"? or no gadget friday as a test? Say this or next Friday? I'd be curious to see what observations people have over that. I can tell for sure that in my line of business that's like calling it a day, because I do a lot by phone. But having seen this post I'm actually going to set up a number of meetings face to face for this coming Friday so that I can be less on the phone or email. Can't see it possible though to be without the phone completely as I need to stay in touch with my upcoming appointments etc.
What's your experience with this?
Last year, I experienced not â€œa day without emailâ€ but 12. I was traveling abroad with my family and was off-line. When I came back to work, my inbox was full. I did not spend a minute reviewing email, I spent the first day meeting face-to-face with people getting an update and checking the action items I had assigned during my time off, as well as some time on the phone with the remote team members. That was more productive than trying to dig into a mountain of emails.
I have a funny story working with my multigenerational team. For my current position, I had to relocate and the first day I came to the office a young colleague stopped by my cube to say hi and welcome.
She said: â€œIt is great that to have you here at this office so we can meet more often and discuss projects.â€ Around two hours later, I had received a few emails from her (one or two lines in each message) followed by a skype chat, that she started, to discuss the emails she had sent. The funny thing is that her cube was four cubes away. I did not answer the chat and stopped by her cube to discuss her emails.
When possible, I prefer to have face-to-face meetings. I like to interact with people, that keeps my human side alive.
As a Gen Y PM myself, regardless I still think it is crucial to have a face to face periodically, especially if you are dealing with and working with cross generation teams and clients.
If that is impossible because of geographic location, I encourage Skype, FaceTime or Google voice.
I have a similar story...started at a new project and the PMO wanted to email me a bunch of documents to read. I set them aside and spent the first 2 days meeting Sponsor, Steering Committee members, key SMEs, partners.
At the end of that time, I had a clear view of the environment, pressure points, stakeholder expectations, benefit drivers...and the engagement and support of senior stakeholders
I recommend this practice every time.
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