Five Trends in Workplace Communication

Five Trends in Workplace Communication


Several trends are making competence in communication more important today than ever before. Here are five recent trends in workplace communication:

1) The Accelerating Pace of Market Changes

The need to respond quickly to market changes creates the need for a less rigid and bureaucratic work environment. Information must flow up, down, and across traditional channels. No longer is it enough to have a few skilled communicators at key nodal points. The need for fast response time requires everyone to be a competent communicator.

2) The Emergence of Teams

The emergence of teams as the basic unit of business requires people to communicate effectively and reach consensus quickly. They need to know how to work through complex issues on their own and how to resolve conflicts without relying on a boss.

3) The Increasing Number of People Working in Global Organizations

The increasing number of people working in global organizations drives the demand for more skillful communicators. When people collaborate on projects from offices separated by thousands of miles, when cultural differences can exacerbate shortfalls in communication, the standard opportunities to build trust and goodwill simply don’t exist. Small misunderstandings can escalate into bigger conflicts. Knowing the tools for effective communication is therefore an essential – if not the essential – competency of the global corporation.

4) Technology Is Driving New Ways of Communicating

Technology is driving people toward new ways of communicating. More and more people are working in virtual offices, spread across multiple, sometimes moving, locations. At dozens of companies teleconferencing and e-mailing are replacing staff meetings. But virtual teams can grind to a virtual halt in a hurry if poor communication prevails. Technology has increased the volume of communications, but quantity has not improved quality. If the human software is not glitch proof, technology will inevitably increase the number of communication snafus.

5) The Old Ways Have Reached the End of Their Useful Life Span

There is a wide recognition that the old ways of interacting among employees have simply reached the end of their useful life span. Today, new competitors arise so quickly that organizations that don’t continually change and improve are left in the dust. Organizational thinkers like Chris Argyris and Peter Senge have laid out strong, persuasive arguments for “learning organizations” in which culture, structure, and interpersonal behaviors create a process of continuous improvement.

Straight Talk is intended to provide a set of tools for people who aspire to be part of a learning organization. It is for people who need to know how to challenge their own thinking – and to engage others in the search to find effective solutions. Straight Talk is intended to help build the social underpinnings of the twenty-first-century organization, where straight talk is the norm, not the exception. That’s the plan. Now let’s get to work.

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