Over the past year, the value of using technology for communication is clearer than ever before. During a time when many of us had to work miles apart from the people we once worked in close quarters with, the ability to connect in an instant is critical. But what happens if this technology begins to be a crutch?

Using technology for communication is more helpful than ever before

We live in such a rapidly changing age when it comes to technology, there is now a multitude of ways for us to stay connected and communicate with each other. With so many options on how to communicate, it can be tempting to choose one that reaches the most people, as opposed to one most effective for your message.

Previously, teams would be called together when it was time to communicate. Most field teams had a morning meeting to discuss the day’s assignments and any other information being passed down from the company. Many good teams and leaders still do this.

But technology has enabled us to send mass communication to all people in a company. And now, the rules of the game have changed. While it is indeed easier to use these mass communication technologies, have they actually made corporate communication more effective?

This is an important question as research by McKinsey Global points out why you must be good at communicating with your people:

Employees who are connected to each other are 20-25% more engaged

With so many options on how to communicate, how do you choose the best one to ensure your message is getting across? We’ve all heard the adage that a message must be repeated 5-7 times to be heard. But now with so many mediums, information overload can be overwhelming to the point that we aren’t retaining information in the same way.

Is your team using technology for avoiding communication?

Where does the buck stop when it comes to ensuring appropriate communication channels are used? Or that the message is received? Everyone has their preferred style.

Missing messages is possible. But there is also a multitude of excuses for people who choose to ignore a message – and for those who want to avoid a difficult conversation. If someone wants to avoid participating in a topic, or a particularly difficult conversation or piece of work, it’s quite easy to enact some avoidance tactics.

“It must have gotten lost in my inbox… I’ve been having calendar issues… my notifications weren’t turned on… I sent you an email…”

It’s getting increasingly difficult for leaders and communication professionals to reach their target audience. For example, over 30% of employees say they never look at their company intranet.

So, the past practice of posting articles on the intranet is much less effective. Companies and leaders must make sure they are reaching their employees via the employees’ preferred method. You must put some work into finding out what this is. (Hint: the answer often is technology)

From a message standpoint, it’s still tough to beat a face-to-face conversation. Understanding that this isn’t always practical (particularly over the past year), one thing companies shouldn’t miss is the opportunity to measure the effectiveness of corporate communications.

(Speaking of effective communication, here are communication techniques to help you bring corporate policies to life)

Measure the effectiveness of corporate communications

There is no need to make this a difficult or time-consuming project, particularly if you are a smaller organization. Even informal conversations with people, and spot checks for message reception, are effective. Just make sure to record your results. This gives you a benchmark on what’s working and what isn’t.

The best leaders will enact several modes of communication to ensure their team has critical information. Following a verbal conversation with a written explanation for future reference is a great first step. Depending on the magnitude of the message, keeping information readily available on your communication platforms (social media, company intranet etc.) provides everyone with a good back up to find information on their own.

It also helps put some of the accountability back to the employee. It encourages them to find answers to their own questions, rather than the expectation that information should only be passed one way.

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This post about using technology to avoid communication was first published in 2017. It was updated in 2021 just for you.