- Wearable tech
- Social collaboration tools
- Mobile tech
- Cloud applications
According to the articles, technology rules, and employees and managers have to be capable of using these tools. The new tools promise exciting new capabilities to communicate, collaborate, gain insight about customers and manage our businesses like never before. Significant new progress in data mining, cloud computing and the use of applications that generate a sea of analytics will present both new opportunities and challenges for companies in the next generation of business leaders. Understanding and using all of these tools can be rewarding, we all are learning something new and striving to use these tools to be more productive.
Yet, while we are struggling to stay abreast of all of these new tools and applications we are in danger of losing ourselves and the ability to build and maintain relationships that link us to one another and our valued customers. To borrow words from a past futurist named John Naisbitt, our workplaces are becoming more “high-tech” and they are rapidly losing the capability to be “high-touch.” In his book, Megatrends, Naisbitt predicted ten directions transforming the future. One of the trends he identified was what he called “high-tech and high-touch.” Today, we have the “high-tech” side but an emphasis on improving “high-touch coaching” has not materialized.
The more we rely on new technology, and become absorbed with using these tools, the less we seem to learn and grow in realizing the value of our working relationships. We are losing the emotional intelligence skills that internationally known psychologist, Dr. Daniel Goleman, identified as keys to life and business success. Today, we send an email or text to the cubicle next door rather than call or talk to our employees or colleagues face-to- face. We sit together in clubs and restaurants with our friends and family, and communicate with others through social networks and messaging systems. Take notice next time you are out in a mall or airport; people are so consumed with their Smartphone’s, and don’t even look at each other anymore. At the leadership level, coaching skills from our supervisors and managers which require engaging people seem to be dying an unnoticeable death and are in danger of becoming extinct.
Workplace Climate Issues
Various workplace climate studies conducted by Gallup, The Conference Board, Dale Carnegie and others, concur that employee disengagement and disenchantment are at all-time highs.Employee dissatisfaction leads to lower employee morale, productivity, and poorer customer service. The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows slower productivity growth in farm and non-farm industries since 2007. Similarly, The American Customer Satisfaction Index reports mediocre customer service across industries.
Numerous research studies show companies benefit immensely by investing in their leaders’ capability to coach successfully. Leaders need a balance between the focus on technology, and the equally important commitment to employee development, and performance management. It is well documented that company cultures that focus on people; inspire employee involvement, service quality, and peak performance. Right now the great pendulum of focus doesn’t seem to reflect the importance of high-touch coaching as a business skill, and has swung in favor of technology instead of people.
High-Touch does not mean non-friendly or inappropriate human behavior (for example: harassment, discrimination, violence, bullying, dishonesty, abuse etc.). It means having “people” skills that support better coaching, for example:
- Working well in a team setting.
- Communicating effectively.
- Setting goals and performance expectations.
- Listening for understanding.
- Adapting to change.
- Flexibility and capability to interact with all kinds at people at different levels.
- Solving problems proactively.
- Managing stress and emotions positively.
- Facilitating meetings.
- Giving appropriate feedback.
- Handling poor performance and conflict constructively
- Executing strategy including new technologies
Most people think that they are performing better than they are. Likewise, most people can perform significantly better than what they are currently doing. New technology is only a tool; it doesn’t bring out the best in people. Leaders that coach effectively do.
There is a real opportunity to improve the levels of employee engagement and commitment in the workplace today. This requires more “high-touch” and less “high-tech” to balance the continuing flood of technological resources that we encounter. It requires greater emphasis on treating employees with respect, dignity, and as valuable partners. People, not technology, are a company’s greatest resource. High-touch one on one coaching is becoming the differentiator from one company to the next and one leader to the next. High-Touch coaching requires emotional intelligence skills.
Leaders that focus just on the new tech tools will continue to have employee productivity and engagement problems. Companies and managers that re-vitalize the relevance of time-tested coaching strategies and skills will reap bottom-line benefits. This includes more loyal employees, better employee engagement, less labor turnover, enhanced teamwork, greater productivity, improved quality and better customer service.
By the way, do you want to learn how to improve your high-touch coaching to increase employee engagement and inspire your team? Check out our complimentary eBook: How to Motivate–No, Inspire!– People.
Want to accelerate your career? Check out one my books in the Superstar Book Series for a boost!