Communication One Size Does Not Fit All

By Staff Report

Jul. 9, 2008

Not all technology works equally well on the job, says Jonathan B. Spira, chief analyst at Basex, a knowledge economy research firm in New York. Instead, employees should be trained to assess the business context before deciding whether to dial or hit “send,” he says.

Among his recommendations:

Instant messaging is better than telephone when:
   a.) Many people are participating and all need to talk/be active.
   b.) At least one participant is located where people could listen in, and privacy or confidentiality is an issue.

Telephone is better than IM when:
   a.) Many people are participating passively, and one person is speaking, such as a CEO announcing a merger or acquisition.
   b.) A more personal touch is required, and the nuances of voice matter, such as in the delivery of bad news.

E-mail is better than IM when:
   a.) The text needs to be memorialized and archived for future reference, although more companies are archiving IM sessions.
   b.) An announcement must be sent to many people.

IM is better than e-mail when:
   a.) An issue demands an immediate response—it’s both urgent and important.
   b.) The issue is relatively trivial, such as lunch plans.

Source: Managing the Knowledge Workforce: Understanding the Information Revolution That’s Changing the Business World, by Jonathan B. Spira

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