Once upon a time, there was a woodcutter who had to work so hard to get his daily allowance of cut timber that the sweat was pouring from his head. He cut and cut, but advanced less and less. His axe became blunt. People asked him “why you are not sharpening your axe, then the work is much easier and faster.” I do not have the time”, said the woodcutter.
Do you recognize this situation from your own experience? I guess most of us do. No doubt we are living and working in a challenging, fast changing or should I even say ruthless era. Companies, organisations who do not jump on the digital train will sooner or later lose the right to exist. Only companies who can speed up and take a quick step into the big data – cloud – mobility world will succeed. Innovation and cooperation are keywords here.
Keeping up with the rapid pace of change requires a dynamic, inspiring, cooperative and talented workforce. Companies have to respond to requests for a new way of working which, among other things, means that people can work how, when, where and with whom they prefer. The technological implications are well summarized in the Cisco connected world technology report. At the same time, diversity adds another dimension. More and more people are looking for jobs over the border and multidisciplinary and multicultural teams are being formed. Both aspects have implications for human resources management, information technology and, more still, for communication!
Ever more studies are revealing that the blurred line between work and leisure, and the necessity to multitask, increase stress levels. Managers who have no direct insight into how employees are feeling and performing have a hard time mentoring their people. In a global, flexible working environment, specific attention to communication is needed, if only to protect cooperation and wellbeing, and avoid misunderstanding and frustration. Internal communication structures are key to success. It is, among other things, important to organize formal and informal meetings and events on a regular basis and to set up clear, digital communication channels.
At the same time, individual communication should be given more attention. Employees who are under pressure, pay less heed to their communication style. This can create mutual distrust and irritation. Taking a deep breath before reacting to a problem or a challenging situation, is always a good idea. Likewise, small moments of peace during the day have their importance. Micro-breaks while waiting for an elevator or visiting the rest rooms are underestimated, but can make a difference. A difference for cooperation, a difference for keeping a creative mind and therefore a difference for the business.
In articles on burnout, like the very interesting one on how to prevent a burnout in Forbes magazine, moments of peace and focus are stressed. It is like driving in a car, take a rest break every 1.5-2 hours. You can move around, get something to drink… or do nothing. Click the mouse and then refrain from communicating for a whole 2 minutes; reduce your stress levels, keep up your communication style and sharpen your axe. Afterwards you can speed up again to drive innovation. And if those two minutes were far too long, just give it another try in two hours.