Final part of the series – and it’s about instant messaging.

Our generation grew up with ICQ (I wonder what this stands for) and then later MSN.  But now this technology has transitioned into the workplace.  And it’s a powerful tool.  But it’s not for everyone.

As with my post on email, there are numerous articles out there already concerning the pros and cons of the use of instant messaging in the workplace.

Over the last couple of years the chatter is being replaced by tapping on keyboards often followed by a sporadic, out-of-place laugh. Instant messaging is already taking over the office environment.

Instant Messaging in the workplace: Devil or Saviour?

For anyone that already uses IM, the above quote is hilariously accurate.

There are some key points that I’d like to highlight however.

  • Most workplaces still monitor conversations.  Be careful.
  • Be able to distinguish between a professional and a casual conversation.
  • Don’t completely substitute other forms of communication for instant messaging.
  • It’s immediate, but not instantaneous.  Don’t rely on it for an on-the-spot answer.

In a sort of summary, please check out this excellent article.  It talks about what I’d called the ‘evolution’ of commuication.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my long, drawn out and at times exhausting summary of some of the communication methods in the workplace.

Links back to the older posts are here:

To us Gen Y’ers, this is like asking “What’s before time?”  The importance of email in revolutionising the workplace cannot be underestimated.  Not only for the bum-in-seat office worker.  Tradies give and get quotes.  Shopkeepers order stock.  Doctors get educated.

But…

Is Electronic Mail all it’s cracked up to be?

There are approximately 1,897,987 articles on the web about effective email communication.*

*This may or may not be true.

Here are some interesting reads that I found.  Some I agree, some I disagree with.  I’ll leave it up to you to peruse them.

So at the risk of repeating information that’s already out there, here are my top 4 tips.

  1. Sure? – Once you click send, you can never control that email again.
  2. Need to know? – Do not CC the world.  No one appreciates a small issue suddenly being sent to your boss, and/or your bosses’ boss.
  3. Huh? – A useful subject heading makes things so much easier.  Do it.
  4. Still going? – No one wants a life story.  If things aren’t clear, they’ll ask for clarification.  Concise emails are generally good emails.

Part three of the series looks at using the phone (mobile/cell or landline) as a communication tool in the workplace.

Everyone knows what a phone is, so there is no need to go into details about what they are.  If you don’t know, click here.  And then click here.  And then if you’re still in trouble click here.

But are you using it as effectively, or at all, in your role?  Could you be doing better?

Why aren’t you?  Try these tips.

Plan.  Know what you’re going to say before you pick up the phone.  Whether it’s picking up a pen and jotting down some points, mentally practicing the opening line or having some documents open in front of you, if you have an idea of how the conversation will/should go before you start dialing, you’ll come across a lot more professional.

Profesional.  Think about how you sound on the other end.  Mumbling, confusion, noise in the background, yuck.  Scroll about three-quarters of the way down this page to get some other tips.

Pick-It-Up.  Don’t get suckered into email battles over misunderstandings.  Don’t (I really hate this) feel that you’ve done enough by sending the text or email.  “Have you followed up that important payment?” – “Well I sent an email.”  Just pick up the phone and sort it out.

Technological developments are probably taken for granted these days.  ConferenceSpeaker phonesSkype.

Use my tips.  Use the technology.

Is snail mail all that bad?  Surely with a name like that there can’t be any real advantages to it anymore?

If I had my way, it would be gone.  Obviously it can’t be completely; packages aren’t sent electronically (yet?).  But do we need hard copies anymore?  I understand that legally the answer is yes.  But laws can get changed.  Let’s put our faith in technology and wipe out letters.

Woah!  Did I really say that?

Yes.

Let’s look at the advantages of mail over it’s usual rival, electronic mail.

  • Speed – Hmmmm none.  Email wins.
  • Cost – Email again.
  • Availability – More and more towards email.
  • What – Well hold your horses, here is one where the mail wins.
  • Security – Well I think it’s easier to open someone else’s letter box than open their email.

The length of this post speaks volumes about what I think about postal mail.  But do you think any different?

My boss asked me the other day – “Why do you use (insert name of instant messaging program) instead of email?”

It was 5pm on a Friday afternoon and I was knackered.  I bumbled out some reply about immediate answers and easy but I don’t think it worked.  They weren’t sold on the idea.  So I decided to put a bit of thought into it.

And after putting that thought into it, I realised that it’s going to be a massive task.  So over the next two weeks I’ll be putting together some short blogs on communication types in the workplace.

Instant Messaging

Let’s look at the main types.

  • Face to Face – In the presence of the other person.  Generally most productive.  Most time consuming.
  • Post – Send via either internal or external mail.  Physical documents moved.  Slow.
  • Phone – Talking directly to the person or people involved.  Immediate answers.  Other person must be there.
  • Email – Computer sent text and files to one or multiple targets.  Audit trail.  Not real time
  • Instant Messaging – Real time ’email’ text only communication.  Fast and efficient.  Distracting

 

Fantastic article in my local online (does that even make sense?) paper.  Google as a religion.  The basic premise is based around a website called the Church of Google.  Knowledge is power.

It got me thinking about knowledge sharing within your workspace.  What are some of the ways that we share our information with those around us?

  1. Tell them
  2. Write it down
  3. Show people
  4. Other things

But knowledge sharing is obviously two ways.  There is no reason in putting things down or no one else is going to pick it up.  And is there a reluctance these days to seek out information this old fashioned way?

When was the last time that you actually read a manual?  I mean the book kind that comes with something?  Our generation would probably ask someone, then google it before going to a manual.  So can a work place have a google like concept too?  Well I’m sure they can and I’m sure someone at google has thought of this and has already put a price tag on it.

I suppose the general point is that people want a one-stop source of information.  But this information depository, or golden source relies on two things.  One, it needs input.  Two, it needs users.  As a young professional, we can become heavily involved in both of these sides.

Technology Guru By Default

August 30, 2009

I’m Generation Y.  We’re the generation that understands technology.  We’re the generation that uses technology.  Are we?  Anyone else ever feel the pressure of being asked to provide a technological solution to something and having next to know idea where to start?  But then, somehow, we are able to deliver.

Well fear not, I’ve stumbled across a great www.xkcd.com picture at this blog.

tech_support_cheat_sheetThis cartoon perfectly describes how we as young professionals seem to be able to get those results.  But perhaps we shouldn’t be telling everyone about this.

Let’s take advantage of it.

Becoming the tech guru in your organisation is another source of professional advantage.  Besides the sometimes time consuming questions, there probably isn’t much wrong with being the ‘go-to’ person on these issues.

So as a young professional, if you’re not the default tech guru, follow this simple diagram and help out those poor, confused other colleagues.