Instant Messaging Reduces Interruptions at Work

Source: The Ohio State UniversitySource: Forward EscapeHere’s a bit of something unexpected. We’ve all heard the talk lately about productivity lost to the many distractions at the office.  A study at the British Institute of Psychiatry, for example, discovered that excessive use of technology reduced workers’ intelligence and that those distracted by incoming e-mail and phone calls saw a ten-point fall in their IQ, over twice the impact of smoking or marijuana use. You’d expect Instant messaging to be the straw that broke the camel’s back.

It turns out, according to a new study from the Ohio State University (happens to be my alma mater), IMing actually reduces workplace interruptions.

How’s that? By combining the best of phone calls and email, instead of the worst.

Workers get the immediacy of the telephone with the incentives for brevity that come from having to type out their comments. The result is that using instant messaging leads to more conversations that are briefer.

Tim’s Takeaway:

Go Buckeyes!

How good communication…gets lost in translation

Want to know how important good communication is? Here’s a great example, with a twist.  The original post, Good communication linked to high levels of engagement, appeared today on Business Education Headline News. The one-line synopsis

Research from the U.S. shows that employees who enjoy frequent communication from senior management are more likely to be engaged with their organization.

shows just how a couple of words can change meaning in crucial ways.  The synopsis claims a causal relationship that is absent from the study and from the title of the original article about that study in internalcommshub.com. Here’s what the original study found:

highly engaged employees are much more likely to receive communication from senior managers at least once a month. More than half (56%) of these employees receive communication from senior management at least monthly.

This statistic is clearly different from summary in the blog post. The blog claims that it’s the communication that predisposes employees to be engaged, while the original article claims that the engagement level of employees may make communication from senior management more common.

The real data is likely different yet. Here’s the following statement in the original article reporting on they study:

 In contrast, 42% of low-engaged employees say they receive annual communication or no communication at all.

Given research methodologies, this statement probably more closely reflects the insights the study could glean. I’d guess in the study, employees who were more engaged reported receiving more communication, while those less engaged reported receiving less communication.

That might mean communication will engage your employees, or it might simply affirm your supposition that employees who are more engaged are more attentive to the communications that everyone in the company receives.

Tim’s Takeaway:

Read your research carefully before you base policies on it. And always be suspicious of any human studies that claim to demonstrate causality. You can rarely set up a human study that shows more than relationship and correlation.

We feel fine montageThe image at the right is from the wonderfully revealing “We Feel Fine” project. Scouring the internet for expressions of emotions, It is a project in mass, anonymous,  intimacy. Not only is the site poetically and artistically moving, on a practical level it gives us a sampling of the utterances we scrabble together or craft with exquisite care in an attempt to make our inner experience available to others.

If we look carefully at groups of these utterances, they give us a picture of how we express our emotions around the world, and how the expressions we choose make clear communications so difficult.

The statements the engine finds, as it searches blogs every 10 minutes, are often banal (I feel sooo good), yet sometimes quite touching (i’m alone with you you make me feel like i am clean).

You’ll find a variety of interfaces on the site, including a set of montages of single posts like the one above as well as visual representations of groupings of expressions, like this one to the left.  Tools We feel happy(programming API’s) on the site allow you to collect groups of statements along with images from the blogs and whatever demographic information the engine has been able to find on the sites where the entries are posted. 

Below, you’ll find a list of utterances I collected as they came into the site at about 9:30 p.m. PST last night. Read the rest of this entry

Wall Street Journal Chart on Producing GrowthThis is a great conceptual model. Get used to seeing it. You will more and more.

The chart comes from an article, In Search of Growth Leaders, that appeared in July 7′s Wall Street Journal. Wally Bock features the article in the weekly review section of his Three Star Leadership blog.

The article is ground breaking on it’s own. It’s a report on a study that’s not been done before–identifying leaders of revenue growth from the mid-level in large companies.  The authors detail a host of attributes that mark and enable growth hounds and then sum up their findings with this chart.

The nut of the chart is this: Read the rest of this entry

Influence – Why is it so hard to teach?

I just returned from a big company meeting where I joined a team to train a big group of new hires, nearly four hundred in all. The training went well. And the team of trainers got to talking about recent training sessions that hadn’t gone well. Influence training came up again and again.

There are a host of classes that are relatively likely to get high reviews–sales skills, presentation skills, critical thinking skills. Not that the subjects are necessarily easy to teach, but when the day is done, participants are grateful and it shows in their reviews. This is often not the case with influence. With a lot of workshops on influence, scores are uneven, some high, some very low.

There are two problems with influence workshops as they’re often led, one lies with the leaders and one with the participants. Read the rest of this entry

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