Why Slack Managers are Fearing Technology in the Workplace

May 24, 2015

There's no doubt that technology has made our lives easier to manage on a day to day basis. But has work become easier for management? In theory it has - though not all managers may be enjoying it.

There is one crucial aspect that improved technology has brought to the workplace: Accountability

But what has actually changed to increase management accountability?

1. Less talk. More writing. Technology encourages written work product over verbal communication.

manager-relaying-written-instructions.jpgEveryone has the classical vision of the outgoing extroverted manager. Fast-talking and confident, he or she is constantly bouncing between departments verbally relaying information and delegating tasks. But are they efficient?

In reality, it's becoming increasingly apparent in the workplace that relying on verbal communication for internal work communication only leaves room for misinterpretation and disconnection.

2. Boss's prefer management's word over employees. But facts and figures even the playing field.

Going are the days where complacent management can manipulate their way out of responsibility of failure by the power of their word.

When management relays instructions verbally and the outcome is not as expected, managers have the opportunity to play Chinese whispers, distorting and manipulating information to disregard responsibility form themselves onto others. When reviewing the outcome of projects and campaigns, written work product means there is tangibility for everyone's roles and expectations.

Written communication shifts performance accountability higher up the work ladder. It creates a tangible, physical document that can be referred to whenever (and more recently, wherever with the advent of cloud document storage). Both parties are held accountable - If the task is completed but the outcome is poor, the person(s) responsible for the document are liable for poor or ambiguous instructions. If the task doesn't get completed, there's no excuses for misinterpretation - Everything was in writing.

Verbally relaying a request or task has it's advantages - It's generally more convenient to quickly talk across a room or get on the phone and sort it out. But it's all too common in the workplace. From those who are delegated tasks, we hear the common - 'Oh, I didn't realise that was due today' or 'Oh, I didn't realise I was responsible for that'. For those who delegate, in the face of criticism - 'I already told them this' or 'That's not what I said'.

In the past, written communication had its drawbacks. Technology has changed that. Back in the day, the only solutions were pen and paper, fax and mail. Today with email, task/time management software and project management software - The marginally increased effort of writing or typing is far outweighed by the lack of efficiency and accountability from verbal communication.

On paper, (no pun intended) written communication is a no brainer for making our work lives easier. The only people who it will become difficult for ... are to those who don't like to be held accountable!

3. The modern technologies that poor managers are dreading

  • Project Management Software: Task-driven, web or local-server based project softwares create a completely transparent link of roles and responsibilities in organisations for upper management to analyse. Having everything structured, dated and in clear accessible writing means no more hiding behind skewed verbal instructions.
  • Productivity Apps: Productivity (or at least, the desire for it) is a booming concept online. Monitoring productivity on an assembly line or laying bricks is easy. But how do you track the productivity of professional services? How do you compare the efficiency of one lawyer to another? PCMag Australia recently shared 55 productivity apps to help monitor and improve productivity, from free cloud hosted drives to easy note systems to time tracking softwares.
  • Advancement of Reporting Systems: Less and less, reports are requiring manual collation, interpretation and presentation of data. Today, organisational systems can set up immediate API's between reporting systems and upper management for a transparent, un-skewed insight into performance and organisational progress.

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