Why Real Communication Isn’t Just About Technology

Posted by Chuck Kocher
On November 15, 2019

Is Your Business Communication Show or Substance?

communication through technologyGreat communication is essential if you’re trying to scale up your company. Change (transformation) is a big part of the process, and that means that the lines of communication have to be wide open to ensure that everyone is on the same page. But real communication isn’t just about technology.

Beware of the Wizard of Oz Approach to Communication

In the classic movie, The Wizard of Oz, there is a scene that presents a classic example of relying on technology to communicate.  The wizard (who is essentially, a fraud) tries to cover up his lack of actual knowledge and skill by relying on technology to intimidate, obfuscate, and protect himself from having to face uncomfortable confrontations.

He uses, fire, smoke, and a modified (and amplified) voice to communicate. He is, of course, not communicating anything of importance. When he’s exposed, he utters the well-known words, “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!”

The Oz Approach is Impersonal

The wizard’s communication with Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Scarecrow, and the Cowardly Lion was impersonal. It was all about the show instead of substance. There was no transparency in his communication. He was simply going through the motions and trying to get unwanted visitors out of his presence. Business leaders sometimes make that mistake. They hide behind technology and use a presentation or a company-wide email to address their employees. Unfortunately, this can give the appearance of communication—without actually communicating anything of substance. Very often the messages they send don’t address the issues employees want and need to hear.

 Technology is a Tool—Not a Message

Leaders sometimes overlook the fact that technology is a tool—not a message. There is nothing inherently wrong with PowerPoint presentations or company email blasts. It’s not the format that’s important. As a leader, you have to make sure that a clear message comes across and that it’s helpful. Even the best technology is no substitute for substance. Some leaders use the bells and whistles of technology to hide the fact that (like the wizard) they don’t have much to say.

The wizard’s technology (flashy and showy, though it was) didn’t allow for feedback. When Dorothy and her friends tried to ask questions, they were silenced. Good business communication, however, is a two-way street. There needs to be a way for employees to react and ask for clarification. If there is no feedback, employees can feel stifled.

Benefit Of Real Conversations

When the wizard in The Wizard of Oz is finally exposed and comes face to face with Dorothy and her friends, he finally engages in real conversations. He addresses each one of them individually—and he speaks to their specific concerns and needs. What’s interesting is that he helps each of these individuals to realize that their destiny is in their own hands. They have the ability to achieve their goals. He simply helps them to recognize that.

The same thing often happens in real business communication. A good leader doesn’t dictate solutions.  A good leader asks questions, listens, and then empowers his or her team to take action.

It’s fine to take advantage of technology to get your message out to employees. Sometimes, it’s the only effective way to reach large numbers of people effectively. But don’t confuse technology for a message. Make sure your message is clear, regular, and helpful. And make sure you allow a way for communication to flow back to you.

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