What Are You Talking About?

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By Bill Auxier, Ph.D.

Conversations between leaders and organizational members can provide nuggets that organizations need.  Some of those nuggets are more valuable than others, depending on the content.  Early on in my sales career, I reported to a manager who only wanted to talk business.  There was no discussion of current affairs or personal lives, it was all about sales:  current sales, anticipated sales, competitor sales, sales strategy, sales quota, sales objections sales challenges, sales reports, sales strengths, sales weaknesses, sales ranking….  You get the picture.  Working together taught me a lot about sales, but we never forged much of a relationship.  I couldn’t wait to get out of there and was very happy to say good-bye when I found a better opportunity.  Coincidence?  I think not!

Business Colleagues Working TogetherLynn Wu, Ph.D., from the Wharton School of Business, examined the relationship between communication and employee retention.  What she discovered was very interesting; social communication and employee retention have a significantly greater relationship than professional communication and employee retention.  Wu looked at emails, instant messages and calendar entries of more than 8,000 employees at a global IT company over a two year period.  While work performance is still a significant contributor to employee retention, the intangible value of intra-organizational social networking is also significant.  Wu concluded that having a strong social network within the organization means that fellow employees are more likely to give and receive help, there is greater efficiency in the sharing of information and employees are more likely to help others learn more quickly.

Leaders need to be aware of the power of social communication.  Yes, you still need to discuss profit, revenue, sales and other business metrics, but it is also important to discuss coffee, lunch, baseball and football.  Working some social chitchat into the conversation can make every one of those conversational nuggets golden.

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