Make Face-to-Face Work

This is part of a series of articles from the retired The Dev Manager website.

It’s amazing what the internet can bring us, both positive and negative. Sadly, some of the worst people hang out on the internet. They bully, they rage, they say and do horrible things.

But, are they really the “worst” people, or is it something else? And what does online hate have to do with my team?

One of the reasons why internet trolls can feel so protected and indulge their angry and hurtful whims is because they are shielded by technology and distance. There is no face to face. The 12 year old who completely destroys someone on Twitter feels powerful, but still has a hard time ordering at the restaurant by themselves.

Albert Mehrabian famously found that 93% of communication happens beyond our words. (38% tone of voice, 55% non-verbal). This is key for managers to keep in mind.

Remote workers can feel very disconnected from their team and management without proper care. To connect with them, but even more so to get your thoughts and direction across, make face to face work.

Now, I’m all in favor of flying/driving in to see people in person here and there, but that’s not all we’re limited to these days. You can also jump on video chat and communicate face to face. Make them turn on their camera and have a conversation with you. You’ll start to understand them much better this way. You won’t have to wonder if they’re passive-aggressively sending you an email or IM.

If you’re in the office, you still have many options for making face to face work. If you’re going to interrupt your employee’s workday, at least resist picking up the phone or sending an IM. Instead, walk over and have a face to face talk with them. This style of communication will actually build bonds and communicate things much clearer.

So, what does a poor performing employee, miscommunications and an internet troll have in common? The communication is probably not happening face to face. An excellent Dev Manager makes face to face work.

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