First, email does provide certain efficiencies over personal interactions (phone calls and visits). However, from a relationship-building perspective the others are superior. Consequently, I advise managers to have at least one personal interaction with every employee every day.
Managers who MBE will do so for different personal reasons. Nevertheless, we can categorize them under one or both of the following:
- Wanting to minimize their personal interactions
- Liking something better about email communications
So, what do you do? Begin by uncovering the specific reasons under these broad preferences. Here are a couple sample questions to customize:
- What are the advantages of emailing on ____ over meeting to discuss it periodically?
- It seems you prefer to communicate by email; if so, would you share with me why so I can ensure I communicate effectively in them?
Their answers will give you a general direction as to what bosses like to see in their relationships. For instance, if he references efficiency, then speed might be more important than substance in his relationships. If she references documentation, she might prefer accountability, organization and recollection. If he references organizing or forming his thoughts, he might prefer control to spontaneity in relationships.
After gaining this insight, employees can initiate personal interactions and seek to deliver the attributes they’ve identified. Regardless, employees are wise to reverse the tables and make it a point to call or visit their bosses at least once a day. This will not only help protect their jobs but also help employees be happier and more successful in them.