A growing number of managers are seeing less and less of their employees due to remote work and flexible hours. Some supervisors never even meet their employees in-person at all. But although email and direct messaging are effective communication methods, you should never underestimate the value of having face-to-face conversations with your employees.
Why eye contact is crucial
You can express many things in writing. However, writing misses an essential component of interpersonal communication: eye contact.
While eye contact has different implications in different cultures, in North America and Western Europe, eye contact is a vital aspect of establishing trust. In fact, a 2009 study found that a speaker’s credibility in terms of honesty and qualifications increased simultaneously with the amount of eye contact made during a conversation. Think about it: when someone refuses to meet your eyes during a conversation, it’s automatically associated with a negative behavior, like lying. When you have a significant amount of eye contact with someone, it indicates interest and attention.
The eye contact you have with an employee in a face-to-face meeting is an invaluable aspect of communicating trust and interest. Even if everything you say is the same as what you put in writing, adding that extra layer of human connection will strengthen the employee-manager relationship.
Gain a better understanding of your employees’ objectives
Face-to-face meetings also allows you to have more organic conversation with your employees. This provides you with opportunities to learn more about what motivates them, what their goals are, what they find challenging, and where they need help. You can use all this information to gain a better understanding of what matters to each employee and adjust their career guidance accordingly.
Do telemeetings count?
It’s important to consider the difference between actual in-person meetings and online telemeetings. If at all possible, try to meet your employees in person. You’ll be able to establish good eye contact, plus, you don’t have to deal with any technological glitches. Telemeetings, while still being more effective than written communications for increasing engagement, can be hampered by technological issues. But more importantly, because of the positioning of webcams in relation to the screens, you rarely establish actual eye contact.
All things considered, having more face time with your employees builds stronger relationships and allows you to better support them in their career development. This will make them feel valued and as a result, more engaged.
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