TMA World Mindline Technology and Relationships: Four Principles

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Virtual relationships need to be intentional and explicit.

Collaboration and communication through technology is increasing in the workplace.

You can adopt four principles, to ensure that you are building productive relationships with colleagues:


1. Humanity: Seek human connection in a technological space
2. Doubt: Separate the real from the imagined
3. Flexibility: Remain agile
4. Commonality: Seek and create similarities

Contact us today to find out more: enquiries@tmaworld.com

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TMA World Mindline Technology and Relationships: Four Principles

  1. 1. Technology &Relationships4 Principles MindLines Terence Brake TMA World │ Head of Learning and Innovation
  2. 2. Technology & Relationships4 principles Increasingly we are communicating and collaborating at work through technology.What principles should weadopt to make sure that weare building productiverelationships with colleaguesand not creatinginterpersonal dead-space?
  3. 3. Technology & Relationships4 principles 1 HUMANITY 2 DOUBT 3 FLEXIBILITY 4 COMMONALITY
  4. 4. Technology & Relationships4 principles 1 HUMANITY We seek human connection in a technological spaceThe rapid advances in technology that haveconnected people across the planet are anoutstanding human achievement.The problem is that the virtual spaces created can beimpersonal and dehumanizing, particularly in thedigital workplace where relationships are oftenfleeting and transactional.
  5. 5. Technology & Relationships4 principles 1 HUMANITY We seek human connection in a technological spaceOur colleagues may only appear ‘real’ to us asstrings of words in an email or a disembodiedvoice in a teleconference.Virtual colleagues are not just nodes in a network,they have personal needs for trust, belonging,achievement, expression and feeling valued,as do we.
  6. 6. Technology & Relationships4 principles 1 HUMANITY We seek human connection in a technological spaceIn a virtual workplace, relationshipcompetence is bound closely to technologicalcompetence, i.e. using appropriatetechnologies to convey the ‘human touch’.Some technologies are better than others atcommunicating rich information about people – avideo conference is richer than a telephone callwhich, turn is richer than an e-mail.
  7. 7. Technology & Relationships4 principles 1 HUMANITY We seek human connection in a technological spaceThis isn’t to say we should always be usingvideoconference for our communications.An email can be more precise and sometimes easier to usefor people who might be working in a second language.An email allows more time for formulating the rightmessage. Whatever tool we use, we should seek tomake a human connection through our language,tone and consideration of others.
  8. 8. Technology & Relationships4 principles 2 DOUBT We separate the real from the imaginedDoubt is rarely elevated to a positive principle, but constructive doubthas an important place when we work together through technology.With reduced and less rich communication opportunities in virtual work, thereare wider and deeper gaps in our knowledge of others.Our brains don’t like these gaps and so our tendency is to fill them withassumptions, stereotypes and stories that mighthave little connection to reality.
  9. 9. Technology & Relationships4 principles 2 DOUBT We separate the real from the imaginedThe result of these shallow understandings is often ‘misplacedsimilarity’ – the feeling that others are more like us than they actuallyare.One consequence is that some people will feel they are being treateddismissively, that their differences are not being acknowledged and treated inan inclusive way.
  10. 10. Technology & Relationships4 principles 2 DOUBT We separate the real from the imaginedAnother reason for constructive doubt is ‘technology effect’.Technologies are not neutral, they influence our perceptions andbehaviours.For example, in team communications, video and audio-conferencing tend toincrease trust for those who are in the same room and decrease it for those inremote locations.
  11. 11. Technology & Relationships4 principles 2 DOUBT We separate the real from the imaginedComputer mediated communications, like email, tend to increasedepersonalization of others and the polarization of views and reduceparticipation and consensus.When it comes to relationships and perceived behaviours in our digitalworkplace, we need to be patient and take extra care when makingassumptions and reaching conclusions.
  12. 12. Technology & Relationships4 principles 3 FLEXIBILITYTechnologies are creating what we call a borderless workplace – adigital work environment that crosses multiple boundaries whether weare working virtually with colleagues across a city, acountry or even continents.The potentially wide distribution of a virtual workplacemeans that we are often interacting with a greaterrange of differences, including cultural.
  13. 13. Technology & Relationships4 principles 3 FLEXIBILITYAssume members of Culture A are comfortable givinginput and feedback publically and directly.Their cultural orientations tend toward individualism,explicit communication, risk-taking and egalitarianism.Video-conferencing and audio-conferencing areappropriate for Culture A.
  14. 14. Technology & Relationships4 principles 3 FLEXIBILITYMembers of Culture B, whose cultural orientations tendmore towards group identity, indirect communication andrisk-avoidance will most likely find the openness of thesetechnologies threatening.They increase the probability of publicembarrassment and loss of face.
  15. 15. Technology & Relationships4 principles 4 COMMONALITY We seek and create similarities as well as respect differencesDifferences are of great value in face-to-face andvirtual environments. They introduce newperspectives and approaches to boostcreativity and innovation.The value of differences for change and growth,however, must be balanced with the value ofstability for cohesion and functionality.
  16. 16. Technology & Relationships4 principles 4 COMMONALITY We seek and create similarities as well as respect differencesIndividuals and teams working virtually must make an intentional effort toidentify common ground and this requires identifying and exploring differences,looking at them in relation to objectives and negotiating best ways forward.The challenge is to create commonalities in areasof greatest importance to the task/project,e.g. meetings, communication, decision-making.
  17. 17. Technology & Relationships4 principles 4 COMMONALITY We seek and create similarities as well as respect differencesThese commonalities – or operating agreements – can be thought of as simple‘rules’ for collaborating, e.g. “We will not interruptor talk over one another in our telephone calls/virtualmeetings.”
  18. 18. Technology & Relationships4 principles 4 COMMONALITY We seek and create similarities as well as respect differencesEvery new virtual working relationship shouldbegin with the question: “ How will we work together?People who are working face-to-face have more ”opportunities for common ground to emerge naturallyin daily work.Virtual working relationships need to be moreintentional and explicit.
  19. 19. Technology & Relationships4 principlesTo learn more about how we can help your organization, please contact us at enquiries@tmaworld.com or visithttp://www.tmaworld.com/training-solutions/

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