As e-mail sterilizes communication, workplace relationships wither (Guest commentary)

By Betty Healey
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 12/20/2004

As an organizational consultant and coach, I commonly enter buildings that are frosty in their silence. I walk through tunnels of Dilbertesque cubicles and hear the murmur of lowered voices.

E-mail is the new unwritten code of communication. Project planning meetings are rare, as is face-to-face communication. Inside these state-of-the-art buildings, originally designed to facilitate communication, people are not brainstorming. Instead, employees work on their own, receiving little or no feedback about their performance.

Employees say they are afraid to speak up, or that it won’t matter even if they do because they won’t be understood by their managers. The quality of relationships — essential to a thriving work culture — is dying.