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WE chaired two conferences last year on manning and training. Both concluded that quite possibly the biggest problem facing our industry today is poor communication, poor management skills and, very sadly, bullying. All of which leads to low morale, low retention levels and unsafe crews.

Some though provoking comment then recently in Training Journal from Stuart Walkley, Director of Oakridge Training and Consulting, about the use of technology in the workplace. He makes the valid point that using technology in the wrong way can lead to the workplace becoming depersonalised.

Next time you email your colleague three feet away, ask yourself if he’s right. Sure, you don’t have to interrupt and sure, it allows you to drop a reminder over to her before one of you forgets to do something. But we all know that tone of voice gets lost in emails. You didn’t mean to cause offence, but…  And of course, those stories of redundancy announcements via the office intercom and text message are legend.

As Walkley puts it, technology has led to some enormous advances in social networking in recent years, but as far as running a business and motivating the workforce, technology cannot replace people, and it is people that will ultimately differentiate and inspire a business.

Corresponding by email obviously brings practical improvements but there is really no substitute for face to face contact. Why not down tools and bully them in the pub instead!?

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