I’m at the airport getting ready to board a flight for another week-long event. My team, from varying parts of the country, are also leaving today. In the olden days, like early 2015, I would have sent an email out wishing them safe travels. But late last year we started doing something different. During an event with lots of moving parts, we created a text group with everyone on site so we could easily communicate to each other. It was a crazy train of messages and updates. Those waking up early for 5am activities would take pictures and give us their feedback in realtime. Those on the front line registering people who were missing a name badge, gift bag, etc could send one quick note and get it resolved by the time they finished talking to that person. It was everything from “Break-out sessions are ending early, tell the hotel to be ready” to “the CEO is heading out now.” Unless you’re an event planner with a type-A-need-to-know-everything personality, this can drive you crazy. It’s a lot of info all the time.
At the end of that event, like always, we were all wiped out. Mentally and physically. Staying awake just long enough to board our flights/trains home and then pass out for a week. But there was also a bit of sadness to leave the team. When those texts stoped, I missed them! Crazy right? And I don’t think I was the only one. Don’t get me wrong – we’re thrilled to leave and be home with our families and friends, but there is something about the frenzy of being together on site that is a lot of fun.
We’re a mobile team. We are all over the place. We have to be. Texting has become the connector and unifier. And honestly, I feel like it’s more effective that half the meetings I have.
I get to see what’s happening at events I can’t attend. I hear about issues/challenges immediately. I also hear about the successes – and it’s good to celebrate in the moment.
Something else has happened since then. We started texting as a team outside of the big events too. Holidays. Kid and fur kid photos. Big moments and not so big moments outside of work (like making your first avocado toast at home or a daughter graduating).
As a manager, my hardest job is to make us all feel like we are in it together. That we’ve got each other’s backs and we are all rooting for each other’s success, not failure. Managing via text isn’t all I do – we still have the good old 1:1s, reviews and team meetings. But I do think that in between those corporate connection points, these little touch points matter.
I hope my team would agree. Maybe this is all in my head and it’s just another management torture device – but I hope not. And I know that this wouldn’t work for every job or every group. We aren’t 9 to 5. Our workday sometimes (ok always) goes into the weekend, or a holiday. None of the folks on my team have been with their kids or their own mothers on Mother’s Day in the past 3 years. That’s not me complaining – that’s just facts. It’s our job.
I read an article the other day that talked about emoji’s being the death of modern writing. It said we are basically falling back to hieroglyphics. Moving away from the words of Shakespeare and other great writers to the basic, caveman expressions of joy/love/sadness etc. Maybe. And maybe some things are ok in shorthand. Maybe even better.
I love long letters. I love good books. And there’s nothing I like more than having a talk with someone face to face. But I don’t like long work emails. I don’t like long meetings, and I don’t get to see some people face to face for weeks – months sometimes. A quick text. An emoji. A meme. It may seem casual, but it works for us. It’s efficient.
In fact this whole blog could have reduced to 🙏🏼👍🏼✈️👌🏼
See what I mean?
Here’s some of my team through bitmoji and a day in the life via text….