The End of the Phone?
Let’s spin back nearly 50 years to a famous moment in music history:
“guitar groups are on the way out, the Beatles have no future in show business” (Dick Rowe, January 1962)
Mr Rowe (allegedly it was he) had just watched an hour’s audition from a new pop group and was clearly sure that although this new fangled beat music may be popular, it wouldn’t outsell the more traditional forms of popular music. It was all a fad. And he knew, because he was a successful A&R man who usually got things right.
Not this time!
How wrong could he have been?? 50 years later the group that had no future still cast a long shadow over popular music.
Of course he underestimated the power of the 16 – 25 age group to influence popular culture from the bottom up. **
What about phones I hear you ask?
Well, the great and the good of recruitment are lining up to get us back on the phone. All this new fangled Social Media may be popular but it won’t replace traditional forms of communication.
Well I think it will.
If Dick Rowe were a recruitment trainer today he would probably say: Social Media is on the way out, it has no future as a business communication tool.
He’d be wrong again.
The people we are now bringing into the workforce are from the first generation NOT to have had a landline phone as their primary communication tool. They are used to communicating through short messages…whether by text, IM, Facebook, Twitter or short mobile chats. When they organise to do something they create an event. They love social interaction but face to face is way more important than ear to ear.
Teens invariably start by using mobile Pay As You Go…not an arrangement that rewards long conversations.
Relationships are built in a very different way now.
Anyone who thinks they can bring a 21 year old trainee into the workplace and expect them to use the phone in the way we have always done for cold calling and relationship building are in for a shock. You may have been able to teach telesales…but not how to use a basic communication tool.
Ask any 18 – 21 year old how they interact with their mates and organize parties, evenings out or cinema trips and I think you’ll be surprised. But then you’ll understand why they may accept an invitation for an assessment day but not actually turn up. It’s not rudeness; it’s not a lack of interest in your opportunity…it’s just that commitment and communication happen in different ways now.
You can send a text, but then they’ve probably signed up for so many text alerts and updates that yours may not stand out.
You can send an e-mail, but then they probably won’t read it.
You can invite them through Facebook, but then they get invited to lots of things through Facebook.
You can ring, but you’ll probably be leaving a voicemail.
And even if you do get a message through, they won’t have a calendar or diary to put it in…only their mobile phone. Your assessment day will probably end up being the day after a mate’s birthday drinks and will gently slide from memory.
The times they are a-changing…the recruiter of tomorrow will not have the communication skills to build meaningful relationships over the phone, let alone make a cold call.
You can’t teach communication.
Business relationships of the future will be defined by the way people interact and communicate.
Like The Beatles social media and mobile technology offer platforms that will probably cast a giant shadow over how business communicates for the next 50 years.
It’s changing already. Those of you in the London area may have seen me on BBC London news a couple of weeks ago talking about how what you can say on Twitter could affect your job. One of their reporters read this blog and contacted me, asking if they could interview me. They didn’t call me and they didn’t e-mail me…they sent me a message through Facebook. And I don’t even have a link to my Facebook page on my blogsite.
I’ve written before how my favourite quote of recent weeks was the one from a Clay Shirky interview:
‘no medium ever survived the indifference of 25 year olds’
25 year olds are very indifferent towards the landline phone, e-mail, letters and long conversations..
The future workforce will dictate the way business ultimately communicates…and I’m fairly sure that it won’t be on the landline phone.
Let me know what you think.
** (To set the record straight, Mr Rowe eventually must have seen the error of his ways and signed a number of bands who would go on to dominate the music industry including The Rolling Stones, Them – including Van Morrison – The Animals and Tom Jones…will our industry thought leaders be similarly as visionary?)