Retired Johnson Controls CEO Alex A. Molinaroli Explains Why Face-to-Face Communication Is Essential for Businesses

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Like most executives during the pandemic, Alex A. Molinaroli hasn’t had much office time. Like the rest of us the retired CEO of Johnson Controls, now a partner of SnowCloud Capital, has been conducting meetings over Zoom. However, the accomplished business leader feels a lot has been lost with the disappearance of in-person communication and meetings. Oftentimes nonverbal cues are missed and there’s a clear challenge particularly among newer members of a team or new teams.

These days you don’t have much choice but to Zoom, but taking the current virus situation aside, I do believe that when we start a new job or begin working with a new team it’s best to find ways to be face-to-face as much as possible,” Alex A. Molinaroli says. “Over time and as we learn how to work with each other and build trust being in the same office becomes less and less important.”

Alex A. Molinaroli: Nothing Replaces Actual Face Time

Although Alex A. Molinaroli feels tech tools such as Zoom are important, he also thinks they are often misused. NBC recently reported remote work is on the rise. Remote job opportunities receive 300% more applicants than those that require office time, according to ZipRecruiter. Although in-person work operations remain challenging, Molinaroli says there is power in proper communication. And yet, the struggle of Zoom burnout is real: The New York Times reports that workers are experiencing Zoom fatigue and Stanford University also found that it’s particularly affecting women more than men.

I would think effectively working together as a team is a continuum; ultimately with someone that you’ve worked with forever or your partner or family member,” Alex A. Molinaroli says “You don’t need to say much. I often may just send a coworker an emoji and they know exactly what I’m trying to say. You earn that shorthand communication over time. I don’t recommend you start with emojis. You have to begin with communication methods that are much more connected and I believe face-to-face is really important. I think we’ll get back to that.”

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Execs Can Face Tech Burnout From the Seclusion of Work From Home Roles

Forbes reported the negative mental health effects which can include feelings of loneliness, isolation, and difficulty finding a work/life balance at the end of the day. Despite the obvious challenges the pandemic has imposed on businesses, Alex A. Molinaroli remains optimistic that 2022 is going to be a solid year.

Over the next few months, I think all of our lockdowns will settle out,” Alex A. Molinaroli says. “We are all learning to live with the virus. People are ready to get back to normal.”

And, he predicts a lot more face-to-face interactions both in and out of the office.

I also believe there’s going to be growing demand for just about everything. I suspect there’ll be a bit of euphoria for some time, people wanting to get out [of] the house, spending money and just ‘doing’ things,” Alex A. Molinaroli says. “For new entrepreneurs it’s a good time to start a services business, for sure. Combined this with the fact that it’s increasingly hard to find employees, I imagine there will be plenty of opportunity to find a niche if you have some hustle. I think it’s out there to be had.”

Another plus? Molinaroli says that it’s an employee’s market; team members in search of meaningful work have more options than ever before.

Alex A. Molinaroli Has Always Seen the Value of Corporate Correspondence

Maintaining tight communication with his team has always been a priority for Alex A. Molinaroli. Prior to becoming CEO of Johnson Controls, Molinaroli served as vice president of sales and marketing. During his tenure at Johnson Controls, he championed the company’s development of sales management and marketing disciplines. A fast growing and undeniable market opportunity led him to China, where he transformed his company’s presence. Alex A. Molinaroli has traveled the world and his open and warm communication style have allowed him to foster friendships around the globe. Traveling from ​​Asia and South America to Europe and the Middle East, the accomplished executive has embraced cultural collaborations and the art of developing new connections. At Johnson Controls this understanding of different cultures allowed Alex A. Molinaroli the trust with his employees to remake the company; revamping the company’s capital allocation process, formalizing the Johnson Controls Operating System, and expanding its footprint in China.

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While working in China, he says he learned a great deal about business, and he observed how each culture communicates differently, but he says the pricelessness of constant conversation is a universal asset. The former Johnson Controls leader says no matter how technologically advanced the world becomes, some things will never change, like the power of a friendly but firm handshake and the importance of close business relationships.

I think it’s the people I know and the networks I have built are my most important asset,” Alex A. Molinaroli says. “I’ve spent a long time — a lot of years meeting and building relationships with many people. It’s given me access to so many smart people with a wide set of skills, experiences and perspectives.”

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