Opt for a primary mode of communication, and stick to it! If you are working with a remote working team, choosing a primary method of communication and setting that aside as the main method of communication will hopefully save important messages getting lost and people getting too annoyed. I’ve worked with some people who feel compelled to Email, Skype, Whatsapp, Facebook message and ring me, sometimes with the same information on every channel; you never quite know which app you need to have turned on to ensure you don’t miss a notification, and can guarantee that the important message will definitely come in on the one you haven’t checked. Encourage that the team stick to a single mode of contact, or invest in a team communication and task management tool like Slack (https://slack.com/) or Asana (https://asana.com/) to keep track of conversations about specific tasks and projects. Of course, sometimes a telephone call is the best way to deal with an issue, but if you’ve been phoning someone ever 3.5 minutes for the last 4 months, there’s a chance that they might not pick up!
Outline communication expectations early on in your relationship – it may be that you like to check in with your team on a daily basis for a chat, or at least once a week to find out how they are and how they are managing their task list. However you prefer to communicate, speak to your team about it early on in your working relationship so that they know to expect it regularly. It’s worth noting at this point that micro-management is not recommended – you’ve pulled a team together because you trust that they have the knowledge and skills to perform the tasks that you’ve asked them to, so make sure you give them the time and space to do this.
Be clear and concise – before you send that email/message, pause for a moment. Does it answer all of the questions that someone has asked you? Are you asking all of the questions you need? Is the content clear, concise and to-the-point? Your team don’t need War and Peace from you, they just need to know what you want them to do and if there is any particular information that you’d like them to consider. The longer and more ramble-y your communication is, the longer it’s going to take for them to read your message and the less time they’ll have to focus on the actual task at hand.
Do you really need that meeting? Similar to the above, do you really need to interrupt the working day for a meeting that eats up valuable working time? Occasionally, Zoom or in-person meetings are required to talk through complex topics effectively and efficiently, but we’ve all been to a meeting that could just have easily been an email, so why not try and prevent that from happening again (as much as possible).
Have a space for non-essential/work-related things – We’re not robots! Human interaction with our work colleagues can really help a team to bond and form positive relationships. Why not try a weekly or monthly ‘watercooler’ with your virtual team, or a coffee morning for your in-house staff, giving everyone an opportunity to chat freely and about non-task specific topics. It may be that not everyone wants to join, and that’s okay, but it will create an environment where if members of the community do want to reach out, they may feel a little more comfortable to do so because of the welcoming atmosphere that you have created.
Do you have any top-tips for workplace communication, whether for an in-house team or a virtual one? Feel free to share them on my Social Media channels – it would be great to hear from you.