If you’re like me, this last year will have shown you that there are some things you need less of… some things you need more of… and some things you can do without entirely!
One thing I’ve heard pretty much everyone ask for more of is communication. Ad-hoc or scheduled; formal or informal; one-on-one or multiway… people need to communicate, and they need to do it often. And, thanks to modern technology, we have everything we need to communicate 24/7. So far, so straightforward. But how do you know you’re doing it right? What are the basic rules of good, sensible, engaging communication?
- Little – but often
My first tip, and the one I’d probably repeat ad infinitum is: little and often. Shorter, more frequent communications really is the golden key for staying in touch and keeping up-to-date with what is happening within your team and your client network. When you’re not sitting opposite someone, or in the next room to them, it’s easy to drift ‘off their radar’. Make a point of prioritising that bread-crumb trail of communications and your team will never feel left out in the cold.
- Ask, Ask, Ask!
Remember that ‘pull’ communications are just as important as ‘push’. In other words, you need to listen as much as you need to talk (or write). Ask your team how they’re getting on and how are they feeling. Read between the lines – “I’m fine” doesn’t always mean they really are fine. Definitely don’t project your own feelings onto others, however easily done. Ask if you can provide any extra help/support to any changes they’ve recently made, or may need to make. Be as flexible as you can – in your thinking as well as your actions – your team members will genuinely thank you for it.
- Make the communication more powerful
Whether you’re communicating via video calls, by email or through any other channel, make it the best it can be. Be present in the moment. Remember that what you say isn’t necessarily what’s heard! You might need to adjust your style for different groups of people. Think also about how to ensure your team remembers what you’ve said. Use headlines and subtitles (written and spoken); group messages into blocks of three, four or five – no more. Be kind, be strong, and be memorable.
- Set aside more time to catch up.
Make your colleagues feel wanted. Schedule regular 1-2-1 catch ups, set up a group coffee-break call (no agenda needed for this one) – but make that time happen, and make it matter. Don’t leave anyone out – it’s too easy to let people slip into isolation.
- Use all the tools available to you
It’s not all about Zoom, or Teams, or Skype… just like it’s not all about Slack, or SharePoint, or even email. There are so many communications tools out there, many of them free, so use a range of channels to keep in touch with your teams. Remember to ensure everyone has access to the tools you choose, and that includes proper connectivity and provision for any differently-abled colleagues. And, of course – ask for feedback! Which channels do your teams prefer? Which work great, and which are less useful? They’ll really appreciate you asking their opinion. And, let’s face it, you’ll all be building a better communications bedrock for the future.
What communications triumphs and challenges have you seen recently? Let’s share thoughts and observations – we can all learn from one another.
By Niall Anderson | smart/tasking Co-Founder