How and why do we solve effective communication in the team?
If you want to learn all aspects of team management, you are reading the right article. There are many levels to managing a team, but we will try to show you most important points. I will show you a fictitious example of communication from a colleague, which I experience in a similar form in emails, chat or Slack all the time. It always costs me a lot of time and energy to respond:
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Example of lousy text internet communication
Hi Franco, could you please change the design’s title to a different font? I wouldn’t say I like this one. When would you like to hang out so we can show it off? And what about the meeting with the client yesterday? How did it go? Is everything OK? Or does something else need to be addressed? What about George? Will he manage the deadline as we agreed? Oh, and Jane will have a birthday in a week. What can we do to make her happy?
Why is such communication wrong?
- Too many questions that I can’t quickly answer.
- No formatting, line breaks, or bolding – I don’t know what is related to what and what is more/less important.
- Unclear information that I have to ask how the other side thinks.
- Not suggesting possible dates for a hangout – we will write more messages unnecessarily.
How to communicate the same better
Hi Franco, I have a few requests/questions for you:
1) Important: In this design, I would need to adjust the font of all headings to Google font Montserrat, or we’ll discuss it on the hangout (see point 2)
2) Possible hangout dates for me: today at 6:00 p.m., tomorrow morning between 10-12. When can you?
3) What about yesterday’s meeting with Peter? Have you agreed to those terms? Or Is there anything else that needs to be addressed?
4) Will Chloe manage the completion date of 22.10. project XY?
5) Secretary Jane will have a birthday on July 15. (i.e., in a week), do you have any suggestions for a gift that would make her happy? Please respond by tomorrow so we can arrange it.
Thanks, have fun.
What do we gain from effective communication?
Since the home office is becoming more and more common and even mandatory for some companies during the coronavirus pandemic, as a boss, you should start asking yourself:
Are the employees in my team communicating effectively? Do they have adequate online tools and applications for this? How much time do they spend on it every day? Do we have established principles of effective communication? We have an experience that effective communication can save up to 70% of the time, which your people can then devote to actual work that brings real value to your company. So what does this time save on?
The number of responses that are “interrogative” will be reduced.
Answering is much easier for the other party because it answers to specific numbers already marked in the initial message. People will have greater mental well-being because they won’t get nervous while scrolling through confusing messages.
When you read, you will find the essentials faster.
Even when writing the introductory statement, it will force you to think about questions, some you may not even ask.
What forms of online communication, and when to choose which one?
Basic types of communication: Synchronous and asynchronous communication
Synchronous communication requires and assumes an immediate response from the other party. It is based on the direct interaction of both participants, i.e., the communicator and the communicant. Their mutual communication and reception of information occur in real-time, and internet communication is closer to personal face-to-face. There is no significant time difference between the mutual replicas in this type of communication.
The category of synchronous communication includes, for example, chats, telephone calls, video conferences, etc. In general, it can be said that this communication is more disruptive and consumes a lot of mental energy. Therefore, this type of communication is entirely inappropriate for deep work. Therefore it is ideal to limit it to the necessary minimum.
Asynchronous communication is one that the recipient can process at any time and chooses the time himself. This type of communication does not require an immediate response from the recipient. Neither party to the communication expects a quick response from the other participant.
This type of communication is done via email or tools like Freelo, Basecamp, Asana, and Trello. Asynchronous communication is more advantageous because it does not force other participants in the conversation to switch. In other words, it doesn’t require me to stop doing what I’m doing and start doing something that someone else wants me to do. This quality is essential for deep and focused work and better team management.
The system’s weakest links will hinder your team’s online performance:
1) Inappropriately selected or deployed systems.
2) Inexperienced and untrained users.
3) Bored children who require attention during the home office.
It is the most common form of internet communication today. This includes practically anything from chatting and emailing to discussions in team communication tools.
Written communication in combination with a video sample – You convey the primary information using a video sample (below in the article principle.
4). You can supplement it with questions or keywords, e.g., for backtracking via full text. This is how you can communicate via email, chat, or a project tool. For example, some allow easy video viewing as part of the comment.
Communicate via audio recording:
Some apps (such as Messenger, WhatsApp, or iMessage) allow you to record an audio recording that you can send to anyone. This is an easy way to upload information at the moment you want and at the same time not disturb the other party from work deployment at an inconvenient time. It is an excellent way of modern asynchronous communication. Unfortunately, chat tools are not well adapted to organizing work for team management.
Video conference – an intelligent way of “meeting online” for two or more people simultaneously. It is transferring the meeting to an online form. This is synchronous communication, which requires caution when overusing it. An hour-long “online meeting” with eight people is like one whole working Monday. Is it essential? Couldn’t the information be transferred to the team in another way, for example, by asynchronous communication?
Telephoning or team audio conference – A prevalent method of synchronous communication, which, however, has several drawbacks: interruptions at inopportune times, forgetting/losing important information, no possibility to trace anything back, in the case of calls to several people, it has similar problems as with video conferences. It is suitable for negotiating a decision that cannot be delayed.
We all know that the situation around Covid is a mess. At the same time, it creates a unique opportunity for leaders. Even digitally backward teams can now catch up and start operating with the possibilities offered by the 21st century in a short period. It’s good to take full advantage of it.
Principles of effective online communication in a team
1) Be brief
Be brief. Write only as many words as are necessary. You are not writing a Liebesbrief; it is corporate and purposeful communication. The goal is to quickly come to an agreement and pass on the required information or files.
2) Write clearly and leave no room for imagination on the part of the recipient
Be specific in your questions and answers. Think for the recipient and ask yourself these questions before you send the message:
“Will he understand?”
“Did I write all the information so he could give me a definite answer?”
“He won’t ask any more questions?”
Offer options that are possible from your point of view. The other party can choose from them immediately, and you’ll be settled at once.
3) Format the text
Your message must be structured so that it is easy for the recipient to read.
Use bold for important information
When answering an unnumbered question, use a quote from the original question (some apps can do this automatically when marking, see animation below)
OK – “This article about client onboarding…”
Use paragraphs (Enter line breaks) to separate thematic sections.
Use numbered lists for questions you want to be answered. The recipient can then quickly reply with his numbered list.
Use unnumbered lists for better orientation for related items that do not require an answer.
4) A short video demonstration is worth a thousand words
Sometimes you need to give more comprehensive feedback from management of the team on something in front of you on your computer screen. Such a message is quite challenging to describe in text, and it is helpful to use a video example with commentary. For this, it is beneficial to use a so-called screen recorder, e.g., the Loom application, which has an extension for the Chrome browser.
How does recording a video sample via loom work?
Once you have the Chrome extension installed, you must click on the extension icon at the top right and start recording.
At that moment, what you do on the screen and what you say about it is recorded (you must have an activated microphone, or you can choose to register a specific Tabu)
When you’re done, click the icon again, and the recording will stop.
A link to the video is copied to your clipboard, which is immediately uploaded to Loom’s servers and available in a moment.
For example, you can insert this link into the discussion in Freel (see the animation below) or send it through any other communication channel.
5) An image with a caption is better than a paragraph of text
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. We work more and more with digital materials, and often you need to indicate that something should be “Moved somewhere” or “Recolored” or “Reduced.” For this, I use widely available tools that allow me to make a screen or a screenshot, in which I can then quickly indicate or write something by drawing.
6) Have communication rules for the team tool
Have the rules for using the app in a visible place in the team. These points are imporant when it comes to team management.
The columns are divided by the month in which the task takes place.
In the Service column, materials necessary for operation and cooperation are available.
So far, no deadline column. There are tasks for which a solver and date have not yet been assigned.
Main tasks are added by all team members and can be closed by all team members. Task management with team is especially important if you manage a large number of eployees.
Anyone can add subtasks in individual cards if they think it’s necessary. Such a subtask should ideally be assigned to his person. If he wants to enter a subtask for another person, he should always add it there. It would be ideal not to use subtasks so we can always clearly see what is to be done by whom.
Each task is permanently assigned to an authorized person responsible for the job.
Each task always has a due date. If we don’t know the due date, we add a date to the commission on the 1st of the month when we think we should return to the task. Person XY will review monthly and know to start working on this task. The job should then be assigned to the correct column by month.
Each task will be assigned a label according to its current status, which must constantly be updated if the quality of the job changes.
Tasks will always be written in a template to ensure that we have all the necessary information for the task.
Always check/fill in followers at the bottom when creating a task so that the people in charge always know about it.
If you don’t meet the task by the deadline, write it as a message and adjust the deadline so that the whole team knows about it.
Try to keep the order of the tasks in the column by completion date so that the ones to be completed first are at the top.
Red (Postponed) = The task stands.
Orange (Pending) = task depends on completing subtasks or related studies. The completion of other tasks conditions its fulfillment by the deadline.
Green (In Progress) = The task is not waiting for anything, and the responsible person is working on it. It will be fulfilled within the given deadline.
Communication in the team
Communication regarding individual tasks occurs within Asana and the given tasks (unless it is necessary to resolve otherwise).
You can address the person in question using the “@” sign.
We can also tag other tasks if you want to mention them via the “@” sign, for example, a Sample Task, so you can manage your team better. If someone is assigned a task, they show that they know about the assignment and that the job is being solved (“I’m going to do it,” “I’m solving it,” “OK,” etc.).
When you’ve read a thread or comments on it, like them to let others know you’ve already read it and agree with it wholeheartedly.
If a task is burning and you need an answer as soon as possible, add [URGENT] to the task title to let others know. It makes the team management a little easier as everyone can see priorities without any long explanation.
7) Use quality tools and applications for team management
Establish clear communication rules with the team for using each tool. There are plenty of communication platforms and great communication programs on the market. I’ll show you the ones that have worked well for the Freelo crew:
Freelo is an online application to help your team/business organize and complete work less effortlessly.
Annotation – a tool in Mac OSx (Apple) that allows you to edit any image or PDF graphically.
Snippets – an alternative to the Annotation tool found on all newer Windows.
Loom – an application to easily record what you see on the screen with the ability to add audio and then easily and quickly share everything with anyone.
Slack is a chat tool for synchronous communication that allows you to agree in a team quickly. Attention, if misused, can excessively distract your team from their work. This is according to us the best choice for a good communication software for team management.
Front – a communication program for a shared email box, through which it is possible to effectively communicate with customers and collaborate on email communication in a team.
Google apps (Docs, Sheets, …) – are great for team management when debugging texts in multiple people. It is excellent to discuss sentences, paragraphs, etc.
Personal notes – for quickly recording information or thoughts or saving a screen. In short, a place where you digitally store materials that you want to return to later or process them in any way (presentation, inspiration, etc.). The cloud applications Notes (on Mac OSx) or OneNote (on Windows) come in handy for this. Both tools are quick and easy to search for and work on mobile devices.
Minimize emailing and calling to organize teamwork and transfer important company information, deadlines, or files – all too often, the important things get lost in these tools and methods of communication. People don’t know who is working on what or what, and it is often very difficult or impossible to track something down later.
Many teams are still not well prepared for a team home office, primarily if they have relied mainly on frequent meetings and ongoing personal communication in the office.
Ing. Mira Vlach — project manager and specialist in project management development
Start better team communication and team management
The most important thing is honest internal communication within your team. Explain to everyone in the company the reasons for the change and present them with the advantages and benefits you want to achieve. Remember that your colleagues also need a dose of freedom and trust.
Team management by example – hold the flashing beacon of change above your head and navigate your colleagues to better work habits. You will see that they will get used to it with time. You have to be consistent and make the change primarily with you or the person in charge of the implementation.
Forget about email for organizing work in your company. Give your team a modern communication tool that will streamline internal communication, increase productivity, improve organizational skills, and thus save your employees’ energy for more meaningful work tasks. You should better understand a team management assignment now.