How good could your team communication be?
It’s no surprise that many teams struggle with communication. Today’s work world is filled with a myriad of technology, increased demands, and jam-packed schedules with no end in sight. Unfortunately, it becomes easy for a team’s communication to break down or get lost in the midst of all of the busyness. In this week’s action article, I will be sharing three easy upgrades you can use to enhance your team’s communication. So let’s get started!
3 Easy Upgrades to Enhance Your Team’s Communication
1. Utilize Action-Based Email Codes.
Most workplaces depend on email for mainstream communication. Honestly, I can’t imagine working without it. However, I’m not a fan of the pressures that follow. As technology improves, everything speeds up. As the speed of communication changes, so do expectations. Because of this, we have professionals and leaders checking their emails, literally, all day. This becomes a major time management crisis. Sadly, the expectation for email to serve as an instantaneous conversation is not only unrealistic, but also misguided. I appreciate what thought leader, Juliet Funt, says on the matter, “Email was designed to be purposefully asynchronous.” It was never about an instant reply, but rather, the convenience of messaging others at different times.
Juliet created simple email codes you can use to help clarify and create the type of response you desire. By using codes such as these, you can increase the effectiveness of your emails and also synchronize the expectations for each message.
Consider the following codes from her popular talk (link found below):
It’s amazing how plugging in these codes either at the top or bottom of your email message can change the nature of the response. Instead of you ferociously checking your email throughout the day hoping for a response, you can create an upfront expectation or system for a speedy response. In time, using codes like these can radically change the culture of your email communication.
That being said, use discretion and be careful not to abuse these codes. Sending multiple messages to the same person with these codes can make you seem unrealistic or too demanding. Also, if you want to change the culture of emails...you too must respond to these codes accordingly when others request it. Balance is key. For more of Juliet’s teaching and services, I highly recommend checking out her site - White Space at Work.
2. Utilize Audio Messages.
No one wants to read a lengthy email. Honestly, how many times have you found yourself glazing over or skimming through paragraphs of a wordy email? While I don’t like it, I’ve adopted a formula: the longer the email, the bigger the tempation to not read it. Again, I don’t like this formula but it has been acknowledged by honest leaders repeatedly. A few years ago, I found myself writing a lengthy email giving detailed instructions. After typing it all out, two things happened. First, my computer died on me (yes I forgot to plug in the power cord). Second, all of my email progress was lost. It then dawned on me how much time this email had taken from my schedule. Surely there had to be a more efficient method.
Then the idea surfaced - what if I recorded a message with my audio recorder on my phone? Then all I would have to do is email it. That’s exactly what I did...and it worked like a charm. Not only do I use it for my team and consulting practice, but I also coach leaders to do the same. It works in three simple steps:
The leaders I have coached to use this method were all thrilled and have immediately implemented it into their communication process. As I mentioned above, balance is key. Try not to make your audio messages longer than three to four minutes and remember to mix it up. Don’t overwhelm others with a never-ending stream of audio messages. Use them when necessary. I highly suggest using it when you’re in a pinch for time or have to convey detailed instructions.
3. Utilize Video Messaging Apps.
Another incredibly simple and helpful tool many teams use is Marco Polo. It’s a highly powerful app that you can install on your smartphone. It uses the camera on your phone and allows you to video record yourself speaking to an individual or group on the app. Your recipients can watch it in real time or at a later moment. What I appreciate the most is that it allows you to keep track of each train of thought in the video conversation. Furthermore, it’s a wonderful tool for teams on the go.
Last summer, I was away from my team almost every week. We knew that my schedule was forcing us to act like a virtual team. So we downloaded Marco Polo and used it for staff meetings, collaborative projects, and individual conversations. It was a huge blessing. Keep in mind that this tool was perfectly acceptable for my non-profit context. Be sure to check with your HR department to verify if an app like this would be acceptable for your line of work.
Also, remember these helpful tips. First, always be professional in your recordings. Conduct yourself as you would in a board meeting. Second, using it for non-related work would be an abuse of the tool. Third, don’t take advantage of a captive audience. Use discretion and balance with it. Try not to send more than one video to a recipient until they’ve had a chance to respond. This will help ensure that nothing slips through the cracks.
Join the conversation
White Space at Work
Marco Polo App
Picture by Christin Hume