Individual and Team Communication Improvements

A follow on to my single word email or text messages blog post! My work team really wanted to overhaul our work habits when it came to technology. We took on deeper approaches to communicating individually or as a team. Key note to share, my team is a global team we were actually had folks in AZ, OR, CA, UK and Hong Kong. Take a look at some of them…

  • No useless emails! We had one person on our team that just had to answer every email. I think every team has one of those folks. How do you best approach this one? Putting judgment on the worth of the email is tough?  The team made a rule that before you hit send… You stop and think,  is this email really necessary to the folks that it is being sent to? Does it add any value to the discussion? Is it actionable? If yes to any of those, hit send.  I made sure that the team could highlight any email that was sent that really broke the rules – and we would discuss in our staff meetings. We got nothing but a mixed bag of results. We did see less of those, but it never stopped.
  • Move long threaded emails to Social Media! We had a work-space within a social enterprise package that allowed us to have those discussions captured. This package had email capability, so those folks that like the emails – they could simply reply and the email was captured in the thread in our social enterprise package. For those that did not like email – they could go directly to the link and add their reply. It was a great way to capture and have documentation on those long discussions.
  • Increased usage of instant messaging! One way to reduce email messages is to focus all important communications with the right tool. Instant messaging is a very good way to help improve individual and team communications. I especially liked the fact that you can see who you need to talk to is on-line. Our team adopted some rules as to when to communicate. Being “Busy” is not normally go ahead and sent a message. We added a “new” busy – the one that says – don’t even try – I am busy!
  • Reach out and touch someone! With more technical ways to communicate, it is amazing how the two oldest methods are getting less and less use. The telephone is not the oldest, but it is amazing in a sea of cubicles the phone rings less and less. The oldest is actually just get up and walk over to the person to TALK. We had a network problem at work one day (no email or instant messaging), I actually had a person say, they were going to go home because nothing was working. Really? I reminded this person that there are telephones and in person ways to get work done. Give it a shot!

Some of the changes were well received. Many of the time zone and distanced challenged folks started to really get a better understanding of what was really happening. They started to really feel like they were a part of the team. Not everything worked to everyone’s personal work habits. We would always discuss our changes in staff meetings to make sure that what was going well, continued. What was not working or not followed, we would tweak of maybe just call out the person that failed to follow our team guidelines. It takes time of real habits to be broken and new ones to form. The real thing is you have to start somewhere…