You don't want more communication. What you want is more effective communication, right?
Isn’t that what you actually mean when you tell your team to communicate more?
I’ve worked with a number of clients recently and sat in on a lot of meetings focused on “more communication.” There are a lot of good intentions in that message, but the results of those meetings frustrate my clients most. Inevitably it leads to at least one person sending a meeting request after the meeting and another starting an email chain that takes anywhere from 12-24 emails to resolve.
More meetings and more emails don’t automatically solve communication issues. It feels like you’re taking action, but what’s the point if you’re not actually communicating.
Don’t leave your team hanging on what “effective communication” or “more communication” looks like. It might seem obvious to you. As a leader you’re taking a 30,000 foot view, but your managers and team members need more details.
The message you send when you call for “more communication” is that more of anything and everything is better. More emails, more meetings, more Slack messages, etc.,… More of the same, or more of the wrong thing isn’t better and doesn’t solve a problem.
These questions can help you provide additional details to your team so they can communicate more effectively.
What is the communication breakdown you’re trying to solve? Be as specific as you can. If the problem is in communicating schedules and who’s in the office versus working from home, say that. Blanket statements about improving general communication skills are too broad for anyone to correctly guess the real issue and how you want it resolved.
Who is involved? There’s a difference between a lack of communication between team members and between managers and their team. Colleagues will talk differently to each other than they will managers. Acknowledge what that communication looks like and who needs to be participating.
What does effective communication look like? Consider your company values and current workplace environment. If work/life balance is an important company value, more meetings might not be the answer. If reconnecting after a long stretch away from the office is a big focus, then encouraging your team to take coffee breaks at a specific time when in the office could be a solution.
How do you want people to communicate with you? There’s no right or wrong answer here. It truly is personal preference and it’s important to tell your team what you expect from them. If you want a three-sentence email summary by 5pm every Friday, say that. If you’ve determined addition 1-on-1’s would be most effective, tell them that’s what you expect. Leaving people to figure it out on their own is frustrating, confusing and a waste of time.
Spending a few extra minutes to determine and specify what effective communication looks like saves time in the long run. When your team knows the steps you expect them to take they can move forward quicker and with more confidence.
Communication is key in business, but more communication isn’t the solution. More effective communication is.
My clients come to me for strategies that help them communicate more effectively at work. I provide specific techniques that can be used in every interaction that allow teams to say what they need to say, get the answers they need and can get their job done with fewer roadblocks. If your team could use a few additional communication tools or a refresher on how to talk to people in person, let’s talk and see if we should team up. Send me an email: [email protected]