Everybody wants their team to get more done in the day, and effective communication is a big part of that. Rumor has it that when everyone is on the same page, rowing in the same direction, amazing things can be done.
There are good communication habits and bad communication habits. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference, and chances are, you’ve built some bad habits into your work life. If you want to boost your team’s effectiveness, you’ll need to get rid of those sneaky practices.
Here are five big-value communication hacks you’ve probably never thought of.
1) Choose Your Tools Wisely
Some companies love having the latest business tool. As soon as there’s a new way to collaborate, communicate or coordinate your work, you’re implementing it on your team.
But when you’re always distracted by the next shiny object, you scatter your communication channels and create constant chaos. Now your team has to keep track of more and more communication routes, and it becomes less clear which one is used for what purposes.
Communication apps can be great tools, but not every app is the right app for your company. Here are some guidelines to keep in mind:
Email isn’t always the best
While email is still going strong, instant communication is becoming more popular. Slack, text messages and other messaging apps are the new standard for many teams.
Make it mobile
Some of the most important business is done away from your desk. The more mobile-friendly your communication tool is, the better.
Keep it secure
Before adopting any communication tool, make sure it’ll provide the cybersecurity you need. Small businesses are the companies most susceptible to attack.
2) Put It Off
Procrastinators, rejoice! Sometimes, putting things off makes you more productive. There’s a time and a place for everything, including communication. If you’re peppering your people with updates and FYIs and BTWs and CYAs throughout the day, all they’re doing is reading and responding to tiny little fires you’re creating for them.
Chances are, most of those messages—while helpful to know—are nothing more than distractions at the time. It forces your people to multitask, which is horrible for getting work done.
Schedule your non-urgent messages for an ideal time of day—either first thing in the morning, around noon or at the end of the day. That way, you’re not interrupting people’s work and they can focus on top-priority tasks.
3) Don’t Be Available
Boosting your team’s effectiveness means being available when people need you. And most people excel at that. You’re never separated from your phone, and it’s always on. You reply to every text, and you have an open-door policy. But sometimes, that availability does more harm than good. Sometimes you just need to be able to hunker down and get sh*t done!
Don’t be afraid to make yourself unavailable when you need to. It might even be smart to schedule a block of time for it every day. Here are some tips to make your offline time successful:
- Protect your time by blocking it off in your calendar
- Communicate to your team ahead of time that you’ll be unavailable
- Update your Slack/IM status to Away or Do Not Disturb
- Silence your phone. Better yet, turn it off!
- Close your office door
- Go offsite to work for a while
You’ll be surprised how much more productive you can be during those blocks. You might even be surprised how productive the rest of your team is when they have to resolve issues themselves!
4) Quit Caffeinating
Well, caffeinate if you need to—in moderation, just to gain that little edge. But if you’re relying on caffeine to keep yourself alert, you can bet that you’re not communicating well.
You can’t think straight when you’re running on empty, and your communication skills take a nose-dive. Besides that, your emotions are raw and you’ll have difficulty processing information. Not great for those days when you’ve got to get stuff done.
Instead, get plenty of rest each night. You’ll find your mind is clear and focused, and you’ll communicate to your team much more effectively.
5) Turn Off the Firehose
Maybe you’ve heard the saying that it’s impossible to over-communicate. Guess what? It’s possible! When your team is barraged with constant notifications, unproductive chat threads and train-of-consciousness emails, it’s like trying to drink from a firehose. All of that low-priority information makes it nearly impossible to get work done. Take it easy on your people. Follow these best practices:
- Focus on one main idea per email, chat thread or conversation. If you’ve got other topics to communicate, move them to another email.
- Filter out the people who don’t need to be included.
- Don’t reply to all unless you should.
- Limit the water cooler chat on Slack
- Don’t flood emails or Slack channels with company-wide FYIs. Make it easy for people to get the updates on their own time without being interrupted to read another low-level message every couple of hours.
A Better, Stronger, Faster Team
Strong team communication boosts your people’s effectiveness. Take your communication to the next level! Try out one of these hacks each week and see how it improves your team’s productivity.
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