Without great communication, errors, disagreements, and wasted efforts can stand in the way of your team’s flow. (Wondering what team flow is? Take a look at this blog post.)
Communicating well isn’t as easy as it seems. Too little, and you leave your colleagues in the dark. Too much, and your concentration is disrupted and your work slows.
Like so much in life, balance is key, and the dynamic of every team’s communication will be unique to its own internal ecosystem.
Perhaps your office thrives on traditional, straight talking, face-to-face chat? Or do you find that you never make a decision without sending an email to confirm it first? Do you vary where you sit each day, or does everybody have their own clearly defined space?
Whatever the communication culture in your team, it’s pretty likely that technology is now at the centre of it. Email is still one of the most common methods, and as we’ve discussed in the past, it can at times seem like a millstone around our necks, threatening to swamp us in unproductive inbox management and take away precious time from urgent projects. Yet when used sparingly and efficiently, email is still an essential for sharing files and information with teams of people.
Of course, face-to-face conversation is the most direct and immediate way of communicating. However, it can be disruptive – by going over for a quick chat every time you have a question, you risk breaking your colleagues’ concentration and interrupting their individual flow.
It’s a good idea to discuss ‘interruption signals’ among your team in advance – like agreeing that wearing headphones means you don’t want to be disturbed.
On top of this, for an increasing number of geographically disparate teams, business travellers, and remote workers, face-to-face has become something of a luxury, rather than the default.
Whatever your communication culture, without a little consideration of the motivations, implications, and limitations of how you talk to one another, you risk ending up just shouting into the wind…
The smartphone in your pocket provides multiple smart alternatives. Nokia Lumia supports video-calls via Skype, group-based instant messaging and file exchange through People Hub, and of course every major social media platform including Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
Oh, did we forget to mention that your smartphone still functions as a telephone? With so many other features, it can slip your mind that sometimes the simplest answer is to pick up the phone.
What’s communication like where you work? Do you think it varies from industry to industry, or department to department?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments, and be sure to check back for more soon. If you’d like to read more about team flow in the meantime, download our free Teams That Flow ebook or watch our animation:
Image credit: JuditK