As employees find themselves collaborating more frequently to accomplish everyday work, new skill sets are being developed. Employees are learning that to be successful in this new fast-paced environment, there needs to be more emphasis on communication skills.
The nature of team work is changing. No longer are teams only assembled for long term projects. Today we are seeing that employees need to collaborate with others more than ever before. According to a BusinessWeek study, 82% of white-collar professionals now report that they need to partner with others “throughout the day to get their work done.” With these new daily teams, employees can no longer afford to spend time going through Tuckman’s stages of group performance to be productive. Instead, they have to be ready to jump in and get to work.
Takin’ Care of Business
The key to jump starting group activity is through communication. Ever notice that semi-awkwardness of those first few team meetings? Well, a great way to overcome the group awkwardness is through clear, frequent communication. Like most things, selecting the right tool for the right job is instrumental for success. Picking the right form of something as abstract as communication can be a challenge. However, in a post from Information Maven, Greg Meyer, has set out to help guide us. Meyer breaks down group communication into three distinct groups.
- “Scrum-style” – This form often takes shape as a physical stand up meeting. They are usually pretty frequent (often times you’ll have them occurring daily). Meyer suggests that these meetings be focused on identifying only the most important, issues that you need to discuss. For example, some subjects to talk about during a stand up could be, where you are in the project, what you’re having trouble accomplishing, and possible issues that could cause delays. This way everyone on the team is kept informed and can offer suggestions or support to help the team stay on track and meet the deadline.
- Status Updates – If you don’t meet as frequently (instead of daily, let’s say twice a week), then this is a great way to keep team members informed. Meyer suggests email as the preferred medium for this form of communication. It’s important to make sure you keep communication here precise and brief. The goal here is to communicate important information so when team members arrive at a team meeting they will have already identified potential challenges and come up with ways they can help their fellow team members.
- Single Topic – Sometimes face-to-face meetings are the best way to communicate. When conducting these meetings, it’s important to keep them on point. Try to adhere to a single topic, this way you won’t waste time discussing tangential issues. By keeping a meeting focused, it will also be easier to come up with a definitive action plan instead of a laundry list of various ideas that will have to be sorted through.
When you start using these forms of communication, you will notice that your team communication will be more open, fluid, and better. This is not only important for those quick ad hoc teams, but also it’s important for the increasing number of virtual employees. So give these a try and you’ll see that with increased communication will lead to increased productivity.