Maybe You Just Had to be There
How many times have we heard a friend or colleague finish a story with an expectation of laughter, and when none comes, say halfheartedly, “maybe you just had to be there?” It’s true; there’s something important about being present to truly understand a situation, even with today’s modern communication tools like video chat and instant messaging.
Realistically, however, we know that we can’t always be everywhere, and we rely on these technologies to help us stay connected to projects, decisions, and changes. But these tools are only as good as the businesses using them. Too often, organizations fail to effectively keep everyone up to date on decisions and adjustments. The following are best practices to help organizations communicate effectively and keep everyone up-to-date on what is going on, no matter what your technology tool-bag offers.
- Have a note taker/distributor
Choose a member of your team to take notes during project meetings and then distribute the notes to the whole group. Not every word needs to be documented, but critical changes and decisions should be recorded so that each individual has the most up-to-date information at hand.
- Know your role
You may be a decision maker, a reporter, an information provider, a subject matter expert, or something else altogether. Know ahead of time what your role is and what will be required of you during and after the meeting so you can plan how to communicate or create change.
- Communicate to the right people
Make sure that everyone who should be informed is being informed. Often times, key people are left out of the communication circle to the detriment of project success. If you have been appointed to attend a meeting on behalf of your team or department, make sure you communicate back to your team or department.
- Don’t assume
Keep your communication brief, but give enough context to help readers understand what is going on. If there are action items, make sure these are highlighted, along with expected time-frames for completion.
- Don’t view information as power
Avoid hiding information as a way to maintain power. Power and influence come from making change happen. Hiding information to make oneself more essential is a short-lived strategy that is doomed to failure.
Communication is a critical component for success. Overlooking it usually leads to tension, from a child failing to tell his or her parents that they are going to a friend’s house, to a data architect forgetting to tell the rest of the project team about database changes that impact their deliverables. Implementation of the best practices above will help improve the communication failures that are encountered at all levels of business.