A Team That Talks

When you have multiple people working on the same project, things can go awry.

They normally go awry because of failures in communication.

We’re not immune to it, either. Our team is comprised of humans, after all. And while humans are capable of effective communication and teamwork, we are also prone to forgetfulness and frustration. Sometimes, we make incorrect assumptions or forget to send a file. This obviously doesn’t do any good for the team. So, in the interest of keeping peace and productivity alive in the office, here are some tips to keep your team communicating effectively.

How To Keep Your Team Communicating

Check in regularly. Every morning, as we get ourselves settled in at the office, we check in with each other. Those of us working on the same project will check where we’re at with certain stages, what has changed, and if we’ve received any feedback from the client. Starting out the day on the same page allows us to move forward with a clear direction.

Clarify, and clarify again. Things can get muddled in the middle of a project. If you’re unclear about something, ask the other members of your team.

Don’t make assumptions. It’s really easy to assume who is responsible for certain things, what expectations are, and what has been completed so far. But any kind of assumption can be dangerous to the progress of a project. It can even set the project back for a time. Instead of making assumptions and leaving your team scrambling, double check where everyone is at.

Take responsibility for your stuff. I repeat: take responsibility. This is one of the most important aspects of effective team communication. Be clear about what your role is and where you’re at with your work. After all, you can only be responsible for your own work and behaviour. That makes it the best place to start.

Other Helpful Hints

Establish one main point of contact. For some projects in the past, we had multiple team members emailing the same client. It might make sense at first, but it can frustrate you and your team quickly. In this case, the client’s responses were scattered across multiple inboxes, and we had to scramble to figure out who had the latest feedback. It wasn’t the client’s fault in the slightest – it was ours. To avoid repeating that exhausting process, we now establish one person as a client’s main point of contact. That way, everyone on the team knows who to ask for client feedback.

Store your files consistently with easy access. Hunting for files can be incredibly frustrating, and it can slow down a project like nothing else. Instead of risking this situation occurring again and again, determine where files are going to be stored, and ensure that everyone who needs them has access. It’s more of a preventative measure, but it’s so worthwhile. Your team will be able to access everything they need quickly, saving all of you time and sanity.

Facilitate communication with tech. We’re big fans of Slack (and PlusPlus, anyone?). Sometimes, you just have too much going on to step away from your desk. Slack is a great way for us to send each other quick messages without inundating each other’s inboxes. Let’s face it – we’re mostly in it for the GIFs. But now we have a backup option for quick communication, too. Using chats like this makes it easy for our team.

You’ll likely develop your own patterns as time goes on. That’s good. Each team needs something different, and we don’t expect every one of our habits to work for you. We hope these give you a good starting point anyway!