Everyone knows that communication is vital to the success of an office. You must be able to speak clearly and persuasively to get people on your side. However, communication in the workplace has dynamically progressed with recent technological changes, leading to new challenges. There are a handful of ways to improve your communication skills that pertain to your professional life.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, we often saw technology as the culprit behind the decline in face-to-face talking. But in our current socially distanced world, we must give credit to technology for opening many new avenues for expanding the comparatively limited communication options we had available in the past.
Working remotely has become the norm for many this past year. As such, distributed teams need to find new ways to communicate effectively despite being in different locations. And everyone can benefit from better these new methods.
Use Your Tools
Modern workplace tools like cloud-based file systems and word processors have been around for years. But only recently have their features come into their own. It's vital to stay up to date with the latest advancements; otherwise, you might be missing out on a significant advantage when it comes to your productivity and ability to communicate clearly with co-workers.
Here are a few great communication tools small and medium businesses are under-utilizing:
- Collaborative Tools. In the past, different versions of documents would have been emailed back and forth. As more and more changes were made, tracking revisions became almost impossible. Apps like GSuite and Office 365 allow employees to do away with email and the shared drives of old. Instead, they can simultaneously collaborate in real-time on many files with changes being saved in the cloud.
- Instant Messaging can be more efficient than long, drawn-out email chains, especially when asking a quick question. When you're messaging with someone in real-time, it's much more interactive and natural. When relying on email only, co-workers can be hesitant to reach out for quick consultations or share some recent news. Besides, who wants more email read through? No one.
- Video Calls aren't just for remote teams. How do you know when a video meeting is necessary? If you can't say it in a few sentences, it's probably fair to hop on a video call. Plus, a video call is the closest thing to interacting in person, and all you need is a fast internet connection.
- Intranets are private networks connected via the web where employees can access company information. The concept isn't new, but they are often not used to their full potential. Modern intranets allow for interactivity where co-workers can discuss ideas and create in-depth knowledge bases so that no one has to ask the same question twice. They allow for the consolidation of resources into one place.
Update Your Team
No likes to be left in the dark. And every functioning team needs to have clearly communicated tangible goals and deadlines. Without effective communication, teams can miss deadlines, and co-workers will get frustrated, which may negatively affect the outcome.
When looking at a list of established goals and deadlines, determine who needs regular updates, and be sure to update them whenever a new goal is set, or a deadline is changed. Project management or intranet software can help you, but it also can be as simple as an email.
People often misinterpret tone in emails and messages since it can be difficult to express emotion in writing accurately. Phrase your communications as carefully and concisely as possible. Conversely, if you're unclear about someone's tone, pick up the phone or video chat. Often what seemed hostile via email was not intended that way.
Using the collaborative and problem-solving impact of meetings has been at the heart of every business's communication strategy. Even before COVID-19, flexible virtual conferences began to replace the traditional meeting paradigm. Yet, virtual conferences come with their own share of problems that can throw off those who keep a more traditional meeting mindset.
There are a few easy ways to solve the virtual meeting problem:
- Commit. Even with the best collaboration technology available, you need to commit to the idea that meetings have gone virtual. Having half your team shuffle into a room to yell at a conference phone while the other half of your team struggles to hear what's going on is not helping anyone. If all parties called into the meeting, then all parties could speak and be heard.
- Meet less. Because of remote work, more people have begun to realize how unnecessary some meetings are. Consider cutting back on the number of meetings you hold. You might be surprised by how little you miss them and how many can be replaced by email.
- Have Shorter Meetings. Try meeting for shorter periods. Stricter time limits force you to communicate more clearly and concisely. You'll also minimize the chances of extended interruptions.
You can mitigate the new communication challenges brought about by the modern workplace by effectively using your tools, being purposeful in your interactions, regular update your team, and by avoiding unnecessary meetings.
Posted in Communication on Oct 15, 2020.