As a startup, there are many things you need to do right simultaneously. It could be that on Monday you start building your growth funnel and on Tuesday you also have to start making some website optimizations. Your team is probably working in a chaotic environment. Therefore, you have to remove as much as many team communication frictions as you can.
The importance of optimal collaboration between different departments and teams should never be underestimated. However, knowing how to keep your message consistent at all times is not so easy. This is true especially for budget-constrained startups that don’t have a CCO. So here are the do’s and don’ts of team communication to bring your teamwork to the next level.
Being afraid of remote working is like being afraid of Progress. The remote workplace revolution already happened nearly a decade ago. The world is full of many multimillion-dollar enterprises whose staffs have rarely if ever, met in person. If it works for others it might work for you, too.
Remember, you’re running an agile startup, not a huge monolithic company. Therefore, you’re only going to enjoy the benefits of remote working without dealing with some of the most burdensome cons. Remote working will give you access to a much larger talent pool. Also, it will save you a lot of money from office-related expenses. Also, it will help you harness the full power of a key ingredient of modern workplaces: diversity. It’s really easy to manage a small team of remote employees if you follow some fundamental rules anduse the right tools. Which brings us to the next point…
Get the right team communication tools
Luckily enough, today we got many amazing tools at our disposal that allow us to communicate effectively. Clearly, not all business tools are made equal, and there’s a huge difference between a work instant messenger and one created for leisure and lighter forms of team communication. Take your time experimenting with all the different collaboration tools that can enhance your productivity and ease team collaboration. In particular, you want to use:
Project management tool: they are amazingly useful platforms that help your team members coordinate their efforts on any shared project. Other than keeping everyone on the same page, a solid project management tool smooths out all team communications. Especially when people work in different time zones.
Productivity tool or CRM software: productivity tools streamline your workload. Shared CRMs help teams share information and work on the same platform so that everyone shares the same toolset instead of using many individual tools. This will save time to train people, keep the work consistent, and avoid unnecessary clutter.
Business Instant Messenger: Business IMs are a step beyond traditional IMs in many ways. They keep all your conversation encrypted, guaranteeing that privacy and security are safeguarded at all times. They are also important for compliance with regulations such as HIPAA or GDPR.
Video Conferencing Tools:A smart set of video conferencing tools is great to enhance communication between people who cannot meet in person such as remote teams or outreach teams that work on the field. They can be used for meetings, webinars, or seminars. Video conference tools are usually integrated with other tools such as IMs and video calls for maximum efficiency.
Screen recording tools: You can use screen recorders for a variety of purposes. For example, you can make your training sessions much more interactive and engaging. Or you can check your employee’s activities during their day-by-day activities, and get a better understanding of your internal processes.
Determine what information needs to be reported
Reporting to supervisors, senior management, and colleagues is certainly important. However, sharing even the smallest details of one’s activity every day is usually quite annoying. Knowing what really matters and what is probably just menial information is necessary to avoid over-reporting. This is especially important for some departments. Security teams, for example, should know better when a certain event is signalling a potential breach. Under-reporting in security exposes the organization to serious risks, whenever a potential threat is underestimated. On the other hand, over-reporting may signal false alerts whenever an unnecessary red flag is raised.
Performing an in-depth log analysis is the first step to aggregate all the most relevant information and sort what is really worth reporting. For example, an unnatural volume of particular events coming from a known source of threat (bad actors, malware sites), is often an important indicator that something is going wrong. Some areas must be monitored constantly, but data should be shared only when a compromise indicator is spotted. For example, failed user logins may occur on a daily basis as people forget their passwords or mistype them. However, if a large amount of logins occurs outside of business hours, something fishy is probably going on.
The simplest way to avoid under- or over-reporting issues, is to provide a quick, easy-to-read reference guide to your staff. This way, they will know exactly what your priorities are and hone their efforts accordingly. A guide is not a static document. A guide is something that will evolve organically along with your people and your startup. Once again, communication guidelines should be a part of a larger plan.
Let’s move to the next point.
Set up your internal team communication policy
Setting up a series of clear and understandable rules that everyone should follow is vital to avoiding communication errors and preventing issues from escalating. Besides “what you should report and when,” you can have more tram communication scenario guidelines. Thus, you could have a guideline on ‘How to communicate your brand message to prospects’. And another guideline for ‘How to deal with user complaints and unusual requests.’
Furthermore, you want to establish some general policies to create a pleasant and humane work environment. This way, you will ensure that everyone will feel respected and protected. These kinds of feelings improve the engagement and productivity of your employees. After all, you should never forget that you’re working with people just like you. They share similar needs, hopes, and desires.
So here are some key points you don’t want to miss:
Set a default time zone
If your people are working in different time zones, misunderstandings are just around the corner. Even simple sentences like “we have a meeting tomorrow” or “the work we did in the morning” can lead to significant confusion when there’s a 12-hours difference between employees. If your company has a physical headquarter somewhere, it may be a good idea to use its time zone as the “default” time zone.
Use only a common language at all times
If most of your team is based in Germany and just a handful of them live in the U.S., it may come natural to start speaking German after a while. However, unless your American collaborators can also speak German, they won’t understand a word. They will start feeling excluded. Therefore, always establish a common language that everybody must talk at all times – the only exception being when every participant can speak the same language.
Avoid jargon and idioms
Team communication can be difficult on its own. Therefore, jargon, acronyms, and technical terms can only make it harder. Salespeople may have a very hard time when a technician from the IT team tells them to “unpack the compressed libraries they downloaded from the shared database on their desktop.” On the other hand, a simpler set of instructions that can be followed by less tech-savvy people might lead to less technical difficulties. Teams should always avoid using technical language and acronyms when it’s not needed.
Respect other people’s working hours
When their working time is over, people, in general, don’t like to be bothered with work. Even if their colleagues working in different parts of the world just started their days. If they are stand-by all the time, this can lead to burning out. To avoid that, you need clear rules about how fast someone should reply, for example. Thus, you need to set a clear guideline to explain to everyone what’s the appropriate time respond. This will also help them to manage their time.
Make everyone feel included
Cultural and gender differences are at the basis of many disparities. Even simple misunderstandings may ramp up to serious issues in intercultural teams, so it’s paramount to establish a friendly environment where everyone knows and respects the basic norms of everyone’s culture. Do not underestimate any behaviour which may hide subtle signs of harassment. Always remember that everyone in that room should always be treated equally as a human being, regardless of his or their title or role.
Team communication – Conclusion
Managing and coordinating a team is never an easy task. Establishing a rock-solid team communication strategy is vital to ensure that your startup will grow. After all, you should never forget that every successful organization is ultimately made up of people. And people need the right tools and the right leadership to thrive.