By Wayne Turmel
No doubt, effective communication is absolutely critical to the success of your team. Today, let’s consider two “macro” tips and one “micro” tip. The macro tips are big picture ways of thinking about communication, the micro tip is something simple that will make your life easier. First the macro tips:
1. Before responding to a communication challenge, consider “richness vs. scope”
An important part of communication is choosing the right tool for each message or task. Before you just send off that email, think about the message you’re sending. How important is it? How will the recipient respond; will they have questions that you need to address right away? Does more than one person at a time need to receive the message at the same time?
Remember that “richness” offers multiple verbal, vocal and visual cues, (think face-to-face conversations) while “scope” is all about beating time, space and dimension (email, town hall webinars).
Yes, a conference call is one way to share information, but is the visual component necessary, for example, so that you’re all looking at the same document at the same time? Maybe a webmeeting is more appropriate? Having a coaching conversation with an employee about their performance? Maybe a webcam would lead to a better outcome than a simple phone call from a Starbucks somewhere.
2. Communication is more than data transfer
Remember that almost every type of communication has both a data component (e.g., this month’s sales figures or marketing numbers) and a context component (e.g., “Is this good news or bad?” “What does this mean to me?” or “What should I do with this information?”)
When sending messages, put yourself in the shoes of your recipients. Realize that they will have an emotional and very personal response to the message, even if it’s a simple one. Help your readers or listeners understand what you’re telling them and what it means to them in the context of their work.
And now the micro tip:
3. Snip long email threads
How often have you searched for an email but can’t find it because the topic being discussed doesn’t match the subject line on the email. (How are you supposed to remember that the important information for the Johnson Account is labeled “Thank you”?)
Before you hit send, help yourself and your recipient. Ask yourself two questions: 1) Does the subject line accurately reflect the message you’re sending? And 2) If someone opens the email, will they see the critical information in the first paragraph or two? If not, consider cutting and pasting the important information into a new message with a new subject line.
Follow those tips, and you will make big improvements in how you communicate with your virtual employees.
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