February 26, 2022
You’re describing a project that you are working on with a colleague. You describe to the colleague exactly what you need to complete the project. You describe the role they will play. You discuss deadlines. You think you are being clear, and somehow, when that colleague delivers, you realize something got lost in translation.
Whether you’ve had that conversation with a business partner or a personal partner, you’ve probably had some memorable moments when you thought you were communicating effectively and expectations were still missed. We are constantly connected, always able to contact each other, and still trying to figure out how to communicate.
Communicating effectively is a skill that must be learned in order to manage a team, work collaboratively, or even report on the status of an ongoing project. We have so many avenues for communicating that we may not think much about the value of each word that goes into expressing our needs. You can call, email, meet in person, video chat, text, or instant message with very little effort. Luckily, making the effort to ensure that your words are effectively expressing what you need can be mastered.
We have so many avenues for communicating that we may not think much about the value of each word that goes into expressing our needs.
We’ve been in the business of exceeding business’ expectations for a couple of decades now. So, we know the importance of listening closely and asking questions. You probably learned the elements you need to communicate effectively shortly after learning how to read who, what, where, when, why, and how.
In the modern workplace, these elements might not come as a surprise, but putting these elements in a more relevant order might make a huge difference in ensuring workplace comprehension. You may also find it important for overall workplace morale.
One of the first things to establish when discussing something you need or want from a partner is to describe your desired outcome or the WHY.
Addressing why a project or even a task is important is one of the easiest things to forget to include in the scope of work, but it is one of the most important to ensure that goals are met. It also is the only way for employees to weed out any tasks that have lost their value over time.
Express your motives and make sure that everyone involved in the project is on the same page in terms of why this project has value. Explain why it is important to the business and why it has significance to you. Be detailed and realistic about where this workload falls on the priority list.
Focusing on the WHY behind any element of the workload is crucial. Understanding why is a motivating factor and helps people understand which information is important to provide, or even which skills are most valuable to the process.
Failure to explain WHY any aspect of a person’s work is detrimental to their ability to get it done. It might lead to the belief that crucial steps can be skipped. It could lead them to be suspicious of the motivations behind tasks. It could even lead employees to question their own value in performing each task.
You know how it is, a manager outlines a goal and asks a person to help fulfill it. Then another person gets involved. Then another. Then someone else sends analytics, and you hardly know who is involved or where you stand anymore. Worse, you might not even know who to contact for crucial information.
Knowing who is involved in working toward any goal is important. Outline each person and their role as soon as it is established. With every single person openly working toward a common goal, you eliminate chances for confusion.
Now you need to be clear about what needs to happen in order to reach those goals. What are the tasks? Which habits need to be cultivated? With each person knowing the desired outcome planning the WHAT can also be an outlet for employees to step forward to put the best procedures and most effective processes in place.
Are there deadlines?
Is there a benchmark period to evaluate if you are on track to meet common goals?
Don’t be coy about the importance of knowing which dates are important to each person on the team. If you have a deadline in mind, communicate that. Your team can’t read your mind or feel your panic as deadlines approach. So, you’ll have to tell them while we wait for that technology to be fully developed 😉
We’re seriously hoping that people don’t assume all the WHEREs in the world are now on Zoom (though, it’s a fair option). With many colleagues working consistently remote or traveling for business it helps to be explicit about the limitations of the location. Be sure to outline if certain work must be done in an office, if it is location flexible, or if meetings must happen in a particular place at a particular time. People need to plan ahead, and it helps to know where they are expected to be and when they are expected to be there.
The biggest thing to remember when you are trying to communicate effectively is to never assume.
Don’t imply that a task is important- say it. Don’t let employees imagine that the work has value for the business- tell them. Don’t keep goals a secret.
One of our incredible teammates recently described the standard processes in their workplace as a “living and breathing thing”. It needs to change and adapt to stay efficient and relevant to the common goals. Knowing those goals and why those changes take place is significant to making those adaptations. Communicating that knowledge effectively to your team, that’s a habit you can cultivate.