How to improve internal communications in your team
They say the best ideas are born out of necessity.
I would say that adage definitely holds true at FCPR as we work as a team to improve our internal communications system.
We’ve grown to a team of seven in the past couple of months, an incredibly exciting feat for us. Along with that growth comes working with new team members to help them quickly acclimate to our culture, and learn our clients’ businesses.
It was easier to communicate when we were a smaller firm, but as we’ve grown, Kim and I have really had to work to make sure we’re sharing information in a timely way, so everyone’s fully informed of both internal and external developments that impact our business. To be honest, it’s forced me out of my comfort zone a little and made me be a little more structured in the way I deliver information.
But hopefully, the changes are for the better, and our team as a result has a more clear understanding of Kim’s and my vision for FCPR and for our clients’ strategies. Here are some take aways I’ve discovered as we’ve tried to fine tune our own internal communications process:
– Don’t assume you have a team of mind readers. Unless you work in the psychic phone network business, your team is more than likely not made up of mind readers. If you want to make sure they understand a development that impacts the whole team, tell them. Better yet, put it in writing, and then walk through it together to allow time for questions. As a team, you’re all in this together and it’s important to ensure the group is clear on management’s expectations and next steps.
– Provide frequent project updates. There’s a fine line between blowing up someone’s email box with 20 “Thanks!” emails and keeping everyone informed, but when a team starts to grow to include multiple people, it’s important to make sure everyone understands who’s doing what, and when it will be done. For our team, we ask people to respond to emails or projects with the following: A) acknowledge the project; B) provide an update to next steps; C) close the loop on the project when it’s complete.
It might seem like over communication, but nothing makes a manager happier than to know something’s just been handled. It means the team is working the way it should – everyone’s doing what they’re supposed to do and projects are being finished. And happy managers usually means happy employees. 🙂
– There are no such thing as stupid questions. If you’re not clear on a project direction or how something works, ASK. (See mind reader point above). But also, use your head. You have a job because you’re smart. Managers don’t mind to answer questions, but superstar employees will come into the situation ready to present ways they’ve tried to solve the problem so far, and an idea of what might work, but they’d still like some further instruction.
– Evolve. Our internal communications process is evolving. What worked a year ago in how we share information maybe doesn’t fit the structure we have in place now. Kim and I commit to change our tactics in how we involve team members in the process based on what’s needed at the time.
The common theme in all of this is the importance for team members to communicate and keep each other informed. If changes are happening that will impact the larger group or a client project, make sure everyone is clear and aware. Knowledge is power, and a team that can work together to come up with ways to improve a process or make a situation more effective is a powerful one.
What are some effective ways you keep your team up to speed on internal developments in your company? We’d love to learn about some new tactics out there.