We have 24 hours a day to create the life and business we want.
While we can’t manufacture more time, we can revisit how we spend it. In my companies (and yours?) we can leverage time by streamlining communication.
It’s challenging enough to stay in good communication with the ones we love and live with. (Are you married?)
With team members, customers and vendors, it can be even more confusing. It’s easy to fall into the “I might as well just do it myself because I am not getting through!” I’ve said it and I bet you have, too.
Resist the temptation! Here’s what I’ve learned about UN-complicating Communication…and getting the team pulling in the same direction.
First, let’s define the word. Merriam Webster offers this…
Simple Definition of communication
the act or process of using words, sounds, signs, or behaviors to express or exchange information or to express your ideas, thoughts, feelings, etc., to someone else
a message that is given to someone : a letter, telephone call, etc.
communications : the ways of sending information to people by using technology
Might I suggest that written communication is the most likely to be remembered and clearly transmitted. I’m not suggesting you don’ talk to people, however it’s best to follow up a business conversation with written communication. UN-Complicating Communication requires adding some simple, solid systems.
- Organizational Chart – The Org Chart maps out positions and the chain of command. One powerful way to clean up communications is to clear up who is responsible for what.
- Inbox – Every team member needs a physical Inbox. Deliver to the Inbox printed pieces of communication (letter, report card, insurance form, messages etc.) At one company I visited, the CSR tried using strategically placed Post Its to get the owner’s attention. She would stick the notes on his car steering wheel, or his desk chair, or the back of the bathroom door. Skip the “stalking” and deliver to the Inbox. If you have a virtual company, then move on to…
- Email – At EllenRohr.com and at ZOOM Drain, we are moving to Google everything. My hope is that if we have the same tools, it will make the procedures for communicating easier to consistently apply throughout the organizations.It’s not that gmail is the best email system; it’s just that we had to pick one. Otherwise our procedures get complicated. Use email to document conversations. Make good use of Subject lines. Keep the copy short, and polite.
- Shared Calendar – Commit to the same calendar program. Pick Outlook or iCalendar or Google or another electronic, sharable calendar. This way, you and your team can schedule meetings, and block out time for work, projects and personal pursuits. The busiest people I know have empty calendars. Unless you plan your time, it will get planned for you. Those “gotta minutes” will suck the time and life right out of every day.
- Master List of Projects – Every team member should have their own List of Projects and To Dos. We are all too old to remember things that aren’t written down. A single subject notebook, or an electronic task list is fine. And, the company should have a Master List of Projects. As you run into challenges, add to the Master List of Projects. This list can be loooooong as everyone in the company can add their ideas. Team members are heard and the projects are assembled.
- The Top Projects List – As time is limited, consider focusing on one or two company Projects at a time. Once a project is assigned, set up the first meeting. The meeting goes on the calendar. Unless you schedule time for projects, they probably won’t get done. However, if ideas become projects and projects get done, you create a culture where everyone knows, “We solve problems around here.” That’s priceless!
- Meetings – Meetings are awesome! They are communication heaven. If you invite the right people and stick to a short, productive agenda. For projects, discuss the basics: What, why, who, by when, how much and how. For each department of the company, departmental meetings offer the opportunity to solve problems and help each other. What’s not to love?
It will take some time and energy to implement these systems. Just a little discipline will reap huge rewards! Layer them on one at a time and commit to using them. Consider the alternative of not using them. How ineffective is it to keep telling people stuff and hope they remember it? How often do you forget to follow up and end up with disappointing results? How often are you and your team dumping distractions on each other? It’s awkward at first to impose new ways of doing things. But if you want a business that works and a life beyond business, these are the essential tools!
Even with rockin’ systems, the best you can do is improve communication. You’ll never perfect it! So, lighten up a bit. Apologize if needed. Get back to the systems if you fall away from them. Ban blame. Blame messes everything up.
Your intention is paramount. Intend to communication well and demonstrate your integrity with a disciplined approach to your agreed upon systems. Clear intention is the best way to UN-Complicate everything!
Business UN-Complicated…Life UN-Leashed!
PS…How have you UN-Complicated how you communicate? Let’s hear from you! xo$