Wednesday December 9, 2015 0 comments
By Andrea Lotz
You wouldn’t think that small teams, as in a small business or a startup, would have communication issues. Many people mistakenly assume that having fewer people means that communication will always be efficient, timely, and clear.
In actuality, small organizations are particularly prone to serious communication issues. These are often caused by a lack of systems and processes around communication. Having the right tools makes a big difference in getting a cohesive internal communication strategy off the ground.
Common internal communication issues for small teams
- Wasted time in meetings
- Misunderstood or misremembered verbal instructions
- Vague updates on project status
- Excessive chit-chat and personal conversation
- Misuse of virtual chat tools
Approaching the problem
Choosing tools to correct issues like the ones above depends on a lot of factors. Implementing new tools can be costly, takes time, and doesn’t necessarily guarantee a good solution to your problem.
One trap many business owners and startup founders fall into is the trap of solving one problem at a time. As a new problem is discovered, it’s patched with a new tool. Tools that are built to solve one specific problem are called “point solutions.”
Point solutions have their advantages, but most small organizations can’t afford the challenge and cost of researching, testing, implementing, evaluating, and integrating them. In many cases, it’s easier to adopt a suite of tools, which all operate in more or less the same way, and which come pre-integrated.
Important tools for internal communication
When you’re looking for a software solution (or solutions), make sure you cover these important bases:
Many business owners are reluctant to implement any kind of live chat system, because they think it non-work-related “chatting” will reduce productivity. With many chat systems, this is likely to be the case. Many chat systems aren’t transparent across the organization, which makes accountability difficult.
However, if you look for a live chat system that’s already embedded into a toolkit, which can generate reports and evaluate productivity, that problem goes away. For example, in AllProWebTools Chat, anyone can view all chats between employees, and the software generates Chat reports.
Chat allows employees to communicate without disturbing the quiet of the office, while still allowing managers and business owners to get the insights they need.
How do you communicate what needs to be done in your organization? Do you rely on verbal communication and Google Calendar to keep things organized, or do you have a system in place to make assigning, prioritizing, and tracking progress on tasks easy?
If you’re relying on verbal communication, have you calculated the cost of all those meetings? What about of the inevitable misunderstandings that happen when information is communicated verbally? Using a tasking system ensures there’s always a written record, and reduces the number of meetings you have to have with your team.
Even if you use a system like Google Calendar to manage tasks, misunderstandings about prioritization, responsibility, and dependencies might happen anyway. The tasking system in AllProWebTools lets you set priorities and deadlines, allows a task to be passed around the office to collaborate, and clearly shows who’s responsible for a task at a given time.
The best way to reduce meetings and eliminate misunderstandings is to increase the transparency in your business. That means, making it so all employees understand how their role fits into the bigger picture of the company.
At AllProWebTools, we’ve found the best way to accomplish this is to let all employees see what everyone else is working on. Whenever someone makes a sale, makes progress on a task, or speaks to a client, the whole organization hears about it — without a single meeting!
We do it with a unique tool in our console called the Workflow Timeline. It’s a live feed of all the most important updates in the business, which post to the homepage of AllProWebTools. It most closely resembles a social media feed — updates appear in reverse chronological order, accompanied by the name and picture of the employee who did it.
We love this tool because it creates a virtual workplace, where we can all communicate clearly, efficiently, and silently. Conversation stays productive and work related, check-ins happen virtually, and there’s always a written record of exactly what happened.
Implementing internal communication tools
The beginning is always the hardest part with new tools, especially ones like these that change the internal processes of an organization. You’re likely to encounter some stubbornness initially, as people struggle to change their ways.
It’s very important to have a few team members who are champions for transparency. These team members will lead the way by example, using the tools correctly and in the intended spirit.
Be patient when transitioning to new tools, and start small. The more open you are to answering questions, addressing concerns, and explaining your reason for implementing the new tools, the more willing your employees will be to really give the tools a chance.
What tools have really made a big difference in your internal processes?