Communication in a Digital World
One of the greatest issues with working virtually is that there is a lot of communication coming and going at any given moment. As the manager of a remote virtual team, it is my responsibility to be an effective communicator, swimming in the sea of information to fish out the important parts. Changes or issues can pop up on a daily (sometimes hourly) basis, and it’s vital to the success of both the virtual teams and the various points of administration (in our company, and the client) to communicate effectively and efficiently.
The methods we choose to relay information, our ability to sift through details to identify directives and important elements, the ability to be clear and succinct, and the style in which we convey a message are vital tools in taking on the challenges of communication. Words from a manager to a team, or an account rep to a client, can have many consequences, and the tone of delivery can make all the difference to the recipients.
Here are four key strategies I believe help to create effective communication:
When relaying information back and forth between parties, it is important to take a moment to gather yourself. Knee jerk reactions to incidents can leave an undesirable tone for the reader. If you are feeling stressed, a reactionary statement may leave the receiving party feeling wronged, accused, humiliated, or even confused about the information they are reading. Often times if we take the extra time, even just a few moments more, to create and reread an email/IM/PM, etc., we can focus content and delivery. The reader can only benefit. Another method is to write what you intend, and before sharing, step away from the computer. Come back a few minutes, reread, and ensure that you are satisfied with the ‘tonality.’ Once you’re ready, go ahead and send it.
When there is a lot of information to relay, make sure it is direct and to the point. Having to read through paragraphs, or even pages, of text to find the key information can leave the reader overwhelmed. Shorten your dialogue to only the points you are trying to deliver, and then invite the opportunity for questions should the reader need you to elaborate.
Put yourself in the shoes of the receiving party. How do you think the information will be relayed on their end? It’s important for the context of the words in such a way as to leave the recges, and perspectives. On any day, each one of us is immersed in our individual lives and we bring that context to our workplace, whether we intend to or not. Remember that you have no idea what is going on in the lives of others (either personal or career-wise), and that breakdowns in communication are almost always a result of mutual confusion. In this work environment, the greatest dangers are in not knowing that we don’t know, but in making assumptions or judgments, or believing that someone else’s priorities are at the same level as yours. Having empathy and the desire to support your fellow workers will allow you to continue to ask the right questions to clear away misunderstandings, and therefore move forward in a united and transparent manner to clear away any miscomprehension.
These are just some of the ways that we as a virtual company can be more effective at communication with all the intricate details of information we receive on a daily basis. After all, working remotely, communication is king.