I’ve always been baffled by how small teams of people can come together and disrupt giant industries. After spending time at both a tiny startup, and a giant corporation, one reason I’ve observed is communication.
As the size of the team grows, the number of lines of communication grows much more rapidly: a team of 3 people has 3 lines of communication, a team of 10 people has 15, and a team of 100 has nearly 5,000 lines of communication.
Effective communication is essential in business as it enables organizations to function efficiently and achieve their goals. Clear and concise communication helps to ensure that everyone is on the same page, and that tasks and projects are completed correctly and on time.
It also helps to prevent misunderstandings and conflicts from arising. Additionally, strong communication skills are critical for building and maintaining relationships with clients, customers, and business partners.
Whatever the size of your business, here are some tips that we’ve put into practice at . While they become increasingly necessary as teams grow, they should improve communication in any team. The key is consistency.
1. Standardize Communication Mediums
Hold in-person meetings only when required. Utilize group messaging for many-to-many conversations – both real-time and short-term asynchronous. Wikis are great for processed information accumulated over time. Take advantage of task boards for detailed project plans and statuses, etc. Each medium should be standardized, used for its intended purpose and the flow between mediums should be understood.
2. Understand Meeting Inputs and Outputs
Each interaction among team members should have an expected input and an intended output, such as a decision, acceptance criteria, project plans, etc. A meeting agenda should be provided, meeting participants must take time to prepare for the meeting, and then take notes, summarize and share.
3. Write Things Down
Brainstorming sessions and free-form conversations are quickly forgotten unless things are written down. By writing things down, you can capture ideas using natural language or a diagram, these serving as a filter for consistency and completeness. Writing things down allows the information to reach a larger audience, over a longer period of time.
4. Ensure Comprehension and Diffusion
Don’t assume that everyone has a shared understanding of the information provided to them or that it is provided at all. Take steps to make sure everyone is on the same page and heading in the same direction. As a rule of thumb: repeat what you said, always repeat.
Here’s our communication stack at Alvys:
- Microsoft Teams for ephemeral async, real-time chat, and meetings. Meetings when real-time collaboration is required, always accompanied by an agenda and a summary.
- Notion (wiki) for accumulated and processed static information such as technical specifications, architecture diagrams, or documentation.
- Emails for external and ephemeral async communications, team-wide notifications typically linking to other mediums such as a wiki or a task board.
In a business context, effective communication can take many forms, such as face-to-face meetings, phone calls, email, and team meetings. Each of these forms of communication has its own strengths and weaknesses, and it is important to use the appropriate form for the situation. For example, face-to-face meetings are often best for discussing complex issues, while email and instant messaging are more appropriate for quick updates and simple tasks.
In summary, communication is critical in business because it allows organizations to function efficiently and achieve their goals. It helps to prevent misunderstandings and conflicts, and it is essential for building and maintaining relationships with clients, customers, and business partners.
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