Why Productivity is Hurting Your Communication (and How to Fix It)
In the world of work today, everything seems to be all about productivity. How can we do things faster, spend less time on things we don’t need to, and cut out redundancies and inefficiencies that are slowing us down?
Communication is no exception to this trend. With more and more ways to digitally stay in touch, it’s becoming common to cut back on meetings, send fewer and shorter emails, and generally stay in touch less—all in the name of saving time.
But William Allen, senior director of Behance, thinks this is actually hindering the effectiveness of teams.
In his essay for 99U’s latest book, Make Your Mark: The Creative’s Guide to Building a Business With Impact, he suggests that it’s worth actually creating redundancies to ensure everyone on your team is on the same page. He explains:
Never assume your team knows the outcomes of the decisions you make on a daily basis. Assuming—instead of actively informing—guarantees they will spend more time guessing what they should be doing versus actively doing it.
While he’s making these recommendations to help company leaders ensure that both big picture ideas and daily decisions are spreading around the team effectively, I think this idea of creating redundancies in communication is worth any professional considering, leader or not. Consider, say, being a little more repetitive in your communication with your boss to make sure he knows all the great work you’re doing and what you need to succeed. Or maybe try reiterating things with your colleagues to keep everyone feeling in the loop about project goals and timelines.
Of course, being more redundant and clear shouldn’t mean being condescending or annoying. Here are a few ideas that will help you strike the right balance.
1. Remember: What’s Repetitive to You Could Be New to Someone
Allen reminds us in his essay that, while you may be repeating a message multiple times, many of the people you’re working with may hear it only once, at most. So, even if you talked through an idea in detail in one meeting, any teammates who weren’t there that day are still left in the dark. Allow yourself to repeat things a few times to make sure everyone gets a chance to hear them.
2. Use Different Forms of Communication
Tap into the fact that different people learn (and absorb messages) in different ways by communicating the same message over a couple of different forums. For example, mention your new sales strategy in a meeting, then send a follow-up email the next day reiterating your message. Or, shoot out an email about ideas for the team retreat, then bring up your message again with a colleague when you go to grab coffee together.
3. Employ a Messenger
Allen suggests that leaders bring a colleague into all of their meetings, empowering him or her to spread the important points. This might be a little excessive for some, but anyone can employ the “phone tree” strategy to help make sure a message gets repeated around—without actually having to repeat it over and over yourself. When you relay an idea in a meeting with one colleague, ask that he share it with his team.
All in all, these ideas are about trying to make sure that important ideas don’t get lost in the shuffle of trying to get things done faster. And the best part is? The clearer the communication, the more productive your teams will be.
Photo of sticky notes courtesy of Shutterstock.
Erin believes in the power of content to spread ideas, build communities, and engage and delight people—which is why she spends her days helping employers and brands do just that. During her time at The Muse, Erin has also worn the hats of personal website expert, video producer, Shutterstock wrangler, master lunch-packer, and company librarian. Erin is always looking for new places to explore on the weekends, and she almost never says no to tea and a croissant. Invite Erin to tea at eringreenawald.com or on Twitter @erinaceously.More from this Author