Modern managers enjoy the luxury of a variety of communication options at their disposal. However, since each method possesses certain attributes, smart leaders choose their format carefully to maximize effectiveness.
Here’s a look at four common ways to communicate with team members and when each one might be the best choice:
Email ranks high for convenience because users can send and receive it at any time from any place. A well-composed message serves as a good point of reference for details such as deadlines and specific instructions. Blasts ensure everyone on staff gets the same information simultaneously, which proves especially helpful for organizations employing remote workers.
Start with a descriptive yet succinct subject line that informs the recipient of what’s inside and makes finding the message again later easier. Stay on track when composing – wordiness leads to buried info that oftentimes gets overlooked. Make it clear whether you want a response or if the message is just FYI.
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And watch what time you send. Even if you don’t expect anybody to check email until morning, employees receiving something in their inbox late in the evening may develop the impression that management expects them to always be “on.”
When conveying a short message or needing a quick answer to a question, texting trumps email. Since it occurs on mobile devices that people tend to carry and check consistently, texting possesses a sense of urgency. This immediacy works well for certain situations, such as “Client meeting changed to 3:00” or “Please confirm you’re working the evening shift.”
Managers who like to text need to watch out for message length since long blocks prove difficult to read (and type!) and may be ignored. Likewise, employees often view a boss who texts too much or does it during non-work times as hovering and intrusive.
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Slack and similar platforms promote efficient teamwork through real-time collaboration, file-sharing, and project management. Access to such things proves a godsend for communicating with remote workers, staff from different branches, and employees who are traveling.
Don’t forget the social value of chat platforms, too. Informal communication builds bonds as people learn about one another beyond work roles. Join in on a channel’s “water cooler” conversation or post a picture of your poodle in the virtual “kennel.”
Face to face
Finally, remember that direct human contact still demands a place in your communication arsenal. Good old fashioned talking allows for conversational give and take. Plus, it allows you to judge reaction and comprehension by interpreting facial expressions and other body language.
A one-to-one meeting works well when a manager needs to provide individual feedback or discuss a sensitive matter. The private setting spares any public embarrassment and helps both parties stay focused on the issues at hand.
And while staff meetings notoriously generate a collective groan, don’t discount their ability to serve certain purposes. Brainstorming sessions often generate greater excitement and innovation when people can play off of each other’s ideas. Explaining a new company policy once to a group proves easier than answering the same questions multiple times. And when you want to share good news or congratulate workers on an accomplishment, why not gather the troops for a morale-boosting announcement?
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