Ahhhhh…. Communication. It is indeed the key to success.
So much has been researched and written on this topic that I won’t bore you with numerous articles and citations, or why this is such an analyzed topic (although it could be because communicating effectively is a life’s practice and a critical part of all your relationships - kids, partners, business associates, employees, employers, friend - the list is endless). When it comes to managing a team, it is vital to ensure everyone is up to speed on who is responsible for what. Here are a few things I keep in mind when working with various people in different capacities.
Be Clear and Concise
Do some preliminary work of getting clear on what you want to convey in advance. If there is a lot to communicate, write a list of bulleted notes so that nothing is missed. Keep in mind that we have a super short attention span as humans, so keep it short; clear and concise should be your mantra.
How many times have you been in a conversation, as the speaker or as the listener, and at the end, you know what the task before you is, and you set out with complete confidence to do it only to find that you aren’t as crystal clear as you thought? Too many. Conveying a message is in part the responsibility of the speaker but also the responsibility of the listener. As the speaker, you should ask questions to ensure the listener understands - never assume that because it is clear to you, it will be clear to them. As the listener, you too are responsible for asking questions - after all; you will be the one to do the task!
Get Confirmation of Acceptance of Task and Due Date
I love this one. You’re in a meeting discussing all the hot topics of the week. Everyone is actively engaged, and the next steps are formulated. At the end of the meeting, you all feel great about the discussion and leave with high-fives and pats-on-the-backs. Even if you leave the room (or Zoom) knowing who was designated to do what in a specific time frame - do they? Did you get explicit acknowledgment from the individual? If not, you may want to follow up with meeting notes, including action items, and due dates assigned.
Use a Project Management Tool
There are MANY out there, so you may want to do your research and ask around. I currently use Asana within my own business and also for a few clients. I find it to be an intuitive tool that allows for clear deadlines and responsibility. With any new tool, there is a learning curve for your team, and the front-end work of getting everyone using it pays dividends in the long run.
By investing in these ways, you will be saving a ton of time as you move through a task, project, or year. Accountability and transparency are essential in any successful venture that involves more than just you. When working in an environment that involves many moving parts, everyone should know who is doing what and when. It keeps all the cogs working together!