Do I have to join yet another team meeting?

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“Do I have to join yet another team meeting?” A short video from scatterwork.com.

Why do we have meetings? Because it is a good way of working for things like Problem Solving, Team Building and Completeness. But what do I mean by Completeness?

I mean making sure that nothing has been overlooked. It is very easy not to see the detail when we are deep in some issue or problem and the best solution is to involve others who will immediately spot what you overlooked. So this can be helped by Creative Thinking, Open Communication and Checklists, for example.

So we can get everybody’s contribution by scheduling regular team meetings to brief each other on ideas and progress, to get insights from different viewpoints and to check for completeness and to avoid rework. If a colleague identifies something that we forgot and it might save us weeks of work, then we should be very thankful that we got their inputs.

So if you want to discuss your project issues please connect with me through LinkedIn or any of the other methods, thank you.

Dr. Deasún Ó Conchúir (pronounce) is a Collaboration Consultant at Scatterwork, which supports Project Solutions for Virtual Teams.

Email: deasun@scatterwork.com

Tel: +41 79 692 4735 Talk to me

LinkedIn: Connect with me

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How to Develop a Communications Charter

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Why have a communications charter at all? The answer is that the scope for misunderstanding in virtual teams is large, unless communication norms are explicitly stated and agreed. This is because there is such a variety of backgrounds within a team.

So how do we do it? We set up a shared document (wiki) so that everyone can enter their constraints: I need this; I can’t talk at that time; I prefer to talk by telephone and so on, then hold a teleconference using the wiki to identify the main types of communication: reporting, problem-solving, complaining, idea sharing and so forth.

And then for each category of communication, work out the rules as bullet points.

Then pool the results, adjust them according to feedback and publish them to the written communications charter for the team.

Here is an example: “Guidelines for resolving misunderstandings”:

If possible, talk instead of writing; do not allow annoyance to build up; contact the partner by a short short message simply asking for a call. Say what you feel and the impact on you. And then ask for suggestions that would help avoid what you find difficult, and summarize your results in a note to both parties.

To discuss your project issues, please connect with me either through LinkedIn or any of the other methods. Thanks very much.

Dr. Deasún Ó Conchúir (pronounce) is a Collaboration Consultant at Scatterwork, which supports Project Solutions for Virtual Teams.

Email: deasun@scatterwork.com

Tel: +41 79 692 4735 Talk to me

LinkedIn: Connect with me

Please share with colleagues, who also get 10% off their first booking.

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Tweet, update or post your workforce

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Image courtesey of patrisyu at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Challenge: Reaching a very diverse and globally spread workforce

As the working environment for many is spread globally and very diverse, it is of interest how a company can reach its workforce securely and without onerous CAPEX.

The Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) decided that their solution was to provide twenty thousand tablets and smartphones to their remote workers, such as train drivers and ticket collectors.  The aim of this includes better communication with passengers, for example regarding disturbances to the timetable.  Timely messages about delays and diversions can help take the sting out of changes.

Not every company could rise to this level of expenditure and so it is worth looking at the alternatives, including unconventional means.

The Messaging Environment

How and when to use messaging inside a distributed company raises other points to be exploited for company or project communications and selected according to circumstances:

Reach: technically unlimited, but twitter-type messages scroll out of view very quickly, so their impact is short lived, unless the reader is specifically expecting a message.
Speed of Communication: effectively instantaneous, even more so than the telephone, as the recipient may be in a meeting and not wish to take a call but will read a message.
Data Security: one-to many communication is by definition visible, but can carry encoded messages.
Push v. Pull: The appropriate option can be used depending on the needs of the stakeholders (who are by definition the partners/ targets for communication).
BYOD (bring your own device): If a company (such as SBB) wanted to, it could invite workers to use their own devices, but it could then not as easily ensure that the communication would be reliable. There is a trade off between reliability and cost.

Tweet, Update or Post

Tweets (Twitter), Updates (LinkedIn), Posts (Facebook) and the like are all versions of a one-to-many messages, just like radio or television.  If however employees at any level of the hierarchy are encouraged to share their ideas, they can result in a significant increase the business tempo. Zappo’s social media marketing is a well publicised example of this:

The Pros and Cons: Public Messaging

The advantages of public messaging (such as Twitter) include:

  • messages can be broadcast one-to-many
  • reception is instantaneous
  • messages are visible to search engines (Google etc) and this can be of use when it is useful to “tell the world” for non-confidential matters, such as project progress or skills and capabilities of employees.

The disadvantages of public messaging include:

  • lack of confidentiality
  • this can be overcome by coding, but makes the messaging more cumbersome. Even with coding, the world can see that you are active.

The Pros and Cons: In-company Messaging

In-company messaging includes a function similar to “update” in LinkedIn or Facebook “post”, accessed eg via the email. The advantages include:

  • messages can be broadcast within the entire company, regardless of hierarchy. For example immediately after getting a new assignment, a project manager can ask who has similar experience, who he should talk to, who might be interested in joining the project team etc.
  • the interaction speed is usually far far faster than traditional chains of command. For example, a message sent out from a meeting may get an instantaneous reaction, compared with days or weeks by other methods. This fast response matters in connection with creativeness within a competitive environment.

The Pros and Cons: SMS / Text Messaging

Although SMS Messaging can be delivered one-to-many, it is more usual to be used one-to-one.  The advantages include:

  • Discrete, personal
  • Works nearly anywhere, even where the data networks are weak or non-existent, because it uses the mobile phone network.

Disadvantages

  • Usually sent from the phone, so not so easy for complex messages.
  • Tedious to archive.

Tweet, update or post your workforce?

Yes, but the format and option used should be driven by the communication objectives, the needs of the stakeholders and with regard to other issues such as confidentiality, as illustrated by the email usage of Hilary Clinton.

Acknowledgements

Many thanks to Mitch Panzar of www.dufry.com who inspired this discussion.

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