Hello, I’m Michael Sliwinski, founder of Nozbe - to-do app for business owners and their teams. I write essays, books, work on projects and I podcast for you using #iPadOnly in #NoOffice as I believe that work is not a place you go to, it’s a thing you do. More…

Effective Communication in a Team - part 1: my 5 general rules


Note: This article is based on my Editor’s note from the 11th issue of the Polish edition of the Productive! Magazine.

Being extremely happy with the changes that we’ve implemented by the end of last year in the Nozbe team, I often think that there are still things that can be improved. For example… communication. Between individual departments (e.g. customer service - programmers), between heads of departments and, of course, between me and each of my employees. Especially when you work remotely like we do, good communication is key.

Effective Communication in a Team - part 1: my 5 general rules

It’s all about effective communication

Communication within an organization is a tool that boosts productivity. It’s an element that guarantees that each person knows his or her role in achieving common, company-specific goals and acts skillfully to get them done.

It’s also the best “weapon” in the hands of each leader. Effective communication allows to build team harmony and coordinate actions towards accomplishing planned objectives. It motivates employees, raises their self-esteem, engagement and feeling that they’re part of something valuable. Employees who are misinformed act “blindly” and waste time (and thus money). When they’re stressed out they make more mistakes and become less open. When they’re underestimated - it goes without saying…

Based on my own experience of managing a growing team, recruiting new people, working with clients and business partners, I’ve created a list of rules that may help improve in-company communication. Today I’ll write about some general (“technical”) rules and in a next post I’ll talk more about interpersonal relations:

General rules of effective communication

1. Write messages clearly

When writing an email or creating a task in Nozbe (or other task management tool), try to keep the message simple and to the point (which is obvious) but also watch out for grammatical errors, ambiguities and typos. After you finish writing, read the text - even aloud. You’ll be able to immediately spot badly phrased sentences. When I’m writing an important text or email I ask my assistant to double check it.

If you tend to make mistakes in emails and you’re using Gmail, set the delay send option. It will allow you to return to the message and correct any mistakes.

2. Choose the right communication channel

Even though at Nozbe we communicate through tasks, I do realize that not everything can (and should) be done this way. I always wonder if I can formulate an issue as a task, or whether it would be better, more effective and polite to write a private message through HipChat or Slack (which we use for ongoing communication) or discuss it face to face (in our case - through Skype or FaceTime).

3. Be prepared

As Wiktor Satora said in his interview: every good decision requires preparation. The same applies to communication - before each conversation, or even delegating a task, you need to think about the form, content and consequences of the message.

4. Use body language

Although at Nozbe we have limited possibilities of using non-verbal messages (remote communication), they should be used even in a restricted form. I believe that we shouldn’t be ashamed of our body language, gestures, facial expressions - especially in informal relations (which usually exist in small and medium sized companies). They constitute an important addition to written content, informing our partner about emotions that drive us and which they evoke in us.

5. Spice it up!

I don’t mean anything improper here, just an idea to mix work and play a little. While communicating with others, you can use emoticons. At Nozbe we also use memes :) We even make them ourselves out of photos of the team members taken during “live” meetings or Skype calls :) It’s a lot of fun and conveys the message even stronger… and did I mention it’s just pure fun?… This bonds the team together and improves company culture.

There’s more to effective communication

After we’ve nailed these 5 general rules it’s time to focus on interpersonal relations and how to build them and maintain them to keep the communication going. I’ll talk about it in my next article.

Question: Any other tips for effective communication? Let me know!

Monday, April 27, 2015 /communication/