ham radio

Internal communication – 3 tips that keep us on track

January 15, 2019

I’ve been a fan of communication technology (and really, communicating) since childhood. So much so that I spent the summer after fourth grade earning my General level ham radio operating license. With it I was able to meet and talk to other operators around the world. Over the years I’ve traded in my ham radio for some new tools but still enjoy the opportunity they offer to connect and collaborate with people both personally and in the workplace.  

We were recently onboarding a new employee and she asked, “When do you use email? Slack? Basecamp Ping? Phone?”

Good question.

Like many organizations, we use a variety of communication tools and it can be difficult to determine which ones to use, especially for a new employee. We are a busy agency, which makes it even more critical that we’re efficiently and effectively communicating with each other. This strategy has helped keep us on track.  

Streamlining our tools

Avoid potential confusion by eliminating redundancies. It probably isn’t necessary to use both Slack and Skype for instant messaging. Pick one that fits your team’s needs and stick with it. At the agency, we’ve narrowed our communication tools down to Slack, Basecamp 3 and email. 

Figuring out what we need to say and how important it is

For me this is the first step in figuring out the best way to communicate with my team. Our communications generally fall into one of these categories:

1. Informal conversations

Office chatter, watercooler talk and happy hour planning all fit into this category. These conversations are less important, lack a need of documentation and don’t need to gunk up your email inbox.

The winner for this category? Slack.

2. Project-related discussion

All day long we’re collaborating on agency projects. These conversations are important, can sometimes require a quick response from another team member and may need to be referenced later on. We want these conversations to be saved, tied to a project and accessible by the whole team. We’ve found message boards in our project management tool, Basecamp 3, to be the best place for these to take place.

Message boards, a feature in Basecamp 3, allow us to keep the entire conversation related to a project or deliverable in one place. The discussion lives right within a project, so we can easily find and reference other project documents or conversations without leaving the platform. This eliminates the need to find information in cluttered inboxes or long email chains.

3. Client communication and non-project related discussion

Email is still a great tool for communicating with folks outside of your organization. It’s also appropriate for sensitive information, small group conversations or discussions unrelated to an active project.

Knowing when to go say “hi”

Sometimes nothing beats a face-to-face conversation. If that’s not possible, a phone call or video conference works well, too. In-person discussions are a great opportunity to kick off a new project, work through complex topics, solve problems and make decisions quickly. Not only that, face-to-face communication has fostered the open and collaborative culture we have here at Vendi.

With some help from these key communication guidelines, we’ve accomplished some really exciting and challenging work at the agency. We’ve developed strategies that have allowed companies to gain market share or launch a new product, developed streamlined user experiences for complicated web applications and found answers to critical marketing questions through in-depth, actionable research. Defining our communication process has helped us organize internal discussion and avoid confusion, allowing us to focus on what we really enjoy doing—the work!

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