Easy Ways to Embrace Open Communication
April 16, 2018
Think back to the last time you experienced a total communication meltdown. Regardless of which party was in the right, it’s likely that defenses were up, blame was cast, and productivity came to a standstill. Not fun. Unfortunately, these misunderstandings are all too common in the agency world. The culprit? Lack of open communication. It may seem counterintuitive, but the easiest way to avoid frustrating conversations mid-project is to over-communicate early on. Here are a few tips for starting a healthy dialogue on Day One.
Clearly Define Roles
Sure, your job title is listed on your LinkedIn page, but that doesn’t mean your teammates know how or when you’ll handle an unexpected pain point. At the start of each project, make sure the team discusses who will handle certain tasks and what the protocol is for when things go wrong. Nothing’s worse than when an initially solvable issue is ignored until it’s a major problem. Speaking up about complications early on—and knowing who to discuss them with—will save you a massive headache (or two) down the road.
Consider Standing Meetings
More meetings generally solicit groans from everyone involved, but hear me out: a simple 10-minute meeting with the team each morning can do wonders for keeping everyone on task and in the loop. Standing meetings are best when clear boundaries are introduced so conversations don’t get off track. Some easy guidelines to start with include:
- Limiting each person to a quick two-minute rundown of their goals for the day
- Identifying “blockers” or tasks where team members can’t move forward due to an issue outside of their control
- Tabling side-conversations until after standup
Working toward a series of goals is much less intimidating than spending weeks or months struggling to reach a single, mountainous one. Setting milestones that sync with your project timeline allows the team to celebrate modest wins on the road to project completion. It also gives you a chance to discuss and fix potential issues before they escalate into larger ones.
Speaking of celebrating, one of the best ways to encourage open conversation is to keep it positive! Shouting out fellow teammates and acknowledging their good work early makes it that much easier to provide constructive criticism later. Think about it: If the only time you ask someone to have a conversation is when it’s negative, why would they ever come to you? For it to be effective, a culture of open communication covers both the good and the bad.
Ready to get talking? Adopting the above tips is a great place to start. But there are plenty of other ways you can keep the lines of communication open. Get creative! And, most importantly, speak up