With over a dozen ways to communicate during the workday, establishing Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for them is critical to the in-house agency' success. Nevertheless, many organizations struggle with the challenge of coordinating communication platforms and practices. This blog is dedicated to shedding some light on the subject--and sharing some thoughtful suggestions.
Workplace communication methods have changed dramatically over the last 30 years. Before the digital revolution emerged in the early 90s, the majority of daily business exchanges were conducted via landline telephones, physical mail and fax machines (plus the occasional courier service when necessary). The pace of work was dictated by the limitations of each method. An organized system was required for filing physical documents. There were no easy ways to conduct work outside of office hours, much less during vacations. But on the plus side, expectations regarding how information was shared were simplistic and clearly understood.
Today's Array of Communication Options
Today, there are multiple ways of communicating, from email, texting and chat applications to shared workflow tools, video conferencing and automated bot responses. These channels provide amazing opportunities to share information and receive real-time responses to questions. Among them?
Extended Day Communications
Cell phones and laptops provide a remarkable amount of flexibility, allowing people to work virtually wherever they are at any time of day. Servers permit access to the most recent versions of documents, and workflow tools ensure the projects can keep moving at the pace of business requirements. Business is no longer limited by communication devices; rather, the devices enable work to progress 24/7, anywhere in the world.
Multiple Ways to Share Documents
A plethora of tools is available to help teams collaborate. Documents can be created by a single resource on a personal device, or in real time by multiple team members whose online input is facilitated by virtual document creation tools. Once a document has been created, it can be accessed and shared via a path or hyperlink to an internal, external or public server, through workflow tools and via email, as well as in chat streams/groups/teams.
Managing Multiple Projects and Resources
Whether a team includes project managers, traffic managers or account managers, someone is responsible for ensuring that all of the group's members have assigned tasks and know what's expected of them. Tasks are created in wide variety of tools, ranging from Excel and MS Project to workflow tools and smart sheets. Tasks and related information are delivered to team members through email, by the workflow tool dashboard, in chat groups and via phone notifications.
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The Critical Communication Challenges
While these new platforms enable projects to be executed with speed and efficiency, the many ways of sharing, collaborating and communicating present some difficult challenges. In the annual State of Employee Communication and Engagement Study conducted by Dynamic Signal in 2019, 1001 survey participants indicated that:
- 52% of team members have witnessed poor financial outcomes (lost sales, damaged company reputation) due to poor communication
- 85% lose 1 to 2 hours a week searching for information
- 80% report feeling stress due to poor company communication - a 30% increase since 2018
- 60% feel unhappy in their jobs because of ineffective communication with 63% considering quitting as a result of poor communication
- 70% of employees feel overwhelmed by inefficient communication
All this led up to 63% of the survey participants wanting to quit because poor communication interfered with their ability to do their job--almost a double increase from the year before. ll this led up to two thirds of survey participants wanting to quit their job simply due to challenges of communication.
Getting Control of Your IHA Communication
Many of the tools available to team members today were implemented because of an immediate need rather than an overall strategy. Even more challenging is the fact that teams are developing processes to fit the tools rather than leveraging the tools to support their processes. Many groups face a critical need to gain control of how team members can more effectively and efficiently use the tools and channels of communication. Here are some simple steps that can be put in place right now to help reduce the frustration and ease the flow of information:
- Gather any data on the frequency and depth of channels used and prioritize those channels
- Establish expectations of working hours and accessibility
- Agree on established tools and channels for specific communication types
- Standardize naming conventions and storage locations
Once the communication guidelines and expectations are determined, the next step is to develop an SOP document that is distributed and shared with every member of every team--via the right channel of course! Providing this level of clarity around communication protocols will ensure that your team is able to collaborate more productively. If you need assistance defining and implementing the SOPs, Cella's consulting experts will be glad to help.