Imagine that one day you’re running late to work due to your kid missing the bus to school. This is also the same day that you have an 8AM meeting with your team. As you rush around, trying to get your kid to school without getting a speeding ticket, you quickly try to figure out the best way to reach out to your team about your situation.
Would you make a call into the company? Send a quick text or email to your team? Would you choose to call a team member’s cell phone and explain your situation? Obviously, there a multitude of options to choose from, but the real question is, what is the best way to effectively communicate with your team?
Up until the early 2000’s, the only real way to reach someone was to find a phone somewhere and call into your company’s landline. The struggle just to find a phone was real, as there was a time when the only real purpose of a phone was to make calls. However, in this digital age, you have a plethora of options regarding communicating with your team and how they can effectively communicate with you.
For example, I was recently talking with a manager I know within the company we work for. She was overloaded with work, not just because of the new business they received, but also because one of her team members quit on the spot. She said she work up that morning to a text from her employee that simply said, “Hey, I quit.” No two-week notice, no plan to talk with her manager about her situation, just a simple “I quit,” via text. This manager handled it better than most would, but I could tell that it wasn’t the fact she quit that bothered her, but the delivery of how she did it.
If this happened before the era of cell phones, then this employee would have had no choice but to either come in to quit in person, or just simply not show up. So how can we navigate the different communication channels in a way that’s both professional and effective? The answer lies within the person on the receiving end and the tact behind the words we use. As opinion editor for NBC news, Lindsey Pollack, says, “Communication is first and foremost about the other person. It’s not about what would be easiest, fastest, or least scary for you. If you want to get ahead at work, communicate whatever way the other person wants to be communicated with.”
As you know within the workplace, different situations call for different forms of delivery. For the person who was running late to the meeting, a simple call to a cell phone would be an effective way to let the others know of your situation. They can hear your voice, understand the genuine nature of why you’re late, and know that you care enough to personally speak to someone about it.
While some may argue that a group text would do the trick, it may leave people wondering, “are they really late because of their kid?” A text doesn’t convey emotion or the ability to catch someone on the spot in seeing their reaction. In a way, texting is a sheepish way out of dealing with a situation that isn’t completely comfortable or easy to face head on. In those cases, it may be easy to take the simple way out, but it probably isn’t the best or the most considerate one at times.
Obviously, I am not against texting in the workplace completely. There are cases when it’s easier to reach someone for a quick yes or no response that doesn’t involve a phone call or an email that they may not get to until later. There is a difference between texting someone on if they received something that was left for them versus reprimanding them over a text message.
The same holds true for an email correspondence as well. If you have quite a bit of information to relay, and want to get it to handful of people, writing an email may be your best form of communication to utilize. Sometimes writing out what you want to say is not only more eloquent, but also leaves a trace of proof as to what was said about something at the workplace.
For some people, they also have a better time writing out their message in a way that conveys their points effectively and purposefully. Their words don’t get lost with interruptions or in losing their train of thought in the middle of a conversation. Using email can be the right avenue to take to get a project moving, or as a stepping stone to the next step for a project deadline.
If you do choose to use an email to inform your team of something important, be sure to let them know that your door is open to further discussion and that you welcome more interactions than just one that is over an email.
As a leader, remember the letters in the word “communication”
As Pollack says, “remember that ‘u’ comes before ‘i’ in the word ‘communicate.’ If you want your messages to be received, the best thing you can do is to present it in a way that the listener wants to hear it.” Effective communication is when you think about the person on the other end, and how they would want to receive the information.
One way to handle proper communication is to ask your employees how they would like to receive correspondence. Do they prefer a quick call, a text, an email, or would they rather that you stop in to see them if possible? Understanding their preferred method of communication will not only better assist you in the workplace, but also help build rapport with your team and the messages you send out.
For some of the most important information you relay, it’s important to do that with face-to-face interaction. In this digital age, the power of eye contact and sitting right in front of someone is more novelty than the norm. Regardless, it should be the avenue most utilized when talking about some of your most important and high-profile company projects. Remember that when it comes to effectively communicating your expectations on something that is important for your company.
Pollack summarizes her belief in proper office communication by saying, “Every time you make a savvy communication decision, you are building a stronger professional reputation.”
While it may not be rocket science to know which communication avenue to use with your employees, it still is one of the most important aspects in building rapport and professionalism with your team and within your company.
So next time you go to send that work-related text just think, “Is this how I would want to receive this message?” before hitting the send key.