Hold regular face-to-face-meetings.
We have many communication options these days – phone calls, faxes, emails, text messages, and so on.
Sometimes it seems as though traditional, face-to-face meetings are disappearing.
Does the following scenario appear familiar?
Bob, a sales director, is away on a business trip. He texts a message to Susan, his assistant: We need to talk – something big has come up. Noon tomorrow OK?
Susan texts back: You're on for 12!
Susan promptly emails a few of her friends in the department this message: I just got a text from Bob. Something big is coming down the pipe. I bet we closed the deal with WhatzitWorld. I'll tell you more after I talk with him tomorrow afternoon.
Meanwhile, Bob has sent a text to Gerald, the HR manager: Gerry, we lost the whole WhatzitWorld account. Here's a heads up to get the pink slips ready. Need to talk about dept reorganization.
Gerald then sends an email to Susan: Susan, can you prepare an abbreviated employee performance data report? I know the official report comes out Wednesday but if you could put together total sales this year and break it down monthly per salesperson and then apply our ROI formula to the support staff as well that would be great. I also need to know if there have been any significant changes to job descriptions or pending staff changes that I should be aware of. I know you're busy, but please can you make this a priority.
Susan drops everything and sends an email to the entire department: Something big has happened at the sales meeting Bob is at. Gerald wants our up-to-date performance data and any changes to job descriptions or positions. Can you send me your latest information ASAP? The last time I gathered this type of information they were preparing those surprise bonus checks for us so make sure you send me anything and everything you think is relevant to your performance this period.
How do you think this situation turns out after Bob gets a chance to speak with Susan in person?
The ease of instant communication can result in a lot of misunderstanding and confusion, leading to false rumors, hurt feelings, and even mistrust. In a rush to share information and get the ball rolling, the need to gather people together and to communicate complex, important information can be overlooked.
To avoid the sort of mess created by disjointed communications like the ones above, regular meetings with your team can be useful. Called team briefings, they allow you to provide accurate updates on things such as policies, projects, priorities, and staffing issues to key people, all at the same time.
In a team briefing, people have an opportunity to ask questions, clarify their understanding, and provide immediate reactions and feedback.
The basic characteristics of a team briefing are as follows:
Whether it's top-down, bottom-up, or side-to-side communication, your team needs to know what's happening to them – and around them. When information is shared regularly, there are many benefits:
People must understand what to expect from team briefings. It's also important for the organization to support the process.
Think about the environment you want to create in these meetings. The team is gathered for information sharing, and you want them to have an opportunity to ask questions and express their views. Establish these guidelines:
You have only a short time to communicate information, so you must be clear about what needs to be accomplished. Ask yourself these questions to help clarify the message and goal for the meeting:
Briefings usually follow the same pattern: the leader delivers the information, attendees ask questions, and the leader summarizes the meeting, including information gathered through questioning and feedback. To make this process work smoothly, the leader should plan and prepare a briefing that meets the team's needs. Consider using the following framework to prepare your message:
For each of these points, consider not only what information you need to present, but also what affects your team the most. This will help you prepare for questions during the briefing.
When you present your briefing, follow these tips to make sure the team understands the message and what they need to do as a result:
For detailed tips on delivering more effective presentations, take the Mind Tools quiz How Good Are Your Presentation Skills? Your answers will lead you to more information on the specific areas where you can improve.
Don't leave the follow-up to the next meeting. Use the briefings as a way to improve overall communication, trust, and commitment within the team.
Team briefings are a clear and concise way to communicate information. They provide a great opportunity for you to stay in touch with your team – and make sure your team knows what's happening elsewhere in the company. With regular meetings, you can update everyone quickly and efficiently.
When your team has accurate and relevant information, there's usually less misunderstanding and more trust and commitment. Use team briefings to improve communication and ensure that team members understand their role within the organization – and, ultimately, work more productively.
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