I would be highly surprised if most of you wouldn’t agree that communication is one of the most essential parts of our lives. It’s everywhere: on your phone, on the streets, in social meetings, and in shops as well. Everywhere someone or something tries to communicate with us. In this article, I would like to focus on communication in the team and share with you good practices and what I have learned throughout my not-quite-long career. Let’s go over them one by one.
Using proper tools for communication
There are plenty of tools that allow us to communicate with other people like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, etc. but what can be used by a team? We are using Slack because we love it. It’s available on each platform used by us, our data is encrypted, have multiple integrations with other external tools. I’m aware that there are other tools like Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and Discord but Slack is what fits our team the best, it meets our needs, and everybody in the team likes it.
Using user groups
In order not to disturb people who are not concerned with the raised topic, we introduced a habit of mentioning only proper people and using user groups. That allows us to address a communication to the interested group of people by using one mention. For example, we have a group called Backenders which includes all of the backend developers (10 people). That’s really convenient function. Moreover, people which weren't mentioned can read a message optionally if they want and they are in the channel where the message was published.
Using threads (feature available on Slack)
We use the threads feature in order to avoid spamming messages on a channel where a topic was raised. Everyone who would like to answer the message can do it in a thread. Thanks to that, nobody who subscribes to the channel won’t be bothered by notifications. Of course, if he or she wasn’t mentioned in the main message.
Our team is spread across Europe, so remote work is something that we are familiar with. Also, some of us have fixed working hours but from time to time a need appears to go out somewhere for some time. In this case, we post a message to inform the team about being away from the keyboard. We don’t overuse it and don’t post messages in case of 10 minutes absence, usually, we treat one hour or more as a reasonable duration of absence to inform about it. What’s more, we use the channel to inform team members about our upcoming holidays and days off.
Adding reactions to messages
Reacting to messages is offered by many chats and also serious tools like Github. It comes down to adding an emoticon to a targeted message. It’s a practical and quick way to express our attitude. By reacting, we acknowledge the message sender that we have received their communication. It’s really important to answer messages sent by team members, especially when they mentioned us. Sometimes a reaction is under enough, and we need to write a text message and I strongly encourage you to do so always. I’ve learned that the worst response is no response.
Web camera always on
This one help with remote work a lot. It was already with the company before I joined. Basically, it helps in communication because when we can see each other, we cannot only talk to confirm that we are listening, we can show our physical reactions, and we can see each other faces and emotions. Thanks to that we show that we are present and we aren’t just an avatar. Moreover, we show that we are listening.
Providing information about our mood, happiness, gratification, and many other positive and negative matters to workmates, and supervisors either is vital in terms of communication. It helps with establishing good and clear relationships inside a company. It works on both sides, we want to receive feedback and the reporter would like to hear a few sentences from us. I like to know whether my supervisor is content with my work. In case he isn’t, I can relatively quickly improve and make sure it’s not an issue anymore. In the opposite case, I become sure that I’m going in the right direction. It might sound trivial - everybody is different and something might bother one person and another one not. Talking about it helps with recognizing such things and overall makes workers happy. If you don’t do that yet, I breezily encourage you to report issues and talk about questionable situations with the involved person as soon as possible.
Talk instead of messaging
Sometimes, there might be quicker to have a call with somebody instead of trying to explain something on chat. You need to learn where the golden mean is. Worth to mention, that we can’t see the emotions of the interlocutor who we are talking with. That might be important, especially in tricky topics. Whenever you see that messages come and come, the discussion takes more and more time, don’t hesitate and try to have a call with the conversationalist. That might help and also save your and your interlocutor’s time.
I’m glad you made it to the end and I hope that these tips will help you and your team with establishing better communication. My main motivation for sharing that is the fact I’m proud of the way of communication in my team. I know it works, I truly like it. For my team, it was a long process to reach the state that we are in now. We work on communication improvements together, listening to each other, and thanks to communication we improve communication. What a great tie. Good luck and make your world better.
Sasint for the background photo