Death by 1,000 Messages: Keep Communication from Killing your Team's Spirit
John: Hi Amanda, are you finished with the first draft you were working on?
Me: Yes, I sent it to you yesterday.
John: I can’t find it, do you mind resending?
Me: No problem! Sent.
John: Still nothing...
Me: Where are you looking?
John: In my email.
Me: Oh, check Teams?
John: Got it, thanks!
Also John: Oh wait, I don’t have permission to edit. Can you send the edit link?
John: Sorry to keep bugging you... Not working, and also this looks different than a ver I’m seeing on Slack, can I call you?
John: Zoom or Hangout or Slack call or phone?
WTH, John. I sent a full, editable copy to you yesterday. Can’t you just search your inbox for my name?
3 hours of back and forth. John still doesn’t have what he needs to get his work done, and I can feel my passive-aggressive rage start to move from my mind into my messages. Not good.
I wish I didn’t already know that you can relate to this text chain — especially given the current circumstances, with teams working in distributed or socially distant environments, it’s just not right that simple requests from across the table have become hours-long tugs of war as we try to coordinate around the right information.
In a shockingly un-shocking reveal, IDC found that professionals spend an average of 4.5 hours a week looking for documents.
Every professional, every week. 234 hours a year (let’s not pretend you’re not doing this on “vacation”). Literally, over 10% of our time is spent looking for stuff. And that doesn’t include time spent helping others find what they need. < MIND. BLOWN. >
Luckily, there are small steps you can take to reduce documentation exhaustion that will have huge returns in team productivity and morale. Teams aren’t intentionally wasting time, but without the proper structure and guidance, information transfer and preservation can quickly escalate into a massive time suck.
So, where do you start to make change?
Streamline your systems.
When you have dozens of different places to send messages and store documents, it’s inevitable that things will slip get lost and version control will be impossible. Set standards on where and how information and documentation should be shared. Even if you can only influence how your team and direct reports operate, at least you’ll start to save time and reduce questions on a day-to-day level.
Stop assigning work through email.
How much time to do you waste every day communicating tasks and setting priorities? How many times have you heard, “Oh sorry! I missed that email.” Assigning and managing work via email is inefficient and ineffective. Use software and systems to help with prioritization, reminders, and reporting, so you can focus on getting work done instead of micromanaging and manually monitoring tasks and projects.
When you assign work, store documentation with that task.
Don’t send your team members on a wild goose chase every time they start a new task. When it’s time to get to work on a new task, set your team up for success! Make sure they have all necessary requirements, documentation, and materials, so they aren’t spending their time tracking down what they need.
When you are communicating with your team over chat or email, it’s easy to lose track of exactly what you are talking about. Sometimes there are simply too many documents, presentations, reports, etc... in flight to know which one someone is referring too. Be specific in all communications to eliminate the back-and-forth and instantly place everyone on the same page.
At the end of the day, just make it easier for your team to execute. Remove barriers and potential delays so they can focus their own success – and get work done. You know who does this really well? We do. No joke. Moovila reduces unnecessary communication through work agreements, contextualized chat, and automated reminders. Come see for yourself how our best-in-class project management software can lower your blood pressure and help John find what he needs faster at moovila.com