While everyone’s job is different and no two people do things the same way, one thing is consistent: good communication skills are essential.
Whatever your profession, communication is a key component for success. From effectively conveying skills and proficiencies on resumes and cover letters for entry-level jobs to managers organizing tasks for entire teams, good communication is critical at every step of your career. Here are some best practices that I think are particularly important and overlooked:
1. Emailing multiple parties
Often times there are projects that multiple people in an organization are working on together. Those projects are usually executed with many different steps along the way, so it is important to let the people who are working with you know when you have completed some portion of the task at hand. This can be applied in many ways, for example when clients call in or send an email with a question; I find that a simple email reply acknowledging their request is very helpful. This informs the client that the task they requested has been acknowledged and that you will begin working on it — even if you can’t get to it right away. This is also an opportunity for you to ask for a deadline, which in turn helps you communicate to your peers if you need to reprioritize. My best tip for emailing multiple parties is to remember the ‘reply all’ button. Use it, but more importantly, double check who is included so as not to leave anyone out.
2. Follow up with a phone call
While email is a good form of communication, it will never replace the value of a phone call. Emails can sit in inboxes for hours (or days!) — and for a deadline driven industry, every minute counts. An immediate response via phone can alleviate the stress of waiting for that email when you need an answer fast. If you want to be sure you have approvals in writing, then you can follow up with an email after the phone call stating “per our phone call…” A best practice to help determine when to email and when to call is to ask yourself how quickly you need the response, and also how your contact prefers to communicate. Some people are more accessible by email and some by phone. Make a little note of how you communicate best with that person and add it to the ‘notes’ section of your Outlook contacts. When you share that contact with your team members, they benefit from your knowledge and can expedite results. After all… what we do is all about results.
3. Call for an in-person meeting
In a digital world where we all rely heavily on emails, texts, and instant messages, in-person meetings become more and more valuable. Much like the relationship between email and the phone, in-person meetings retain value despite technological advancements. Miscommunication, lack of tone or inflection and divided attention are all areas of weakness for technology-driven communication methods. In-person meetings force you to pay attention to one thing at a time — and add a personal touch. While meetings do take time, it is time well spent. And remember, when you are in a meeting — put your phone away and direct all of your attention on the topic being discussed.
4. Full circle
Have you ever had to do something that you didn’t want to do, so you took a shortcut? I bet you found yourself frustrated because it just created more work for you later. It’s kind of like when you are late for an appointment, so you try to sneak through a side street and get pulled over or you hit traffic. This would be the result of not doing something full circle. If you had planned your day appropriately and left ample time to get to your appointment, you wouldn’t be rushing to get in the door and fish out the first excuse as to why you weren’t here 5 minutes ago. (Yes, I know “things happen” but if you strategize your day you can likely avoid these types of issues 9 times out of 10)
I like to call this doing things full circle.
Full circle can relate to life as much as business. When you try to take shortcuts, something else always suffers as a result. Things in life may not always be easy, but they are a lot easier if you take a step-by-step approach to accomplish each task. Recognizing each part of the planning process will help you execute the entire project more efficiently and without those hiccups along the way.