1 – Face to face
Being able to meet with colleagues inside or outside your team & new or existing customers is an essential way to enable you to build up a lasting professional relationship with your various business stakeholders. Under our current circumstances one would think that it has become more difficult than ever to ‘meet face to face’ with your colleagues & customers but this is not the case, in fact with the easy access to tools like Zoom, Microsoft Teams & even WhatsApp / Facebook Messenger video calling it has become easier than ever before.
So, now is the time to get over being camera shy, when you attend a meeting in the office do you wear a disguise or hide behind the door? I would of thought not, imagine how it would come across to the other people in the room. This is how it can feel when everyone or just one person always had their camera off. Now, is the time to get used to being on screen ‘face to face’ with your stakeholders. If you are camera shy my advice is to initially start a meeting with the camera on to introduce yourself, then switch off the camera until near the end of the discussion, finally switch your camera back onto bring the meeting to a close & say thank you / goodbye.
You’ll be surprised the impression this can make on your stakeholders not only professionally but from a mental health perspective seeing a friendly face during a discussion can improve your/their mood which in turn helps to keep you positive which is key in this new norm we find ourselves in. These are the types of behaviours we need to try & encourage early so that it becomes second nature in order to keep us at our productive best.
2 – Instant Messenger
Using an instant messenger tool/app to keep in contact with colleagues or new/existing customers is an excellent way to keep real time communication running. Many applications now allow for groups of key stakeholders to be added together which can become perfect ways to keep real time working tasks & activities moving.
Have a question or query for someone, why send an email then have to wait for a response, with the instant messaging option you have an opportunity to resolve tasks much quicker providing that your colleagues are online of course.
When reaching out to a ‘stranger’ / new colleague or customer especially if you are a little camera shy or lack confidence, breaking the ice with a few polite messages in instant messenger can be a great way to get conversation started & keep it going.
Start with introducing yourself & what team you are from before getting into the nitty gritty of the conversation. Instant messaging is one of my favourite ways to engage with small groups of business stakeholders to work towards delivering a given task or tasks, use email to communicate formally the major milestones for the wider audience. It is so much more effective at delivering work collectively in realtime rather than waiting in extended email chains for a response to be shared.
3 – Audio (Phone or VOIP)
Picking up the phone or using online apps to call our colleagues, new or existing customers is still a great way to keep in touch, I advise only use this for 1 to 1 or small group communication rather using traditional conference calls which tend to become cluttered/busy with too many people talking over one another. This is why the video call in my opinion is becoming superior because when someone talks, their name / screen / comes to the front & others on the call can put up a virtual hand to let the active speaker know someone else has a point to make.
Know a colleague who lives alone? Giving them a phone call to check in on them, even if it isn’t about a specific work task could do them & yourself a world of good especially with offices closed some peoples social interaction has gone from one extreme to another. (The same can be said about dropping a video call too)
Being mindful & thoughtful to others is a great way to keep you at your own peak knowing that you’ve potentially helped out a fellow colleague can have an amazing impact on your own wellbeing.
4 – Email
The formal way to communicate, email is a great way to communicate when used correctly however, it is more often than not used excessively, resulting in clogged up mailboxes & missed communications. My best advice for composing an email is to think about it as though you are writing someone a letter, you are going to send it to the end users but don’t expect an instant response. You need to allow time for the end user to receive & review the message, then allow time for them to create a response. We should not use email like ‘instant messenger’.
When composing an email there are many things I can suggest but one of the most important is to consider your audience & what message you want to deliver, think of this as a formal way to send communications to keep stakeholders well informed or to provide major updates on task related work in which multiple stakeholders need to be made aware but aren’t part of the actual doing.
An example of this could be issuing a formal request for someone to implement a change, the ‘doer’ should be in the ‘To’ field & the stakeholders impacted should be included in the ‘CC’ for information purposes.
The ‘To’ field should be used to send to your key stakeholders & the ‘CC’ field is for the people who need to be informed.
Be mindful of your audience when responding to emails, will a ‘reply’ suffice or an instant message or does it require a ‘reply all’, more often than not debates can commence on an email chain with all manner of stakeholders, potentially senior or management level.
Be sure to add a meaningful & structured email subject if you are looking to get the desired outcome from your communication, also do not be shy to amend current email subject headers if they do not make sense to the topic being discussed.
My final pro tip, try not to reuse dead / old email trails/chains if they are no longer relevant. If an action for a task was shared via email and has been completed by the task owner then the email chain can be closed down & archived. Taking old / existing email chains and re-using them for a different message under the same banner can completely confuse your entire audience.
So, there you have it, thanks for reading this week’s blog update I hope you can take something away of value, if you have then please feel free to take the time to leave some feedback or provide a testimonial which can really help me grow my blog in the future. All the best, stay safe & stay positive.