JANUARY 13, 2020 | IN STORIES | BY OMAIRA GIRALDO

 

How do we communicate effectively?

One of the most demanded skills of 2020 will undoubtedly be the ability to lead a team that works remotely or telecommuting to success, either all or some of its members.

Where does this need come from?

The new professions linked to current technologies are at their peak, growing proportionally to innovation in systems to improve the operations of all types of organizations, including the governments of countries. These professions largely lend themselves to being able to carry out remote work from anywhere, since they handle data and systems hosted in the cloud. All this coupled with the deficit of qualified professionals in these areas, makes it necessary to be able to locate talents in any city or in any country.

 

The ICT industry in Colombia has generated approximately 90,000 direct jobs, according to data from the Ministry of Information Technologies and Communications (MinTIC) who also reveals that in Colombia there are 120,000 people who work remotely through telework.

On the other hand, 57% of national organizations have implemented flexible hours and days of work from home or “Home Office” indicates the MinTIC, as a benefit for their workers, since greater performance and productivity are obtained from a happy, rested collaborator and with greater freedom.

So how can we lead a team with their individual characteristics and without having, in many cases, physical or personal contact with some or all of the members of their work team?

There are many current symptoms in remote work teams, and it is important to take into account from the culture, to the predispositions or abilities of the people we invite to participate in a remote team, these perhaps are topics that we can address later, to let us focus this article on one of the most frequent realities with new technologies, the difficulties in the communication aspect of work teams.

Communication skills.

Being able to communicate effectively and in a timely manner is key in executing the leadership of remote teams. For this communication to work and be real, it is important to know the team members very well, equally their professional capacities as well as their personality, their lifestyle, and their current situation, which is achieved by creating an atmosphere of trust and by engaging in conversations that not only have to do with the project in which you are working. As we build trust in the other, we will have a greater opportunity to positively influence and reach relevant agreements. It is important at this point to emphasize the quality of the judgments with which we communicate and interact, trying to avoid making unfounded judgments about situations or people, an aspect that has increased due to the speed of current teams. It generates greater clarity and pedagogical effect for the development of teams when the leader analyzes and talks with those involved before issuing a concept and making a decision that affects the team.

For the analysis of the situation, it is much easier to take into account the culture of each member of the remote team, since that can define the style of communication. This does not mean that to work with someone from Peru we must become Peruvians, but it enhances your work to investigate their culture, what moves them, what they like and especially their idioms in the vocabulary. Let us remember that teams are joined by a project, but there are thousands of relevant aspects in each human being that define them as a unique and complete entity, so personalizing the relationship with each individual makes the difference in leadership focused only on the result or a leader who focuses on people to facilitate the best expression of their talents.

 

In remote work, there are other means of communication that are alternative to personal communication: written communication, either by email or by any chat tool, voice communication, by means of telephone calls, and communication by video call tools. Each one has advantages and disadvantages that we must know how to handle in our favor.

Some tips to handle these type of communications:

 

Written communication:

 

  •  Write as precisely as possible what you want to express, using the appropriate words in each case, avoiding idioms or regionalisms typical of a specific culture as much as possible, and seeking strategies to validate interpretations or understanding of the message.

  • Use punctuation marks correctly, the omission of a sign can be fatal when interpreting a text.
  • Use emojis, if it is clear to the team the emotions they convey and correspond to the generational language of the team you work with. (Yes, use emojis please, even if you are the CEO).
  • Manage a coherent visual identity in your communications, place your photo in the profile, and always use the same type of font and color. This gives the feeling that you are always talking to the same person and gives a face to that communication, after all, we are not a computer screen, we are a person.
  • Respond to messages as quickly as possible and if you do not have time availability, let people know if the message was received and when you will respond.

Communication by call and video call:

  • Have a good internet connection, to avoid distortion in the message.
  • Act consciously on the use of the appropriate tone of voice to the topic being discussed and to achieve the objective of the meeting.
  • Be presentable when video chatting, just as you prepare for a meeting in person.
  • Be authentic in conversation.
  • Use headphones that allow you to isolate external sounds.
  • Do not make excessive use of this tool, you should let the person do their work freely, based on the trust of the relationship created.
  • Hold group meetings with the whole team.

 

Some of the most used tools that facilitate this type of contact are: WhatsApp, Gmail, Outlook, Slack, Telegram, and Hangouts. Zoom, Whereby, and Skype work very well for video calls.

Other essential tools are project management software, where team members share their goals, tasks, documentation about projects and clients, and also function as communication platforms.

A very valuable recommendation that can be taken into account is that, whenever possible, planning physical or in-person meetings from time to time gives a context of greater reality and commits the team to each other. These are activities that promote team integration and that have a real impact on the profitability of the projects. Communicational practices should be a skill for all team members, since there is also direct contact between them. So as leaders we have a permanent work in the development and construction of good relationships between all team members.

If you want to develop or enhance these communication skills in your remote team, contact us, with our training you can handle changes and organizational transformation.

Omaira Giraldo Soto
Clinical Psychologist
Business Coach