Almost 40% of professionals think their organisation doesn’t collaborate enough.
Developing effective communication and collaboration strategies is, quite frankly, one of the most advantageous projects to embark on this year. You're likely using a fair amount of technology already - but what happens when that infrastructure doesn’t quite fit together? Or you don't use the right communications practices to improve productivity?
Teams are also contending with a pandemic. COVID-19 has influenced the move toward remote working, a trend that’s set to continue - but did you know 54% of HR professionals state that lacking technology and infrastructure is the biggest barrier to remote working?
The business world’s collaboration capabilities are suffering, so what can you do to make sure it doesn't affect you and your teams? Here are four elements needed for effective communication and collaboration strategies.
Any new communications strategy requires a good foundation for progress. In other words, you need a good view of what you already have in order to start building - so it’s time for an audit.
So what do you address?
- Your current strategy: How's it performing? What are your biggest weaknesses? Who are your champions? What obstacles are you facing? These are some of the most important questions - finding the right answer even more so.
- Your objectives: Any audit should point you in the general direction of where you want to be. Will this be about implementing new tech? New formats of communication? Receiving better customer feedback? It could be a mixture of all of these things.
- Your proposed strategy: This takes time and effort to plan, but you can usually tell from your objectives the general approach you’ll have to take to hit those goals.
- Who'll be involved: Any team will have natural champions and detractors when it comes to new strategies. The strongest and most successful change leverages champions to bring any detractors on board while listening to their qualms and queries to improve communications.
- Timeframe: How long has it taken to implement change in the past? Is your current infrastructure up to the task of helping to deliver on your objectives? You can’t just pull a timeframe out of thin air. This kind of planning relies on answering the previous queries within your audit to accurately develop a timeline to stick to.
When reevaluating your communication and collaboration strategy, you need to make sure you can answer these questions.
Any strategy needs measurements of success. KPIs enable us to track our progress against our objectives, discovering what we’re doing right and where we're going wrong.
Creating KPIs and sticking to them keeps you on track, keeps you focused and provides actionable data for future iterations and changes. The good thing about working in this day and age is so many software platforms and tools analyse this data and present it to you.
For communication, KPIs could come in the form of:
- Average email response times
- Employee feedback
- Meeting participation
- Performance and productivity
- Employee engagement and/or retention
Individual departments may view success as doing what applies to them well, whereas communication objectives are more holistic and universal. It’s worth being clear about the metrics you’re targeting, spelling out what you’re looking for and how you’re trying to achieve it.
3. Internal and External Feedback
Another vital source of information that can completely change up your communications strategy is feedback. Seeing numeric data is one thing, but to have people use the adopted communication tools and strategies within a company is the best way to identify what’s working and what isn't.
This isn’t just an internal practice. You can also inquire about your comms capabilities with external audiences such as customers, partners and other stakeholders.
Customers, sales executives, IT technicians - they all use the company-built communications channels and will all have experienced the flaws a specific system may have.
This is especially true of internal collaboration. As many of us have found ourselves working from home, have there been issues with collaboration through digital communication channels? Do you find collaboration is harder? Do you lack real-time collaboration software capabilities?
Feedback should be encouraged and sought out often. It also allows you to adapt or change course during any new communication strategy, so you don't fall down a rabbit hole of unpredicted communication roadblocks.
4. The Right Software
Technology will always play a key role in enabling better communication and collaboration. Unfortunately, the lack of it is a problem. In a recent Gartner snap poll that looked into the ease of remote working as caused by COVID-19, it was found that 54% of HR leaders saw their lack of tech and infrastructure as the biggest obstacle to efficient work and communication.
In today’s workspaces, cloud-based productivity tools and other employee-facing software are widely used. However, in some cases, the wrong software is being utilised and in others, the right tech stack is being used, but not to its full potential. Additionally, the move towards remote or flexible working - a trend expected to continue - has left many businesses reeling from a lack of connection.
In some instances, a business won’t be able to onboard new tech. In these circumstances, to improve communication and collaboration, management should first emphasise improving and leveraging email practices, instant messaging and internal social platforms.
Here at PSTG, we’ve seen many situations where businesses think they need all of the top quality software to improve their growth and efficiency. Sure, they’re designed for a specific purpose and can help, but real growth starts with using what you already have to the best of your ability.
Better and more consistent usage of pre-onboarded technology and software should always be your priority.
When you’ve improved the basics, then look into accelerating the development of a more specialised technology infrastructure, one that works regardless of where your employees find themselves.
Part of the need for the right software is also the ability to realise opportunity. Yes, we’ve all been stuck inside, working with our home networks, struggling to get our heads around VPNs, but we’ve also been presented with opportunity.
The remote working environment offers the opportunity to prepare for the future, with software such as cloud-based collaboration platforms and automation being increasingly mission-critical. Developing your tech stacks depends on your future ability to do great work, grow and attract new talent.
Communication and collaboration often depend on the kind of infrastructure you’re working with. Without the right tools, you won’t be able to strategise or improve internal communications. With them, you’ll find your comms get faster and far more effective. To find out more about this, keep reading...
A Smarter Approach to Business Communications
When we talk about a smarter approach to business communications, we mean centralising your communication capabilities - bringing them all together in one platform. This is so the wider business environment accesses the same information and communicates using the same channels.
This helps reduce the risk of disparate or disconnected communications and brings your team that little bit closer together, even if they’re working remotely.
To find out more about centralisation and improving your communications, check out our latest resource using the button below.