How often should you really communicate with your team?

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For many of us, the way we work has changed since the start of 2020. We’ve had to adapt to the unexpected, embrace remote working, and learn to keep work going even when we’re not all in the same office space.

But among all the uncertainty, one thing has become clearer than ever: even when we’re apart, we’re all in this together. And teamwork has never been more important.

“Teamwork” as a concept is one of those great intangibles: we all know it’s a good thing, but it can be hard to measure — and hard to know how you can cultivate it.

So at the outset of 2020, we set out to learn how teams really feel about teamwork. We talked to a mix of managers and non-managers across the US and UK & Ireland to learn how their feelings about teamwork — things like whether they feel like their workplace values it, if they experience it within their own team, how it impacts the measurable output of their work — can affect team performance.

The result is The State of Teamwork 2020 Report. And on Wednesday July 29th at 3pm (BST), we’ll be talking to agency co-founder and Creative Director Doug Kessler (Velocity Partners) about the findings of the report, and his take on cultivating a culture of teamwork at your creative agency.

It’s going to be great — and we’d love for you to join us!

What did we learn?

In the course of our research, we found that one of the biggest areas to watch out for is interaction frequency.

The shift towards remote working has made the need for clear, concise, and considerate communication stronger than ever. You can’t just stroll over to a colleague’s desk; there’s no more “passive” communication. Teams need to be extra proactive about sharing information in order to keep everyone on the same page. At the same time, it can be easy to accidentally overwhelm people with unnecessary info dumps and meetings.

So how often should you really be communicating with your team?

Hourly or daily?

For most teams, it’s a question of hourly or daily. Do you need to be in constant contact, or can you virtually gather for a morning standup and then work (relatively) independently?

Well, we found that for teams who reported their projects coming in or under budget, there was little difference between whether they interacted daily or hourly. 

Similarly, for teams who reported coming in before deadline, there was little difference, while for teams who reported coming in on deadline, hourly interactions was slightly more popular.

The biggest difference, however, was among the teams who reported going over budget or missing deadlines. For both cohorts, significantly more reported that they were interacting hourly rather than daily.

What does that mean?

Is the higher rate of hourly meetings and interactions a symptom of projects going badly, or a cause of it?

It’s hard to say for sure, but either way, hourly interactions are often a reliable indicator that something is amiss — or that it soon will be.

And it makes sense: while under-communicating can leave your team in the dark, over-communicating can be just as bad. Whereas you might feel like you’re keeping your team and stakeholders in the loop, you might actually be falling prey to one of these teamwork-killers (and project-derailers). 

Here’s what you need to watch out for:

Talking and not doing

We all know the frustration of having meetings about meetings, but have you just switched to having Zooms about Zooms? Too many calls can distract people from actually getting through their task lists, wasting time on busywork instead of getting into the kind of deep focus that lets them get impactful work done.

Information overload

Are you dumping too much info on your team? Overcommunication makes it harder for people to find what they’re supposed to be doing, stay informed on the most relevant status updates, and focus on their part of the puzzle.

Blanket communications

Are you tailoring your communications to the right audience? When it comes to your project, you might need a few tiers of communication. Maybe there are people you need to talk to hourly, either all the time or at critical moments of your projects.

For other team members, a daily check-in might be enough. For others again — such as clients, for example — it might be weekly, and very top-level. Instead of sending everything to everyone, make sure you’re adjusting your communication frequency based on individual needs for maximum efficiency.

Staying connected is one of the most important requirements for happy teams and productive teamwork. Finding your sweet spot for interaction frequency might take a little bit of trial and error — especially now that our ways have working have changed, and your ideal interaction rhythms might have changed with it — but if you devote the time to getting it right, it’ll pay off: with happier, more productive, more cohesive teams. 

Learn more in our State of Teamwork 2020 Report

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