When working with a team, especially remotely, communication often causes productivity to halt or to get things going faster.
As a manager, your responsibility is mainly to provide clarity to your team: either by providing them the outcome or how to do it.
It’s a switch from when you’re an employee— instead of being responsible for things to get done, you’re responsible for making sure other people get the work done.
Whether you’re a new manager or you’ve been doing it for a while, here’s a quick 5-step communication checklist when working with your team:
1. Have the end goal in mind.
There’s this favourite story that we tell those who are shifting to becoming a manager.
Imagine that there’s this big land development going on where there are acres of trees that need to be cut down.
You have the tree cutter. They sharpen their axe and get started on their day as they cut down the trees that were already marked for them to go through.
Then you have a supervisor who has a map of the forest, counting the trees as they fall, giving out directions, and marking the trees based on the plan.
And then you have the developer looking at all the tree cutters, and the supervisors, and yelling “WRONG FOREST!”
This is a funny story that we share because it shows the biggest focus that a manager is responsible for creating the map and checking if you’re on course.
You’re not the one cutting the trees.
You’re not even the one marking the trees.
You’re focused literally on the bigger picture.
Whether your picture is part of a bigger picture in the company or a small piece of it, it’s your focus to make sure that you communicate what the end goal is, and that any action or decision you may make is moving towards it.
When communicating with your team, it’s important that you paint a picture of the end goal, so that you can work towards it together instead of giving them just pieces of the map.
2. Establish your tools.
When communicating with your team, it’s essential to have the right tools to communicating.
What type of communication needs to be sent through email vs. being sent through a Slack message?
Where do they reach you for urgent tasks, versus general questions?
This is simply a matter of them knowing what channels to be able to reach you best, and also a way for you to set boundaries on the communications as needed.
You can even structure templates or guidelines on how to communicate about different topics, from asking for feedback or realignment of tasks.
3. WOW your team!
I don’t literally mean WOW them with your skill.
W.O.W. is a delegation system that we’ve created to make sure that you give the person or team you’re working with a clear context of what they’re going to work on.
It stands for Who, Outcome, and Why, and it provides a framework for clarifying expectations, setting goals, and measuring progress.
As an example, this is how you can use the W.O.W. Method when delegating:
Task: Researching 10 YouTube video ideas
Who/What: Virtual Assistant, using a research tool for YouTube videos
Outcome: 10 video ideas that can be used that are SEO-friendly
Why: To be able to grow the company’s YouTube channel.
4. Give a one-minute feedback.
Inspired by the One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard, it’s essential to be able to give quick feedback to your team.
Instead of waiting for quarterly or yearly performance checks, giving your team feedback faster is key to making sure that they know if they’re still in the right forest.
When giving feedback, it’s essential to follow Blanchard’s process:
Make it immediate – whether it’s to give recognition or not working on the right things, act immediately instead of missing the mark.
Be specific – be clear about what behaviour you’re praising or needs improvement.
Express feelings – share your positive or concerns about the actions that they’re taking.
Reaffirm or encourage – Always end the feedback with either a reaffirmation of confidence in what they’re working on or encouragement on a behaviour they’ve done.
5. Be present.
The biggest gift you can give your team is your presence.
Are you checking in on them often?
Is it scheduled or more as needed?
When you’re in a meeting with them, are you actively listening or waiting to speak?
There’s a difference when you intentionally manage your team instead of letting things be as they are or going with the flow.
As the manager, it is essential that you’re actually leading them and taking charge instead of just looking at the numbers and making sure everyone is in line.
All in all, when communicating with your team as a manager, it’s essential to keep in mind that they’re looking to you for guidance and that their career growth can grow faster with you.
It’s your focus to make sure that you’re working on the right forest, and going towards the same path instead of letting things get blurry.
This blog is written by our guest Le-An Lai Lacaba who is the Co-Founder of 2xYou, a multi-awarded outsourcing company that specialises in switching service-based entrepreneurs from owning a job to owning a business with a highly-trained, executive assistant who comes with a custom business operating system.
She has been working from home since she was 15, published her own books at 18, became CEO at 20, and partnered up with her boss to start 2xYou Executive Services at 23 and aims to help 10,000 entrepreneurs grow remotely, and 1 Million Filipinos to work from home. Get in touch with Le-An via her LinkedIn. Find out more about what 2xYou can offer through their website.