Experiencing Communication Debt? Here’s How to Save Your Business Teams

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In this fast-paced world, getting most of your tasks done in a short amount of time does not only make you efficient but is also an absolute requirement. The more you get the work done, better are the chances of your survival in the corporate jungle. Psychologists have come up with some great ideas in order to help you get most of your tasks done in sufficient amount of time.

They have cracked the myth on how you can enhance your productivity and increase your performance in your relevant workplace. But, one element that creates greater hindrance in everything you do is none other than communication debt. Wait what debt?! Yes, you heard it right, Communication Debt. Let me explain to you what communication debt really is.

What is Communication Debt and How It is a Hurdle in Your Productivity?

Imagine you are a new employee who has recently joined an organization and your team lead has connected you up with the organization using a multi-tier social networking channel.

  • You are now on Slack/IM for social communication with your teammates.
  • You are assigned with an official email address so you can respond across the organization through emails.
  • You are on Skype to make and attend calls with clients/customers and other stakeholders.
  • You are on a project management software to manage all your projects by organizing them in one place.
  • And to top it all off, you have your own social media platform such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.

Although, these communications represent a great way to establish inter-departmental connections among each other and what’s more?! You think it is a great way to keep everyone informed and connected. Your big idea is to create a culture and environment where everyone is socially connected with each other. Whether you are working in-house or with remote teams, you fail to realize one thing…

Every day you function, you spend some time on your clock working with these social channels, and it adds up to your communication debt. The time which you have invested in responding to emails, making client calls, closing down your tickets or creating them, all goes into your communication debt. Instead of fulfilling these tasks, you could’ve easily invested this time in completing your due tasks on time. One way of keeping your tasks organized is none other but using a robust task management software.

What others fail to realize is that this increasing debt has to be paid in time. Your communication debt is like taxes that keeps on gradually increasing, and it only makes you wonder how exactly are you going to repay it all.

Here’s How to Remove Your Team from Communication Debt

Communication debts need to be resolved at the earliest, and the only way of doing so is to optimize your time in such a way that you can prioritize your productivity hours over social communication.

If you are a team leader or a manager actively performing your duties, it becomes your responsibility to design a mandate in such a way that it readily helps you protect your focus from getting distracted.

Moderate Your Defaults on Different Social Channels

Most individuals never change their application’s default settings. As a result, they often find themselves bombarded with unwanted notifications which sometimes don’t even belong to them. Henceforth, setting the right default settings on your tool is a must.

We all have used slack, and we are quite well aware of how it functions but do we need to get notified on every activity that takes place in our channels? Not really. We can easily avoid it by changing the default settings on Slack to give us a more personalized experience.

For example, if you use Slack, you can easily set your notifications from “All new messages,” to “Direct messages, mentions & keywords” so you only be notified when you are involved in a particular chat.

As a manager, you can change these settings, and then filter out messages which are important for other teammates. This way you can keep your teammates safe from the disastrous communication debt.

You can do the same for emails and other communication platforms. If any other manager inquires why they aren’t allowed to message your teammates, you can easily tell them that you want to save their time and energy so they can work more productively and complete their tasks within deadlines.

Craft Hefty Protocols to Bypass Communication

Ever worked in an IT firm before? If not then let me get you on a page with one. A good IT firm, whether big or small, have something they term as the “Runbook.” The purpose of this book is to help employees (specifically new ones) to find their way to resolve common technical issues on their own.

System Administrator not working? Turn to Page 4. Need to reboot your system? Turn to Page 2. So on.

A “Runbook” can greatly benefit an employee to overcome communication debt because it encourages a user to DIY instead of messaging or emailing others. Enterprises usually have an HR – manual that helps employees to get on the same page as others. Some firms have their own Wiki portals to guide them.

Encourage Employees to Make Their Own Decisions

Giving the reins of decision making into the hands of the employees can be a daunting task, but if it helps in resolving the communication debt then it doesn’t sound like a bad option. As much as the employees are able to make decisions on their own and streamline their processes, less likely are they going to face any debts created due to routine tasks?

When you hire people on whom you can bestow your trust, it becomes relatively easier for you to hand the reins of decision making to them. There is a high chance that they may find themselves in the hassles of poor decision making. After all, you must’ve hired them because they are really good at what they do. By bestowing your trust in employees not only cultivates reliability but also manifest a less communicative culture.

Create Force-Fields around Your WorkStation

In order to keep your team’s time and energy secure, you need to make sure that you create a proper force field around their workstation, so they are not suffering from any distractions. Sometimes, people from other departments often hung around your employee’s workstation not only wasting their own time but also the precious time of your teammates. Do you often wonder how you can resolve this issue?

Start by interfacing your request and demands with other managers. And, the only way of doing so is to overcome communication debt between them and yourself. Try to understand what difficulties are their teams facing and whether it is somehow related with your own team. Firstly, give your best to resolve their issues and save their time and energy from loss.

Once, you have done the favor for them now you can reciprocate the same strategy by asking them to keep potential distractions away from your workstation. Being open about making reasonable exception will only stabilize and empower your relationship with other managers.

Human Resource Interaction Can Be Distractive

The only time you get a call from an HR department is when you are getting a promotion, or you are in deep trouble. It’s a common mindset among all employees working within an organization. Although, both moments can be exhilarating and nervy which can send your employee out of his comfort zone.

As a manager, you can avoid such communication hazards. Take a rough idea of what your HR mates are planning to do with a specific team member, document it and add send it to the respective teammate. Try your best to deliver the information coming from HR directly to your team member. However, if it is important that the HR manage the problem themselves, then do show your involvement in the matter.

By backing up your teammate as a manager will send a sense of affirmation that a guiding light is always there for them to show them the path of what’s right and how benefitting it can be for them ultimately, it is, after all, an effective team-building strategy.

Optimize Their Contact Channels

Another way to mitigate communication debt is by optimizing the email distribution list for each of your team members. You can do that by adding yourself to the email lists and then decide which of the emails you want to filter out as distractions. You can also offer to administer some of the lists for your teammates and this way you can keep a thorough check of what goes in and what goes out of their emailing system.

By eradicating distractions from their lives, you will ultimately gain respect among them. If you have a tech-savvy person on your email list, you can also ask them to help you curate the list for you. Also, brief your teammates to turn default all notifications on chat app to “off” and if anyone creates quite a stir of distraction then ask them to direct that employee to you so you can respond on behalf of your team.

Some Other Ways of Mitigating Communication Debt

Communication debt can readily pile up and with the passage of time, it just kind of overburdens its existence on you. By the end of the year, you often find yourself surrounded with “what ifs” If you don’t want to find yourself in such a fix, try these methods to remove communication debt from your life.

  • Allow Sales and Marketing to get in touch with each other so they each can understand the requirement of the latter. Sales teams are always in connection with the customers at all times and are more on the page with clients, while Marketing teams create the product, so it’s necessary that they understand their customers.
  • Try developing a common professional language among your teammates, so they understand each other. It not only helps teams to communicate with each other effectively, but it also mitigates the need of sending page length messages to explain processes to each other.
  • Determine individual goals for each department and identify how they make their significant effort towards achieving those goals. If all departments realize what their goals are and what other departments are seeking from them, achieving goals become a rather easier process.
  • Try to dispatch a similar message among all teammates and if it’s possible, other than mailing them individually also post it in the group chat. This way they would likely get the idea that they need to pay attention to what you have to say and their attention will hardly stay diverted.
  • Try to listen to what your employees have to say to you. By understanding and paying attention to their queries related to different tasks, you can eventually help them overcome their problems in a much profound and prestigious way. You will earn your position, and your employees will also benefit out of it greatly.

Dissolve Communication Debt As Soon As Possible

Dissolving communication debt within the organization is a responsibility for every individual. There is no chance that one can achieve their goals without establishing a proper communication but why burden our workstations and inbox with jargons of messages and unwanted notifications. One of the best ways to get on the same page with each other is if we all sit together, question and share knowledge with each other in person.

Communication through emails and other applications isn’t a sour way of getting things done, but if not catered right, these pros can really turn against our own pros and overshadow them with cons of its own.

The more you enable them to rely on social communication, the more they run astray from the paths for which you hired them for. So, the next time you dispatch a message or send an email, just thinks about how much you are contributing to increasing their communication debt as well as your own.

Author Bio

I’m Muhammad Osama qualified App Development with a ground-breaking experience in developing SEO campaigns, analytics, and monitoring the ranking in Google search pages. A clear communicator with an experience of digital marketing and improving the ranks of a brand within a few months.