Let’s take as our example a project team of 15 members spanning multiple time zones (think California, Boston, the UK, India and Australia) hustling to the finish line of a make-or-break project. They realize that the inconsistent use of communications methods and tools has meant costly delays, so they’ve come together to agree on a core set of communication tools they’ll use for each type of activity or interaction.
They start with a blank template using a template like this and brainstorm a list of team activities and interactions along the left-hand column, such as:
- Information sharing
- Project progress reporting
- Task management
- Issue escalation
- Project planning
- Project retrospectives
In the next column, they indicate which primary communication method or tool will be used for each activity, and which tool might be secondary. Examples:
- Weekly or daily team meetings
- MS Teams
- Team portal
Finally, they note in the last column which tools will be used mainly asynchronously vs. those that require same-time participation. To accelerate their time to project completion, team members know they need to lean more toward asynchronous communications, especially where problems are doing the most damage today, such as making sloppy handoffs and spending too much time chasing down the right data.
Creating this kind of communications map, or matrix, requires a same-time conversation with the whole team, if possible, so everyone can weigh in, discuss, debate and ultimately agree how, when and where they will collaborate and communicate.
Once they create this team communications map, they’ll post it in a place where all have easy access, especially new team members coming on board mid-stream. As part of future team check-ins, they’ll periodically validate and refine the matrix as the project moves through different phases.
Investing the time to create a team communications map that everyone can agree on can reap huge payoffs down the line, especially for teams that intentionally move towards asynchronous communications as their default. Start by identifying team activities and interactions where agreed-upon communications and collaboration tools can have an immediate impact, and then work your way down the list from there.
Download this PDF template to jumpstart the creation of your team communications map
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