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Simplify team-to-team communication with these 8 tips
Simplify team-to-team communication with these 8 tips

Overcome the challenges of poor communication in the workplace and learn techniques to maximize impact in your organization.

Mark Parnell avatar
Written by Mark Parnell
Updated over a week ago

Effective communication is crucial for success in any organization, but team-to-team communication can be complicated, especially with distributed teams and different tools. Miscommunication can lead to wasted resources, misaligned efforts, and workplace failures.

However, when every individual takes responsibility for reinforcing communication, it becomes a powerful driver for effective collaboration.

Watch the video or read on for more ⤵️

Leveraging a shared communication framework

Establishing a shared culture of communication, and identifying the right audience and level of detail is key to effective team-to-team communication. We use a tool-agnostic framework called The Loop based on four core beliefs.

Here’s a quick recap of those beliefs:

  1. Common vocabulary over common tooling, by forming alignment across distributed teams through shared context rather than forcing them to all use one tool.

  2. Open up your work in progress, by writing weekly project updates to create a predictable, synchronized operating rhythm across physically distributed teams.

  3. Curation over automation, by tailoring your updates to your audience’s context.

  4. Show that you’re paying attention, by engaging teams in conversations rather than one-sided broadcasts.

8 tips for effective team-to-team communication

Check out this below update. How long can you focus on it?

How do we transform this dry, text-heavy email into an update everyone wants to read?

The "before" update is a dry, disengaging wall of text

Dive into the tips below. 👇🏻

1. Keep it short

Stakeholders have multiple streams to stay on top of, so keep progress updates concise, and focused on “Is the work on track? When is it expected to land? What does that mean for me?”

Minto’s communication pyramid starts with the conclusion, provides key points, and supporting information

The Minto communication pyramid can help here. When forming an update, you may have lots of brainstormed points, which you can then group into important themes and synthesize into a headline. For most outside stakeholders, that headline is sufficient to stay informed.

2. Call out changes early and often

Ever heard of “watermelon projects”? These are projects where they appear green - on track week by week - until you hit the final stretch and suddenly things turn out to be red.

There’s often fear when sharing that a project is off track, so updates can get sugar-coated. This isn’t useful for seeking help, or for ensuring dependent teams plan accordingly.

Encourage teams to flag risks early, reset expectations, and create a cadence for frequent updates.

3. Focus on outcomes, not outputs

Automating updates with detailed information is less useful than curated updates that provide the “so what” of what’s happening. For example, saying a project is 75% complete isn’t useful. What does that actually mean?

Rather than automating updates, we strongly believe in the effectiveness of curation so updates contain the so what, as opposed to just the what.

Dropping the progress % metric means people can focus on outcomes

4. Drop the jargon

When writing for a broad audience, it's best to avoid jargon as it makes it harder to understand the message.


Assume your reader has no context - or has a different context than you! - and sense check written communication is clear. Avoid acronyms and define them upfront for clear communication.

5. Use visuals

Visuals are engaging and simplified, and the human brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text.

Adding rich media such as diagrams, demos, and mock designs to your updates can help your audience digest information more easily.

An embedded video adds more context in an easily digestible way

6. Normalize emojis 🎉

Emojis have the benefit of conveying tone and sentiment asynchronously. They can add relatability and color to workplace communications.

Adding emojis to updates can help boost engagement, force writers to focus on key points, and add relatability and color to communications.

7. Choose the right level of granularity

Different audiences need different levels of detail. Think of your core update as a high-level summary that allows readers to decide if they want to explore further.

Establish terminology for goals vs. projects, and provide opportunities to explore further detail if needed.

8. It’s OK to have a no-progress update

Keep stakeholders informed, even if no progress has been made due to distractions, unexpected changes, or other reasons.

Teams should not be afraid to communicate when progress didn’t happen

Summary

Now we’ve gone through all the techniques, let’s take a look at our final update.

Doesn’t that look better? With these 8 easy tips for team-to-team communication, we’ve transformed a dry, text-heavy, disengaging email into a meaningful, engaging, and effective update for all stakeholders.

With our toolkit of techniques, we hope you’ll be able to simplify the complex art of team-to-team communication and have a bit more fun while doing it.

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