How to create a team communication guide

With many teams moving to remote and hybrid working, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with all the different communication technologies – should we be using Teams, Zoom, Messenger, WhatsApp, phone, SMS…? We could go on! Communication plays a critical role in building successful teams – especially remote teams. Unfortunately, people often default to the communication tool that is most familiar to them and give little thought to the intention behind the tool. The solution: A Team Communication Guide!

Aim

To align on how your team communicates by matching the purpose of the communication with a delivery mechanism.

Resources

  • Team Communication Guide template (here)
  • 60-minute team workshop
  • Inventium’s Team Communication Guide (here)
  • The Basecamp Guide to Internal Communication (here).
  • A shared Google Doc (or similar collaborative document)

Method

  1. Book a meeting with your team to create your Team Communication Guide.
  2. Before your scheduled meeting, send your team the Team Communication Guide template and inspiration documents linked to in the Resources section. Ask team members to reflect on these and bring their thoughts to the meeting.
  3. As a team, workshop the answers to the following questions and collate them in a Google Doc. You can refer to the Inventium and Basecamp guides for inspiration:
    1. What do we use synchronous communication for? (Synchronous communication is live communication, such as meetings and phone calls).
    2. What do we use asynchronous communication for? (Asynchronous communication is non-live communication, such as email).
    3. As a team, do we default to asynchronous or synchronous communication?
    4. What does ‘urgent’ actually mean?
    5. Which communication channels do we use for what types of communication?
    6. What communication needs to happen daily/weekly/monthly, and what is the best channel for it to happen?
    7. How will we ensure our synchronous discussions reflect equal contributions?
    8. (Remote teams) What are our planned rituals around in-person connection?
    9. Based on team members’ Chronotypes, when should we do synchronous and asynchronous communication and Deep vs Shallow work? (refer to the Chronotype experiment and the Deep Work experiment for more information).
    10. What are our key communication values?
    11. Any additional questions relevant to your team.
  4. After the session, the team leader should refine the answers to each question and share the proposed guide asynchronously with the team for final feedback.
  5. After incorporating any feedback, transfer the text in the Google Doc into the Team Communication Guide template.
  6. Save the Guide somewhere central that can be easily accessed.
  7. Ensure you role model your communication preferences to help make them stick. Also, remember to make any associated changes to your calendar to reflect your Team Communication Guide decisions (e.g. changing a weekly video WIP to a walking meeting).

Outcome

By creating a Team Communication Guide, you can align your team on how to communicate and which technologies to use for different contexts. Better collaboration will flow from better communication. At Inventium, we found it hugely effective in helping shift to using more asynchronous communication methods to protect each other’s Deep work time.