The Tools To Keep Your Team Aligned (Part 1)

20.02.2017

Improve your communication game

It’s no secret that teamwork is the backbone of every business. Projects can be completed faster if we pull together and, as long as we keep our tasks aligned, we’ll work far more efficiently.

But how do we get there? As the Beatles used to say “with a little help from my friends”, which in our case means we implemented a few tools to enhance the collaborative environment at KONUX. We discovered that working with certain on- and offline tools helps us optimize our internal communications, improves our efficiency when it comes to bigger projects and makes us focus on the most important tasks – which is why we want to share our learnings with you in a series of posts.

Tools for establishing effective communication

Communication is the key to fostering team collaboration in every business. The faster a company grows, the harder it gets to coordinate bigger projects and share knowledge efficiently.

At KONUX, we decided to put some thought into the way we communicate and settled on a combination of different channels to improve our internal workflow. After trying out diverse communication tools, we managed to find the ones that fit us best. We hope these learnings inspire you to tweak your communication habits as well.

Slack

Slack is our internal messaging app. By keeping our conversations organised and making collaboration easy, Slack helps us stay in sync. Instead of interrupting someone in his workflow or spending more time on scheduling meetings than on our actual projects, we use Slack to pass quick questions to colleagues, brainstorm and forward documents in real time.

Sharing knowledge across departments has significantly improved ever since we decided to combine it all in one channel. We can set up ad-hoc discussions with as many people as needed and on diverse topics. For example, we have specific channels to pass along meeting notes or new research and our ‘announcements’ for news that concern the entire team. That way we promote informational transparency, essential for collaborative work. And, obviously, we also love our ‘food’ channel.

With Slack, no information gets lost. Imagine if we need a link to an important document that our colleague sent us the other week. If this happened by e-mail, it gets quite challenging to find this document in an overloaded inbox, right? Email threads are hard to follow and we may end up asking for the same information over and over again. Slack allows us to track down necessary documents in no time, which makes our workflow so much smoother.

We can also substitute long meetings. Instead, we get answers on the spot, and the good thing is that we can concentrate on other tasks as well. Organising a private channel lets us invite only the people we need and add colleagues who otherwise couldn’t attend. Meetings over Slack are then compiled in digestible pieces of information that are easily retrievable. Even if we miss a point we can go back to it, something that we won’t be able to do after a meeting.

Handy Slack Hacks

Meetings

After exploring different ways of better collaboration, we learned that having too many meetings is not a good use of our time. They can easily turn into endless conversations and leave the team without actual outcomes or clear next steps. Therefore, we’ve set up a few guidelines, so we can ensure our work is as efficient as possible and stays goal-orientated. We want to make quick decisions and be fast in implementing them:

  1. Meetings should have one owner, so the conversation does not lose its direction. That contributes to having a clear agenda and a goal.

  2. Meetings should involve the minimum number of stakeholders, so that a decision can be made.

  3. Everyone should come prepared and give input. As a result, we can rely on our decisions being objective and well thought-through.

  4. Meetings should start by sharing the most valuable information.

  5. Every meeting should end with clear actions, each of which has a specific owner. The owner is responsible for informing everyone on decisions made, so we can get aligned and avoid misunderstandings.

Our business team is currently trying out a new way to keep everyone on track. Their alignment meeting is a work process they use to draw up the objectives of our organisation. On a regular basis, the team members get together to talk about their individual and collective priorities to make sure that they build upon our company roadmap. This helps to set out a clear direction as to how to proceed, or what to focus on. As an added bonus, every member of the team, be it full-time employee or intern, gets reminded of how important their contribution is to our overall progress.

We also like to add a variety to the businesslike character of our meetings. At the end of each week, we hold our ‘All-hands’ meeting which supports our cross-departmental communication. The relaxed atmosphere (as well as the free food) encourages dialogue and gives us something to look forward to.

All-hands meetings are important for sharing the company progress as well as current challenges. Every team leader has one minute time to set out the key points of their past week. This gives us an overview of where we are going, we can improve our knowledge on topics that we are not yet familiar with, as well as our sense of belonging together.

Tips for effective meetings

At KONUX we believe in the power of teamwork and communications. It took us a while to discover the tools that fit us best. However, now we realize that having tools at hand to align our projects, to create internal transparency and to keep up our company culture, helps us to significantly grow as a business and as a team.

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