Rules to Better Communication


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  1. Communication - Do you know the best chat tools for your employees?

    ​​There are many tools used to communicate and collaborate online. The 2 most efficient platforms for chats and calls are:​​​

    Hopefully Microsoft Teams and Workplace by Facebook will take the lead, we need more app integrations to come e.g. Zapier.
    We think Yammer​ could soon be decommissioned to reduce confusion.

  2. Do you always call first before emailing?

    ​​​To prevent downtime while waiting for a response, when you are contact with your client or the topic in the email needs to be discussed immediately, you should always call first before emailing.

    Calling first can save valuable time versus waiting for someone to respond to your email, making you more productive. Calling first also saves time when discussing topics that are easier explained over the phone. ​(Do you seek clarification via the telephone first? ​)

    When you need to contact someone the steps you should take are:

    1. ​Ping them on Skype asking "Can I talk to you"
    2. Call them. 
    3. If you do not get through, leave a voice message​​ and send an email starting with “As per the voicemail I left for you…​
    4. After talking with the person follow up with an email that begins with the words "As per our conversation"​

    ​It is very unlikely a client will complain because you contact them too often but it is likely they will if you only ever email, so do not be afraid of calling first before emailing. 

  3. Do you have successful remote meetings?

    ​​Ever had a remote meeting via Skype or Skype for Business and had numerous issues with people accessing the meeting, or you couldn't find the shared files, or links afterwards? The de facto approach of communicating via group emails and sharing files via a patchwork of different services is difficult, with the potential for missed messages and files. SSW thinks Microsoft Teams is designed to solve those problems.

    ​At SSW, we use Microsoft Teams for our company meetings and for our internal communication. Microsoft Teams is designed to provide an easier way for small groups of people to communicate and collaborate.

    Microsoft Teams winning feature is its tight integration with Office services and Groups, which allows users to seamlessly and securely switch between editing documents, shared dashboards and planners, and group chat, video and voice calls. The simplicity of just setting up a Team and having access to all these shared services — without the need to spend hours configuring them is part of what Microsoft sees as Teams' selling point. Teams integration with email also allows messages sent to a designated Team address to be copied to a conversation in Teams.  

    What’s the difference between Skype, Skype for Business and Microsoft Teams?

    Skype – an instant messaging app that provides online text message and video chat services. Users may transmit both text and video messages and may exchange digital documents such as images, text, and video. 

    Skype for Business – a solid communication product boasting multiple modalities and the ability to easily switch between them, as well as share a variety of content forms (e.g., desktop, application, whiteboard, poll). 

    Microsoft Teams – MS Teams came along and boasted some of the features that Skype for Business offered – predominantly persistent chat, instant messaging, individual and group voice/video calls, and scheduled meetings.

    Figure: A chart showing a feature comparison for Skype, Skype for Business and Microsoft Teams.
    skype chat.jpg
    Figure: Bad example - Numerous group chats with no group name and therefore no way of tracking previous chats/files
    Teams chat.jpg
    ​​​Figure: Good example - Figure showing all of the team members. This group chat can be used over and over for projects discussions with all data in one place and integrated with SharePoint.

  4. Do you know how to share a file/folder in SharePoint?

    You often need to share links to a file or folder in SharePoint. ​

    You can select the folder (or file) and click on "Copy link" at the top bar to get the link:

    Figure: Getting URL from SharePoint top bar

    You can also right-click the folder/file to copy the link:

    Figure: Getting URL by right-clicking a file in SharePoint

    ​On previous versions, you can open the menu on ellipsis link and get it from there:

    Figure: Getting URL from SharePoint ellipsis menu​

    Related Rule​​

  5. Do you know you should do a retrospective after an activity ends (a.k.a. Feedback)?

    ​Feedback is an important commodity to any professional who wants to improve their game.​

    Notes you take during meetings, presentations, user group, etc., can serve you well as reminders of what happened during an activity. There will be things you like and things you do not. 

    ​It is very important you write this down and discuss it with people in the room or with the presenter (if it was a presentation or user group). This will help everyone to understand what was good and what needs to improve.​

    Figure: Good Example - Danijel took notes during the FireBootCamp Gala Day presentation and sent them to Adam​
  6. Do you know you should write notes when an activity is going?

    During meetings, there is a lot of communication between you and the client. It is very hard to keep the entire conversation in your head; hence it is very important you take notes. Notes must be short but descriptive enough so that you can remember what the conversation was all about and what tasks were created during the meeting. It is also very important that you use appropriate tools e.g. Microsoft OneNote, Trello, Microsoft Word, Notepad++ and avoid tools like Notepad.

    The best tool for taking notes will depend on what sort of activity you are doing. If you are making a straightforward document, OneNote will suffice. However, if the activity involves creating a lot of new tasks, it might be worth using Trello to take your notes. Trello allows for the creation of multiple lists (such as "To do", "In progress", and "Done") and has an easy drop and drag interface to reorganise work items as required. It also allows for comments on any item created, and you can tag people so they are associated with items. That way each new task can be created, organised and assigned immediately. You can invite team members and clients to the board so everyone is on the same page with regard to progress and outcomes.

    Figure: Bad example – Notepad is not a good tool as it cannot recover your content in case of disaster

    Figure: Good example – Notes from the meeting with a client were written in OneNote
    Figure: Good example – Notes from a conversation organising presenters for upcoming user groups. The sessions are listed in month order and the speakers have been tagged in their respective events.