Ah, communication – the one challenge faced by all teams everywhere. Whether you're a 2-man startup, a group of 5 students, or a company with thousands of employees, you need an effective strategy for keeping team members up-to-date.
Frictionless communication is what separates the good teams from the great ones. Not only does it remove the obstacles that prevent employees from getting things done, but it can transform a team of all-stars into something more than the sum of its parts.
In this post, we'll cover how you can use tasks to ensure everyone on your team is always on the same page.
1. Set up task list for your team.
Before people can communicate about their work, they need to actually know what they're working on. In other words, you need to keep track of the things your team is planning to accomplish (and when), as well as the things your team has accomplished (and when). This setup is known as a task list.
Not only should the team itself have a task list, but individual team members should have their own personal task lists as well. These lists should draw from the "master" team list, so everyone knows exactly what they have to do to contribute to the higher-level goals.
2. Make everything public.
"What do tasks lists have to do with communication?" you ask. Well pay attention here, because this is the important part: All of these lists should be openly visible to everyone on the team.
A huge percentage of dialogue within a team is focused on the work being done its members. "What are you doing?", "When will you finish?", "Can you do this instead?", and "Would you mind taking care of this?" are all common questions to hear tossed around the office. When everyone's work is visible to everyone else's, it's no longer necessary to sit around waiting for email responses to simple questions. Suddenly, the friction around this sort of communication disappears.
3. Make it easy!
We'll leave it up to you to decide exactly how implement and manage the task lists for your team. But keep the following in mind: the simpler, the better. A task list that's hard to update is a task list that nobody will update. And a task list that nobody updates is worthless.
For similar reasons, finding and reading these task lists should be as easy as possible, too. When faced with a choice between emailing a team member to asking what she's doing or simply checking her task list, the latter should be so easy that it's a no-brainer.
Good luck, and happy tasking!