Local business owner Thom Baker seeks to leave Columbia a gift when he retires. Tucked away in his equipment-lain home office, Thom Baker of...
“I know you believe you understand what you thought I said, but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I said.”
Challenge: “I thought that was so-and-so’s job.”
Solution: Project-management software
Everyone who went to college knows what a pain a group project can be. Little did we know we’d spend the rest of our lives doing, managing and earning a living by successfully completing group projects. A well-implemented project-management system can make collaboration easier by keeping the project tasks and documents organized. Then everyone involved knows when it’s his or her turn to step up.
Not sure you’re ready for a project-management software quite yet? Try using a spreadsheet to get started. Outline the tasks, due dates and the parties responsible. Save the document on a shared drive or better yet in Google Docs.
Challenge: “I’m in the middle of something right now.”
Solution: Google Chat
Being interrupted is never fun nor is it productive. Instead of barging into your co-worker’s office and demanding an audience, ask for permission via chat first. Give them a heads up: Tell them how long the conversation will last, what you’d like to discuss and when. But don’t write a novel or include lengthy mission-critical instructions via chat. It’s called chat, not conversation, for a reason.
TRICK: Update availability
If you truly don’t want to be bothered by a chatty co-worker, close your virtual door by switching your status to away. If you’re easily distracted, consider turning off the notifications for incoming chats and emails to keep focused on the task at hand.
Challenge: “I haven’t heard from him in weeks.”
Email creates an awesome “paper” trail for a project. Use it to email meeting minutes and share to-do lists. Remember: Tonality is in the eye of the beholder, so emailing in the heat of the moment is not advisable. Leave snotty correspondence to adolescents, and face adversity head on with a phone or in-person conversation.
Add this handy tracking device to your emails, and eliminate “I never saw that email” from your recipient’s list of excuses. With Signals you can see when and how many times the recipient has opened your email, what he or she clicks on and if he or she forwarded it along, no return receipt necessary.
Challenge: “Oh, that page 6? I thought you meant the other page 6.”
Solution: Video chat/screen share
If you have a team member who works remotely, it’s easier to read between the lines when you can see the hand signs. Google Hangouts, Go-to-Meeting and Skype offer an alternative to cryptic phone conversations and maintain a human element. If you’re not down with showing your pretty face on camera, at least consider screen sharing to get your point across easily.
When video chatting or screen sharing with your co-workers and clients, don’t be afraid to employ all the tools at your disposal to get your point across. If your video chat doesn’t house fancy annotating tools, open up Paint, take a screen shot, paste it in your Paint pallet and then mark away.
Challenge: “You forgot to attach the file.”
Solution: Google Docs
Using Google Docs, you can work with others on the same document simultaneously so you’re not revising the wrong thing or emailing a zillion files back and forth. Offer comments, or use the handy editing features to collaborate. Consider keeping process documents in Google Docs as well for reference in case of protocol questions.
Trick: Suggesting mode