This week we tried a new communication method within our team. Well, it isn’t technically a new communication method – phone texting. But it was how we used it that was new to us.

You see, every Monday morning the Directors of CDCS get together with our admin team and catch up over Zoom, reviewing projects and team movements. It’s invaluable for getting our week off to the right start – Donna and I know exactly what is going on and when, and we can prioritise what we need to focus on for the week.

The only problem with a team that is scattered around the country, sometimes team members can find themselves outside of the loop.

Laptop keyboard on yellow background with paper image of an envelope. Text says: "Communication is key!"

Communication is key to a well-run organisation of any size so we knew we needed to do something about our problem. But how do you keep everyone informed without setting up more meetings (who wants to attend yet another meeting!) or spending time writing an email that clogs up our inboxes?

That’s when someone had the bright idea of recording a short message on a mobile phone that summarised the key points for the week, highlighting who was out in the field, upcoming work, new industry issues we want the team to be aware of, and administration tasks that need to be completed by individual team members. There is also the odd happy birthday or get well message in there as well.

This less-than-three-minute voice message was texted out to the team – and they loved it.

It was short, to the point and informative and best of all, it didn’t waste anyone’s time or clog up their inbox (if your inbox is anything like mine, you’re probably thinking of how to utilise this to save yourself some time and space!).

This exercise got me thinking about communication. It’s something that Donna stated as one of her key areas of interest – although to me she’s pretty good at this already. But we both realise that good communication is what makes the organisations we work with shine. Conversely, where communication is poorly managed or almost non-existent within an organisation, we know that there is likely to be trouble.

We have covered communication with external stakeholders, your clients and their families or other agencies, but we can’t forget our most important asset: the care team. I know from talking with some staff on the ground that they feel like mushrooms, kept in a darkened room in that cone of silence.

We need to recognise that a well-informed team is better equipped to provide quality care.

Just think about some of the things that would help your team, things that could be communicated to them in a timely manner.

  • Expectations of their supervisor – don’t make them guess
  • Changes in a client or resident’s health or behaviours, including incidents that they should be aware of
  • New practices or interventions that impact on a client or clients
  • New equipment and times for training where relevant
  • Key visitors to the centre or facility
  • Industry reforms that will impact them
  • Issues at the centre that can impact on their ability to do their job
  • Relevant HR issues
  • Anticipated leave or absences of the management team that might leave them feeling unsupported and how this is going to be managed

Some of these examples can be covered in staff handovers or in team meetings, others could be put in memos and left on the staff room table, but have a think about whether this is the most effective way of communicating with the team. How many people read papers left on the table? How often are people bombarded with emails or overloaded noticeboards?

If you want to get their attention perhaps try something different.

  • Could you send out a short group text message comprised of simple dot points either directly or via your HR system if it is capable of this?
  • What about copying what we have done, recording a short voice message and texting it out?
  • Perhaps you’re comfortable creating a quick informative video and uploading it to a closed Facebook group that is accessible just to your team.
  • And of course you could also consider running a Facebook live with your team, they can still watch it later if they can’t make the livestream.

Whatever you decide to do, before hitting the record button or compiling the message, take a couple of minutes to consider what information is important to convey to your team, distil the key points down, don’t waffle and speak clearly if you decide to go down the recording route. 

Remember to open with a greeting and let people know what this message is about right upfront. If sending a voice message, you can simply add a short accompanying text message that states ‘this week’s news’ or something similar.

If you and your team are time-poor and concerned about how to get key information shared across the team with the least amount of effort and the most impact, as the famous leader Gandhi once said, “be the change you wish to see in the world”. Try something different or at least a new angle on what you are doing to see if it has a better outcome!

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Carrie

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