One skill has become more complex due to these changes and is often overlooked in real-world implementation: communication. The fact that this skill is overlooked decreases productivity dramatically in our agile environment.
In recent years, the software industry has been forced to drastically change the way they organize themselves. They have moved from face-to-face meetings and whiteboards to Zoom calls and Jira boards. All of these changes have forced people to learn how to use these platforms, and for the most part, they have done it well. However, one skill has become more complex due to these changes and is often overlooked in real-world implementation: communication. The fact that this skill is overlooked decreases productivity dramatically in our agile environment.
Communication is the backbone of not only our industries but also our society as a whole. It plays such an important role in the development and technology area. However, communicating is not an easy task. Depending on the context in which you are communicating, there are certain criteria you should follow. For instance, we do not talk to people in a meeting with stakeholders the same way we would with a colleague during a coffee break. Although this example might seem extreme, we can make the same comparison for the change in settings: we should not communicate online the same way we do in person, and trying to go against it is fighting a lost battle.
Here are some good strategies to develop effective communication within your team
For written communication in the online environment, there is a good structure that helps ensure all the necessary information is conveyed:
CONTEXT | GOAL | PREPARATION
The first part of your text should set the mood of your message in a clear manner. This part is where you introduce either the context or the goal of your communication.
PROOF | EVIDENCE | SUPPORT
In the second part, you give more details about the subject with either proof or evidence that supports you.
CONCLUSION | THE QUESTION | THE SOLUTION
In the last part, you write a conclusion to your ideas or propose the question you might be trying to find the answer for.
For oral communication in the online environment, there are three good rules to achieve your goal:
- Prepare yourself in all aspects! In important meetings, it's common to get anxious, which may lead to unclear messages being conveyed and can cause problems of understanding. To avoid this, make sure you have a clear understanding of what you want to express and not focus as much on the exact words you want to say. Sometimes, in trying to use the 'correct' words, one may lose their train of thought. Also, prepare yourself physically. This means making sure you have anything you might need during your presentation handy. This includes the slides you want to present, the documents you might want to share, and even a glass of water, just in case.
- Create a roadmap of your ideas! Usually, we use meetings to propose ideas, align expectations, among other things. The important thing is that no matter the subject, if we invite people to a meeting, we probably want that person to understand or agree on the thing we are proposing. For this reason, it's important for you to build a clear roadmap of how you expect the person to get to the same conclusion as you. Structure what you need to know to get to the point you did and how each thing connects to the next, the way you did when you got to that.
- Do not take anything for granted! Sometimes, because we know something and judge that trivial, we tend to suppose that others know it as well. This is a trap being set for yourself during communication. The information you judge as common knowledge might be a key factor for understanding your point of view, and the interlocutor will miss that from the beginning.
If there is a rule of thumb we could follow, it is this: the more effort you and your team put into communicating well, the easier it will be to understand it.
In general, understanding the importance of communication is one of the most crucial things to achieve productivity. Only after consolidating this can one use the tools at hand mindfully. Additionally, putting in the effort to express a clear message is paramount. If there is no care for passing on ideas, how can one care for passing on knowledge, value, or even innovation?
João Fekete is a backend developer with a broad skillset and a passion for learning. He actively seeks opportunities to connect diverse areas of knowledge to solve problems.