Point Lookout: a free weekly publication of Chaco Canyon Consulting
Volume 5, Issue 5;   February 2, 2005: Virtual Communications: II

Virtual Communications: II

by

Participating in or managing a virtual team presents special communications challenges. Here's Part II of some guidelines for communicating with members of virtual teams.

Ed picked Katrina's number from his cell phone menu, slid his coat just a bit off his right shoulder, stuck the phone between his shoulder and his ear, froze for a moment with his right arm halfway out of his coat sleeve, and listened. "Good," he said aloud to himself, "Ringing. Maybe she's in."

An iphone 4sHe listened to the ringing as he slid his right arm out of his coat, then his left. He threw the coat on the hard hotel bed and sat down on the desk chair. As he began untying his left shoe, Katrina's voice came on the line.

It was her outgoing message. She gave her name and said, "Press star to skip this message." Ed pressed star, thinking, 'Thank you, Katrina.' He'd heard her message thousands of times, but he could never remember how to skip her message.

When Katrina recorded her outgoing message, she gave a gift to all of her colleagues by telling them how to skip her message. For repeat callers like Ed, it saves a few seconds every time. It adds up, and it can be a wonderful thing when he's rushed, or at the end of a long day. Little niceties like that can make the difference between a high-performance team and one that struggles to survive.

Here's Part II of my guidelines for communications within virtual teams. See "Virtual Communications: I," Point Lookout for January 26, 2005, and "Virtual Communications: III," Point Lookout for February 9, 2005, for more.

Be realistic — you'll probably
have to leave a message
when you call
Use Call Waiting only with Caller ID
Interrupting a call just to find out who else is calling is a destructive practice. Get a service called "Caller ID with Name on Call Waiting," which lets you see who's calling without interrupting the current call. Even with this service, interrupt a call only for emergencies or when the second caller calls a second time.
Think "inbox" when leaving voicemail
For voicemail, follow the format we use for email: first give your name, your full phone number, the topic, and the priority, and then give the body of the message. It's a courtesy to the listener.
Speak slowly in voicemail
Speak clearly. If you're calling from a noisy environment, such as an airport, try to find a quiet place to make your call. Slow down even more when you say your phone number or email address.
Don't make up voicemail messages on the fly
Be realistic — you'll probably have to leave a message when you call. Be prepared to do so.
Leave only simple voicemail messages
Complex voicemail messages are hard to follow. The recipient almost always has to write them down. If possible, send complex messages by email. Thirty seconds is the practical maximum, especially if the recipient gets lots of voicemail.
Say goodbye only once
It's amazing how many people say multiple goodbyes. One will do the job.

How many voicemail messages will your team send this year? Think about how much time you can save, and how much confusion you can avoid, if your team follows these guidelines. Just don't try to explain them in voicemail. Go to top Top  Next issue: Virtual Communications: III  Next Issue

303 Tips for Virtual and Global TeamsIs your organization a participant in one or more global teams? Are you the owner/sponsor of a global team? Are you managing a global team? Is everything going well, or at least as well as any project goes? Probably not. Many of the troubles people encounter are traceable to the obstacles global teams face when building working professional relationships from afar. Read 303 Tips for Virtual and Global Teams to learn how to make your global and distributed teams sing. Order Now!

Your comments are welcome

Would you like to see your comments posted here? rbrenYGoJByHCJIwQZproner@ChacYXLtwjQqsHigDyEfoCanyon.comSend me your comments by email, or by Web form.

About Point Lookout

Thank you for reading this article. I hope you enjoyed it and found it useful, and that you'll consider recommending it to a friend.

Point Lookout is a free weekly email newsletter. Browse the archive of past issues. Subscribe for free.

Support Point Lookout by joining the Friends of Point Lookout, as an individual or as an organization.

Do you face a complex interpersonal situation? Send it in, anonymously if you like, and I'll give you my two cents.

Related articles

More articles on Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness:

A mismatchMessage Mismatches
Sometimes we misinterpret the messages we receive — what we see or hear. It's frustrating, and tempers can flare on both sides. But if we keep in mind two ideas, we can reduce the effects of message mismatches.
A red-tailed hawkAppreciate the Moment
Often, we focus our awareness where we aren't or when we aren't. Whether we're in a heated meeting, or blowing out the candles of a birthday cake, being fully present can make our experiences more positive and memorable. Why are we so often someplace else? When we are, how can we come back? Or better, how can we stay fully present when we want to?
An appealing plate of pasta (not what I ate that evening)If Only I Had Known: II
Ever had one of those forehead-slapping moments when someone explained something, or you suddenly realized something? They usually involve some idea or insight that would have saved you much pain, trouble, and heartache, if only you had known.
Roger Boisjoly of Morton Thiokol, who tried to halt the launch of Challenger in 1986Towards More Gracious Disagreement
We spend a sizable chunk of time correcting each other. Some believe that we win points by being right, or lose points by being wrong, but nobody seems to know who keeps the official score. Here are some thoughts to help you kick the habit.
Eggs Sardou at Lucile's: poached eggs, creamed spinach, gulf shrimp, gritsManagement Debt: II
As with technical debt, we incur management debt when we make choices that carry with them recurring costs. How can we quantify management debt?

See also Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness, Effective Communication at Work and Virtual and Global Teams for more related articles.

Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout

The Jolly RogerComing August 22: Dealing with Credit Appropriation
Very little is more frustrating than having someone else claim credit for the work you do. Worse, sometimes they blame you if they get into trouble after misusing your results. Here are three tips for dealing with credit appropriation. Available here and by RSS on August 22.
RMS Titanic departing Southampton on April 10, 1912And on August 29: Please Reassure Them
When things go wildly wrong, someone is usually designated to investigate and assess the probability of further trouble. That role can be risky. Here are three guidelines for protecting yourself if that role falls to you. Available here and by RSS on August 29.

Coaching services

I offer email and telephone coaching at both corporate and individual rates. Contact Rick for details at rbrenQuVpZQBxhkzoYBKYner@ChacNqeVODUPuKzyxoIpoCanyon.com or (650) 787-6475, or toll-free in the continental US at (866) 378-5470.

Get the ebook!

Past issues of Point Lookout are available in six ebooks:

Reprinting this article

Are you a writer, editor or publisher on deadline? Are you looking for an article that will get people talking and get compliments flying your way? You can have 500 words in your inbox in one hour. License any article from this Web site. More info

Public seminars

The Power Affect: How We Express Our Personal Power
Many The Power Affect: How We Express Personal Powerpeople who possess real organizational power have a characteristic demeanor. It's the way they project their presence. I call this the power affect. Some people — call them power pretenders — adopt the power affect well before they attain significant organizational power. Unfortunately for their colleagues, and for their organizations, power pretenders can attain organizational power out of proportion to their merit or abilities. Understanding the power affect is therefore important for anyone who aims to attain power, or anyone who works with power pretenders. Read more about this program.

Follow Rick

Send email or subscribe to one of my newsletters Follow me at LinkedIn Follow me at Twitter, or share a tweet Follow me at Google+ or share a post Subscribe to RSS feeds Subscribe to RSS feeds
The message of Point Lookout is unique. Help get the message out. Please donate to help keep Point Lookout available for free to everyone.
Technical Debt for Policymakers BlogMy blog, Technical Debt for Policymakers, offers resources, insights, and conversations of interest to policymakers who are concerned with managing technical debt within their organizations. Get the millstone of technical debt off the neck of your organization!
Go For It: Sometimes It's Easier If You RunBad boss, long commute, troubling ethical questions, hateful colleague? Learn what we can do when we love the work but not the job.
101 Tips for Managing ConflictFed up with tense, explosive meetings? Are you the target of a bully? Learn how to make peace with conflict.
101 Tips for Managing ChangeAre you managing a change effort that faces rampant cynicism, passive non-cooperation, or maybe even outright revolt?
101 Tips for Effective MeetingsLearn how to make meetings more productive — and more rare.
Exchange your "personal trade secrets" — the tips, tricks and techniques that make you an ace — with other aces, anonymously. Visit the Library of Personal Trade Secrets.