Communication is the bedrock of human relationships and cooperation. And this is no different in the workplace. As we delve deeper into the 21st century, with technological advances, global teams, and remote work, it’s never been more important to ensure you have solid communication management in place. A breakdown in communication can affect employee morale, client satisfaction, and your bottom line.
In this article, I’ll go over the communication management process, and we’ll see how you can implement it into your business!
What Is Communication Management?
Communication management refers to the flow of information within a company and how that company manages it. To do that, you need to focus on the company’s target audience and plan out specific channels of communication.
In a company environment, the main modes of this communication are generally email and instant messaging.
But, before implementing a communications management process, it’s essential to first understand the lines of communication within your business. For example, who is communicating with whom, when, and why? From here, you can determine whether the right people are sending, receiving and understanding the right information, at the right time. With these answers in mind, you’ll be able to start putting a strategy together.
We’ll cover this process a bit later, but for now let’s dive into why communication management is important.
Why Is Communication Management Important?
Communication management can help you avoid the pitfalls that come from poorly managed communication channels. More specifically, here are 3 recognizable problems that can manifest in your communication methods:
1. Increased Misunderstandings
With poor communication, employees at your company will likely experience increased misunderstandings. For instance, have you ever sent an email outlining a task you’d like an employee to do, only to realize it wasn’t carried out, or was carried out incorrectly when it’s already too late?
Email was designed for instantaneous communication over the internet. But it doesn’t really work when it comes to assigning and distributing tasks. It’s hard to filter and sort task-based emails from the myriad of other emails your employees are receiving.
Instead, your communications management plan should include a direct way to assign tasks to employees, such as using project management software. Then, your employees will always have a central line of communication for work-related tasks.
As a result, employees will have a clear understanding of what they need to do and by when. You’ll enhance accountability and empower your employees with clear instructions and workflows.
2. Poor Customer Service
When communication and information within your business is disorganized, customer service will suffer. If your employees can’t find documents, information, or resources to sort out a customer issue, the process will take longer than it needs to. This will likely upset your customer and lead to dissatisfaction.
With a clear communication plan in place, employees will be able to easily and efficiently access the information they need to solve a customer issue. With clear outlines of when to use which communication method, your employees should also know to rather call or set up a meeting with a customer when issues arise.
And this way, you’ll solve problems faster and prevent unnecessary frustration. Clients will be satisfied, knowing you gave their issue the attention and efficiency it deserves.
3. Lower Productivity
When internal communication is poor, workplace productivity will suffer. Employees won’t have easy and efficient access to people, knowledge, or the resources they need to do their jobs.
You need to make sure your employees can access important information easily — and this includes being able to contact the people they need. And that’s an important part of a proper communication plan. For instance, don’t attach an important document an employee needs to do their job in a random email. It’ll likely get lost in their inbox. Instead, you should invest in tools that help you organize this information.
As a result, your employees will be armed with all the tools they need to be productive and get their work done. They also won’t be wasting time looking for things in their disorganized inboxes.
You’ve now discovered some of the top issues with poor communication — and how communication management can help you overcome them. So now, let’s take a deep dive into emails versus IMs and see whether one tool stands above the other.
Email vs Instant Messaging
Email and instant messaging are two of the primary modes of communication within most businesses. But you shouldn’t view them as either or. Instead, you should use them both as part of a successful communication management strategy.
Essentially, instant messages can be a fantastic tool to complement email communication. But they can never replace email. Even with communication platforms like Slack or Discord, it’s still important to have email as the primary base.
IM should facilitate your secondary communication. To help your employees, your communication management strategy should clearly outline when you should use email or IMs. This way, you’ll use both tools effectively and streamline communication in your business.
To help you use these tools effectively, I’ll cover some best practices next.
Best Practices for Email and IM
Effective communication systems allow your employees to gain access to useful and high-quality information. Because of this, the communications manager, the project manager, and the policy managers should always work in sync.
The easiest way to implement these systems is to rely on what your employees are already familiar with. Focusing on good email practices and common IM apps will reduce the time people need to adapt. You can look elsewhere if you’ve exhausted all familiar tools and communication issues still occur. Discover the problem and match it with the tools or practices that solve it.
Email Best Practices
- Make sure your emails are concise
- Use emails only to relay information that doesn’t need much feedback and discussion
- Send emails only to those who need to read them
- Open your emails with the main question, request, or information
- Establish a policy where people can reply to emails with “Understood” to confirm the receiver has no further questions
- Send business emails only during business hours. If you work with people from different time zones, send all emails at the beginning of their work day.
Instant Message Best Practices
- Use instant messages more frequently than emails, to convey shorter ideas
- Dedicate instant messages for announcements, file sharing, and quick questions
- Segregate working groups, with only managers seeing multiple groups or management groups
- Have one group for strictly work-related stuff and a general group for chatting
- Encourage employees to ask questions in the standard group rather than privately
- Make sure to only have the relevant people in each chat so people receive only the information they strictly need
- Choose an instant messaging tool that everyone can use, and stick to it
But despite following these best practices — and using emails and IMs in tandem — you may still have problems in your communication.
So you’ll need a communication management strategy in place to solve these problems. Your strategy will focus on communication as a whole to plug the gaps left by email and IMs.
How to Implement Communication Management
Implementing a good communication management strategy isn’t rocket science. But that’s often the reason people neglect it. Most company managers presume communication will come naturally for any collective, which isn’t the case.
You should focus on the following strategies for an excellent internal communication system.
1. Have a Person in Charge
When it comes to communication management it’s always best to have one person in charge of the process. This way, they’ll have complete oversight of your communication system and be able to identify any gaps and issues. Without one person in charge, issues will likely fall through the cracks and damage productivity and efficiency in your business.
2. Lay Out the Plan First
You should create a communication framework as soon as possible. This framework includes information about how your company should communicate with its employees, clients, suppliers and other important entities. On average, more than five people can’t communicate effectively without it. It should be simple and serve the primary purpose, which is clear and concise communication. You don’t need bells or whistles here, just the bare-bones framework.
3. Manage Meetings
Nothing frustrates an employee more than unnecessary meetings eating away at their time to complete work. So it’s important you manage your meetings effectively. This means you should know when to communicate something via email or IM, and when it should rather be a meeting. You should also ensure meetings are scheduled well in advance and that participants know if they need to prepare anything.
4. Schedule Monitoring
Constant monitoring is hard to keep up with. But it’s an important part of communication management. You need to monitor how well your communication plan is working. This will help you to determine what works, what doesn’t, and how this relates to certain teams or employees. Armed with this information, you’ll be able to optimize and streamline your communication plan.
5. Archive Everything
While it might seem like an extra step you don’t have time for, you should archive all emails. In essence, old emails are essential for compliance and legal matters. Someone might request five-year-old emails to show track records, task explanations, and other things you’ve long since forgotten. Luckily, you can use email archiving tools to ensure you save an index of all emails and similar information. As a bonus, you’ll save on hardware space and be able to find any piece of information at a moment’s notice.
Thankfully, a variety of tools can help you with communication management. Next, I’ll go through 4 that have shown promise in recent years to narrow down your search.
4 Best Communication Management Tools
Communication management tools (CMT) cover several communication-related key performance indicators. Additionally, they allow for better monitoring, active archiving, and network connection management. Let’s have a look at the 4 best tools on the market. Note I’ve mentioned them in no particular order.
1. Adobe Workfront
Adobe Workfront primarily focuses on managing workflow and streamlining projects. It’s a good way for communication managers to always be on top of things, especially in creative projects. Adobe Workfront is clean and easy to use, even for novices. Like the rest of their collection, Workfront can run on virtually any platform.
The downside of the platform is that its apps for iOS and Android are a far cry from their desktop option. This might reduce the product’s accessibility for industries such as sales, shipping, and communication, which need a CMT the most.
Wrike is a system that visually represents teams and the people inside them. It offers an excellent view of all relevant projects, files, and tasks. A top benefit of this tool is that it has an automated monitoring capability.
The downside is that communication isn’t the product’s main focus. If you’re using it for marketing and team management, that will be okay — otherwise, you should consider better options with more concise features.
3. GFI KerioConnect
GFI KerioConnect offers a full suite of internal email messaging and external email campaigns. It’s also natively available for virtually all devices, including mobile and Linux, with top email security and compliance standards.
While it has an exemplary user interface, it’s not as colorful as other options. But, if networking and communication are the core of your business, it’s a great tool to invest in.
But this tool’s instant message feature is very basic — it offers fewer choices than other providers, including free ones like Viber and WhatsApp.
With over 20 million users, Slack is probably the most popular on this list. But it’s also a communication platform first and a communication management tool second. Its advantage is that it’s extremely accessible, and quite popular. It also has tons of integrations so it can fit into any of your existing tools.
But Slack doesn’t have emails. In most cases, you’ll have to monitor and archive emails manually through Gmail or another service, which defies the point of having a tool.
To make your choice easier, check out how the best options stack against each other:
These products are pretty different. Hopefully, you could match my description with your company’s needs. Now I’ll wrap it up and take out some key points.
Communication management ensures that everyone in your business communicates as effectively as possible. Effective communication leads to greater business success and increased productivity. Your employees, clients, and your bottom line will benefit from a robust strategy.
Email and instant messages are two top communication forms that businesses use. But you should know when to use email and when to use instant messages in your business. Regardless, you still need to implement a proper CM strategy to fill in the gaps where these methods fall short.
Learn more about communications management and similar topics with our FAQ and Resources section below!
What is the difference between communication management and CCM?
While customer communication management (CCM) focuses on relations with the customer and retaining their trust, communication management focuses mainly on intra-company communication and improving the workflow. Your job is to ensure infrastructure works as intended and everyone understands their tasks.
What is the difference between team management and communications management?
Team management involves organizing tasks, determining the best person for each job, and ensuring tasks are completed on time. The communication manager ensures that the flow of information is going well, and while they might use the same team collaboration tools, the approach is different.
Are online communication tools safe?
Communication tools, as far as software goes, are safe. But, same as email security, you must have some policies in place to ensure employees practice technical safety and personal information security.
What does a communications manager do?
As a communications manager, you can work independently or as part of a team. You will also work with IT Service Management (ITSM) and other sectors to ensure the adequate functioning of the communication infrastructure.
Is it acceptable to send emails outside of business hours?
Although it is okay to write an email whenever you have the time, you should always expect an answer tomorrow. Using other productivity tools to find someone available for urgent problems is much preferable.
TechGenix: Article on Models for Organizational Change
Explore the best practices and models for organizational change that can help your business.