In my previous article, I wrote about ways to improve communication. The article was primarily about dealing with incoming communication. How do we handle incoming communication and what is the most productive way to respond? In essence, it comes down to “time and structure” and “focus and transparency.”
For outgoing communication, there is a lot to gain in effectiveness and in efficiency too.
Managing an alliance is like conducting an orchestra. It requires a lot of attention and effort from the conductor. The alliance manager is the conductor who needs to assure that the collaborating teams stay in tune. Even for an experienced alliance manager, it can be a challenging task to keep a partnership together. One helpful way to keep the alliance on a steady track is to structure communication.
Tip 7 in my eBook “25 Tips for Successful Partnerships and Alliances” describes the principle of setting up a cadence of governance. With a series of periodic interactions it enables you to manage the alliance activities systematically. It brings structure to your outgoing communications. It will of course not eliminate ad-hoc actions in a partnership.
There are always unforeseen things that will happen. When they do, make life easier and ask yourself some of these questions:
- Who is the best person in our team to handle this issue in the most efficient way?
- Is it urgent enough for us to drop everything and focus on this issue? Or can it wait until our regular moment of communication, as agreed in our cadence of governance?
- Can I respond or solve it within 2 minutes? Then I will do it right away; otherwise, I will create a task on my todo list and schedule time to do it.
In any case, remember to notify your partner with a clear message saying that you are working on it and will get back to him. In that answer, include an expectation on when you get back.
Do you recognize those endless long emails that cover multiple screens? How do you feel when they arrive? Are you happy that you have something new to read? Or are you procrastinating on reading the full message and does it stick in your inbox forever?
Keep your outgoing messages concise and to the point. My weekly articles are always limited to 500 words. This way you can read them within 2,5 minutes. It forces me to think about my messages. They need to have the right focus and balance between substance and brevity.
For a regular email, 500 words would be way too long. Limit them to one, or a few, paragraphs. Don’t overdo it, though. Telegram style was only effective in the late 1800’s. The most effective communication has empathy for the reader and is brief and to the point.
Remember that the cornerstone of effective communication and successful partnerships is to keep it a dialogue!