*read part 2 here
Technology and the communication tools that come with it are supposed to make things better. More productive. More Efficient.
I am a fan of tools, if they work and if my team will use them.
Here’s a run down of the workflow of communication layers that I’m trying to implement with the staff and leaders at Gateway Church. Starting with the outside/front door communications and moving toward the internal staff communications.
This is still our main portal with the most content and traffic. It is voiced so that people with no affiliation with our¬†organization¬†can understand the content and navigate to the info they will be most interested in. People who are a part of our¬†organization¬†still use it and it is a very important tool for communicating with them but it is targeted at people who are not yet a part of our community.
Organization’s¬†Twitter and YouTube channel
A companion to the website, our twitter account is voiced for people who are not yet a part of our community but is used also for communicating with insiders. YouTube videos are voiced to people not affiliated with us.
Organization’s Facebook Page(s)
I may get some disagreement here but I think Facebook is for people who have accepted your brand or organization as a part of their life at one level or another. Yes, some may find Facebook as a front door to your organization, but the voice and interactions on it are geared toward your community.
This may differ for you in where you place your organization’s blog in these layers; but for us, a non-profit church, it fits in here. We find that it is a place that gets most traffic from Facebook and is read by community members. It serves as a place to provide more detailed info than Facebook.
We are rolling out an app called SoChurch that is launching this month to provide more robust communication and group management for our church. Facebook can’t quite handle the functionality that we need. This also provides a way for us to voice directly to and with insiders. The app will work with ¬†Facebook and Twitter so that members won’t need to worry too much about tending to another social media profile.
Internal and Employee Communication Layers
There are a plethora of tools for communicating and¬†implementing¬†one without understanding where it fits in the layers will just frustrate your team and put everyone on different pages making an attempt at improving workflow do just the opposite.
Here are the layers we use, ordered by time sensitivity:
Face to Face | Real Time
Need an answer now? Don’t email, walk to their desk.
Instant Messaging/Video Chat/Phone Call | Real Time
We use Google Apps so we are all on a common platform for IM and video chat. We are also distributed throughout the city of Austin so face to face isn’t always an option. This may be true for you if you are on a large campus. I like IM a lot because a lot of ground can be covered while at the same time team members can multi-switch and keep moving on other things. A phone call works but requires more attention than an IM and can slow you down.
Text Message/Twitter DM | +/- 15 minutes
Not quite real time but close. If you don’t hear back in 15 minutes assume they are out of pocket and you may have to move to a slower platform.
Yammer | 1-4 hours
We use yammer for this layer and so far I’m digging it. Not everyone on your team will sign up for Twitter nor is all that content appropriate or helpful to the Twitter community. Yammer works like Twitter as far as functionality and it takes some training to get your team up to speed. This has helped us trim down a lot of email that should have never been emailed; “check out this link” or “what is everyone doing for lunch?” and it has even replaced more useful emails too.
Email | 24-72 hours
Email is not a real time communication tool! It’s not a project¬†management¬†tool either for that matter. I can say that by bringing in Yammer and Google apps my internal email has been cut in half or better. If you can establish with your team that you will not respond to email for at least 24 hours…you will be 90 percent of the way there in terms of¬†communication¬†efficiency. I recommend turning an auto-responder on that let’s people know that you will respond to their email in a day or two. I do this every couple months to remind people that there may be a better way to get a hold of me.