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Communication Cadences

Lesson 8 from: Effective Communication in the Remote Era

Ari Meisel

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Lesson Info

8. Communication Cadences

The frequency of healthy communication is not a “one size fits all” solution. Tailor your communication to fit just right.

Lesson Info

Communication Cadences

So one of the things that comes out of figuring out having that conversation about what communication was gonna look like is something that would be referred to as the communication cadence, right? The rhythm, the pattern within which we communicate. A lot of people have the sort of the weekly sales meeting, the weekly retrospective, whatever that might be, that's very sort of basic, and that almost becomes routine to the point where it becomes very boring, and it's very hard to get people to engage with, and not to mention those very sort of routine meetings, a lot of times can be, actually really should be done asynchronously. To have a sales meeting, for example, that is absolutely something that should be done asynchronously. You don't need people in a room when they should be on sales calls, having a conversation about this and that, when you really can get that done without having that be in the same room. There's better uses of people's time. We actually know from a lot of data ...

that the average nine to five worker, and the nine to five is a crazy concept anyway, because even nine to fivers don't work nine to five, they get about an hour and a half of actual productive work done on a given day. And a lot of that is because of meetings. I would say that most companies, most companies should have zero meetings, if not maybe one or two, but zero meetings is really the goal. However, in terms of the communication cadence, one of the things to think about, and this is sort of a little bit of a mind bender, right? The frequency of the communication should be inversely related to the length of the communication. So a lot of companies may have a yearly meeting, and that yearly meeting could be a full day, or a half a day, maybe it's six hours, maybe it's four hours, whatever, but it's the longest one that you have. And in that one, maybe you're looking a little bit about what happened in the year before, little bit of team building, morale boosting, whatever you wanna call it, and then looking forward at a high level, what the next year is going to look like, and maybe the next five years, planning that out. But that should probably be a pretty big meeting, and that's okay. Once a year, totally fine. But now we get to the quarterly meetings, and maybe the quarterly meetings are the three-hour-meetings, right? Where we're really looking at, okay we have this yearly vision. This is what we're gonna do for the next three months of breakdown, and this is what we're gonna do at month one, month two, month three, at a high level to actually start to put this stuff into action. Now, every month we have our hour and a half meeting, our 90-minute-call, right? Where we get on, these are the actual projects that we're gonna do this month, this is what we got done last month, the ones that we didn't get done, we're gonna bring those over to this month, and these are what we're gonna do for the next four weeks, week one, week two, week three, week four. Now every week we don't really have to have a meeting, every week we can do an asynchronous check in on these things. So maybe every Friday we do an asynchronous pop up in a box or a slack message. "Hey, everybody, these were the tasks for the week. "This what we had going on for the big projects, "how are we doing? "Oh, great, got it all done. "Good for you, way to go. "Didn't get this done, how come? "This was the obstacle, "and this is how we're gonna overcome it." Awesome. All the way down to the daily standup, that definitely should be done asynchronously, and while the entirety of it might be 10 minutes, each individual might be contributing 30 seconds to that. And of course, if we are using voice communication tools, most of them allow you to listen at two, three, or even four times speed, so we can literally bend time and get way more done. But the key here again is that communication cadence, people need to be in the rhythm, and the understanding that the longer the length between those communications, the longer those communication are going to be, and that is okay. And then what we can start to do is push more and more to asynchronous, 'cause in my example before, we've got the daily and the weekly asynchronous, what if we now make the monthly asynchronous, as well? What if we even push it so far, as to make the quarterly asynchronous? I'm not saying that you should, but you certainly could, and striving for that will have a really positive trickle down effect. Now this works externally, as well. Think about the example of Berkshire Hathaway with Warren Buffet. He sends out his yearly letter to shareholders, which they're like this special edition WD's boxes that come out, the way that people collect them, there are people who have 20, 30 years of those letters and refer back to them to identify trends, and really look to him as a source of great advice, and it is, and those are big, meaty topics that he covers. But we can bring that even further, right? So now I'm sure there is a monthly email newsletter of some sort, and maybe there are daily social media posts that are really short little bites. So the more often that we have communication, the shorter and more digestible they need to be. And we work that out inversely. So again, the longer that we have between them, the longer that they can become, but the goal here is to push ourselves to make more and more of that communication asynchronous. So the exercise for this one, we're gonna take a moment here, think about a straight line, like a timeline, right? And let's say that that timeline is a year. Just put little marks for when those types of communications are gonna happen. We're gonna have the one yearly, right? Right in the middle maybe. And then we can break that down to quarterly, maybe you don't care about quarterly. Maybe it's every six months for certain things. Maybe it is just yearly, and then we break it down to monthly. It has to be what works for you. But again, and I know I've said this a lot now, but we really need to drive this home. Everybody needs to know what the plan is, because if they don't, they don't. So identify what that communication cadence is, people can prepare for that. They can expect it. And it doesn't become that sort of boring routine disengagement thing because we are expanding, contracting, sort of as needed based on what the topic is, and how often it's happening. If you clarify that for everybody, there's gonna be a lot less surprises, and that consistency in this case is gonna help everybody operate more effectively.

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Ahmed Mostafa

I gained a clear understanding of the distinctions between synchronous and asynchronous communication techniques, as well as the best tools to use for each.

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