Over Communication vs Under Communication

Tips and tricks to deliver enough information to your team without wasting everyones time

If you ever had a manager that didn't give you enough information to do your job you're probably lived with an Under Communication situation. That sucks.

But the other way around it's not a good either.

If you're over-communicating with your team, they may are flooded with sync emails, having useless meetings on their calendars and pointless follow-ups. There is a real danger on the “let's keep everyone on the loop” thing.

This is BAD!

Especially because you're wasting not just your but everyone on your team’s time.

Here are some rules I've developed to communicate with my team.

Is the message really important?

These days, with so many distractions like Slack, WhatsApp, and email, it is very difficult to concentrate, especially doing intense brain activities like designing or coding.

Before communicating with someone on the team, you should just stop for a second and think:

  • What would happen if I send this same message by email instead of slack?

  • Or, what if I just don't send it at all?

If you do this, over time, your teammates will understand that you only communicate when it's really necessary. So they will pay more attention when you send a message.

Sending better messages

If you're describing a task or reporting a problem, give enough information to actually complete the task.

Let's work with an example.

A very important and VIP customer reported a bug on the platform your team works on. This came to you because it's a very important client and someone escalated the problem.

You just go to your team slacks channel and urge for a solution:

“This VIP customer is having a problem on the feature X, fix it ASAP please”

There are some problems with that message.

First, you have no idea what's going on, and second, anyone that sees a message like this will automatically ask for more details.

We can improve this by adding context and giving enough information to take action.

Now getting back to the example, before even sending a message to your team, you should getter more details about the problem:

  • What happened?

  • Where did it happen? Which screen/app?

  • When dit it happen?

  • Who reported?

After that, you can send an urgent but rich in details message:

Hi Everyone, we have an urgent problem involving a VIP Customer (Customer Name).

The user foo@bar.com was trying to click on Button Y on the Screen Z when the Error below (Screenshot) just popped out.

Can someone take a look right away? If you need any extra detail you can just forward to customer.support@company.com who reported the error.

Wow, this is much better, right?

You don't need to specify how to fix the problem, but you do need to give as many details about the problem you can.

Let everyone know you're available

Instead of keeping everyone on the loop all the time or asking for task status, it's better to make sure that your teammates know that you're always available to them.

A good way to solve this is to schedule 1 on 1 meeting with your teammates.

The catch here is the word “schedule”.

You don't have to actually have 1 on 1's every week.

Just make sure your teammates know that you have separated 1 hour every week for them, so they can ask questions, talk about career, tasks or even their personal life.