It’s pretty ironic. These days, we’ve got dozens of ways to communicate with our employees, but so often, we’re still not getting through. Key information doesn’t get shared, so we miss deadlines and opportunities. Sometimes, the plethora of communication solutions seems to be the problem itself—ever had the same person IM, text and frantically call you?

How can you choose the best tools for in-office communication to ensure balls don’t get dropped? Try these tips.

  1. Assess your needs. What do you and your team need to communicate about? Do you have installers in the field who need to communicate with the home office? Do you have remote employees or independent contractors who need to be kept in the loop? Are most of your communications short and/or urgent (suited to instant messaging or texting) or do they tend to be long and complex (so conference calling or emailing would work best)?
  2. Investigate possible solutions. What tools do you already have at your disposal (smartphones, IM, VoIP solutions) and what could you add? What solutions will work best with your existing phone and computer systems? Don’t forget to consider mobile tools—if your employees use smartphones or tablet computers on the road, your solutions need to mesh with those devices, too.
  3. Match the message to the channel. Decide what types of communications are suited to what channels, and get all your employees on the same page. For instance, you might tell everyone to use instant messaging only for urgent communication (so employees know to respond right away). Making a certain channel the “default mode” for a certain communication helps prevent the situation where someone gets an IM, email and voice mail about the same issue.  
  4. CommunicationSet regular communications times and channels. Constant interruptions hurt productivity, so whenever possible, streamline communications by regularly disseminating key information at the same time and in the same way. For instance, have a 10-minute “all-hands” conference call every Monday morning where you quickly run down the week’s priorities, have your sales team email you a status update at the end of each week so you can review it over the weekend, or have your assistant text quick appointment reminders to you first thing each morning.