Communicate 101: As companies grow, cost of poor comms rises

August 30, 2018 • 3 minute read

In retail, the age-old adage has been location, location, location. For B2B companies working virtually and across multiple time zones, the adage would most definitely be communication, communication, communication.

As Infinite Global has grown — recently adding Chicago and Philadelphia to our base offices of New York, San Francisco and London — communication has become all the more important for our teams. In addition, many of our clients are growing rapidly and virtual teams are becoming the norm in the legal sector.

We were therefore excited to attend this month’s Legal Marketing Association Bay Area event, “Teamwork Across Multiple Offices: Strategies for Adding Value on Distributed Teams.” Presenters Beverly McManus from Covington & Burling, Monica Rodriguez Kuniyoshi from Gunderson Dettmer, and Nick Latham from RainBDM discussed techniques for effective project management, building rapport, navigating decision-making across time zones, and more.

Below are three tips we found particularly interesting and useful.

Define and communicate roles

Not everyone has the same level of comfort speaking up during meetings, especially in virtual meetings. One way to get others involved is to assign distinct roles (note taker, facilitator, etc.). With assigned roles, more people participate and there is less likelihood of people talking over one another.

Utilize various communication channels

Everyone has a unique communication style and enjoys expressing their thoughts in different ways. Varying the channels you use (e.g., email, Slack, phone calls) internally helps build rapport by allowing each person a chance to convey their opinions and ideas in their preferred way. It also helps ensure active interest and support in other offices’ work.

Consider communicating before communicating to empower your team

When leading a meeting, let your colleague know beforehand if you found their work or a comment of theirs especially impressive and would like them to share that piece of information. This way, instead of calling them out on the spot, you give them adequate time to collect their thoughts and contribute successfully to the wider group. This shows them that you value their input and opinion and puts them in a position to succeed.

In 2011, The Holmes Report published a fascinating study showing that the cost of poor communications had hit an overwhelming $37 billion. The 400 surveyed corporations also estimated that communication barriers cost the average organization $62.4 million per year in lost productivity. Considering that internal communication is the glue that holds an organization together, it should not be treated as an after-thought.

Our thanks to the LMA for organizing such an informative event.

Look to Infinite Global for help improving your firm’s internal communications.

Brian Van Note is a Client Supervisor based in Infinite Global’s San Francisco office.