This following post is an excerpt from my new book Engineer Your Own Success: 7 Key Elements to Creating an Extraordinary Engineering Career which is available today.
In some respects, technology has made it more of a challenge to communicate with your colleagues or at least keep the communication consistent. By colleagues I am referring to your co-workers as well as other consultants that you may work with on a project team.
The key to communicating in today's world is to make sure that everyone is on the same page. Whether you decide to use the phone, email, or any other type of web application is not the most relevant factor. It's important that you keep everybody up-to-date on what's going on with the project, as failure to do so can negatively impact its success, the cohesiveness of your team, and most importantly your relationship with your clients. For example, how do you think one of your clients would feel if you called them asking the same question that another team member had just emailed them about 30 minutes earlier? Your client is going to feel like their time is being wasted and he or she is going to see first hand that your team is not coordinated, both of which may jeopardize your relationship with the client as well as their impression of you and your employer.
To avoid this type of communication mix-up, you must have some kind of system in place that makes it easy to keep everyone up-to-date in real time. Perhaps set up a company policy in which one team member is designated to handle all e-mail correspondence with the client. Another option may be to have a project specific website or e-mail account where everyone can see exactly what's going on, again in real time. Having a good system in place could mean the difference between completing a so-so project or a great one.
In conclusion, be sure that when you work with a team, you establish clear communication guidelines as early as possible on the project. Communication (especially on a team) is crucial because the lack thereof will lead to conflict, which can affect the quality of their work and really put a damper not only on the project but your career as a whole. When people don’t communicate with each other, they start to make assumptions about what the other person is thinking or what actions they are going to take. These assumptions can lead to decisions that negatively impact the team, the project, and the company as a whole.
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