Being able to articulate our thoughts and ideas efficiently is a crucial part of our daily lives. When we’re unable to communicate our messages efficiently, we begin to decrease our effectiveness in our collaborations. In fact, according to Queens University, “39% of surveyed employees worldwide say people in their organization don’t collaborate enough.” By becoming more aware of how we’re collaborating with our peers, we enable our relationships to foster.
A few years back I had an opportunity to coach a remote team who’d been facing difficulties collaborating with on-site employees. Regardless of their efforts to improve their skill-set; they continued to feel inadequate compared to their U.S counterparts.
Negative e-mail correspondence was a contributing factor for the division of the team. I created a folder in Outlook for communication between the groups to understand impact e-mails had. In the beginning, I spent my mornings going through these e-mails looking for signs of adverse sentiment. Later, I wrote an application for analyzing these e-mails to provide a sentiment rating.
I started to reach out to individuals who’d authored the e-mails with the highest sentiment rating. I discovered they weren’t aware of the negativity communicated inside their messages and how the co-team interpreted them. Both teams wrote e-mails for themselves in their context, not in the context of the individuals receiving their communication.
After identifying the communication problem finding solutions to fill the gap became a realistic goal. One of these solutions included having a few of the U.S. developers visit the off-site team. By having these individuals co-located they were able to put past experiences into perspective better.
Reviewing e-mails with a low sentiment rating provided insight into the division of the team and offered a historical baseline to see continued growth.
Conveying tone, let alone sarcasm and slang through e-mail is hard. When working with off-shore teams, it’s important to be mindful of how we’re communicating.