Recently a member of the Rands Leadership slack went through and took some very detailed notes of the #engineering-effectiveness channel dating all the way back to 2017 to the present day and shared their notes with the rest of the group. I was floored by how much good information was in the document and plan to go over it in detail, but here are some of the key points I highlighted when it came to effective communication.
All these practices are worth taking back and incorporating as much as possible and represent the sum of all the great minds that are in the RLS group!
Summarize Meeting Learnings Regularly
Keeping an archive of meeting summaries is crucial for keeping everyone up-to-date and ensuring that progress is tracked over time. Instead of relying solely on email notifications, it’s important to create a centralized location where summaries can be stored and easily accessed by all team members. A wiki is a great tool for this purpose, as it allows for easy organization and searchability of meeting summaries. By having a comprehensive archive of meeting summaries, team members can refer back to previous discussions and decisions, which can help to keep everyone aligned and moving forward in the same direction.
Hold Regular Town Hall Meetings
If you find yourself over-using real time messaging on slack or microsoft teams, try holding a regular but brief review or town hall meeting for people to attend. This allows everyone to be on the same page and ask questions in real-time. You can record and save these for future reference, see the next point.
Record and Share Presentations
Recording presentations and making them available for later consumption is a great way to ensure that everyone can access the information, even if they couldn’t attend in person. Team members can also consume at a faster or slower speed using a recorded medium. Additionally, writing up notes and sending them out after in-person meetings is helpful for those who need to refer back to the information.
Monday Metrics Meeting
One of the Slack members I spoke to shared an interesting practice their company follows to manage communication efforts. Their company holds a weekly “Monday Metrics” meeting that lasts for 30 minutes and is open to the entire company. During the meeting, each group presents their progress towards their GEMs (Goals, Experiments, Metrics), which is similar to the OKR methodology. By tracking everything through their GEMs and discussing progress towards them, the meeting aligns the entire organization on the direction they need to take.
This practice shows the importance of having a structured approach to communication, especially for larger organizations. With a meeting like the Monday Metrics, everyone in the company can stay informed and involved in the progress of their team’s goals. The methodology used, whether it be OKRs or GEMs, provides a clear framework for setting and achieving goals, making it easier for team members to track progress and stay accountable.
Lurk on Slack and Create an engineering@ Distribution List
Lurking on Slack channels from other teams can be helpful to gather information. Additionally, creating an engineering@ distribution list where everything is forwarded can ensure that everyone has access to important information. You may also want to create distribution lists for engineering departments as well as your organization grows.
Have a Communications Coordinator
In large organizations, communication can become even more challenging, as there may be more departments, teams, and individuals involved. In such cases, having a dedicated resource to manage communication efforts can be incredibly helpful.
A full-time engineering communications coordinator can bring a range of benefits to the organization. They can be responsible for developing and executing a communication plan that ensures all team members are informed and aware of the organization’s goals and initiatives. They can help to coordinate communication efforts across different departments and teams, ensuring that everyone is on the same page. Additionally, they can help to identify communication gaps and work to fill them, making sure that no team members are left out of important discussions or decisions.
Utilize Newsletters and Demo Days
Official communication, such as newsletters, can help keep everyone in the organization informed. Additionally, bi-weekly Demo Days and monthly showcases can be helpful for those who want to learn more about the work of different teams.
Segment Slack Channels
Segmenting Slack channels into more focused topics can help reduce the amount of shared information necessary to extract signals. This can also ensure that people are not overwhelmed by the number of notifications and alerts they receive.
As a growing engineering manager, I have found these best practices to be incredibly helpful in improving communication within my team and with colleagues in other departments. Utilizing these practices has helped me ensure that everyone is informed and up to date on important information, while also reducing the amount of unnecessary information that is shared. I encourage other new managers to experiment with these practices to see what works best for their organization.