This year has shown us that remote work is going nowhere fast—which means adjusting your team alignment strategies for this new way of functioning as a company.
For marketing teams in companies—no matter their size—communication has become a challenge. With everyone working from home, one can’t stop by at a desk for a quick chat.
Managers now need to work harder on team alignment than before—especially for departments like marketing where constant communication is a requirement of the job.
We share six team alignment strategies that businesses can implement in 2021.
Create a Team Alignment Plan
A communication project plan is a must for implementing the team alignment process. This is a document that can be shared between team members and updated with changes.
A plan puts your marketing team on the same page so you can avoid missed deadlines, work being doubled, or loss of productivity.
Take a look at this project communication plan—it clearly explains how and when the team needs to communicate.
A plan like the above example can be easily used by managers to organize how the team shares updates, who is involved, and what the goal of the communication is.
This will help avoid companies wasting time with multiple meetings held between parties who aren’t all involved with the process.
Of course, there should always be room for flexibility, but for the most part, a plan keeps the scope of the communication in check and facilitates better discussions within the team.
Integrate Collaboration Tools for Team Alignment
Another obvious fallout of the move to remote working has been the need to use tools to improve team alignment.
Imagine this scenario—a marketing team member updates a card in Trello, assuming that others are checking that card as often as they do.
Turns out, the other members don’t check the card—they check the office messaging apps instead. That’s a failure to communicate and collaborate.
Team alignment in 2021 will require streamlining in the kind of tools that are used—because there will be several of them.
Numerous remote work tools are being used, like the example below, but the team needs to know when and how to operate them.
Your communication plan should include the kind of tools that teams will have to use, which could include any of the following:
If training is required to use tools, this should be communicated in the plan, alongside where team members can access reference documents.
Use Visuals to Align Teams
Let’s face it, nobody has time to read huge blocks of text. You will likely lose your audience if you don’t use visuals in your team alignment documents.
People learn better by looking at visuals—and for marketing teams that have a lot on their plate, you want communication to be as easy as possible.
You can use a diagram maker to outline your communication process and get the team on the same page, like in this example below.
In company documentation, consider including screenshots with annotations to make it easier to understand how the software works.
Data should be visualized as charts and graphs instead of relayed through text—you can use text to give the chart more context, but the visual should be strong enough to convey details.
Include Team Alignment in Onboarding Materials
Team alignment is better served if the process is begun from the onboarding materials onwards. While this doesn’t benefit existing team members, it makes new employees more comfortable.
In the remote working environment, introduce new members to their teams via video call—it helps to connect people.
Update your onboarding tools to reflect the collaboration process and elaborate on the following:
- How new employees can contact their fellow team members while working remotely
- How to work the intranet and which documents they should refer to
- What tools they will be using, how and when they will be using them
- Team goals and objectives, and when they are reviewed
Remember that new employees will take time to become familiar with the company’s processes—teams should be patient till the new entrant becomes accustomed to the team.
Encourage Communication Across the Board
Internal communication has often had a top-down approach—C-suite executives communicate to managers, who in turn, speak to their teams.
You can improve team communication by opening it up in multiple directions. Two-way feedback is necessary for all employees to feel like their voice can be heard—and acted upon.
And this goes beyond the physical office space. An open-door policy is harder to implement when there aren’t any doors and everyone is working remotely.
Ensure that team members know that upper management can be contacted via messenger apps and email—even if responses aren’t immediate.
Make Socializing Part of Team Alignment
Team alignment works better if people feel connected to each other—which is why socializing is an important part of the process.
Particularly now, with remote work keeping team members apart, socializing is necessary to boost morale and productivity.
It’s also a good way for team members to share other skills that they may not have needed to showcase during their work.
Create virtual team events that will help employees see each other away from the work environment.
Foster a sense of competition among the team members but keep it light—you want to build a community among your employees.
To make team alignment an efficient process in your company, you should be prioritizing it so that employees become more comfortable with each other and the changing work environment.
Here are the best strategies to improve team alignment in 2021:
- Create a plan
- Use collaboration tools
- Use visuals
- Update your onboarding materials
- Across the board communication
- Encourage socializing
Following these best practices, companies will better be able to facilitate communication within their marketing teams.
About the Author: Ronita Mohan is a content marketer at Venngage, the online infographic maker and design platform. Ronita regularly writes about marketing, design, and small businesses.