To keep the S.S. Infomedia running at full speed ahead, we sometimes need to navigate some rough waters. But sometimes a seemingly tiny issue has an iceberg of a problem under the surface, and when a member of your team throws up a warning flare, it’s a good idea to take the issue seriously.
They say that “teamwork makes the dream work,” and at the best of times, that’s true. But let’s face it — teamwork can also be a bit of a nightmare, especially if communication isn’t great. At Infomedia, we work really hard to respect each other and support everyone’s workload. But sometimes, in an effort to get something done quickly for a client, it’s easy to slip up and under-appreciate our coworkers. This isn’t an Infomedia issue — it’s a workplace issue. So we brainstormed some ideas of better ways to talk to each other. Here are a few of the phrases that tend to hurt our teamwork — plus some ideas for addressing our issues in a better way.
“Real quick question.”
When someone begins a request with, “I have a real quick question,” my mind starts spinning. I know what the person wants is a one-minute answer to their one-minute question … but often, the “quick” question starts off with a 10-minute explanation of a problem, an even longer description of what they think the solution is, a 30-second explanation from me about why that won’t work, a calendar invite for next Monday to discuss the issue with the client, a six-hour troubleshooting fiasco … and a 30-count bottle of Ibuprofen.
A Better Way: When it comes to approaching a coworker with a different skill set than you have, it might be a good idea to say, “I think this is going to be a quick fix — is it?” Sometimes, the issue really is simple to fix. It could be a 15-minute change, and then we’ll all leave happy. But leave that up to the expert — simple calling something “quick” doesn’t magically make it so.
“Sneak it in.”
We aren’t talking about that bag of Reese’s Pieces you bought from Walgreens before the midnight release of [insert favorite movie franchise here]. We’re talking about attempting to “sneak in” a full-blown project full of project managers, designers, developers, copywriters and clients right in the middle of the six other full-blown projects you’re currently working on.
Of course, there are certain times that we’ll need to drop a project to work on other things. Sometimes there’s a fire that needs to be put out, and we all understand that things sometimes need to be reprioritized. But realize that’s what you’re doing — asking someone to rearrange an already-packed schedule. There’s really no sneaking involved, especially if you want the job done right.
A Better Way: If you need a project done quickly even though it’ll be inconvenient, just acknowledge that’s what you’re asking for. I’m much more likely to step up if you’re praising me as a hero who saves a bad situation than treating me like a sneaky cat burglar. It’s also not a bad idea to bring me a bag of those Reese’s Pieces as a bribe.
As Inigo Montoya would say, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” The beauty of Infomedia is that everything we do is custom. Every site is lovingly started from scratch and custom-made. The curse is that every site is lovingly started from scratch and custom-made. That means we don’t start with a template; we don’t copy and paste another site; we don’t have a collection of themes that we throw onto your site and call it a day. We work to make sure your site looks and functions the way you need it to look and function. We do our best to always have the interest of the client in mind first and foremost. So whenever we’re presented a new project and the first words we hear are “It’s an easy/simple/quick site,” we know that isn’t going to be the case. We don’t just throw these things together; they’re handcrafted and like many handcrafted things, they take time. Thinking that a site is easy, simple, or quick just because we’ve done another site similar to it before is a false assumption.
A Better Way: It’s fine to reference other projects when talking about a new website, but we have to realize that solving a new client’s problem might take different tools and strategies, and there’s a good chance that could take some time.
“It should only take a minute.”
This goes hand in hand with “real quick question.” It’s the idea that, because something is needed quickly, it can be done quickly. Almost nothing takes a minute, especially when it’s a custom request on a custom site with custom design and custom programming. A lot of things can happen in sixty seconds, but creating a custom solution usually isn’t one of them.
A Better Way: Instead of saying, “It should only take a minute,” try asking, “What can be done within a few minutes?” Sometimes a fire needs to be put out right away, and we need to do something immediately — if that’s the case, just ask what we can do to meet the immediate need, and then we can strategize about the rest of the project.
“Oh, one more thing.”
Most of the things in this list are things we hear at the beginning of or during a project. “Oh, one more thing” is something that we typically hear after the project is finished. Sometimes the “one thing” is truly small, but more often, it’s an addition that would actually require a huge reworking of the project. Going back to the drawing board like this isn’t effective or fun. Information is like the horses pulling a carriage; it’s best to have all of it up front.
A Better Way: Instead of moving the finish line when we’re almost done with the race, just ask: “Can we add this easily?” If the answer is no but we need to add it anyway, let’s readdress the schedule. Maybe that will mean deciding not to add the new thing, but it might just mean adding more time to the project. Or maybe the extra thing really is a simple fix, and it’s no trouble to add it — in that case, we can all walk away happy.
Can’t We All Just Get Along?
We’re all guilty of oversimplifying someone else’s work sometimes. I understand why changing the code on five pages is difficult, but I might not appreciate how hard it would be to rewrite the copy on that site, or to redesign a menu — the same is true for our copywriters and designers and their relationship with development. But part of working together as an effective team means valuing each other’s work, and that means respecting how much time each player needs to do their work. A lot of that respect can be communicated by understanding that things aren’t simple just because we wish they would be — or because we say they are.