Instant messaging can solve a lot of problems for small businesses, and it can make for a much more dynamic work environment compared to the passive one created by sending endless emails. However, this is only true if you are using instant messaging correctly. How does one go about doing that?
Establish a Usage Policy
Companies need to have a policy in place that governs the use of instant messaging. This is to protect both your company and your employees’ productivity. For example, a group chat for a department is fine, but only until it becomes a place chock-full of distractions that lead to wasted time.
Keep It Professional
Just like with email, you want to use salutations when sending instant messages. Start with something like “Hi Name,” rather than just throwing a question out there. It’s incredibly important to preserve this air of professionalism when you use instant messaging, as context can become a problem when you are not chatting with someone face-to-face.
Keep It Short, but Keep it Clear
The biggest benefit of instant messaging is the instantaneous nature of it, so don’t send long, drawn-out messages with lots of details. That’s what emails are for. If a response actually needs a long, detailed message, then perhaps you should just give the sender a call or meet with them in person. If the message is left unread while you are working out the answer, then it can be perceived as rude. All that said, you need to get your points across in a clear and concise manner, and instant messaging can help to answer questions and prevent communication gaps.
Respect the Status Message
Most instant messaging applications give users the ability to set a status message, meaning that if someone is Available, Away, In a Meeting, or Busy, they can set that in their status message. Always consider the status message when you contact someone. Not only is it respectful, but it also helps to make sure that your message is actually seen and responded to.
Try to Encourage In-Person Communication, Too
While instant messaging is a great tool, it is by no means a substitution for face-to-face conversation. You should encourage your employees to have in-person conversations whenever possible to avoid messages being taken out of context and to further offer clarity in particular situations. Furthermore, it’s just a good thing to have your employees familiar with each other. Humans are social creatures, after all.
Are you interested in implementing an instant messaging platform for your business? Reach out to us at (906) 786-0057 to get started today.