March 29, 2022

197: Coordinating Synchronous and Asynchronous Communications

It seems like every day there is a new communications app or an advance in communications technology capabilities. These tools are intended to help us collaborate more effectively with our team, but they can also lead to a tangled web of information and a messy communication system. Plus, teams are exploring new ways of working as hybrid work slowly replaces fully remote teaming. Given the foundational nature of communications, intentionally designing your communication practices can elevate and streamline your effectiveness.

Today’s episode is about synchronous and asynchronous communication. In short, synchronous means we’re all physically present at the same time. Asynchronous means each person is communicating independently of others’ timing. Communication is at the heart of how people work together, so getting the right tools, processes, and norms in place for your team to facilitate effective synchronous and asynchronous communication is essential. I’ll share 3 key principles to consider when designing how your team will use its various communication modes, and then I’ll walk through the approach to create a communication guide so your team can get aligned on how you’ll communicate and document it for future reference.

The full episode guide includes more details on the process and principles along with my thoughts on which synchronous and asynchronous practices are most effective for what types of activities and why. I also include some of my favorite tools in case you’re looking to add some to your toolbox and want a short list to start with. Get the episode guide when you join the Modern Manager community or purchase the full guide at

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Read the related blog article: Harmonize Synchronous and Asynchronous Communications

Key Takeaways:

  • Synchronous communication is being present at the same time together (i.e. a meeting). Asynchronous communication is independent of others’ timing.
  • The fewer the tools your team uses to communicate, the better. The goal is to identify the right communication method and use the simplest tools with minimal overlap.
  • Create templates to streamline everything from meetings and agendas to email subject lines.
  • Experiment with trying asynchronous communications first until it’s no longer working. Think of meetings as a last resort rather than a starting point, except for relationship building and discussing sensitive topics.
  • When making a Communications Guide, start by discussing with your team why it’s important and what you hope to achieve by clarifying the communication norms.
  • Explore what’s working and what’s breaking down in terms of communication in order to identify what practices and tools to keep and what new to try.
  • Make preliminary decisions for new communication approaches and follow through on them. Check in weekly as a team to see how it’s working and adjust as needed.

Additional Resources:

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