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SART Foundations: Creating Positive Communication Patterns

Being a coordinator requires a person to have strong communication skills. With all of the emails, phone calls, in-person meetings, team meetings, agency updates, etc… there is so much to communicate! Most people have expectations about communication preferences. Sexual Assault Response Teams and their agencies are no different. Thus, it’s really important to set up the team for success by working with your team to make sure you’ve discussed what people can expect and when.

There are two primary communication patterns I want to address today.  1. Communication from the coordinator to the team.            2. Communication from the team back to their agencies and then, back to the team. <—- I call this the communication loop.

  • Communication from the coordinator to the team. One of the fastest ways to develop trust and transparency is through how and when you communicate with your team. When I started as a coordinator, a long-time SART leader gave me this advice: agenda and reminder email exactly one week before the meeting, thank you and summary email within 3 business days of the meeting. I was amazed at how the team came to depend on this regular communication. And if I missed these emails, it shook team members a little bit. I built up their trust in me by following through with routine communication. Additionally, when you commit to communication by a certain date, it’s imperative that you follow through or communicate a new date—because, hey, life happens. Be consistent, follow through on your communication.
  • The communication loop. One of the challenges of doing team work is ensuring that the agency representative is sharing messages to/from the team and their home agencies. It’s important to build regularity and expectations around exchanging relevant team information with home agencies. Is this a form people fill out during the team meeting? Is this a quarterly, in-person meeting between the coordinator, representative, and agency leadership? Is it a regular email routine between all parties? A check-in phone call? Whatever has to occur, this loop is really important to establish, because it’s how change happens in the long-term. It embeds the work of the team across agencies and aids if there is turnover. Find what works for you and your team members.

Communication is a normal challenge for all teams, but it is one of the keys to success.

Do you have experience with successes or bumps in the road of developing good communication routines with your team? Leave your thoughts in the comments!