The “Handshake,” it’s more than just a greeting.When working across teams, it’s always easy to become siloed and lose track of the other team’s workload. In my consulting career, each project often had multiple teams across different offices working on common tasks.
We often ran into trouble when one team would become overloaded with work and would start to push back against the others.
It was a symptom of a resource management problem: Each team was unaware of the tasks on the plate of the other.
As we increasingly have remote employees spread across different offices and even countries, the challenge remains: How do we keep everyone on the same page?
In this blog post I will present a simple solution called “Handshaking.” It’s a simple thing we can do to make sure everyone is on the same page and is actively communicating with each other.
What is Handshaking?
At the risk of dating myself, the term Handshaking hails from the days of Dial Up Modems and Fax Machines. That loud irritating noise was both modems linking up, assessing the quality of the phone line, each other’s speed, and deciding how fast to transmit the data.
Wikipedia defines “Handshaking” as follows:
“Handshaking is an automated process of negotiation that dynamically sets parameters of a communications channel established between two entities before normal communication over the channel begins. It follows the physical establishment of the channel and precedes normal information transfer.
Handshaking can be used to negotiate parameters that are acceptable to equipment and systems at both ends of the communication channel, including, but not limited to, information transfer rate, coding alphabet, parity, interrupt procedure, and other protocolor hardware features.”
This is a fairly technical definition, but it’s essentially two parties assessing the quality of the connection, what data rate to exchange the data, conducting the transfer, and closing the connection with confirmation the job got done.
Handshaking In Practice:
So how does it work? I am going to propose keeping it simple. When you send a request to another team, ask a few questions:
1) What is on your plate currently?
2) How are you doing in terms of resources?
3) How is my request going to be prioritised?
4) (If it is an urgent request) What can I do to help you get this done sooner?
The other team’s reply will be the basis of the handshake and opens the door to further communication and planning. It’s also a team building move: each team will understand the other is aware of their workload and actively helping to minimize the burden of their requests.
Handshaking is one of many tactics you can use to make sure your teams are working together and actively communicating their needs to one another. As we become more diverse in our work styles (work from home, vs in office) it will be important to make sure everyone is on the same page.
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