As a manager you need to constantly make decisions; some are key decisions affecting many people whilst others are quite minor and are only pertinent to your team. Regardless of a decision's nature you have a need to receive and inform others of the necessary information or outcome you require. The need for this process to happen more quickly and efficiently is one of the reasons why conference calls have become increasingly popular.

If your team is a business division, this can encompass people working in a variety of different countries, all of who need timely and accurate communications.

Conference calls offer you the ability to talk to the whole team at the same time, ensuring the consistency of your message as well as its speedy delivery.

Types of conference call

The most typical ways managers use conference calls are outlined below.
Progress meetings
You will have a variety of projects underway within your division or unit at any one time and it is vital that you stay fully informed of how each one is progressing. Each one will have several key personnel that you need to communicate with regularly, so that everyone is aware of how things are going and what implications any issues that have arisen could have.
Such conversations could involve people from different sites and countries, which would be a logistical nightmare if you were to try to bring them together in one place for a meeting. It would also involve major traveling expenses and non-productive time. Instead, conference calls can easily be set up at an agreed date and time that is convenient to all, ensuring that disruptions to productivity are minimized.

Advantages of conference calls

You can organize a conference call that offers everyone a structured opportunity to be kept informed of activities, progress and the chance to discuss any inter-dependent activities amongst colleagues. The call enables all pertinent information to be communicated once and any issues to be discussed with all key decision makers present.
Project updates
Projects involving many different organizations often cause problems when it comes to updating each other on the project's status. Scheduling a meeting that suits everyone's timetable and commitments, whilst possible, often means that meetings are too far apart to be of any practical help in ensuring that the project runs smoothly and on time.
If all key personnel on the project have the capability to communicate using conference calls then updates can be efficiently and effectively managed. This enables decisions to be made in a timely fashion and for all parties to have the opportunity to partake in the decision making process. Ultimately the project is successfully completed with all parties' interests being addressed and met.

Gaining approval for decisions

Whilst this is not normally viewed as a conference call because the inference is that such calls involve many people, it is possible and practical to have a conference call with a three or four people. Often someone working for you may wish to just chat through the reasoning of their decision before finally acting on it with you, plus one or two work colleagues and a conference call would be the ideal means to achieve this objective.

Conference calls and decision making

This is especially useful and effective as many members of your team may work at other locations, and in other countries, so that physically meeting up with you for this type of conversation is totally impractical.
Offering this option to those reporting to you allows you to mentor them as they develop professionally and be supportive of their decisions. You must remember to manage this conversation in such a way that these calls don't become a constant and unplanned interruption. You will need to set the expectations of your team to use such communication wisely.
Strategy reviews
With the ever-increasing amount of information available to you on your markets, competitors and customers it is imperative that you review your strategies with key personnel. Completely unforeseen events that require an immediate response may occur and responding may impact on your current strategy; therefore, you need to discuss these implications with your colleagues.
Using a conference call provides you with the ideal vehicle to have the strategic discussions you need to ensure the future success of your organization. Thanks to this technological advance the right individuals can easily talk together review and the strategic options available to them in a speedy and efficient manner.
Training
Conference calls offer an excellent medium to ensure that the knowledge required for a role is passed on in a timely and efficient way. This could be as simple as a change to how data must be entered into one of the company systems or an explanation of a new business process.
Traditionally, organizing a training event for a large group of people has been a long-term project. The process involved with using a conference call greatly speeds this up and allows you to reach a wide audience quickly and easily.
Internal communications
Communicating effectively so that your organization's staff are motivated and kept appropriately informed is a vital role for a manager. How best to achieve this will vary considerably between industries and the size of your organization. However, one very effective way of achieving this is to incorporate the use of conference calls as one of the many ways in which you communicate with your staff.

Conference calls and feedback

It is also an efficient way of disseminating information from management and supervisor level to the customer facing individuals. It offers a two-way conversation so that if the news you are asking to be circulated could have implications you can be informed.
These types of call provide an excellent medium for your senior management to bring you feedback from customer facing departments. This information can then be handled by a knowledge base and appropriate action can be taken if required.

You may also be interested in: An Introduction to Conference Calls , Types of Conference Call , Technical Issues Affecting Conference Calls , Human Factor Issues , Maintaining Your Productivity , Adapting Your Communication Style , Advance Planning , Controlling the Call and Conference Call Etiquette .


Key Points

  • Conference calls offer you the ability to talk to the whole team at the same time, ensuring the consistency of your message as well as its speedy delivery.
  • Conference calls are typically used for: progress meetings, project updates, gaining approval for decisions, strategy reviews, training and internal communications.

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