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Collaborating with internal stakeholders: how to facilitate better conversations

Culture · Nov 21, 2019

Over the past year, our team has worked on bringing to market the TELUS Brand Resource Centre (BRC). This product will provide thousands of team members and partners with the most up-to-date tools, resources and standards for them to seamlessly deliver on any TELUS branded experience. This means less time searching for the correct guidelines and more time creating and building quality products for our customers. 

As you can imagine, there are hundreds of topics and tools. These include (but not limited to):

  • Brand standards and guidelines

  • Digital standards

  • Accessibility standards

  • Analytics standards

  • Content guidelines

  • Design standards

  • Resources for onboarding, governance and training

Before the BRC, this information lived in over five different websites, on Google Drives and an unknown number of desktops. While we’re still in the process of migrating content off of these sites, our goal is to continue to create a single source of truth for all the information. Not only would this tool simplify onboarding, but it would also enable us to scale delivery because everyone would know where to find the correct information on our standards.

However, bringing together all of this great knowledge can’t be done in a silo. TELUS Digital has partnered with our Brand Office and TELUS Studios to ensure that our product serves the needs of the broader enterprise. This initiative brings together three teams that haven’t worked closely together. It doesn’t matter whether one team works agile and another waterfall, we are all aligned through a common TELUS value: our belief in spirited teamwork.

How do you translate a value into tangible ways of working? Here are my three most effective methods for communication and collaboration:

1. Check in regularly 

It’s important to have regular touch points and cadences to address blockers and answer questions. Although this may seem obvious, sometimes we become so wrapped up in pushing things out that we forget to get feedback from the same people who will use and advocate for the product. Checking in regularly can also help with change by establishing trust. It makes people more comfortable because they know what is going on, the next steps and course of action when things don’t work out. Here are some questions to think about when you do these check-ins:

  • How is the team doing? 

  • What are the concerns?

  • What are our wins? (it’s essential to highlight these to foster positivity)

  • Where are we in our road map and any open items or blockers that we need to remove? 

  • What are the rituals that we are putting in place so our communication is strong and everyone is on the same page? 

2. Set context. Repeat it back and confirm

How many times have you left a conversation or a meeting saying, “That was great - we totally understood each other” - only to find out less than 24 hours later that your team members walked away with a different perspective? This may seem like a simple misunderstanding, but it’s actually quite human. People have different contexts and frames of reference, and will inherently perceive the world and what is happening is different from others. When you’re working in a team or collaborating across business units, it’s important to set context consistently. Consider the following questions when setting the context:

  • Why does this product exist? And who are its users?

  • What made you consider the following path to creating the product?

  • What factors did you consider when arriving at a solution?

  • How did you or the team reach a particular decision?

While it may seem redundant to repeat the answers to these questions, it’s an effective way to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Consistent repetition helps your stakeholders understand the journey they’ve signed up for and creates space for them to ask the right questions. Maybe they didn’t perceive the full scope of the users in the first meeting or hear all five factors you presented. Thus setting context, repeating and confirming crucial details can help bring everyone’s POV closer together.

3. Recognizing different ways of working

Everyone wants the same thing - how we get there might be different. There’s a great TedTalk from Ben Zander about giving everyone an A.  It’s about the power of attitude and recognizing that people are bringing their best selves. In a large organization, we’re all trying our best and we are generally chasing the same goals. This is why it’s important to recognize different speeds and methods of getting to the same goals. Ask yourself:

  • What is our common goal? Is there a single thread that can unite competing priorities?

  • What is different in your ways of working, what is causing friction and what is your role in the situation?

Remember to assume positive intent; our differences are driven by our passion to do what we feel is right for our customers. Understanding each point of view means that we will be able to serve our customers better. So it is important to take a minute, get to know your team, get to know your partners and work collaboratively. Acknowledging our differences in ways of working or opinions can lead to an easier path of building together.

Scaling the BRC together

With new guidelines and best practices popping up every month, the BRC is a continuous work in progress. With the potential to unlock value for nearly 40,000+ team members, implementation, communication and change management will be at the cornerstone of our success. Growing this product has been an exciting challenge and one that has allowed me to grow and test new communication techniques as we partner with groups across the organization. I will continue to coach my team in a way that focuses on building relationships, communicating effectively and managing change. 

Did I mention that parts of the BRC are completely public? Take a look at how a telecommunications company is scaling best practices around design, content and development and visit our survey to help us improve.

Authored by:
Veronica Van
Manager, TELUS Standards & Resources
Veronica supports the team behind The HUB and Brand Resource Centre at TELUS Digital. She's passionate about employee experience, culture and creating a continuous learning environment.