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coder engineer and business person talking at whiteboard

Tips for Team Communication between Engineers and Business People

By Jorge Valdivia

January 03, 2019

My robotics coach would say to me that the worst enemy of an engineer is an executive who thinks it’s easy. However, for a successful startup you need to make sure that’s not the case. As someone who has been the head of a robotics team, I cannot stress enough the importance of communication between the business and technological department on a startup.

Efficient communication in a company is one of the main attributes that will allow it to thrive and stay productive. Different departments have separate goals, but in order to have a successful startups, those individual goals should all align towards a big unified goal. For instance, business developers aim at having a quick, cheap, and appealing product that is able to make revenue. Technology developers, on the other hand, tend to look for solutions where they’ll have a fun and challenging experience. However, what happens when these two don't understand the other’s goal and how it aligns to their own goal?

The importance of communication between the different departments of an organization becomes more evident when all of the sudden communication break down. As they say during the LaunchX entrepreneurship summer program, one of the main reasons why startups tend to fail is due to conflict among the team and this comes down to the lack of communication between the two main departments on a startup. So without further ado, here are 3 tips to enhance the communication between the business and tech folks in a startup.

Tip 1: Understanding Each Other

The lack of communication between departments in a startup can have drastic results and create an unhealthy relationship between the business people and the tech people. When one department does not understand the limitations and the process that the other department faces, chaos is inevitable. For such reasons, it’s vital for the success of a startups that the business developers and the technological people understand what the other department does, why it does it, what it can and what it can’t do. For example:

For technology developers, it’s vital to explain why things should be done in a certain way in order not to jeopardize quality while at the same understanding the logistic limitations a business developer may put. This prevents the tech people to innovate within the established and reasonable limits and not go over budget; while at the same time, the business developer is able to truly understand what the product truly is.

Tip 2: Organization

You need to make sure everyone is on the same page. The different areas of a startup need to know what’s going on with the other areas in order to have a successful team. Here is where planning and organization come into play. Therefore, you have to plan, define objectives, audiences, strategy and communication actions, to take steps with meaning. It is very common that startups do not stop to think about it before trying to approach the media or do not do things.

One way to make sure everyone knows what’s going on in the different departments of a startup is through amazing applications like Slack!

Slack is a messaging tool designed for startups. It allows you to create groups that will be accessed by the different members in order to be communicated to each other, as if they were in the same office. The advantages and strengths of Slack is that it not only allows you to create groups, private conversations, channels that would be like more general rooms to which everyone can join, share links or attachments, and is a highly configurable service. In this way, all the different departments of a startup can have quick and easy access to the documents and conversations of other areas.

Tip 3: Respect

As simple as this sounds, this is one of the most overlooked issues in startups. Efficient communication is built on honesty and respect. The main pillar to sustain any kind of peaceful coexistence is to have respect for others. In those areas where you spend many hours of the day and with the same people, as with work, it is even more necessary to empower this value.

Respect in the workplace creates an environment of security and cordiality; it allows accepting the limitations of others and recognizing their virtues; avoids offenses and ironies and does not let violence or abuse become the means to impose criteria.

On the contrary, respect enhances trust, and trust is a guarantee of transparency and good communication. Fundamental aspects to work at ease and to grow as a person and as a startup.

Respect does not mean agreeing or thinking as another individual would, but rather it is about not discriminating, offending, much less humiliating people by their way of acting, of living, deciding, etc., by the simple and naturally done that does not agree with the criterion itself.

From the business point of view, where operational, economic, statistical and numerical results represent a special interest, it is also essential and necessary to contemplate this aspect, given that one can not aspire to a corporate growth if those who constitute and reinforce it, do not They are valued.

One of the most important premises about respect is that in order to be respected it is necessary to learn to respect. The learning path begins with self-respect and from there all its fruits are born that are reflected in each social bond. Therefore, it is also inadmissible to demand respect from other departments of the startup when an opposite message is demonstrated in acts.