New leaders of software teams are frequently surprised that their messages do
not penetrate into their team’s collective consciousness. When communicating
with your team, repeat yourself often.
This is a common mistake among new leaders whom I have coached. If you make the
mistake of under-communicating, it will be very costly; your other leadership
efforts will appear to have failed because your messages have not been properly
Do not be afraid of repeating communications that are vital to your leadership.
Being thought of as “a repetitive person” is better than employees becoming
unaligned, disengaged, or otherwise under-led.
I find it very effective to deliver the same message via many different
channels. For example:
- Make an announcement in your team-wide messaging medium (e.g. Basecamp).
- Draw your team’s attention to that message in your instant messaging (e.g.
- Ask each team member’s thoughts about the message during 1-on-1 meetings.
- If appropriate, codify the message in your company’s handbook.
If you operate in a remote-work environment, remember to use more messages and
more words to replace communications that were previously accomplished with
body language. This will seem to make communications more wordy, more
laborious, and more time consuming. Plan for this.
Over-communicate. Repeat yourself often.