Whether you are an individual contributor, a people manager, or C-suite, managing the different communication vehicles colleagues use to get work done can be overwhelming. I have found that as instant messaging (IM) has worked it's way into the workplace for communication, it is not used effectively. A recent team discussion led to formulating the best way to leverage IM in the work place, and wanted to share!
Email communications is for FORMAL: Use this as primary vehicle, and can be leveraged to communicate and execute work. This is the appropriate place to confirm deadlines, attach documents, etc. It's trackable, and necessary for project management.
IM - This is considered INFORMAL. Think of this as a quick check in - "Hey, remind me again the status on the ABC Company case study". IM is not the right place to capture commitments, share files, and go in-depth on projects.
Phone: PERSONAL/DIRECT - This is when neither email or IM will suffice. If an email results in a tidal wave of responses, picking up the phone and calling someone directly to come to an agreement, solve a problem is your best bet. And then it can be followed up with a formal email.