My first manager always told me that I needed better communication skills. Mostly this was because she was incompetent and couldn't keep track of her own work much less those reporting to her. In hindsight, I do not blame her, but rather the organization that promoted someone beyond what their skill set could handle.
At the same time, I did work on my communication and organizational skills. Since then I've earned five or six promotions and get consistently high marks in both of these areas. In my twenty years of a professional career, six in management, I've learned quite a bit and learned it can be distilled into just a couple of points
1) Know your audience.
This is the most important aspect of communication. My direct reports have learned (and I have told them) that I trust them and only expect a minimum of communication on a daily basis. I like status reports on a daily or near daily basis that let me know if you are on track. I also want to see reports when you see things going off track. Then we can sit down, go into more detail and I can do my job of providing additional resources or a manager's voice to get cooperation. If it is urgent, see me immediately. if not, it can wait for our 1:1. I want my employees to be able to work without getting sucked into a lot of meeting, be allowed to take ownership of their projects but then leverage my position when they need it.
But that is just me. Some managers want to be in the middle of every technical decision. While I don't agree with this management style, if that is your manager, adapt to his style. If he likes face-to-face daily, then give him the meetings. If he prefers a daily email, go that route. If he is a drop-by-meeting manager (I hate them) then keep talking points by your desk so you are ready.
How do you learn your manager's style? If he is good, he will explicitly tell you. Most managers are not good, however and don't receive any type of training. If this is the case, I'm sure you know who his favorites in the office are. Emulate parts of their style, or explicitly ask them how they deal with the boss. Also, occasionally, ask the boss how you are doing with communication. It will help reinforce that you are trying and he will generally view that favorably. Perception is at least half of the battle on communication...
For non-boss coworkers, communication is easier if you are already communicating well with the boss. Daily statuses on projects via email is likely the route to go. Whatever you are sending to the boss, send a similar update to your team. Develop a standard template so busy readers can scan for what they are looking for.
2) Be Consistent
For each of my direct reports, I created a template for our weekly 1:1's. There are 5-7 items on each that I go through. Sometimes most of the items will be "nothing to report". Others, there are lots. But by being consistent, I make sure everything is covered. I do the same for those I report to, either directly or as part of a project team. If you go the route of daily email updates, make sure they are done every time and have a consistent format. This will help you to be efficient with your time. Then make sure you follow through each day or however often you decide to. This creates a healthy habit in yourself, keeps people in the loop and reinforces the perception that you are an organized team player.
3) Get to the Point in EMail
Folks are busy, so spend a few minutes and think through a problem before emailing on it. When I see a long email on a subject, I immediately assume the person hasn't thought it through themselves and is looking for me to solve the problem. Don't spend three pages writing an essay. Don't go past three back and forths on an email chain. If you really need someone else to help solve something and you can't express it in two or three paragraphs, have a conversation.
Finally, a few minor points
* When getting an assignment, repeat it back to the person who assigned it so they can confirm. In most cases, follow up with an email your understanding
* A business communication course is a good idea if you really want to work on your skills
* No matter how good of a communicator you are, you will still deal with less-than-perfect communicators and often have to report to those people. Always cover your butt with email communication.