Ensuring Effective Communication Among Teams
Cultivating effective communication in teams is not an easy task. Most businesses know that if they want their employees to thrive, they need to ensure that they can connect, collaborate and share ideas seamlessly. Unfortunately, in a world of changing workplace environments, various issues can get in the way of quality and consistent communication.
Now that concepts like remote and hybrid work have become more commonplace, companies are dealing with distributed employees working in a host of different environments and landscapes. Add this to the existing problem of disconnected communication styles in the workplace, and it’s clear to see why misunderstandings and poor collaboration can become a serious problem for brands.
For some business leaders, it’s tempting to simply leave employees to figure out their own methods of communication, and focus on other parts of growing the business. However without an effective strategy for communication in place, your entire company can suffer. In fact, one study found that communication barriers can cost companies an average of $62.4 million per year in lost productivity.
Here’s what you need to know about building effective communication between teams.
What is Effective Communication in Teams?
Let’s start with the basics: what do we mean by effective communication?
Good communication relies on more than just ensuring that team members have a place to talk or share ideas. If you really want your team to flourish, you need to make sure that they know how to connect efficiently, in a way that ensures consistent transparency and understanding throughout your organization.
Enabling effective communication means nurturing connections between employees, and creating an environment where everyone feels heard. While the exact components of effective communication may vary from one workplace to the next, the key factors can be broken down into “The 7 C’s”. All communication in the workplace (and often outside of it too), should be:
- Coherent: Employees need to communicate in a way that’s easy for other people to understand. Coherent communication is planned, logical and follows a sensible sequence.
- Concrete: When sharing information or making a statement, ensuring the message you send is “concrete” reduces the risk of misunderstandings.
- Clear: Clarity is essential to effective communication. People shouldn’t be left trying to decipher what a colleague meant by a vague statement.
- Committed: Communication and collaboration thrive when everyone is committed to making sure they’re understood. Everyone should take ownership of their responsibility to communicate effectively.
- Complete: Sentences, statements and messages should never be left incomplete. The more information a person can provide during a conversation, the more the team will thrive.
- Consistent: Teams should use consistent strategies, methodologies and even languages when communicating in the workplace. Consistency eliminates unnecessary confusion.
- Courteous: In a people-centric and collaborative team , everyone is mindful of their colleagues’ needs. People should be aware of the communication styles of their peers, their preferences regarding which communication tools to use and their expectations.
How to Develop Effective Communication in Teams
Communication is natural to human beings, but that doesn’t mean we all communicate as effectively as we should. Everyone has their own style of communication, sometimes they are in harmony with the strategies used by others, and sometimes they are in conflict. To build a team with exceptional communication skills, business leaders need to take steps to actively cultivate constructive connections. Here are some of the best strategies you can try.
1. Use Technology
One of the reasons effective communication in virtual teams is so difficult to master, is that people are already distributed and working in different environments. In a hybrid or remote workplace, staff members can’t just walk up to a colleague and start a conversation. That means it’s up to business leaders to ensure that an environment exists where communication can flourish.
A comprehensive communication platform, such as Brosix, is an excellent way for companies to empower their teams, and ensure that everyone can communicate in their own style. More introverted individuals may choose to connect through instant messaging, while others prefer to interact with video and audio conferencing. You can even keep everyone up-to-date with company-wide notifications in the Brosix platform.
2. Encourage People to Listen
Communication is equal parts speaking and listening. Unfortunately, many people are great at one part, and not so good at the other. Employees who listen well tend to be more productive, more tuned in to their workplace and more collaborative. With this in mind, leaders in any workplace should encourage their team members to develop their listening skills.
One of the best ways to ensure people are listening effectively in a business environment is to lead by example . Demonstrate active listening skills when interacting with your employees, by making eye contact (when possible), asking follow-up questions, and making sure you don’t interrupt when someone else is talking.
3. Leverage the Right Communication Method
Knowing how to communicate effectively in a team also means understanding that different kinds of conversations require different communication methods . We’ve all attended video calls and conferences to learn about things that could have been more easily conveyed in an email.
Successful communication doesn’t waste employee time. When you’re thinking about how to connect with your employees, and teaching other team members to communicate effectively, prioritize using the right methods and tools. For a quick update, chat might be the best solution. For a conversation about an employee’s progress, a video session where you can make eye contact might be more effective. In situations where you need to present information to your team, charts, images, graphs and other visuals can provide valuable context.
4. Invest in Developing Employee Soft Skills
Investing in the training and development of your employees is an excellent way to make them a more lucrative part of the workforce. However, many business owners make the mistake of focusing only on technical skills. Communicating effectively is a soft skill, and truly mastering it relies on employees developing other soft and personal skills throughout their career.
Training employees on how to develop their soft skills, like empathy, emotional intelligence and even leadership skills, can help to make them better communicators. There are plenty of videos and courses out there that teach people how to use body language when communicating, what it means to deliver messages with confidence and how to demonstrate active listening. Consider investing in a training session or two for your team.
5. Build a Collaborative Culture
Collaboration and communication go hand-in-hand. You can’t have excellent team work without first cultivating a team of fantastic communicators. However, by investing in a collaborative culture for your workplace, you can improve your chances of team members communicating more effectively.
For instance, you might start building a collaborative environment by investing in the right software to help you plan regular meetings, and bridge the gaps between various departments in your workforce. Team building exercises can be another way to strengthen relationships between staff members and create a sense of mutual understanding.
6. Encourage Open and Honest Communication
Communication in the workplace thrives when everyone feels comfortable speaking their mind. If team members are concerned about sharing feedback with business leaders, they’ll be more likely to withdraw from the business and keep their thoughts to themselves. Encouraging open and honest communication, through two-way feedback, is an excellent way to help your business grow.
Two-way feedback means that everyone in the workplace has the opportunity to share how they feel about specific circumstances and situations. Supervisors and managers can tell employees when they’re doing well, and where they might need to improve. However, employees can also share constructive feedback with their managers. This kind of communication strengthens bonds in the workplace, and also paves the way for a more creative, collaborative environment.
7. Be Transparent
Transparency is a core factor of effective communication. If a company’s leaders are open and transparent about what’s happening in the business, their employees are more likely to demonstrate the same behaviors. This means that companies need to ensure they’re keeping their staff members informed about anything that might affect them – no matter if they’re in-house, or remote.
Sharing regular broadcasts and updates with insights into the latest company news can be a great way to keep everyone on the same page. Ensuring that everyone on your team has access to the same documents and knowledge base articles minimizes misunderstandings. Don’t force employees to resort to learning about changes in the company through the grapevine and gossip.
8. Make Meetings More Productive
Finally, a great way to nurture effective communication in the workplace, is to ensure that you’re making the most out of your meetings. In today’s virtual landscape, countless brands rely on meetings and conferencing sessions between distributed employees to keep everyone aligned. However, 71% of senior managers say most meetings are unproductive and inefficient.
To ensure every meeting you host is valuable, plan the talking points in advance. Create a detailed agenda and send it to all of the people attending the meeting ahead of time. Assign a leader to guide and facilitate the conversation, and create follow-up actions and summaries based on what’s covered in the meeting. In some cases, it may even be beneficial to make meetings “optional” to people who may or may not benefit from attending.
Investing in Better Team Communication
Effective communication in teams is crucial for any business in today’s landscape. Employees need to communicate efficiently, regardless of where they’re located or their job role. Without robust communication, your business will be in a state of constant confusion, misunderstandings and disengagement.
Though cultivating excellent communication in the workplace can sometimes seem a complex and time-consuming process, it’s categorically worthwhile. When implemented correctly, effective communication strategies lead to better collaboration, increased focus and a stronger company culture.