Good Communicators Perform Better. How to Improve Team Communication in Any Sphere?
Whether you are in software development, education, retail, healthcare, or another industry, teamwork definitely makes up the essential part of your day-to-day work life.
If teamwork goes well, it distributes all objectives among professionals in a way that makes it easier to achieve goals and excel in the industry. That is why good communication skills are integral to any team’s success and overall business efficiency.
“A lot of problems in the world would be solved if we talked to each other instead of about each other.”
Poor team communication is one of the reasons for project failures. Deadlines are not met, starting projects is difficult, ideas are not discussed properly, employees don’t give their best at work, and managers don’t know how to motivate employees. All this leads to numerous conflicts. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Encouraging healthy and unhindered team communication will boost the productivity and efficiency of any organization. It will help in achieving goals in a unified and targeted way, especially if your team is distributed. Effective team communication is not easy to achieve, so any manager should be focused on specific efforts that will ensure all the staff is in the same way, irrespective of the place of work.
In this post, we are going to briefly describe the key communication channels, formats, and styles and provide some essential tips on how to improve team communication.
The Role of Team Communication
Nowadays, a team is a typical form of organization in companies. Numerous studies have shown that forming teams is one of the most effective methods for achieving organizational goals.
Any team must work interdependently. And communication is what people need to for interdependent cooperation. This surely involves the exchange of information and transmission of meanings. That’s why all interactions and messages exchanges that happen in a team is communication. All team players have to interact and exchange information in order to achieve their objectives and goals, regardless of the type of team.
What is the importance of team communication?
Innovations, the popularity of digital workspaces, and changing technologies bring a change in the workplace and highlight the focus on communication.
Individuals want to know about what their team members are up to, about their ideas, and their plans to carry forward the project. For team leaders and managers, it’s rather important to delegate roles and responsibilities correctly in accordance with the interests of their teams. Communicating is the initial challenge in this case. After all, effective communication styles will lead to overall adoption, trusting each other, and getting things done.
What are the communication channels?
There are different types of communication that depend on a specific field of work, and the team structure. In general, team communication contains two basic channels:
- Verbal communication including daily meetings, one-on-one interactions, calls, coffee-breaks, water-cooler conversations, etc.
- Written communication involves emails, paper documentation, electronic documentation, chatting, setting tasks, and so on.
Team managers are usually responsible for choosing the right channels for team communication, ones that help them achieve their team’s goals.
“To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.”
Four Types of Communication Styles
There are many individual communication styles and every person has own way in which he/she interacts and exchanges information with others.
However, let’s highlight four common communication styles: passive, aggressive, mixed, and assertive. Breaking these styles down, we’ll better understand the characteristics and standard phrases of each one.
1. Passive communication
People who use the passive communication style often act indifferent and can not express their feelings or needs clearly, allowing others to express themselves. A passive communicator is often prone to misunderstanding, anger, or resentment. At the same time, he/she often avoids a confrontation or defers to others.
Passive communicators usually avoid eye contact, they feel difficulties with saying “no.” However, they are typically easy to get along with as they follow others and move with the flow.
2. Aggressive style of communication
You’ll not be mistaken trying to identify the aggressive style of communication, as it is typically obvious and understandable. You’ll see, feel and hear it easily, as communication in an aggressive manner is the most expressive. This style is characterized by loud speaking and demanding voice, maintaining intense eye contact, and controlling others by intimidating, blaming, and criticizing.
An aggressive communicator typically ask questions rudely and fails to listen to others. However, such people usually have leadership skills and command respect from those around them.
3. The mixed type of communication
This style of communication contains both passive and aggressive communication characteristics. Such communicators seem passive on the surface, but within he or she may feel powerless, generating resentment that leads to aggressive actions in subtle or indirect ways.
Most individuals with a mixed communication style will not confront a person or issue. They have difficulty acknowledging their anger and even deny there is a problem.
They often communicate with body language or have no open communication with another person. They actually know their needs, but at times struggle to voice them.
4. Assertive communication
This style of communication is considered the most effective one. It is characterized by an open communication link while not being overbearing. People who communicate in an assertive manner can express their own needs, feelings, and desires while also considering the needs of others.
Such communicators strive to win in a situation, balancing their own rights with the rights of others. Assertive communicators can express their own needs, desires, ideas, and feelings, while also considering the needs of others.
Seven Tips on How to Make Team Communication More effective
Let’s highlight 7 ways to take your team communication to the next level and make the team more productive.
1. Foster two-way feedback
Feedback is a critical aspect for generating results, where the main purpose is strengthening progress towards company goals.
One-way dialogue is a common mistake that managers make when offering feedback. A healthy work environment requires constant two-way communication. Encouraging two-way feedback with comments and concerns is a sign of smooth communication in the workplace. It will definitely give your team members a chance to self-evaluate.
2. Encourage one-on-one interactions
One-on-one interaction is a reliable way to make your team successful. Every new member of your team should be aware and sure that employee engagement does not lag behind in your workplace.
Do not forget about setting your expectations and needs during these interactions, and tell team members about what your project demands and give them preparation time to maximize their potential. Interacting in a one-on-one manner requires understanding when to listen to what your employees have to say.
3. Demonstrate appreciation
Demonstrating a positive attitude is about telling your colleagues about how much you care about their efforts and respect them. Appreciation is an effective way to deal with low employee morale. It will help you to make your team players feel like they matter.
Do not hesitate to provide appreciation to your team members by thanking them for finish a task in time, congratulating them for great ideas, and expressing gratitude even for small acts.
4. Arrange team-building activities
Team building activities are a proven way to increase productivity and overall teamwork of your team. They work great even in distributed teams where connections are not so easy to establish and maintain. These activities help individuals communicate better, and build good relationships with one another.
Nowadays more and more teams are interested in virtual team building activities that include different online games and collective productive hobbies that give employees an opportunity to socialize and communicate with co-workers who rarely meet in person.
You can schedule such activities at the end of the month or even weekly to get everyone together.
5. Use time wisely
Even quick coffee breaks will keep team spirit strong and give everyone a chance to get to know each other better.
Team bonding is a good way to increase communication channels, so try to arrange informal meetings and discussions. They will encourage healthy communications amongst colleagues and boost new creative ideas. You can motivate your team members to have coffee breaks at the same time to generate an ideal environment to relax and discuss various issues. This art of conversation will encourage people to discuss work as well.
6. Boost collaboration
If employees are able to collaborate with everyone well, they will eventually communicate better. Effective collaboration promotes various useful skills to make sure everyone is aware of ongoing projects.
It’s always a good idea to let people talk and share their ideas to complete the project. Your team members should be given opportunities to ask questions and use available collaboration tools to collect information, updates, and feedback.
7. Use an appropriate communication platform
Effective communication streams empower projects providing them with the ability to reflect the progress. Digital transformation is what modern workplaces experience these days. That’s why you need to invest in key applications and software for productivity and communication.
With the help of effective task management software, you can significantly streamline communication between your team members, no matter they perform in office or used to work from home.
This software will help them to exchange messages about the tasks and all relevant info can be shared in the same place. Hygger is a great option that prevents long email threads and optimizes workflow, uprising it to the highest level.
Team communication is a practical foundation for teamwork and for the overall company’s success. If communication is failing, you have to dig deeper before start improving the collaboration of your team. The main idea is to determine why it needs improvement. Once you’ve identified the causes, you may work on improvements.
The right path that will lead you to effective team communication begins with the above tips and choosing the right communication style. Following this path, you’ll quickly watch how your team spirit grows with better communication.