The Importance of Team Communication
Whether it’s in the board room or at a PTA meeting, effective communication is everything. You know when it’s working, and you definitely know when it isn’t.
Here are a few things you can do to help your team communicate better.
“A process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behaviors.”
(It also mentions insect pheromones, but I think we can agree that doesn’t apply to us.)
So that’s all there is to it; any time you want to convey something to your teammate, you’re communicating. That could be an emoji, a voicemail or catching up over coffee. The method you use matters a great deal of course, but all of those things are communicating.
Here’s how to do it a little better.
Effective communication must start with awareness. The best way to make everyone aware of how they’re communicating is to bring it to everyone’s attention, all at once.
This could be an informal group email or Facebook post along the lines of “hey, I’ve been looking into communication and have some ideas on how we can improve our efficiency.”
Or if you’re really fancy (and have the authority), you could call a meeting.
Alert your team that you want to set a goal to improve overall communication and describe what that means.
This doesn’t necessarily require a problem with how your team communicates, by the way–something you may want to make clear at the outset. No person or organization is perfect and we can all get better at any time for any reason.
What sort of goal do you want to set? Maybe you just want everyone to talk more. Brainstorming is where ideas and innovation are born!
The more opportunities you give a great idea to appear, the more likely it will show itself.
Every conversation is a chance for a great idea to surface. Maybe you’d like to see the whole group involved in staying up-to-date with weekly team chats. Maybe you’d like to see your team’s “talking culture” become more constructive.
The point is to set a goal and put it on the radar.
Write things down, and share them:
Verbal communication generally feels more meaningful and personal and should always be encouraged. But when it comes to complex ideas that require absolute clarity, writing fills in gaps that a conversation can sometimes create.
Beyond just the practicality of a “paper trail” (a mostly digital one, these days) having notes from a meeting or keepiing an email thread gives us a way to return to something to see it in a new light, remember something we forgot, or make sure everyone sees the same thing at the same time.
Writing helps you organize your thoughts.
It also allows for improved clarity, and when it comes to communication, clarity is your number one friend. Lack of clarity is easier to catch in writing than in a conversation, because you aren’t required to remember as much.
Written communication also gives us a chance to reflect on something before we respond. If you’re looking for feedback on a business report or a bake sale flyer, give people time to think about it, and the best way to do that is to let them get back to you in writing (if they want).
You’re more likely to ge the sort of constructive feedback you’re looking for if people have time to sit with your work.
Keep your door open. (Literally.)
This is extra important if you’re in any sort of managerial position. When people see your door shut, you present yourself as both inaccessible and secretive, whether you intend to or not.
Furthermore, if you feel compelled ot ask people to shut your door every time someone comes in to talk with you, it can cause others anxiety–are they in trouble? Is something being kept from everyone else?
Naturally, not every meeting or conversation needs to be audible down the hall. It can be distracting and disruptive. But make a conscious effort ot hav eyour door open to whenever possible and you’ll find people are more willing to come to you with ideas or questions.
This extends to not just your phiscal door, but also your general availability. If you’re always too busy to respond when people come to you with something, eventually they’ll just leave you alone.
That might sound nice for some of us (especially when we’re overwhelmed or overworked), but that is the exact opposite of what you want in a good team. If you want team communication to improve, you have to be a part of that process, too.
Those are just a few general quick ideas to improve communication in your group. the more intention you put behind improving communication, the better you’ll be at it.
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