Best Practices to Improve Team Communication

There is no doubt that strong communication is a key factor and a driving force behind any organization’s success. After all, what distinguishes a successful team from a bunch of individuals? A team is made up of individuals who are engaged in collaborative work. Ideally, they are aware of and share the company’s mission and values. Yet, first and foremost, they must be involved and communicate with each other in order to achieve their goals and work productively.

The ‘State of Sector Report 2021/22’, a global survey of internal communication conducted by Gallagher, a world-leading internal communication agency, reveals communication to be an essential focus for company success. “In line with the past five editions of State of the Sector, ‘Engaging people around purpose, strategy, and values remains the number-one priority for more than a half (53%) of the world’s organizations – a result consistent throughout all geographies and organization sizes, reminding us that this is the very essence of internal communication.”

It doesn’t matter how big your company is or what a life-changing product you are working on – if team communication is lacking, the end result will be average at best. Team members may face some struggles caused by poor communication, such as;

  • Wasting time with unnecessary complexities
  • Missing deadlines
  • Disappointing performance
  • Conflicts 
  • Loss of trust
  • Facing stress
  • Low engagement levels
  • Burn out

All of them are unsuitable companions on the road to success.

In addition, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, we still live in a world of remote or hybrid work. While this certainly allows team members to work from the comfort of their own homes, it also creates unwanted communication issues. Fortunately, implementing good communication practices is easy, and the benefits are hard to overestimate.

Here are six simple ways to boost internal communication that can have a positive influence on your company right away.

1. Use the Right Tools 

According to Gallagher’s State of the Sector 2021/2022 research, channeling strategy towards hybrid working is the second-highest priority for 39% of respondents, which is around 2 in 5. Today’s market offers a wide range of software products and tools for improving remote team communication and collaboration. Incorporate a few tools to meet the demands of the entire team. 

As a first step, take a look at your company’s communication methods. Do your coworkers all work in the same time zone, or do they operate as a global-distributed team with an asynchronous schedule? You may require a project management solution that would also act as a control center to keep your work organized. There is a wide range of software available to assist your team in organizing and tracking work assignments. You can also use Agile approaches to boost the productivity of your team.

You should also select audio and video conferencing software that is appropriate for your needs. For the essential meetings, we recommend employing recording tools and sharing the recordings with a team afterward. It may be useful in providing background for further discussion and in keeping everyone informed. This will also enhance each team member’s sense of involvement.

While seeing the faces of team members during a video meeting can provide the impression of a real presence, it isn’t always the most practical option. Using an online call tool might help your team stay connected while remaining completely flexible. With so many options now available, a key benefit of an online call may be that it brings your team closer together and improves internal communication. No hardware is required to upgrade your telecommunications solutions to include the following features:

  • Team calls 
  • Call forwarding 
  • Team performance tracking 
  • Call scheduling and rules 
  • Keeping a history of all interactions 

Using the right tools, without a doubt, can make the communication process go more smoothly. Make sure your team is comfortable using the applications on offer and that they are not experiencing any difficulties or hassle during the process.

2. Prepare a Clear Agenda and Set a Timeline for the Meeting

It is said that time is money. And this is especially true of your working time, as it can be measured financially, so ensure you are not wasting it during meetings. Make a clear agenda and plan a timeline of the meeting in advance. Here are some questions that may be helpful with planning the outline:

  • What is the main goal of the meeting?
  • What are the key issues that need to be discussed?
  • Are there any additional topics that can be postponed?
  • Who will be speaking? 
  • How much time is allocated to each speaker? 
  • How much time may be needed for follow-up questions?
  • How should speakers prepare? Do they need additional technical support? 
  • Do you need to share any materials before the meeting? 

Inform your teammates of the agenda by sending an email prior to the meeting. Make sure that you provide enough time for the speakers and team to prepare thoroughly. Ask for feedback and, if you get any, try to make the requested adjustments. 

By paying extra attention to careful planning, you increase the positive business outcome of every meeting. Moreover, you show respect and appreciation to all team members. 

When the agenda is clear and the timeline is set, you are ready for the cascade of great ideas and further steps to improve your business. In order to avoid a situation where much was discussed, but little was accomplished, it is crucial to take notes or meeting minutes.

Meeting notes are the essential topics that came up during the discussion. While they may seem too formal, solid notes will help you remember the most important details and any actions that you or other team members must do. There is no universal template for meeting notes, but you may use three simple questions to design the right ones for your team. 

  • What needs to be done? 
  • Who is responsible for that?
  • What is the deadline?

When you take notes in this way, you automatically create an action plan out of them. To avoid losing or forgetting essential extra information, mention it as ‘For information’ in an action plan.

Sending a follow-up email with an action plan to all attendees and related team members is always a smart idea. You get the chance to make up for any points you may have missed. Plus, it is a great opportunity for all team members to be on the same page at work and stay informed about important decisions.

 4. Promote Open Dialogue and Collaboration

Effective communication aids in the early detection of problems before they have a negative impact on the business. When you confront a problem at its early stage, you gain valuable time for your team to figure out the best solution. This can only happen if teammates believe their feedback is being heard and they are free to express themselves. If there is a lack of trust in your team, the problems may simply be hushed up and then transformed into major blockers to successful performance. It is crucial to foster open dialogue and collaboration so that everyone on the team feels comfortable speaking up and being heard.

Strengthen the bond by sharing all-important company information, such as contract wins, innovative ideas, and client feedback, with your colleagues. Allow the entire team to witness the tremendous impact their daily activities are having!

Try to figure out what inspires each individual in a group. Everyone wants to be successful in what they are doing, and everyone has different needs in order to achieve that. Do not hesitate to have a one-on-one conversation. It will probably help you to discover the strengths of a person and any obstacles that are keeping them from performing at their best.

Planning time for everyone to get together is one of the most powerful things a team can do. Spending time together allows a team to become closer, encourages everyone to better understand one another’s personalities, and improves overall communication. If your team has an opportunity to meet in person, organizing offline team activities where you don’t talk business but find common interests and share pleasant moments is a brilliant idea! 

A good practice for a fully remote team is holding a get-together video call. You don’t need to set an agenda; simply invite your team to join a conference call and encourage everyone to have a pleasant conversation. You can discuss personal accomplishments, celebrate birthdays, and other significant occasions with one another. Finally, it’s incredibly inspiring to know that you are working with actual people you also know on a personal level. 

Strive for transparency in your work communication, form personal bonds with your coworkers, and remain open to conversation. These are the three most important factors to consider while attempting to increase team collaboration and relationships.

5. Be the Influencer

Start with yourself if you want to make significant changes in your team communication. Take your self-improvement seriously. Examine the quality of your communication in detail. To help you, we’ve come up with a few ideas on how to become a better communicator.

To make it easier, keep in mind that there are five main types of communication – verbal, nonverbal, written, visual, and active listening.

How you are perceived by others is mostly determined by your ability to communicate verbally. Ask yourself the following questions to estimate how good you are at verbal communication:

  • Do I use appropriate professional language while talking to my teammates?
  • Do I pay attention to the tone of my speech to avoid being too direct or sounding rude? 
  • If I joke, do my jokes sound inoffensive and suitable for the situation?
  • And most importantly – do I explain my thoughts in a way that everyone can understand?

If you suspect you’re doing something wrong, don’t be afraid to ask for feedback. It is always wiser to correct your flaws than become a team member with whom no one enjoys collaborating.

Non-verbal communication includes eye contact, body language, facial expressions, gestures, and posture. The interesting fact is that people, as biological creatures, are highly sensitive to nonverbal signals from others. You may sound friendly, but your gloomy face and closed posture convey the contrary. Maybe you’ve had a bad day, and now you are attempting to fake happiness? Try to unwind your thoughts, set aside all irrelevant emotions, and step into communication with a positive state of mind.

Knowing how to express your thoughts in a written form is also a beneficial skill. Depending on the recipient of your message, adjust the appropriate level of formality, articulate your thoughts clearly, and you’re good to go. It’s usually a good idea to educate yourself on the structure and common phrases for official writing if you need to communicate with a high level of formality. You can find lots of resources on the internet to improve your writing skills.

When you share visual information, you also communicate with your teammates. Presentations, videos, and guidelines are all pieces of visual communication. Make sure your materials are relevant to the topic, well-structured, and simple to read and comprehend. Take your time to design it properly before presenting it to your team.

The last form of communication is definitely not the least important. Active listening is a valuable skill to have if you want to enhance the quality of your communication. Have you ever been in a situation where you are talking to someone and see them mentally flying away? What did you feel at that moment? 

We can all agree that this is a really irritating scenario. In order to prevent your mind from fleeing during the conversation, practice active listening. It is easier than it seems. Stay curious about the things that your companion has to say. Ask questions and specify important details to form a clear understanding. Replace any unwanted judgment with a suggestion for potential solutions. You may take your communication abilities to a whole new level by becoming an active listener.

Be the one who inspires others by setting an example of how beneficial decent communication can be. 

6. Keep Things Easy

In a world where we can contact everyone with a single touch of our phone, we may yearn for some uninterrupted time. No-meeting Fridays is an excellent practice that Forbes Council Member Clark Sweat recommends. You may work on adjusting meeting schedules so that Fridays are declared communication-free days. This will allow members of your team to concentrate on finishing the week on a high note and heading into the weekend with their duties completed.

Conclusion

It is important to remember that improving internal communication is always a work in progress. Nonetheless, it’s worth a shot. Small steps toward your goals, implemented one at a time, and team members engaged to support those enhancements can provide huge outcomes. The changes are simple and common sense but putting them into practice requires a genuine commitment from the entire team, from top to bottom. We are sure that you will get the greatest results if you highlight team communication as a natural element of your working culture.

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Workology Editor

Twice recognized Forbes recognized human resources, workplace and recruiting resource established in 2005 formerly Blogging4Jobs. We're a community of contributors, thinkers and disruptors focused on practitioner driven conversations, information and engagement. Workology is focused on the art and science of the workplace for leaders across all experience levels.

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