As with any relationship, communication among your team is the key to success. Actually, it’s the driving force of quite literally everything that happens at work. And it’s your job as a leader to set the tone for how everyone communicates with each other — which can be tricky given the various styles and differing personalities that your team is likely made up of.
For example, you may be a supportive and relaxed leader struggling to manage a team member who relies on a more intense method of communication, or vice versa. However, as tricky (and critical) as team communication may be, it’s easy when you put the right practices in place.
Let’s go over the basics of how to implement those best practices and lead your team to communication victory.
Why You Should Prioritize Strong Communication
First let’s focus on the numbers to understand the importance of team communication: A survey by leadership training firm Fierce, Inc. found that a staggering 86% of employees cited poor collaboration and communication as the top cause of workplace failures.
If your team can’t communicate effectively with each other, it’s rather likely that they can’t effectively do their job. Strong communication ultimately determines the level of project quality, stakeholder relationships, employee retention, company culture, and even client satisfaction — so it’s safe to say mastering this art should be a top priority for you and your team.
On the flip side, failing to focus on building good communication can lead to duplicate work, scope creep, employee turnover, poor project results, and even poorer customer feedback.
To avoid any unnecessary failures and establish a healthy workplace environment, it’s critical that you lead by example and ensure the right communication practices are in place.
5 Types of Team Communication
In order to facilitate strong communication on a wide scale, you must familiarize yourself with the multiple types of communication — this way you can identify opportunities for improvement in the various buckets.
Verbal communication is a huge factor of team interaction. Whether the conversation is face to face, over a phone call, or in a video conference, actual conversations are typically the driving force behind how each team member perceives one another.
It may not always be easily understood how nonverbal communication, or things like body language, tone of voice, and facial expressions impact team relationships, but paying attention to these kinds of cues is more important than you might think — more than half of all communication is nonverbal.
Communicating effectively through multiple written channels like email, messaging tools, performance reviews, and more should be a team goal. Doing so can not only positively impact team relationships, but it can also build trust among your audience.
Visual communication skills are especially important when presenting information through media or conducting team meetings and training sessions. Much like with written communication, visuals give you the opportunity to review your communication before sharing with others. The important thing to remember here is to make sure the visuals you’re using actually provide value and clarity to your team.
Believe it or not, listening is a form of communication — without it, there’s no way you can effectively communicate. Create a healthy work environment by actively listening, it demonstrates your dedication to staying engaged and paying attention to what they’re expressing to you.
How to Improve Team Communication
Struggling to promote solid communication? No problem — these five tips will help you foster collaboration and engaging relationships, regardless of where your team works.
1. Quickly Resolve Team Conflict
A seemingly inconsequential conflict, especially one caused by poor communication, can snowball into disaster if not handled effectively.
Let’s say an employee misses a deadline to complete an action item before handing off the project to another team member, and ends up delaying them in their ability to complete the next task before their deadline. The first team member may apologize and think they resolved the issue, but if the second team member doesn’t communicate how their work suffered as a result, it could end up happening again and again — causing frustration, scope creep, and resentment.
To avoid this, train your team on conflict resolution strategies so they know how and when to address any issues that may occur with respect and efficiency.
2. Promote Engagement
Without any collaboration or guidance, your team can be left feeling disengaged — which puts a large damper on team morale. While it’s important to avoid coming across as a micromanager and give them room for creative freedom, it’s also your job to encourage engagement.
Conduct brainstorming sessions and workshops often to exchange ideas and create an avenue to expression. Reassure your team that you value each idea they bring to the table to show you support them.
You can also schedule weekly meetings to give everyone a chance to share what they’re working on and request support or help if needed. These meetings often create collaboration opportunities your team didn’t know were possible.
3. Encourage Communication From the Bottom Up
It’s possible that employees on the lower levels of the team structure might be uneasy about expressing their ideas. But if you promote bottom-up communication and remind them that all team members’ thoughts are valued, you build trust and morale by reinforcing their ownership in projects.
To encourage this, directly ask them for their ideas in different formats like team meetings, one-on-one sessions, or even surveys.
4. Be Transparent
Transparency should always be prioritized — if you cultivate an honest and open workplace, you’ll have a much lower chance of risky miscommunication between you and your team, and among themselves.
A few ways to promote transparency include:
- Being honest about any organization information and sharing it in real time instead of holding off.
- Giving constructive criticism as it becomes necessary instead of waiting for performance reviews.
- Showing team members why their work is important and connected to larger goals.
5. Interact One-on-One
While team meetings are a great opportunity to encourage collaboration and share ideas, scheduled one-on-one sessions give you the chance to check in on each individual, get a sense of their well-being, and address any issues.
You can even encourage your team to meet with each other one-on-one so they can further build collaborative relationships and strengthen bonds by getting to know each other.
Another great way to build strong communication among your team is to make sure everyone is on the same page — and Harvest is here to help you do just that. With Harvest, you and your team gain visibility into the key project factors like budget, team capacity, and costs —ensuring everyone has the information they need to succeed. Get started with a free trial today.