Team communication is critical to team performance. Many managers or team leaders fear communication is not as effective as it should be, leading to fears over project deadlines and tasks. Thankfully, if you are a team leader and worry about your team's communication strategies, there are ways to improve them.
Importance of Team Communication
Communication is pivotal to everything that happens at work. Often, you can trace the quality of a project, stakeholder relationships, and even customer relations back to how a team interacts. Poor communication techniques can lead to imbalanced work, high turnover rates, low team engagement, and other disappointing results.
If you want to improve communication on your team, you must take action and lead by example. Demonstrate a willingness to be transparent and proactive. Still, while active participation as a leader is a positive step forward in team communication, it is not the only step.
Types of Team Communication
Teams communicate using five types of communication: verbal, nonverbal, visual, written, and active listening. Verbal communication refers to face-to-face, phone, or video conferencing conversations.
Nonverbal communication can often speak louder than words. This type of communication includes body language, eye contact, tone of voice, gestures, and posture.
Visual communication strategies include presentations, slide decks, and videos. While visual communication is similar to non-verbal communication, it is not the same.
Written communication often occurs remotely, with no in-person contact necessary. Some of the most common forms of written communication include email and chat features in programs like Zoom.
Finally, active listening refers to receiving and responding to a speaker's message. When using active listening with your team, you ask open-ended questions, paraphrase their main talking points, or show curiosity about the subject matter.
Tips To Build Your Team's Communications
Many techniques and communication exercises for teams can help improve communication. Implementing any of the following tips is the leader's responsibility.
1. Quick Conflict Resolution
Conflict can quickly affect a team's communication. When people are angry, they tend to shut down. Also, conflict doesn't only impact the two people involved in the disagreement; it can spread to the rest of the team as they feel they need to choose sides.
Before conflict spreads throughout the team, take the two people aside and resolve the matter. You can discuss conflict resolution with a communication specialist.
Try to keep everyone engaged in communication. If you are presenting an idea for a project, ask for input from every team member. You can also request that every member come up with a list of questions before a meeting.
3. Bottom-Up Communication
Of all team communication exercises, bottom-up communication is essential. Leaders should not spend every day just giving orders without feedback. Also, team members should be encouraged to offer ideas and input to improve innovation and camaraderie.
You must be transparent to build trust and encourage communication on your team. You can improve trust and transparency by discussing business performance and project expectations openly. Also, provide constructive criticism, and don't avoid criticism from your team.
5. One-on-One Meetings
Not all communication needs to occur as a group. Sometimes, it is more beneficial for the employees to have one-on-one meetings where they may feel more comfortable relaying sensitive information.
Finally, if you want your team's communication to improve, you must be willing to provide consistent feedback and criticism. Praise the team when they communicate well, and offer constructive criticism when there is room for improvement.
Team communication is directly tied to performance. If your team struggles to communicate, talk to a business consultant about steps or strategies you can adopt.