Barriers to good team communication pose a huge problem. They cause a significant loss in productivity and prevent your business from attaining desired goals in an effective and cost-efficient manner. Good communication, on the contrary, allows your team to enhance performance, build stronger interpersonal and professional relationships, boost morale and ensure a smooth exchange of essential information, which facilitates work and leads to success.
As a manager and a team leader, you have the power to make communication in your company more functional and fruitful, and here, we’re going to talk about some of the most effective methods you can implement to do so. But first, let’s take a brief look at the four types of workplace communication every manager has to deal with on a regular basis.
Types of Communication
- Verbal — The use of voice or sign language to convey messages to speech receivers. Verbal communication takes multiple forms: one-on-one conversations with colleagues, small group discussions, public / organization-wide presentations. Plus, voice messages we send to others via such apps as WhatsApp and Viber are a kind of verbal communication too.
- Nonverbal — The use of body language (i.e., gestures, postures, facial expressions) to pass information to others. This type of communication always accompanies the oral one. For instance, by displaying the right emotion with your body, you can transfer any verbal message more successfully. However, unintentional nonverbal signals can also prevent you from delivering the right meaning. For example, showing the “closed” body language that is naturally read by others as the manifestation of anxiety, nervousness and distrust doesn’t match well with a motivational speech meant to encourage your teammates to behave more energetically and take robust action to the benefit of the business.
- Visual — The use of photographs, diagrams, drawings, sketches and other visual elements to convey information to others. Though it’s rather impossible to break down the long and complex messages to the tiniest detail by using visual media alone, images and graphs can be used to ease the processing of difficult information (especially statistics and large numbers), invoke and strengthen the necessary emotional response and add an extra edge to the overall communication experience, making it fuller and more enjoyable.
- Written — The use of writing and typing to transfer messages to readers via emails, blogs, memos and similar media. Just like verbal communication, written information can be conveyed to a single person, a small group or a wider public. But in contrast to verbal speech, a written message can be supported neither by nonverbal language nor by your direct presence in the moment text perception by a reader. Therefore, you have to pay much attention to the way you write, the words you choose and how the tone of your writing might be translated by others.
4 Ways to Make Workplace Communication More Effective
It goes without saying that in order to communicate effectively, one needs to understand their audience, see if their communication style matches the situational context and know how to deliver information well in all the four above formats. Hence, every team leader must first and foremost focus on improving their communication skills. In addition to that, it’s important to implement the right tools and routines, have clear goals and develop the culture of trust.
Let’s explore each of these practices one by one:
1. Enhance your communication skills
As a leader, you have a vital necessity to be able to convey messages successfully both orally and in writing. You need to know how to use your body language and listen to others to gain their attention and build rapport. You need to have confidence and eloquence in order to persuade and motivate your team members to work towards the shared goals with just your words.
So how to develop all these essential communication skills?
You may start out by learning the theory, enrolling to a rhetoric class, listening to experts’ recommendations, scrutinizing recent research findings and reading a few books on the art of storytelling. However, the most important thing here is PRACTICE. Every bit of theory learned must be translated into action. Otherwise, it serves no purpose.
So, to become a proficient and compelling communicator:
- Engage in discussions as often as possible,
- Make short presentations in front of your colleagues,
- Talk to your team members to get to know them,
- Incorporate captivating stories into your speech,
- Find inspiration in listening to others,
- Seek feedback.
These are just a few methods to enhance your communication skills. Try them out, evaluate yourself while practicing, focus on improvement, and you’ll notice your skills getting better very soon.
2. Have a clear goal
Communication is successful only in case your message attains a certain pragmatic goal, i.e., to help a person understand something, to make them laugh or answer a question. Therefore, when talking to colleagues, you need to know in advance what you plan to say and why. It means that a manager must always keep in mind larger business goals and team objectives during communication on professional matters.
Would you like to boost innovation? Do you need your employees to complete a project one week earlier? Or do you want them to adopt a new software tool by the end of the month? Regardless of the aim, make sure you communicate it clearly to all your staff members. State your expectations openly and make sure everyone follows.
3. Address structural barriers
Structural barriers to effective communication are inadequate systems, processes and tools.
If you use a video conferencing tool that consistently distracts you from the conversation with background noise — that’s a structural barrier. If you don’t apply any collaboration tool and don’t have a well-established communication routine at all — that’s a structural barrier too.
So, in order for your team to share information smoothly and efficiently, make communication an intrinsic part of your workday. Be sure to formulate specific communication rules and encourage everyone to comply with them:
- You can arrange daily micro-meetings where everyone would talk about their daily work progress to keep each other informed and updated.
- You can ask everyone to provide personal performance reports in a written format by the end of each week.
- You can involve your team in monthly or quarterly discussion events to talk about performance results and strategic problems in depth.
The list goes on.
After that, make certain to utilize high-quality communication tools. Messengers, group chats, video call instruments and document management platforms will help you exchange important data very quickly and stay in touch with key persons. By using smart task management apps and time trackers, such as actiTIME, you’ll be able to collaborate with your team members even more effectively and get some valuable data on project performance.
4. Promote trust and accountability
It’s hard to communicate openly and productively in an environment full of interpersonal conflicts just as much as in the presence of overly demanding, aggressive and unsympathetic managers. Therefore, it’s crucial to make your team members feel welcomed and engage them in constructive dialog by building trust and establishing favorable relationships. To achieve that:
- Revise your leadership style and make sure it matches well with your team communication needs and goals,
- Learn to empathize and be a good team player,
- Promote democratic workplace culture where everyone is treated as equals,
- Employ team building activities to strengthen team cohesion and acquaint yourself with your colleagues.
As Syndey Finkelstein wrote in her article for Harvard Business Review, “The best leaders are great teachers.” It’s very much impossible to disagree with this statement — a good leader always brings out the best in his or her subordinates by setting a positive example that everyone wants to keep up with.
So, start by practicing effective communication techniques yourself. Trust your employees, invite them to be a part of professional conversations and listen to what they say. As a result, everyone will open up (at least a little bit), and it will be much easier to make effective team communication your everyday reality.
Originally published at actitime.com