Think about the ideal work situation for a moment. Close your eyes if you have to. You are probably imagining a team made up of…not co-workers, but friends, who are easy get along with each day. I bet you are envisioning a group of talented individuals who have a diverse skill set, and still manage to work quickly, complete projects on time, and exceed expectations. Above all, you may see a team that has communication down pat.
After all, when you look objectively at problems in the workplace, team communication, or a lack thereof, is almost always to blame. If you understand the importance of enhancing team communication but find it’s lacking, don’t despair. First of all, you are not alone. In fact, nearly 75% of employers rate collaboration and teamwork as “very important,” yet only 18% of employees actually get communication evaluations during their performance reviews. Secondly, it’s possible to improve team collaboration and communication skills.
To help you out, here are 7 ways you can enhance communication at your firm.
1. Establish an Open Door Policy
According to a recent Forbes article, establishing an open door policy means literally keeping your door open. When your door is open, both literally and figuratively, it does a few important things for team communication:
Sends a message of transparency
Additionally, keeping your door open sends a message of transparency. It’s difficult to talk about other employees, hide the details of your work day, and/or keep things secret when your door is open. Keep your door open and you’ll find you are building relationships of trust on the regular.
Allows for fast access to information
Sometimes employees can wait for 2-3 days when you have a spare moment to answer a question. Other times, they need an answer within 30 seconds. Keep your door open and communicate to your employees that they can come in and ask urgent questions as needed.
Promotes a culture of friendliness
Bosses that are easy to talk to are bosses that are proximal and actively engaged with their employees. Just think of how much easier it is for your team to approach you when you physically make it easy for them to approach you. Similarly, when you are close to them, it makes it easier for you to drop in on them for questions, reviews, or friendly chats.
2. Ask for Questions
It will greatly serve you and your firm to write “there are no stupid questions” into your company values. Why? Because when your employees aren’t afraid to ask questions, it means they aren’t afraid to get clarification on important details that may make or break a corporate deal, client relationship, or successful completion of a project.
Now, writing “there are no stupid questions” into your policy manual and repeating it during onboarding will help, but as a boss, you have to support this value. Here are some ways to do that.
After you have presented a new project to your team, simply ask your employees if they have any questions. You may be surprised how willing your team members are to offer up questions of clarification you never even thought to address.
3. Streamline your Communication Tools
Working remotely definitely has its benefits, but it also has its challenges, and one of them is communication. If most of your team members are in different time zones, then a good communication practice is something that you’d consider most of the time.
To simplify your life, it’s important to invest in technology that makes communication easier. Here are some of the top types of software to invest in that will enhance team communication in ways you never thought possible.
a. Project Management Software
It takes a lot of work from a lot of people to complete projects. To help sort out the details and make sure everyone is on the same page, invest in a popular project management software like Asana, Basecamp, or Trello.
b. Team Conferencing Technology
Sometimes you need everyone on your team on a call or video conference to effectively communicate your message. For this, there are programs like Skype, Join.Me, and GoToMeeting.
c. Team Chat
Other times, you or your team members may just need a quick answer from another team member or the boss. The industry leader is Slack, but you can also opt for something like Fleep, Workzone, or even Google Hangouts.
d. Time Tracking Software
Do you need your employees to communicate when they worked on a project, when they signed in/out of work, and how long a certain project took to complete? Whatever you do, don’t send them an email and ask them. Why? Because no one remembers that. Make it easy on yourself by investing in a time tracking software like Time Doctor.
4. Be Cool About Breaks
In terms of office communication and break-time, did you know there is actually research reported by HBR that says corporations can improve team communication by setting coffee breaks? Results of this study showed that this social time could actually account for more than 50% of positive changes in communication.
What does this mean? It means giving your employees more informal time to discuss work and go the extra mile by providing them good beverages.
5. Pay Attention to the Science of Communication
According to the same HBR study cited above, there is a science to successful communication between team members. In short, teams with more successful communication patterns, share the following characteristics:
- Everyone on the team talks and listens equally. This includes keeping messages short and sweet.
- During a meeting, team members face one another and communicate energetically.
- Team members connect with everyone else on the team, not just the boss.
- Team members carry on side conversations or backchannel conversations with one another.
- Team members break periodically to explore outside of the team and bring information back.
6. Invest in Communications Training
A good communications training course should cover the basics of communication, how to improve speaking skills, how to develop presentation skills, managerial skills training, and business writing, to name a few.
If you don’t have an in-house corporate trainer, there are several communication experts who you can hire to come conduct a training at your office. Sometimes hiring outside experts is costly, but if the payoff is improved communication, it’s worth it.
7. Get social
Sometimes the best ways to enhance team communication is to get social. And, I’m not talking allowing more access to private social media platforms. I’m talking about investing the time and money into activities and events where your team members can get to know one another on a more personal level.
You hire great employees who know how to get things done. Do yourself a favor and give them a chance to get to know each other on more personal terms so that workplace communication becomes easier.
No matter if you have a team of in-house workers, remote workers, or a mix of both, good team communication is imperative to your success. If you are having trouble with communication, know that you are not alone and that there are steps you can take to improve communication in the workplace.
This post was created with our nice and easy submission form. Create your post!