Behind every successful company is excellent team communication. Every great team is built entirely on effective communication. No matter how inspiring your company vision and values are, these will be futile if you’re not communicating with your team properly.
Imagine a company with underlying issues. These issues continue to build up until such time team members hold resentment, jealousy, or anger against one another. If you don’t try to talk the problems out, you’ll lose hardworking people in your organization. And that’s why communication should be part and parcel of running a business.
Did you know that highly engaged teams increase profitability by 21 percent? If you don’t know where to start, we’ve rounded up these 10 ways for more effective team communication.
1. Invest in proper tools
There’s no shortage of communication and collaboration tools online today. Whether you’re working remotely or in a physical office, using online platforms improves collaboration and prevents miscommunication.
Here’s a list of some apps and software you can use to improve workplace communication:
- Facebook for Work
- Microsoft Teams
Video Conferencing Tools
File Sharing Apps
- Google Drive
- Microsoft OneDrive
Project Management Tools
Document Editing Tools
- Google Apps Suite
Invest in a handful of these tools, so communication even with remote teams is just a click away. You want to make it easy for your teams to express themselves when an idea pops up, or feedback is necessary.
Messaging apps are helpful, especially if you’re working with remote employees. You can also create groups so team members who work remotely don’t miss out on essential conversations about the project they’re in.
File-sharing apps like Dropbox and Microsoft OneDrive make it easy for people to send files back and forth.
Video conferencing tools like Zoom or Skype are a must in modern workplaces because they allow you to meet face-to-face with your team members virtually. Likewise, Trello or Asana are great for collaboration because they’re easy to use and free.
Overall, workplace communication is one thing that can help save time, money, and a lot of headaches in an office setting.
2. Establish a schedule
The last thing you want is to send someone an inquiry about a project at 3 in the morning. This is why you need to establish regular schedules, especially if your members are in different time zones.
Be mindful and sensitive of others’ leisure time. Poor communication permeates unprofessional behavior. Also, some platforms offer a “Do Not Disturb” feature so everyone else in the channel will know when to hold off their inquiries — unless it’s a life-and-death matter.
Once again, you can use a variety of tools online to schedule meetings. Here are a few:
- Meetingbird. This is a free meeting schedule that is user-friendly. It has a simple interface and extremely powerful integrations that make it easy to set up meetings.
- Calendar. As the name suggests, Calendar is an excellent tool for tracking meetings. It offers both desktop and mobile versions. Plus, its most powerful feature is the statistics function, where it tracks attendees and progress in meetings.
- Calendly. If you want to encourage your team to schedule meetings with you, use Calendly. You only need to show them your availability and connect it to your calendar like Outlook or Google Calendar.
3. Bond with your team regularly
To have an excellent team, you need to socialize regularly. It’s important for everyone on the staff to get along well and understand each other better.
If you work with people in different departments — say marketing and sales — then set up an email series so that one group can learn about what the other is doing without having to interrupt. It’s easy to create appropriate channels to schedule events and get-togethers by using tools like Slack or Asana.
Better yet, you can also organize regular mini-retreats to get the team together. A simple lunch, quick coffee break, or a fun video chat will suffice. Any activity that brings every member out of their shell is always a good step towards getting to know them better.
However, the best bonding activity is a team building retreat. By organizing games, this will allow your team members to have a sense of camaraderies and playful competition. Playing games during retreats also lets you determine every member’s strengths and weaknesses.
Here are a few games you can try:
- Coin game. Ask members to empty their pockets and grab all their coins. Then instruct them to create the best logo using the coins available.
- Two Truths and One Lie. This is a nice icebreaker to get members’ to write down two truths and one lie about themselves. The goal is to convince others that your truths are lies and the lie is the truth.
- Picture puzzles. This game is as straightforward as it can get. You can print out a huge picture and cut it into small pieces just like a puzzle. The first team that assembles the picture wins.
If a face-to-face interaction isn’t possible, then don’t fret. Zoom makes a pretty good channel for your virtual team building retreats. Here are a few games you can try:
- Guess that drawing. You can let someone share their screen on Zoom and play a drawing game. One can draw something and other members should guess what it is.
- Typing game. Write a bunch of quotes in different typefaces. Then let the members type exactly what was written, including the punctuation marks and spaces.
- Guess that song. Play a couple of song intros and let the players guess the title of the song and the artist.
4. Keep everyone in the loop
Being left out is the absolute worst feeling when you’re working in a company. Try all forms of communication if you want to get every member involved in the goings-on in your company. Even if it’s a minor update, every member will have a sense of belongingness if you cascade the information.
Never forget to keep them in the loop. This means being transparent and open about everything that’s on their mind. That way, it won’t be a shock when something goes wrong, or something new happens that affects everyone.
Here are a few ways to keep everyone in the loop virtually or physically:
- Hold scrum meetings daily
- Videoconference once every two weeks
- Group chat updates
- Weekly or daily team meetings
- Hold meetings on the first day of the workweek
5. Encourage open communication
Open communication shouldn’t be a priority, but it should be part of your company culture. If you tag it as a priority, it can change depending on external and internal factors. However, if you make it a part of your company culture, it will be instilled in every team member, allowing them to make it a habit daily.
Take note of everyone’s opinion and encourage them to deliver their thoughts. The more information you have, the better decisions you’ll be able to make. Encourage active dialogue by asking questions about what people are feeling or thinking, which can often lead to exciting discoveries for your company.
One upper hand of open communication is it fixes issues right off the bat. When a member feels like he or she can’t share her feedback, the issues can fester further. On the flip side, if employees are comfortable sharing their feedback, you can tackle the problem at hand, avoiding escalation.
6. Set rules and boundaries
While it’s important to have open communication, you also need boundaries for what can and cannot be said. To avoid uncomfortable conversations with team members, we recommend setting some rules on topics that are off-limits. Make sure to prevent these inappropriate topics as much as possible. This will help promote a culture of respect among the group and clarify where each person stands as well.
- Family Issues
- Health Problems
- Work Issues
In addition to that, you can also be on the same page about when and where to contact other members for particular projects or issues. For instance, if it’s about the team retreat, should you use Slack or Asana? If it’s about a project you’re working on, should you call for a Zoom video meeting or Skype call?
Create a default communication channel so that all teams know where to contact one another for specific concerns.
7. Define roles and responsibilities
Always make sure that you clarify everyone’s roles and responsibilities. When everyone knows their tasks, they hold accountability to it. This will lead to higher productivity and better results.
When you start a project, create a list of tasks and assign them to the team members. You can also use a project management site like Asana, Trello, or Basecamp to keep track of your work.
This will help with delegating responsibilities and being clear on who is responsible for what task throughout the process. Additionally, this can lead to accountability whenever blunders happen. Overall, defining roles and responsibilities is vital, so everyone knows their way throughout the project, which improves team communication in the process.
8. Conduct communications training
Mandate employees to attend regular communications training programs. Refresher courses are always an excellent way to remind teams where their communication skills are at.
Mandatory training will also help reduce misunderstandings and miscommunications that can arise due to not knowing the proper way to communicate.
A communications training program covers the basic elements, process, types, barriers, and effects of communication. This is where you create objectives on what you want to achieve out of the training. Then you jot down the potential attendees in various departments. Customer services, unit leaders, managers, supervisors, or anyone who want to hone their skills more.
It’s important for all members, even those with strong communication skills, to attend these sessions on an annual basis, so they have updated information about what is expected in their workplace when it comes to communicating.
9. Open-door policy
Create a culture of open communication by establishing an open-door policy for team members. This allows any employee to come, and talk to their manager about what is concerning them or the project they’re working on without feeling as though they’ll be reprimanded.
This will help ensure that when employees have concerns, there’s someone in charge who can listen wholeheartedly.
When we say open-door, we also mean literally opening your door in your brick-and-mortar office to break that mental barrier between higher ups and rank-and-file employees. Opening your door will emanate a sense of comfort and relief that you’re a step away if they want to talk.
Here’s a fun fact about the open-door policy. Did you know that the Open Door Policy was initiated to provide equal privileges to all countries with trading ports to China? It was to prevent China’s various colonial powers from clashing due to common interests.
10. Foster a positive work environment
A positive work environment is important to the success of any project. It creates a sense of trust, security, and transparency that will help collaborators thrive in their day-to-day tasks and allow them to do better than they ever could on their own.
You should make new employees feel the positive atmosphere the moment they walk through the office doors. Then follow-through with a well-thought-out process such as:
- Making onboarding and training a priority. Did you know that 17 percent of new hires quit within the first three months due to ineffective onboarding? This was from a BambooHR survey. Create methods like shadowing employees or the buddy system.
- Create a comfortable space. Comfort is of the essence when it comes to working. We want to be able to work in a safe and comfortable environment to increase productivity. Ergonomic chairs, standing desks, well-adjusted temperature, nice interiors, and clean floors are some of the ways to make a work environment comfortable.
- Genuinely connect. It’s important to drop by to connect with others even if it’s for a few minutes. You can stop by one’s cubicle to ask for their opinion, chit chat during coffee breaks, or do random trivia questions to keep it lighthearted.
- Provide more learning opportunities. Offer regular training, and conduct regular evaluations as well. This will let employees know their progress — or the lack thereof. Offer solutions if employees need to work on some areas like coaching, training, refresher courses, and whatnot.
Finally, a positive work environment doesn’t also mean you have to get them pool tables or offer free beer during office hours. Driving employee morale, organizing team retreats, allowing employees coffee breaks, fostering employee relationships, and ensuring open communication contribute to a positive work environment.
There’s no cookie-cutter method in improving workplace communication. This list is a guide and not an end-all-be-all solution to team communication. What works for some people may not work for others, so try something new in your next meeting or project to find out what works best for you!