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7 real ways to improve team communication

Posted by Hannah Price | 4 min read

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You know why team communication is important—that’s why you’re reading this article. Poor team communication at work leads to dwindling productivity and stymies innovation. Here are seven tips on how to turn that around. Pronto.

(If you’re looking for something a bit more substantial, check out our deep-dive into effective team communication.)

1. Leaders, speak up

Leaders set the tone within an organization. How they behave and how they communicate has a ripple effect on every team and individual. If you’re a leader, now’s time to take stock of how you communicate and adjust it if necessary.

If you don’t already, here are some good communication practices to start exercising:

  1. Work out loud to set the tone for open communication and transparency.
  2. Encourage, and take part in, debate and honest feedback on team projects.
  3. Respect feedback and new ideas, even if they’re in contrast to your own opinion
  4. Recognize and reward this open and honest communication.
“It is really amazing how much an organization sucks up the behaviors of the leader. I didn’t quite appreciate this until I started this business. You can very easily see this when you are having a bit of a crap day, and you are a little bit downbeat. It is infectious.”
- Nick Tolley, CEO and founder of Harris + Hoole [Source]

 

2. Say hello

The power of “hello” is stronger than you realize. Often, it’s the catalyst to conversation; a primary building block in more team communication.

However, in some offices, it often goes unsaid. Perhaps it's due to stimulus overload and distraction. Or, maybe you’re distracted by a hard problem. Or, simply too shy.

Whatever the reason, it’s time to bring “hello” back into your workplace. Greet that guy you pass in the corridor, say hi to the girl getting her lunch from the fridge, and make sure you say hello to each team member as they arrive each day. Here’s an excerpt from multi-million dollar SaaS company, Instapage:

“All Instapage employees use the same communication tool, and it’s used on a daily basis. A typical work day starts with a big round of ‘hellos and good mornings’. It doesn’t matter that the San Francisco team is getting ready to retire for the day when the European teams are getting to work—we make it a point to share pleasantries in spite of an average 10 hour difference, ensuring that no one feels isolated or left out.” [Source]

 

3. Treat others like…

Stop treating others the way you like to be treated, and start treating them the way they like to be treated. You may want to communicate verbally and assume others like the same, while they actually prefer connecting through messaging. Or, you may want to work in near-silence for eight hours, while others need to break up the work with a few conversations.

Ensure you take the time to check in with your teammates and find out their preferred method and means of communication for anything from brainstorming to team check-ins. Then build your communication from there.

4. Get to know each other

Recently, our team took the Myers-Briggs test. (If you’re unfamiliar with Myers-Briggs, it’s a well-renowned psychometric test used by thousands of companies around the world.) From the test-results, our team has learned a lot about each other; the insights were eye-opening and extremely useful.

Now that we’re more aware of how each other perceives and interacts with the world of work around us, we’re able to communicate and work together more effectively. I highly recommend taking the Myers-Briggs test and reading up on what the outcomes represent.

“The understanding of your type can make your perceptions clearer, your judgement sounder, and your life closer to your heart’s desire.” - Isabel Briggs Myers


5. Role clarity
Sometimes miscommunications within a team are part of a larger problem; a lack of role clarity. This can be a lack of clarity on a macro scale (one’s responsibilities within an organization) or a micro scale (one’s responsibilities within a certain project).

If you’re finding things are getting missed, or there’s duplicated work and confusion, it may be time to clarify. Every person in your team should know what each team member is responsible for. This will allow them to work smartly with their teammates, predict bottlenecks in work, and see any gaps and opportunities between the roles.

6. Be vulnerable

Sometimes, teams don’t communicate well because they don’t communicate enough. And sometimes that’s simply because they’ve never really communicated. If you’ve got that problem and want to change it, it may be time to simply extend an olive branch: start the conversation.

This requires a certain level of confidence (and the ability to be vulnerable). Funny though it may sound, it can feel hard to break the mould even in this small way. However, if you’re confident enough to open up a conversation and share with your colleagues, you’re likely to establish a stronger, trusting, and more communicative relationship. (Check out this article on psychological safety to learn more.)

7. Get a good tool

To take your teamwork to the next level, get a good communications tool. Even if your team is lucky enough to sit next to each other every day (rather than working remotely or in different time zones), a good piece of software will streamline team communication. These are much more effective than clunky reply-all emails or working with numerous apps.

Check out the Jostle® platform if you want to bring all of your team communication into one place.

“We’re constantly forming and reforming teams that involve staff located all over the world. I’m just thrilled we’ve found the Jostle intranet and we’re already enjoying the way that it is bringing clarity and unity to our complex and evolving organization.”
Benjamin Jackson, Director of Communications, Catch the Fire [Source]

 

Conclusion

Improving and navigating team communication isn’t always easy. Sometimes, a team clicks and it’s wonderful, but sometimes it doesn’t… and then what do you do? Try out a few of the actionable tips from this article and see how you get on.

Want to take your internal comms to the next level? 

Download our free cheat sheet


Let us know what you think!


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