- Create a formal communication process to engage your team effectively.
- Identify the gaps in communication and put a plug in them.
- Use positive listening skills to glean substantive information from your team members.
“Communication is not about your position as leader, nor is it about your own opinions. It’s about getting messages across in a positive way to enrich your company’s operation.” – Rawzaba Halibi, Marketing Executive for the Potential learning platform
Effective communication is at the heart of successful relationships and business processes. Most business problems can be laid at the door of poor communications skills. Your team communication strategy can make or break productivity, employee engagement and retention, and customer satisfaction.
You’ve got to say it like you mean it to communicate with your team well and get results. How you do so will determine your success.
Create a Formal Communication Process
Communication is a critical business function; treat it as such by creating a formal process with clear deliverables.
- Assign a specific role to each team member to establish responsibilities and accountability.
- Develop real-time communication across the workforce (especially important for distributed and remote teams).
- Create a clearly documented communication plan that guides all communication activities—including the specific technology to be used for each type of communication.
- Account for different communication styles and mediate when necessary.
Is everyone on your team on the same page? Not everyone defines words and phrases the same way. If your company uses specific terms, phrases, and language, develop a glossary and encourage everyone to consult it.
Find the Gap That Causes Communications Problems
Ask team members to identify and discuss relevant organizational issues preventing effective performance. They should be able to tell you where the gaps in communication occur as well as offer ideas about closing those gaps. Ask for feedback on your communication to ensure complete understanding.
- Use active and effective listening skills when speaking with employees.
- Ask open-ended questions to get the clearest answers.
- Paraphrase what is said to gauge understanding.
- Provide feedback and support often.
Details matter. There can be no clear solutions to vague issues. Your employees need every scrap of information you can give them to create the solution needed. Explain exactly what is required and how the team’s efforts fit into company operations. Use models, charts, explanations—whatever works to get your point across and helps answer questions.
Be transparent and trustworthy. Your team will always know if you appear to have ulterior motives or hidden intentions. Lack of trust is a significant barrier to effective communication.
Praise in Public, Correct in Private
In your position as a manager, you are charged with communicating everything to the members of your team, both the positive and the negative. Provide each type of communication in the correct setting.
Everyone wants colleagues to know when they have done well; nobody likes being upbraided in public. If you have praise, feel free to commend an employee in front of the team. If you have negative feedback, however, deliver it in private. Negative messages given in front of others are demeaning and will be delivered ineffectively to the one they directly impact.
Always remain professional, avoid inflammatory language, and be specific. Vague language is limp language. Only speak of behavior you have observed. Never start an exchange indicating the issue was brought by someone else, and you have not verified it.
Wrap It Up
At the end of every meeting, summarize the information gleaned in your conversations. Make sure everyone is aware of their assigned tasks and the expected outcome. Asking team members to write down their own action items often enhances their understanding and generates clarifying questions.
- Provide an agenda to keep meetings on track.
- Define the key actions and time frames necessary to complete the task(s).
- Outline management follow-up.
- Set times for progress reports and specify the expected nature of the reports.
- Send the minutes to each team member afterward.
Emphasize what is in it for the team and the individual. Employees who have ownership and accountability for a task tend to increase their efforts on completing it satisfactorily. Never take away a task, responsibility, or role without thoroughly explaining why.
Communication boosts engagement, empowerment, and effectiveness. If you can say it like you mean it, your team will get results.