Communication affects teamwork in positive and negative ways. The quantity and quality of communication within a team and from leadership affects teamwork.
When a team is not actively and effectively communicating, their work is at stake. It’s important for everyone to learn how to communicate effectively to improve teamwork. With many work environments still partially remote, communicating can become increasingly difficult. Although team members are in constant communication through messaging channels like Slack, Teams, and Google Chat, active communication does not always equal effective team communication. Over a screen, team members are not able to convey emotions and tones to the message recipient. This can lead to miscommunication and confusion, making it essential to teach team members to be mindful of their communication style.
The more collaboration your projects require, the more assertive and intentional your communication should be. This teamwork and communication goes for both in person teams and remote ones. Every member of the team needs to take the initiative to communicate. TeamBonding’s guide to effective communication in teams will provide you with easy tips to become a better communicator at work.
Here are 7 tips to promote effective team communication, where ever you are:
- Listen to facilitate effective team communication.
- Be mindful of your messaging
- Practice how you communicate with coworkers
- Set clear communication norms and expectations
- Schedule team building to increase effective communication
- Encourage active participation in meetings
- Cultivate emotional resilience and empowerment
(1) Listen to facilitate effective team communication
A good speaker is a good listener. Learning how to communicate more effectively also means taking more notice. It’s important to begin and end any form of communication with listening. This doesn’t mean you should ask an endless string of questions, but be sure that you’re taking the time to truly understand what other people are saying and what they mean, especially over Zoom and other virtual video platforms.
Good listening skills will help you engage in communication regarding what the other person is speaking about. Avoid the impulse to listen only for the end of their sentence so that you can blurt out your thoughts and ideas. Don’t interrupt or talk over other people because this can make them feel insignificant, unheard and could lead to other misunderstandings.
Also, don’t be afraid to ask for feedback from others to make sure that you were understood. Sending a simple message can go a long way for you and your team’s communication skills. Encouraging feedback can help your team become more self-aware.
(2) Be mindful of your messaging
Is your intention to place blame? Or, get to the bottom of an issue? Chances are, you want information about what is working and what isn’t working. However, you may be using language that feels critical and seems like a verbal attack. This will hurt relationships within your team and leave you completely uninformed.
Work situations can get emotional, which can influence your clarity. Stay on topic, use the correct words and enunciate. If you’re not sure of the meaning of a word, don’t use it. When you use the wrong words, you will not be understood and people will doubt your competency the more it happens.
It is also important to avoid mixed messages. If you need more time to complete a thought before communicating about your ideas, take it. Schedule a time for your conversation later in the day or week. Make eye contact – which conveys truth and honor – and use intentional gestures. You can send the wrong message through body language or tone, which defeats the purpose of your attempt to communicate. This is especially important when discussing anything emotional. When it comes to messaging a team member, the same rules apply. Take more time to think about the words you use and how you think your coworker will interpret them.
The timing of your message is just as critical as the execution. Assess their mood, and use that as a gauge. For instance, if you know your team member is currently stressed, overwhelmed, or rushing to meet a deadline, hold off on communicating anything that could be conveyed as negative if possible. Wait until they are in a better headspace, and then come back to it.
There are some additional tactics for effective team communication that you can practice within conversations or on your own:
- Slow down – don’t speak just to respond too quickly.
- Speak clearly and don’t mumble.
- Use appropriate volume.
- Write things down.
- Close the loop – is the conversation finished?
Good teamwork starts with a shared understanding of its importance. Communication bridges teams together and needs to be practiced to ensure a team is working smoothly and efficiently.
(4) Set clear communication norms and expectations
Being clear with your messaging is the key to teamwork and communication. Establishing norms and expectations within the team ensures that everyone is on the same page. It is also important to set personal boundaries. Let your team members know your preferred communication channels for different types of messages, and when you want to be reached out to. An example of this would be if you use Slack, mention to your team you respond quicker on that platform but you will silence communication after hours and get back in the morning.
Beyond timing and channels, encourage the use of concise and informative subject lines in emails and messages, making it easier for recipients to understand the purpose without having to open the entire message. Establish guidlines for the use of urgent or priority markers to signal when quick attention is needed.
By setting these communication norms, you not only minimize misunderstandings and streamline the communication flow, but enhance overall teamwork and communication while protecting your personal needs.
(5) Schedule team building for teamwork and communication
Team building activities play a significant role in strengthening communication and collaboration within a team. Even in a virtual workplace, team building can be done via online game shows, team challenges, or even escape rooms. Allowing your team to mingle outside of their normal work environment creates an opportunity for team members to bond and better understand one another.
As teams are able to interact in a more relaxed and fun setting, barriers to effective communication may dimmish, leading to more open and honest interactions in the workplace. It is important to remember these activities should be seen as more than just a one time event; they should be integrated into a team’s culture to foster lasting connections. At TeamBonding, we’ve seen it work time and time again.
(6) Encourage active participation in meetings
Creating an inclusive environment where everyone feels comfortable sharing their ideas and opinions is vital to teamwork communication. Everyone was hired for their unique skills and outlook, so there should be no one person dominating the conversation regardless of personality. If you are a team member that often speaks up, consider asking the opinion of someone who doesn’t often share. If necessary, use techniques like “robin-round” to give each member an opportunity to speak.
Additionally, provide a platform for follow-up discussions after the meeting. This allows team members to reflect on what was discussed and share more opinions that they might not have had the chance to mention. In virtual meetings, it is especially important to encourage active participation from all team members. Consider giving the agenda beforehand, giving everyone time to prepare their contributions and questions.
(6) Cultivate emotional resilience and empowerment
Workday stress for both in person and remote teams is detrimental to effective team communication. These feelings can lead to isolation, disconnection, and very low morale.
Emotional resilience involves developing coping mechanisms to navigate stress and adversity more effectively. Encourage team members to share their struggles and challenges, and offer support and understanding. As a leader especially, it is your job to notice when someone on the team is struggling and provide adequate assistance. Promote a culture where mental well-being and psychological safety is a priority and team members feel comfortable seeking help when needed.
Empowerment is also crucial for communication and teamwork. Trust your team members to take ownership of their tasks and projects. Delegate responsibilities and encourage them when they do something great. Peer recognition is so important to employee engagement and they are more likely to communicate proactively and take initiative in problem solving tasks.
Have you learned how to communicate effectively to boost teamwork?
How has effective communication within a team influenced teamwork in your office or your remote workplace – for good or bad? What has worked? What hasn’t?
A virtual or hybrid workplace can add a barrier to effective team communication if you are not taking active steps to educate your team on best practices. But now more than ever even in the office effective communication skills are vital. It is essential to take additional measures to bring your team together and ensure they are communicating mindfully. TeamBonding offers a variety of team building programs to foster effective communication such as our Charity Bike Build, Mystery Bus, and Beat the Box. So get in touch with us today and start enhancing your teamwork communication.
For more tips on nurturing quality relationships between teammates, check out our blog post on Cooperation in the Workplace.