Addressing Communication Challenges
Published September 22, 2021
Our team is having trouble communicating and it is having an impact on our business. What tips do you have for improving team communication?
As 2021 continues, many leaders have noticed a change in team communication which is impacting “team health”. In this instance, we are not referring to health in the medical sense. Team health is a group of people’s ability to work together cohesively, all rowing in the same direction and solving issues along the way to grow enterprise value. Communication is one of the key building blocks in any relationship and it’s important to make it a priority in your organization to facilitate positive team health. Increased quality of communication can often lead to accomplishing goals and building comradery in the workplace.
In my experience as a Certified EOS Implementer, one of the biggest challenges facing teams are communication breakdowns and understanding why they occur. These breakdowns often happen because of a lack of trust within the team. Improving communication can work wonders toward building team trust, breaking ceilings and reaching new growth in your business. Here are a few tips to consider in order to develop better communication within your team.
Lay the foundation and create a regular cadence
It’s important to set the foundation of communication. Teams must be able to meet on a regular basis to bring forth issues that may be stifling growth. As a leader it is your responsibility to foster a culture where people feel “safe” to freely communicate without fear of retribution. Find out what is holding your team members back from communicating openly and honestly. Do an audit of how you currently communicate. How often are you meeting with your team? Does everyone generally prefer to communicate through e-mails? During the meetings who is doing all of the talking? If you as the leader typically dominate the discussion, perhaps you can take a backseat and let others lead the meetings and share their thoughts. Make sure everyone is an active participant. One of the biggest mistakes leaders make when it comes to communicating is assuming “silence is acceptance”. Generally, silence either implies someone is not engaged in the meeting or simply afraid to speak up. Get your team talking, discussing so that everyone in the meeting feels heard before an ultimate decision is made. This creates buy-in from your team even if their suggestion was not the ultimate decision. Also, make sure people are not talking over one another. We typically suggest teams take a “one at a time” approach with each person speaking without interruption. Avoid allowing people to go off on tangents and stick to the topic at hand.
In your improvement plan, decide how frequently your team should meet, systems for communication issues and the general guidelines. Should there be a weekly huddle to discuss upcoming projects or would a monthly meeting work better for your team? Decide on these things and add the meetings to everyone’s calendars.
The number one way to get your team to communicate and believe in each other is to build team trust. Encourage your team to be open and honest and assure them it is safe to share their opinion and perspective even if they disagree with the leaders. People should communicate in a respectful manner with each other. Also, you as the leader should be vulnerable and transparent. This is especially true if you make a mistake. Let your team see that you are authentic. This will encourage others on your team to behave accordingly. Team members will be more willing to share thoughts and ideas with people who they know will listen. Engage with your team, help them to understand the goals of the company, the roles they play in those goals and actively listen to what they have to say. This will make them feel valued and give them purpose. Those who feel invested are more likely to excel and achieve than those who don’t.
As cliché as teambuilding activities might be, they play a critical role in the health of a team. These exercises promote communication among the team by learning who the person is outside of the office and help them to foster bonds that would not normally happen during the regular workday. Find out what interests the group has and plan activities based on that information. Plan these actives regularly and keep them fun and interesting. Additionally, a great team builder is supporting and encouraging your team to choose a charity or non-profit that is meaningful to them where they can volunteer as a group if they desire.
Learn from the pros
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Creating effective communication can be challenging. You can seek advice through books, articles online, or even by hiring a coach. Improvement won’t happen overnight, but with consistency and dedication, it will get better and in turn improve the effectiveness of your team.
We’re here to help.