Get Better Team Results with Better Communication
People are different. They think differently, communicate differently, and have different mannerisms. When you put them together on a team, those differences can lead to creativity and collaboration or to morale-killing conflict. As the leader of the team, it’s your responsibility to ensure that team members are focused on the problem at hand and communicating effectively.
A unified and communicating team produces the best results, but that's not always easy to develop. People simply have different beliefs, backgrounds and social skills, all of which can prove challenging in your quest for an effective work flow.
Try these effective strategies to improve communications on your team:
- Institute a courtesy policy. When employees are clear about the organization’s position on treating each other respectfully, they’ll realize that they play a part in ensuring it’s supported. Insisting on common courtesy is the most direct way to improve communication among co-workers.
- Outline your expectations about how they address others and respond in various situations.
- Establish consequences for non-compliance with the courtesy policy so they realize how important it is to be in accordance.
- Engage them in discussions about the positive impact it has on their jobs when they’re courteous and respectful to others.
- Cross-train staff. A great way to improve communication among co-workers is allowing them to see and understand the elements of other people’s jobs and responsibilities.
- Having an appreciation for what happens on the other side inspires your team members to communicate without prejudice.
- Cross-training allows team members to experience each other’s challenges so they can communicate with an educated perspective as opposed to ignorance.
- Incentivize effective communication. Incentives for team members encourage them to work harder, which, in turn, bring back benefits to you. For example, when you see your team members offering excellent customer service, recognize their effort.
- Structure a point system for different elements of communication. Some examples of healthy communication are courtesy, respectfulness, changes in task-related expectations and honest feedback.
- Announce recipients of communication incentives so other team members are inspired to improve their level of communication as well.
- Remind team members that, although you are incentivizing effective communication, it’s still their responsibility to respect and listen to each other even if you’re not there to see it.
- Have regular team meetings. When you bring all members of your team together, it gives you the opportunity to hear what everyone is saying and understand their positions. In addition, it gives them a chance to have direct, open communication with each other.
- Ask members of the team how they feel about upcoming changes in the organization.
- Find out from them the issues they are having with others and encourage them to relay the details directly so openness can be achieved.
- Try to determine if there are areas of the organization’s operations that aren’t as effective as you would like and discuss how strengthening communication can turn things around.
As you already know, highly productive teams take advantage of each other’s differences to come up with creative ideas for the project. When the team is not capable of communicating effectively productivity wanes, along with engagement, motivation, and morale.
To keep your team focused and your project on track, start emphasize the importance on communicating better. Before long, your team members will superior results because they will interact like the cogs in a well-oiled machine.
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