Communication on a team at work directly affects job efficiency and results, hence the need to build and improve it.
Undoubtedly, many organizations have learned the importance of teamwork, either through intuition or experience.
It would be deceptive to say that a single individual can effectively push an establishment towards its goals and objectives.
No one man has ever single-handedly made a change without the help and input of others.
Hence, teamwork is essential on all levels.
However, it is not enough to discuss teamwork in the workplace without discussing the essential elements that make it effective.
Many organizations have tried to implement collaboration and team spirit but fail at it.
This is because the essential factors that drive effective teamwork, which yields results, are missing.
Effective communication is one of these.
We could liken if team members to the strands of hairs on a person’s head.
If so, we could compare communication to the rope that ties them all together.
Many disputes/conflicts in the workplace occur because of a lack of communication or ineffective communication.
Communication on the team is expected of all team members, regardless of their position.
For instance, team leaders have the primary responsibility of communicating regularly with the team.
Likewise, they should also pull their efforts towards improving internal communication among team members.
There are several things team leaders could do to achieve this, which is what this blog post aims to achieve; to teach you the essential steps towards improving team communication in your organization.
First, let’s cover some basics.
Understanding What Team Communication Is
Communication refers to the exchange of information between two or more people.
Communication goes beyond just speaking or talking.
For a speech or information exchange to qualify as communication, it should be meaningful, clear, and understandable.
And that makes communication effective in every aspect of life, the workplace, inclusive.
In line with the definition of communication, we can refer to team communication as all the interactions and exchange of information that individuals in a team share.
It starts from the top (management level) and runs down to the bottom(individual team members).
It doesn’t matter in what capacity an employee is working.
The importance of communication within the team cannot be underestimated.
Even if a team member is undertaking a personal project individually, there might be a need to occasionally communicate with other team members.
It could be to get information from the boss or fellow employees.
Communication is even more critical when a team is working on a group project.
When there is communication, there is collaboration and, hence, better results.
In the absence of good communication, however, there would be a disconnection between the team, which would affect job efficiency.
Different team communication methods suffice in the workplace.
One of them, which is also the most common method of communication, is verbal communication.
This involves word-of-mouth conversations.
All teams in the workplace practice this form of communication daily.
Some communications, though, are non-verbal.
This involves online communication, such as through emails or SMS.
It also includes using body language and non-verbal cues/signals/or sounds.
All are very important and integral to improving team communication.
Importance of Building and Improving Team Communication
Communication is essential for any team, whether it’s with family members, an association of friends, at school, or in the workplace.
Without communication, a team is as good as a group with no focus and direction.
Communication makes a big difference between successful and unsuccessful teams.
Therefore, pay attention to some benefits of building and improving team communication, especially at work:
Communication Helps to Build Trust
Communication and trust go hand in hand.
Many times, trust-building has been proven to be very integral in improving communication in a team.
On the other hand, communication itself can also build trust.
Many times, it might be a challenging task for a team leader to build trust among team members.
This is due to some factors that might make trust challenging to come by.
Foremost among these factors are the differences and diversity on your team.
However, communication can help to overcome these challenges to trust-building.
With regular and good communication, employees are significantly better informed on their qualities and strengths.
This can help to build respect and foster trust in the team.
Without regular communication, however, such trust levels might be difficult to attain.
It Makes The Team More Efficient
Efficiency in the workplace is defined by how well a team can attain the maximum productivity levels with minimal efforts and resources.
It also entails being organized and competent.
Improving the team’s communication can help you achieve this.
A lack of communication can result in inefficiency in an organization comprising different departments and many teams, each with different responsibilities.
Sometimes, people might start duplicating other people’s work or being redundant because of a lack of adequate information.
Also, when the person at the top does not adequately communicate with subordinates, they might be confused about what to do and how to get it done.
Therefore, there would be low turnaround time on assigned tasks, leading to unproductivity.
Working to build and improve team communication is therefore integral to getting maximum productivity from your team.
This way, everyone is involved due to effective communication.
Above all, there’ll be no cases of uncompleted tasks because of a lack of clear communication.
Efficiency is thus at the optimum level.
It Makes Team Members Feel Valued and Motivated
If you’ve ever lived with someone or people who hardly converse with you or deem it essential to communicate with you, you will understand how demeaning a lack of communication in the workplace is.
When this is lacking, your team members may feel invaluable and hence, get demoralized.
It doesn’t matter if this is coming from the team leader or other team members.
The result remains the same.
On the other hand, improving team communication can help you boost the team’s morale.
When they get feedback either from you as the leader or their colleagues, they feel happy on the job.
Overall, they’ll feel like an essential part of the team, eventually boosting their morale.
Effective Communication Might Help Prevent Conflicts
One of the causes of conflicts in a team, especially in the workplace, is misunderstandings.
Such misunderstandings sometimes arise from unspoken words or assumptions.
Team members might begin to resent themselves based on what they think or feel but not on facts.
However, open and honest communication can help to avoid such misunderstandings.
If your team has good communication skills and practices effective communication regularly, you would avoid unnecessary conflicts.
Even when there are misunderstandings, which is expected, they would not necessarily have to lead to disputes.
With Communication Comes Innovation
Did you know there is a possibility that you have someone on your team who is quite innovative or creative, but you don’t know this because they hardly contribute or voice their opinions?
That is one of the benefits of improving team communication in the workplace.
When open communication is encouraged, everyone will feel free to share their opinions, ideas, and contributions on every subject matter.
Hence, when there is collaboration, innovative ideas are more likely to flow within the team.
This would help the team contribute to the organization’s growth as a whole.
Team Communication Enhances Team Cohesion
Not all teams are cohesive.
However, one of the keys to successful and effective teams is cohesion.
A cohesive team is one where every team member works together in unison towards achieving a common goal.
This makes teamwork and collaboration easier to achieve.
Team communication helps to bring everybody on track with progress in carrying out assigned tasks and duties.
This way, nobody is left behind as everybody is on the same page.
Consequently, making team cohesion possible which eventually translates to team success.
Teams that Communicate Well Are Winning Teams
Take a look at all the teams we have globally, especially those in the sports industry.
You will notice a common, and it is that they all have team leaders or captains.
In other words, those tasked with the responsibility of guiding and leading the team.
One main quality of a team captain is having good communication skills, which is helpful to ensure everyone is carried along.
The beautiful thing about such teams is that they always turn out to be winners.
This is the same effect open communication will have on a team in the workplace.
What Challenges Makes Team Communication Difficult to Achieve
It is essential to understand that team communication is essential, which we believe you do by now.
However, it is an entirely different thing to be able to achieve this successfully.
You might find it difficult to implement a good culture of open and honest communication and feedback on your team.
Well, this shouldn’t come as a surprise, as some factors make it difficult to develop good communication on your team.
Below are some of the challenges to building good communication on a team.
Cultural Differences/Language Barrier
It’s worth noting that differences in culture directly affect or influences team communication.
No doubt, your team comprises diverse cultures, traditions, and customs, making people’s communication practices differ.
The same is true of a language barrier.
Hence this might hinder your chances of achieving success in this aspect.
Sometimes, how you or other team members communicate might come off as offensive to others, hence causing a communication breakdown.
You might recall that we mentioned earlier how trust directly relates to improving communication.
While communication helps build trust, the reverse is also the case.
When there is trust in a team, people are more willing to open up to each other.
Team members are more engaged and happy to relate with others.
On the other hand, when there is no trust in the team, communication becomes difficult.
One individual who distrusts another team member might even deliberately block or frustrate any efforts by the other person to start or build communication.
Another barrier to effective communication on a team is leaving differences or misunderstandings unresolved and allowing them to be that way for a long time.
The goal when misunderstandings arise should be to address and rectify such as soon as possible.
When this is done, communication is not interrupted.
However, when left unresolved, it can destroy active communication on the team and make it difficult to improve upon.
Stress or Personal Problems and Anxieties
Sometimes, a team member might hold back from communicating, not because they have anything against you or do not trust you, but because of personal problems.
Work-related stress or pressures of personal life can take their toll on some individuals and affect their communication culture, especially among teams in the workplace.
If not quickly and adequately addressed, these can create a communication barrier.
Humans sometimes do not listen effectively to understand when they are being communicated with.
Instead, they listen to respond.
When this is the case, team communication might suffer.
This is because the receiver would not get the meaning of the conversation and hence might not provide the right response or no response at all.
This could then form an unhealthy pattern of poor communication and lack of understanding between team members.
How to Improve Team Communication
Have you appraised your team and noticed that there is a need to improve team communication?
If so, know that you are on the right track and doing the best thing for your organization.
Improving team communication shouldn’t be a difficult task for you if you follow the steps given below:
Set an Example in Open Communication
Employees on a team often mirror their team leader or you as the manager.
When it comes to open communication also, this is very applicable.
As a leader, you need to keep the door of communication open in the workplace.
You should let your team know that you are always available to listen to them and get their feedback.
Not only that, you should equally provide timely and regular feedback to members of your team.
When you make this a practice, others are more likely to follow suit.
Assign More Team Projects
While there are instances when you have to give tasks and certain projects to individuals in your organization, take care not to neglect team projects.
There has been no easier way to improve communication in a team than them work on a team project.
When you do this, there is more collaboration on the team as they do the job.
Also, collaboration necessitates team communication if they are going to be effective in doing this.
Determine Individuals Desired Style of Communication
The one size fits all approach may not work when trying to build communication on a team.
This is because, as noted earlier, individuals have different styles of communication.
What might be effective for some might not be for others.
Therefore, you are responsible for determining the preferred and most effective communication style of individuals on the team.
When you do this, you can then decide on how to implement this accordingly effectively.
Work on Boosting Team Morale
When you focus your energy on boosting and improving team morale, team communication comes easily.
When a team is not communicating regularly, openly, and effectively, the reason boils down to a lack of motivation on the job.
Many reasons might be responsible for that, but the good news is that it is possible to boost employee morale.
When you take practical steps to do this, you can also improve team communication in the process.
Practice Quick Conflicts Resolution on the Team
No doubt, you would agree that one of the reasons why team communication might break down is due to unresolved internal disputes and conflicts.
As a leader, the onus is on you to spot signs of internal rifts and misunderstandings and quickly resolve them.
You can also teach your team to manage misunderstandings and workplace conflicts better.
Work on Building Trust
Mistrust is equally one of the significant barriers to fostering open and honest communication on a team.
If team members do not trust one another, it would not be easy to start or even maintain conversations.
This is because there would always be doubts and misconceptions all over the team.
Therefore, if you are looking to improve team communication, building team trust is a perfect place to start.
When there is mutual trust and respect on the team, communication comes readily.
Take the Diversity on your Team into Consideration
Your team most likely has individuals of varying backgrounds, cultures, races, ideologies, and, more importantly, language.
This poses a severe challenge to team communication.
As a leader, you need to recognize this problem and devise means to address it.
You can engage your team members in a discussion on how these differences might affect their communication with others, and hence find a way to make it work.
Provide Convenient Means of Communication
There are now various means of communication that helps to ensure effective team communication need isn’t lacking for any reason.
Even if you have teams working remotely, you can leverage digital or online means of communication.
You can use different platforms to make sure that there is continual active communication within your team.
Final Thoughts on How to Improve Team Communication
Team communication is essential and integral to the success of a team.
It makes a big difference between teams that achieve their goals and those that do not.
Therefore, if you notice a need to make communication better on your team, do not hesitate to take the needed measures as enumerated above to effect these changes.