Good communication makes all the difference between motivated, productive, and collaborative employees and an unproductive, unengaged team.
Communication does everything from giving people the information they need to get tasks done and contribute to meeting business targets, to helping build relationships and improve morale.
Below you will find some tried-and-true strategies for improving communication on your immediate team and within your company as a whole.
Proven Strategies for Improving Team Communication
Start using voice messaging
Sometimes sending a voice message is much more efficient than an email or an instant message.
Emails and instant messages are great for conveying information most of the time, but they are often just a little too impersonal and can be misinterpreted by the receiver.
Not only is sending a voice message faster, but hearing someone explain something also allows the receiver to pick up on verbal cues, which allows them to better interpret the information.
Voice notes are the perfect in-between solution when a chat message isn’t quite enough, but a video meeting isn’t quite necessary.
To start implementing voice messaging as part of your team communication strategy, try using an all-in-one email and team chat app with a built-in voice notes feature, such as Spike.
Make your meetings more productive
The majority of companies have too many unproductive meetings. Period.
Virtual or in-person meetings are great for covering certain topics and collaborating in groups, but too many of them are unfocused, unproductive, and simply unnecessary.
Follow these tips from meeting experts to make your meetings more productive:
- Limit meetings to 50 minutes or less
- Only invite team members who absolutely need to be in your meetings
- Create a meeting outline with all the points you want to cover
- Make it easy to attend (e.g., send out a meeting link ahead of time if meeting virtually)
- Stick to your meeting outline when meeting — don’t waste time on unrelated topics
- Note action items for people to work on after the meeting
- If a follow-up meeting is required, determine who needs to be there and schedule it
Ensure people feel comfortable asking questions
One of the biggest reasons many teams don’t communicate effectively is that people don’t feel comfortable asking questions, often because they think someone might judge them for asking a “stupid” question.
To improve communication within your company, you need to start creating safe spaces where everyone feels free to ask whatever they want in order to get the information they need to do their jobs.
One way to do this is to lead by example. Whenever something is unclear to you, or you think it might be unclear to someone else, go ahead and ask a follow-up question in front of everyone to get elaboration on the information.
Even if you understand something, someone else on your team might not, and seeing you unafraid to ask a question might make them feel more comfortable doing so themselves the next time.
Use collaboration tools
Collaboration tools, like collaborative notes, tasks, and to-do lists, are a great way to keep project progress transparent and make sure everyone is communicating back and forth about issues.
Use collaboration tools to set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based) goals that everyone can see, comment on, and add information to as needed to improve communication within your company.
In addition to fostering good communication on your team, collaboration tools also help hold everyone accountable for their work, identify bottlenecks, and ultimately let you get more done in less time.
Make time for one-on-one communication
Making more time for one-on-one interactions may seem counterintuitive when you want to improve communication within a group of people, but it’s actually a very important part of doing so.
When you communicate with each of your individual team members one on one, you show them that you value their time and build trust, which helps people feel comfortable voicing their opinions or giving feedback.
Use one-on-one time to ask employees if they have everything they need to do their jobs, get updates on their progress towards business goals, and let them ask questions.
You should also ask them if they have any suggestions for improving communication, collaboration, and productivity on your team. This can result in valuable insights that you can use to implement new business strategies.
Keep your messages simple and direct
Keeping messages short and to the point is a communication strategy you can apply to emails, instant messages, voice messages, and even meetings.
Whatever your objective is, make sure to communicate it in a straightforward, easy-to-understand way to avoid confusion and ensure everyone understands exactly where they fit into the bigger picture.
For example, if you’re discussing high-level business strategy with your team, tell them what specific goals and objectives they need to focus on to help the company as a whole execute that strategy.
Communicating effectively with teams can be hard, especially with so many people working remotely and relying on virtual avenues of communication.
However, if you start with the strategies discussed above, you should be well on your way to improving your team’s (and company’s) communication, collaboration, and productivity.