The Importance Of Open Communication In Teams by Cindy Stradling CSL, CPC
One of the benefits of working in teams is the synergy and mastermind effect of communicating with others on projects and daily tasks. As the team members interact, they ask questions, challenge the status quo, and come up with new and innovative approaches and solutions.
However, this can only happen if the team can communicate. Unfortunately, many people struggle with communication. There are several reasons why communication can be challenging, including team members who may have come from highly competitive workplaces. In these workplaces, knowledge is power, and sharing is not an effective way to get promotions and move up the corporate ladder.
Tips for Better Team Communication
The good news is that communication skills can be improved at any time. Team leaders can implement specific practices and strategies to help build a culture within the team that values open communication and the sharing of knowledge and ideas.
To get started, here are a few communication practices that will encourage people in the team and across the organization to share their ideas, knowledge, their thoughts.
- Structure meetings – by creating a structure for team meetings, everyone knows the process. Providing an agenda in advance keeps team members focused and engaged. Having time in the meeting for short breakout discussions, which can be done virtually or in-person, encourages targeted and focused communication.
- Include different modes of communication – various applications and systems allow team members to interact in a variety of ways. Options can include file and data sharing, text messages, chats, and even phone or video calls to other team members. This is a great option when the team is in multiple locations or across different departments. Project management software can also be a great option to keep teams connected.
- Encourage creative and fun problem solving – assigning teams a particular problem to solve can be a fun way to get people talking. This is not a work-related problem but a creative solution to a real or hypothetical problem or challenge. A small prize or recognition for the most creative solution between teams is a great way to wind up a meeting.
- Consider a communication skills training program – there are lots of team communication training programs on the market. One of the best options is to bring in a facilitator who offers a highly interactive workshop. This encourages teams to spend time learning how to work and talk with each other more effectively.
As with all aspects of leadership, modeling effective and open communication is essential as the leader. Take the time to talk to team members, get their feedback, and be willing to listen to new ideas and options in a way that continues to encourage communication.