As the old adage goes, ‘communication is key.’ While this phrase may seem cliché to some, the wisdom behind it has never been more true than in the modern diverse workplace. Challenges of remote and home based workers, increased customer expectations for communication speed, and the fast pace of new information are just some of the issues facing businesses these days.
Given the importance of keeping your team connected and effectively communicating, it’s crucial to take action in this direction. Failure to improve team communication could easily lead to lower employee engagement and innovation, which could kill your business’ competitive edge. Luckily there are several simple steps you can take in order to make your team the smooth communication and collaboration machine it’s meant to be.
Start by Talking About Communication
The best way to ensure that whatever communication strategy you use in your business is effective and sustainable is to co-create it together with your team. When colleagues are able to openly discuss how they would like to communicate and why, they are more likely to live by these standards due to a sense of ownership.
Start by holding discussions on what colleagues’ ideal communication environment looks like:
- When do people feel that they are communicating effectively?
- How can the team reach the ideal on a daily basis?
- What helps people communicate more efficiently? What holds them back?
There won’t be one simple answer to these questions, and this is meant to be an ongoing conversation that is revisited periodically. By holding these discussions though, you’ll increase your team’s engagement around the topic and will begin demonstrating that everyone’s input is valued.
Create a Positive Communication Environment
The physical environment in your office can influence the frequency and type of communication in your team. If your employees spend their time behind closed doors in separate rooms, they’ll likely be more hesitant to speak with one another. Having a conscious approach to how your office is set up can go a long way to improving communication and building trust among team members.
While the new trend of ‘open space’ offices has faced some recent criticism, creating at least an open door policy can help remove secrecy and encourage more frequent communication between colleagues. Encourage team members to both keep their office doors physically open and send messages that encourage team members to communicate with each other more frequently. Building trust in this way will help create a culture of transparency and inclusivity, both key elements of good workplace communication.
Allow for Individualization
When it comes to team communication, too often businesses try to force a one size fits all approach on their employees. While it may not be possible to have a completely individualized approach to communication, as this would likely lead to a confusing and chaotic environment, there are some simple ways to allow team members to choose what works best for them.
For example, allowing team members to join team meetings remotely from time to time, or choose the frequency that they have one on one meetings with managers or other colleagues, can allow enough flexibility for team members to feel comfortable. Giving each individual on your team a say in how they communicate will help them to feel that their voices are heard.
Take Advantage of Team Communication Technology
When it comes to team communication, there have been many technological advances in recent years that can help improve the internal communication structure in your business. While a tool will not solve all of your problems alone, it can help you realize the vision for team communication that you create with your team.
One particularly useful communication technology in this regard is Instant Messaging (IM). Businesses are continuing to discover what the benefits of using IM in business communication are, and through an IM tool you can give your team communication channels and structures to allow them to easily collaborate. This type of tool is particularly useful if you’re working with remote employees, as it provides them easy access to other team members.
Improving your team’s communication can lead to increases in team engagement and productivity, key elements to driving the growth of your business. By creating a communication environment where team members feel like they have a say and are equipped with the tools to effectively communicate, your team will be well on its way to openly and effectively communicating and collaborating.