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What to do when your team isn’t communicating properly

Sep 21
What to do when your team isn’t communicating properly
Effective team communication can be a toughie to get right. Yet all kinds of businesses, organisations, government departments and NFPs are boned without it. So how do you ace this vital part of being a productive business?  

Webcoda is taking a look at effective team communication solutions to see what effective communication looks like. We’re also going to look at ideas, apps and other dandy things that can help ensure the best possible communication for your team.

Let’s see how you can get the team talking and enjoying effective team communication now!

How can you spot communication issues?

Effective team communication is more than being able to have a chat at the water cooler. Poor communication in the office doesn’t have to get to critical stages of jibes thrown about the office or coffee hurling at ten paces to be impacting your organisation.  

Here are a few symptoms of communication breakdowns:
  • Scoped projects come back looking nothing like you’ve envisioned
  • The lovely sound of deadlines and milestones whooshing past
  • You spend a lot of time sorting out issues between staff members
  • You can’t always count on the team to “get there in the end”
  • The goals your teams have and/or the direction of projects is fractured
  • You hear a lot from a few people but silence from everyone else
  • When mistakes or issues arise, the people involved prefer to avoid the issue rather than explore options and face consequences
  • Budget blow outs, revolving door employees and a general lack of cohesion and consistency
Of course not all of these can be related to poor team communication. But if they are a common feature of your organisation, it can’t hurt to review how, why and where you communicate.

Instilling ownership in processes

It might not look like a part of effective team communication but individual autonomy is a huge part of producing great work. We have a better chance of satiating our desire for meaningful work and staying involved with our workplace when we feel like what we do matters.

On a team level, it can be difficult to work out the balance between giving members the autonomy they crave and working together to achieve good things. This is especially true if you are working with big personalities or people that have a history of friction. It’s not impossible though.

One important thing to remember in bringing autonomy to the fore is providing ownership over certain tasks. Your team members want to work to their strengths. Feeling like they are the pony to bet on for marketing or content or being a great web manager helps your staff feel valuable. You don’t even need to say “Fred is in charge of managing the app” or “Cassie is the one to go for for SEO”.

Effective team communication doesn’t have to have anything to do with hierarchy.

You can use the tools you have available to you to help people place themselves in the team. You can do this by:
  • Making use of Kentico roles within the administration. These rights reflect a certain level of trust on the facet of business, section of website or department they are in by assigning roles in Kentico
  • Using a solid CMS like Kentico CMS to encourage sharing content, ideas and more while removing the bottleneck of approval or webmasters with trusted team members
  • Creating transparent conversations through project management tools. By using intranets and extranets, you can spur your team on by seeing the work of others in real time
  • Inviting voices that are often overlooked into the content creation process. You never quite know who has the best blogging voice, eye for video or cool way with content until you ask. Drawing on voices from often overlooked departments such as customer service, accounting, IT systems and law can help integrate your team and give a new perspective on a team member
The key is thinking of the tools that allow for the ability to get in there, respond and create something awesome with confidence. That confidence in one’s abilities then translates into confident and effective team communication.

Transform meetings from boring to brilliant

Meetings are an incredibly useful tool, especially when it comes to effective team communication. But let’s be realistic here, a lot of people really hate them. Usually because they are an unnecessary sink hole of time with the tendency to be hijacked by strong opinions and people that want to put off the idea of work.

The devil in translating to a thriving team may very well be in how you meet and what comes of it. Nobody really wants to pay 6 people to sit in a room and draw another page in their “Monday meeting boredom” sketch book.

So how do you make meetings as productive as they need to be?
  • Timebox meetings so they can’t run over. This is a wonderful idea borrowed from product and web development. Set a hard time for the kick off and the end and box them up against other requirements. The minute the staff realise the meeting can’t take up half of Monday, productivity explodes
  • Only include meetings when they are needed. Map out the cycles in your business, the milestones in your projects and the intersections where getting input is essential instead of choosing a date, time and regular meeting process
  • Aim to produce twice the work hours as the meeting length. An old product management trick is to use a meeting as a way of clarifying what you need to do and scooping up extra items. Make the time spent talking a springboard to actionable items
  • Display those actionable items for all to see. By using project management software, intranets or extranets, you can make team members accountable for their output. You can also see if the length of the meeting is producing the right amount of work
  • Accept that not everyone cares about meetings. If you only need Corey from the web development team in for every 5th meeting, don’t make him go every week. Effective team communication is as much about knowing what isn’t required as much as it is
  • Try online meetings. There are a million ways to virtually meet. You can use instant message, voice or video conferencing, slack channels, custom apps and more. The beauty of the online meeting is that participants can add files needed in real time, record the meeting as a living, breathing document to remove misunderstandings, move forward from the same spot and not get distracted by the cronuts and coffee in the process
If you place boundaries and definition around what constitutes effective team communication, you improve the calibre of work output. By making your meetings matter, productivity and the desire to collaborate increases. Usually because it no longer feels like a giant waste of time!

Pick the tools you need to facilitate effective team communication wisely

Effective team communication is often facilitated by making it available when people need it the most. And by lowering the barriers to what is essential, an idea in the making, a random thought, a problem picked up in a moment and so on.

Email is too formal and our Inboxes heave with the weight of information we have to get through in a given day. So we risk losing the bright ideas, momentary flashes and niggling problems by having email as the only form of communication.

Opening your team up to online and app based conversation helps these ideas find a suitable place to go. It may also help bridge the real world communication gaps and get your teams talking more often.

Some great effective team communication options include:
  • Using instant messaging- great for stopping the “can I just ask you this” desk side interruptions
  • Making use of intranets and extranets as resource centres. This gives your team members the ability to research the answers they need without someone repeating the same answer, week in and week out
  • Embracing the Cloud. You can store all kinds of files, folders and fabulousness in shared yet secure spaces for everyone to use wherever they may be
  • Think about integration and portability. Apps are fantastic things for bringing a team together to communication, access and distribute information in real time
By making team communication approachable online, you may it flow more readily beyond the computer screen or confines of the app.

Team communication means being the leader they need

By being open to new ideas and looking for ways to help streamline communication, you already appear better able to share with a team. Ask for input not based on seniority but from those that want to be involved. Open your doors through using apps, programs, intranets and extranets and see the ideas flow. Further that by fostering ownership and autonomy through providing a decent CMS and having meetings that count and your team communication can soar.

Want a hand in taking effective team communication online and beyond at your organisation, department or NFP? Hit that contact form now or call us on (02) 9370 3636.

Photo by Wilfred Iven

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