Communication or chaos?

Photo courtesy of Phil Sexton (Creative Commons)

Photo courtesy of Phil Sexton (Creative Commons)

Communication in the workplace is such a key component, and so easy to gloss over. It isn’t enough for one or two people to be communicating well, but the entire team must be sharing or chaos ensues.

You can’t just stop with good communication either – it needs to be off the charts great on a consistent level to be most effective. Without that, you’re going to have low morale, confusion and miscommunication, which can be deadly, and lead to extra time spend re-communicating and rebuilding the bridges.

Communication can take many forms, from meetings, to emails, to conference calls, depending on your team’s availability and proximity. Remote teams may communicate well with email or conference calls. Some offices are conducive to short morning huddles to get the day going right.

No matter what the format, some of the most critical elements of great communication are:

  • Be overly clear. If you mean x, then explain that – don’t assume the other person knows what you mean. In one agency I’ve worked with, a team member asked for a report of the support for a particular category for the prior year, but when the report came back, he commented that the numbers looked low. Turns out, his criteria for that category were vastly different from those of the one pulling the report. Spell out your specifications.
  • Update your team. Be sure to keep the team updated throughout the project or situation. Even if it means more email in their inbox, they will appreciate being kept in the loop
  • Start new habits. Communicating is basically just a habit, and you’ll have to really think about it at first until it gets to be routine. Before you know it, you’ll be sharing automatically.
  • Look for the most effective ways to interact. Not everyone appreciates email, so be constantly seeking the best way to communicate, and try several ways if need be. The point is to make sure you are all on the same page in the end – how you get there doesn’t matter.
  • Be simple. The best communications are the most simple. Often there’s no need to give a lengthy explanation, but a simple bullet list will update your team members.

When your team starts communicating well, you will be amazed at how much more effectively you can work together. Team morale will increase and stress levels will drop.

What ways can you improve your team’s communication?