The work world as we know it has changed significantly over the past few years, and perhaps even more so in just the last several months with the onset of COVID-19.
In this day and age, office set-ups are constantly evolving – and evolving quickly. Some employees are working from home or other remote locations. Some employees are working in-office. Some workplaces have set up a hybrid of the two.
No matter the physical set-up of your office at this point, one thing is certain: more communication than ever before is happening virtually – via telephone, email, instant messages, texting, and video calls – rather than physically face to face. And given how thinly stretched many employees are at this point, communicating effectively via whatever means necessary is key.
7 Simple Tips to Make Communication With Your Team More Effective
No one needs added complications these days. With the challenges most people are facing presently, the people who have the time, energy, and general bandwidth to learn something new and complex are few and far between.
With this in mind, we’ve put together a list of easy ways to improve communication with your team using skills you likely already have in your arsenal as a working professional.
Aim to Over-Communicate
One of the biggest issues we see with team communication is a lack of it. As a result, if you’re looking to enhance your communication with your team, start off by aiming to over-communicate.
Share more relevant information than you might think is necessary. Communicate with your team more often than you typically do. Many team members will be appreciative of the uptick in information they’re receiving. Some team members may feel they’re receiving too many details, but they can easily disregard whatever they don’t view as relevant.
Be Clear and Accurate
Aiming to over-communicate doesn’t mean just haphazardly fliging information in the general direction of your team. Details should still be well thought out and organized so that they can be easily digested and interpreted by those receiving them.
If you’re upping communication by reinstating meetings that have fallen by the wayside, show up well-prepared so you can use the time you have with your team effectively and prove to your team that the meetings are worth it. Sending an email? Review it carefully to ensure that the details you’re including are relevant, to the point, and specific. Don’t leave things vague or open-ended.
Provide Action Items or Next Steps
In the spirit of being clear and accurate, it’s important to clarify action items or next steps specifically. These elements are at the heart of effective communication.
Beyond simply informing your team, the point of communication is often to drive progress forward. Think about it: if you want to advance along a project’s timeline or work towards resolving an ongoing issue, you’re going to need to work as a team to decide what comes next and how the next steps are going to be completed. Be clear so your team knows exactly what’s expected and how you’re planning to go from point A to point B.
Timeliness is an issue that plagues communication in many organizations large and small.
Have you ever learned that your business had hired a new employee through LinkedIn or Facebook, without hearing it from leadership first? Have you found out that your organization is offering a new product or service without being informed about it first-hand? Have you received a question from a client regarding an email offer they’d received that you had no idea about?
These are all examples of side-effects of ineffective communication – specifically in terms of timeliness. And they’re all surefire ways to damage team morale. When it comes to sharing information with your team, make it a point to do so promptly.
Focusing on effective communication in fits and starts won’t allow you to gain any significant traction. Instead, make it a point to set aside dedicated time for communicating with your team and make it a habit.
Keeping effective communication a priority will help you in many other aspects of your work, from productivity and morale to efficiency and client satisfaction. Don’t let it fall off your radar.
Pay Attention To How Your Team Communicates Best
Some teams thrive in meetings. Other teams would rather receive written information in the form of an email they can refer back to. Communication styles can vary within teams as well, with some people preferring emails or instant messages and others in favor of phone calls or video chats.
It’s important to pay attention to the communication styles present on the team you’re working with or managing, as effective communication requires disseminating information in the way that those you’re working with are most willing to receive it. You may think you are doing a great job sharing information in monthly meetings (and you might be!), but if your team would prefer a weekly email update you likely still have room for improvement when it comes to communicating effectively and efficiently.
Be Open to Feedback
Two way communication is hugely important, and fostering a culture that places a value on feedback is key if you’re hoping to truly improve your team’s communication methods. Be open to feedback from your team regarding effective communication. If they offer suggestions or ideas, accept them and actively make an effort to implement them or at least try them out.
Actively work to provide opportunities for two way communication; some people are only comfortable offering feedback if it’s explicitly requested, and if they’re able to offer it via the communication method they feel most comfortable with. Taking feedback into account will help you to improve the culture of communication within your organization, and will be constructive for your team in many other ways as well.
Improving Communication with Team Members
Effective communication is a foundational element of successful businesses. There’s never been a better time to up your game when it comes to communicating with your team, clients, and others you work with, professionally or otherwise. And, your focus on improving your communication skills might just inspire others on your team to further develop and refine their own!
Looking for additional resources to help you navigate communication in today’s day and age?
The following are a great place to start:
How to Onboard and Train Virtually – This is a great guide to help you as you introduce new employees virtually and incorporate them into your team from afar.
Best Project Management Tools for Small Businesses – Check out these tools to help you keep everyone on your team coordinated and in the loop when it comes to ongoing projects.
Online Meetings 101 – Learn the basics about effective online meetings so you can refine your skills when it comes to communicating with your team virtually.