Simply put, communication is the exchange of information. Effective communication is when the information you share is actually received and understood.
In a world where the significance of remote work keeps increasing, the importance of effective communication increases with it. Even in organizations working traditionally in a non-remote setting, communication plays a vital role in the productivity, engagement, and motivation of the employees. This, in turn, leads to better employee performance and contributes to the overall success of your organization.
Researches suggest that while the importance of effective communication is understood by most employers and employees, it often remains overlooked.
Even though 89% of people believe that effective communication is extremely important, 8 out of 10 people rate their own business’ communication as either average or poor.
In a research that surveyed 400 corporations (with 100,000 plus employees in the U.S. and U.K.), it was estimated that communication barriers cost the average organization $62.4 million per year in lost productivity.
So, how do we achieve effective communication within the organization?
Two key areas need to be addressed:
- Communication of team members within the team
- Communication of the leadership with their team
Communicating effectively within a team
Any organization is built out of teams and the success of those teams collaboratively defines the success of the organization.
When there is good communication between the team members, it means that everyone on the team understands the work they are doing, why they are doing it, and what impact they are making. When a team works well together, there will be fewer chances of poor work results in spite of more invested time, missed deadlines, duplicated work, and more. It avoids confusion, provides a purpose, and creates accountability among each individual.
Conversely, if teams don’t have effective communication, it will lead to unsatisfactory team performance. More teams with this same problem within the same company set the path for the failure of the company as a whole.
Now that we’ve established the importance of effective team communication, let us look at a few ways we can implement it in our workplaces.
Making Team Meetings Effective
Roughly 75% of employees regard collaboration and teamwork as important. Collaboration is in the top four important skills for employees’ future success.
This one is pretty obvious– team meetings are a necessity. But because it is so obvious, the power that an effective team meeting holds is often underestimated.
Team meetings don’t always have to be about delegating everyone’s tasks. It can be about discussing the progress you’ve made, talking about the roadblocks, and even asking for the team’s recommendations. This way, you can have an open discussion that makes the meetings more lively and everyone can learn from each other.
Team meeting how every team is able to function and make progress. Good communication between team members will foster understanding, and make every meeting purposeful.
Many ideas may be generated in an informal setting– when people can talk with fewer restrictions of a formal meeting. These conversations may lead to new viewpoints and opinions that could help in forming solutions to roadblocks. It may even help to take the project in a new, previously undiscussed direction.
Using Communication Tools
The use of various digital tools is growing, especially with the increasing need for remote working. But remote or not, everyone should be using them.
According to a McKinsey research, online collaboration tools and digital workplaces facilitate increased productivity by up to 30%.
Some examples of tools we use at Leapfrog for a more effective communication with team members are:
- Slack for easy message passing and async communication
- Online calendars for scheduling meetings, understanding the available time slots of the team members
- JIRA to track what everyone is working on, view workload and progress
- Online meeting tools like Google Meet, Zoom, etc
- Collaboration tools like Google Docs and Figma that allow more than one person to work at a time
There are also a variety of project management tools available that you can use according to the specific communication needs of your company.
A culture of giving constructive criticism should be encouraged within the team. Reviewing each other’s work and giving specific, descriptive feedback lets the team members improve and learn from each other’s experiences.
When giving feedback to anyone, be it your co-workers or subordinates, it is easy to go wrong. There might be a fear of offending someone, or you might not be able to communicate your opinions properly, which leaves the receiver of feedback more confused. Which is why we must focus on the 7 C’s of effective communication.
- Clear: What you are trying to communicate should be clear, the listener should not be making assumptions based on what you are trying to say
- Concise: Keep to the point and make it brief. Remove filler words and unnecessary sentences that say the same thing in a different way.
- Concrete: Make sure the argument you put forward has enough data to back it up.
- Coherent: Your message should be logical, all points should be connected and relevant to the main topic.
- Correct: The argument you put forward should be error-free, and put in words that fit your audience.
- Complete: Make sure your message includes all the information necessary for the listener to be fully informed and put something to action if necessary.
- Courteous: The communication must be polite and friendly with no rude or passive-aggressive tones.
How a team leader or manager communicates with their team can really shape up the overall working environment for the team. Effective transfer of information from the leader helps the whole team understand what they are working towards. If the lead cannot accurately convey what they want the team to do, it is definitely going to lead to confusion, lack of accountability, and waste of valuable resources.
This brings us to the next section:
Effective communication of a leader with the team
A new Interact survey conducted online by Harris Poll with 2,058 U.S. adults — 1,120 of them were employed, and 616 of the employed people were managers — showed that a stunning majority (69%) of the managers said that they’re often uncomfortable communicating with employees. Over a third (37%) of the managers said that they’re uncomfortable having to give direct feedback about their employees’ performance if they think the employee might respond negatively to the feedback. Source: HBR
On the other hand, quite ironically, employees actually do like to get feedback!
In a PWc survey, nearly 60% of respondents reported that they would like feedback on a daily or weekly basis— and for employees under 30, that number increased to 72%. But, less than 30% said they actually receive it.
This result of the same Interact survey might explain why that is the case:
Let’s take a look at how you can get better at communicating with your team.
It is important to make your employees feel heard and it can be achieved through active listening. Listening intently to what the other person is saying will create a space of mutual respect and trust in which open discussions can be held.
Not making it personal
Professional conversations should not be personally biased. Especially in a feedback setting, it becomes easy to take things personally and slide into personal opinions and viewpoints. This is why when communicating your feedback to an employee, make sure the tone is polite but still firm and direct to get your point across. A leader should not let the personal opinions of someone get in the way of criticizing, or appreciating anyone’s work.
When it comes to having a conversation with the team, a leader should ensure there is enough space for the individuals to put their thoughts forward as well. Only one-way communication where you’re the only one talking can get monotonous. And, you hired these people because they have some kind of experience and expertise, right? Encouraging the team members to speak up and create a dialogue will lead to a more interesting and engaging conversation.
One on one interactions
There are people with interesting ideas and opinions who just may not be comfortable talking out loud and voicing their opinions in a group setting. A leader has the responsibility of spotting these individuals and having one-on-one interactions with them in a more comfortable setting. It might also be the case that someone is confused or has been out of the loop about certain tasks. They might not be able to express their concerns with a large group. So, one on one interactions can be important for such cases.
And finally, having a one-on-one conversation for giving critical feedback on their performance and work is much better than doing so in a group.
Short and quick check-ins can be scheduled on a regular basis. These kinds of quick calls focused on a really specific agenda can aid a leader in getting quick updates about their team’s work. Any urgent blockades can be discussed immediately, or at least, at a scheduled time.
Defining specific goals
As a manager of a team, you must be able to convey the long-term goals of your organization to your team. You can break down the goals into understandable and specific goals that your team can understand and break down into tasks. What you want the team to accomplish should be communicated using very clear and specific wordings.
Appreciate and empower
And finally, let the team know their efforts are appreciated and that they are valued by the company, and you. Remember, a happy team is a productive team! 😃