In your position as leader, the quality of the relationship among your team members is perhaps one of your biggest areas of focus. A unified, communicative team produces the best results, but it’s not always easy to develop. People simply have different beliefs, backgrounds and social skills, all of which can prove challenging in your quest for a healthy and high performing workplace.
Try these strategies to improve your team’s communication:
Institute a courtesy policy. When employees are clear about the organization’s position on treating each other respectfully, they’ll realize that they play a part in ensuring it’s supported. Insisting on common courtesy is the most direct way to improve communication among co-workers. This isn’t to avoid conflict—it’s to help set expectations for how conflict will be communicated when it arrives.
- Outline your expectations about how they address others and respond in various situations.
- Establish consequences for non-compliance with the courtesy policy so they realize how important it is to be in accordance.
Create opportunities for collaboration. A great way to improve communication among co-workers is allowing them to see and understand the elements of other people’s jobs and responsibilities.
- Having an appreciation for what happens on the other side inspires your team members to communicate without assumption or bias.
- Cross-training allows team members to experience each other’s challenges so they can communicate with an educated perspective as opposed to ignorance.
Incentivize effective communication. You have to reward the behaviors you want to keep. For example, when you see your team members offering excellent customer service, recognize their effort.
- Structure a system for different elements of communication. Some examples of healthy communication are courtesy, respectfulness, changes in task-related expectations and honest feedback.
- Announce recipients of communication incentives so other team members can see what “right” looks like.
Remind team members that, although you are incentivizing effective communication, it’s still their responsibility to participate in that level of discourse even if you’re not there to see it.
Have meaningful team meetings. When you bring all members of your team together, it gives you the opportunity to hear what everyone is saying and understand their positions. In addition, it gives them a chance to have direct, open communication with each other.
- Ask members of the team how they feel about upcoming changes in the organization.
- Find out from them the issues they are having with others and coach them to relay the details directly so openness can be achieved.
Try to determine if there are areas of the organization’s operations that aren’t as effective as you would like and discuss how strengthening communication can turn things around.
As you already know, a team that isn’t capable of communicating effectively soon diminishes from a lack of cohesiveness and common goal. To avoid having your team experience that end, start placing significant importance on team communication.