How to improve team communication: A step-by-step guide

team communication

Good communication is one of the main foundations of a successful team. Without that foundation, success is not possible.

When a positive communication culture exists, all team members know their role in contributing to the team’s success. In addition, good communication promotes relationship-building within the team and overall productivity.

On the other hand, poor communication can lead to conflict and a demotivating environment which hinders the company’s growth.

Therefore, leaders must promote a good and accurate communication culture and seek to improve communication within their team.

Contrary to what you might think, this does not require a significant investment of money but rather a collective effort that must start within you to make good communication a priority.

If the benefits of good communication within a team sound appealing to you, test the tips we’ve put together to improve your team’s communication.

How to improve team communication in 6 steps

Effective team communication is key to success when you want to develop a high-performance team. Therefore, improving communication should be a collective effort.

Let’s start with the basics! This is what every company should seek to have excellent team communication.

Soak up what applies to your work context and start reaping the rewards of incredible communication today.

1. Define what forms of communication work best for your team

Nowadays, teams come in all shapes and forms. As well as being multidisciplinary, some work 100% remotely, others have a hybrid system, and others keep working face-to-face.

If your team has the fantastic opportunity of geographical and schedule flexibility, it’s essential to define what forms of communication work best for your team.

What channels and tools do you use? How can you make everyone feel included and close even when each team member is in an opposite corner of the globe? 

Remember the two communication styles — synchronous or asynchronous (we’ll explain it further). Now it’s time to decide how your team will use them.

We recommend that you have weekly moments of synchronous communication, taking advantage of face-to-face or zoom meetings and that the day-to-day activities are primarily asynchronous.

Remember: there’s no one right way to do things. Whatever works best for your team and its particularities is what you should apply!

Establish communication etiquette

2. Establish communication etiquette

One of the main reasons a team lacks good communication is that they need to learn how to communicate.

Everyone should know exactly how, when, and why they should communicate.

For example, email should be preferred for topics that need to be recorded for future reference. Never discuss essential issues in the company chat; always send emails!

Another good practice is to only invite to meetings people who need to be there.

Nothing is worse than having your whole day blocked in useless meetings – aka meetings that don’t require your presence. If you want to let someone know the output of a meeting, you can send an email afterward.

Another suggestion is to make it clear to all team members that they don’t need to reply to an email unless the sender explicitly asks them to do so in the original message.

When you have a team spread across multiple time zones or working 100% remotely, you also need to think more about when to communicate.

Set specific meeting times that everyone can be at regardless of their time zone, and encourage your team members to set “out of office” hours in their calendars when they’re on vacation.

Having communication etiquette like this helps keep your team focused on what matters, saving them precious time for more meaningful tasks and reducing stress at work.

Get to know how stress can reduce your productivity in our blog.

Create specific moments for feedback

3. Create specific moments for feedback

Feedback is important. But it’s not enough to create a safe space where everyone feels comfortable sharing concerns, mistakes, and learning.

In addition to spontaneous feedback, there are pre-established times to offer feedback to team members. It might be helpful for you to time-block these moments.

While team meetings may be suitable for collective feedback, 1:1s with managers are the perfect opportunity to give and receive feedback honestly and transparently. Make sure they happen regularly!

Also, try to ensure that feedback is not unidirectional — you should be willing to give and receive feedback, whether it’s positive or negative.

At the same time, employees should be encouraged to seek and offer feedback.

One way of doing this is through anonymous surveys. People often feel intimidated by having to say what they think, even if the atmosphere is excellent. Or maybe they have suggestions for improvement or organization and need more courage to share them.

At the end of each year, do an anonymous survey and encourage your team members to share their thoughts anonymously.

Don’t forget to set the feedback etiquette we talked about earlier to make sure these are pleasurable moments for all!

4. Have regular 1:1s

As well as giving and receiving feedback, regular one-to-one meetings are an opportunity to address some issues and check on the well-being of each team member.

They’re also a great way to know your superiors or colleagues better and develop collaborative relationships.

As a leader, we’re not asking you to take on the role of psychologist, but rather to care about your employees’ well-being and show it.

This is a must-have quality of a good team leader.

happy people having fun at the office

5. Organize team building activities

Team building activities have been introduced previously as a strategy to improve team communication. However, our proposal is a bit different.

Instead of organizing team-building activities outside working hours that nobody wants to do, try to promote more organic activities with your team members.

A picnic at lunchtime, an extended breakfast once a month, or even a board game championship will make your co-workers feel more comfortable around each other and naturally communicate better.

6. Keep your information centralized

One of the main factors of entropy is the lack of centralization of information. Improve your team’s communication by ensuring data is all in one place, organized, and available to everyone. 

This is particularly useful for new recruits on your team, who can be autonomous in finding information rather than spending time searching for it.

7. Have an open-door policy

You may be familiar with this one, but have you been able to implement it?

In the workplace context, an open-door policy refers to an approach in which managers or superiors are open to listening to employees’ questions, doubts, complaints, suggestions and concerns.

An open door policy is about accessibility to the higher ranks of the hierarchy and breaking down the physical and psychological barriers that once existed between boss and employee.

An open-door policy aims to encourage a culture of open, honest, and transparent communication.

This way, employees and managers can discuss and resolve a wide variety of work and workplace issues efficiently and make sure that everyone feels heard and connected.

improve team communication

8. Be transparent and avoid jargon

One of the best ways to improve team communication is by prioritizing transparency. Also, in team communication, avoid using jargon that may confuse other team members. Be straightforward and clear.

If everyone is honest with each other about their expectations, concerns, and emotions, the likelihood of misunderstandings decreases dramatically.

For leaders, it’s imperative to be transparent about team and company performance. This will create a sense of ownership for employees, motivating them to strive to achieve their goals.

Find the difference between short-term goals and long-term goals.

It’s also essential to offer context to team members and show them how important their work is. Always seek to make them understand the impact of their good work by making them feel valued.

Ask for help! Don’t be afraid to express vulnerability and admit your mistakes too. No one believes that managers are gods. Like all humans, they make mistakes and need help too.

Ask often how you can help and what worries them. This will also incentivize them to be vulnerable and ask for your help, creating a culture of mutual support among the team.

two people talking at work

9. Promote a culture of constant feedback

Feedback is one of the most important parts of team communication.

People need to know how they’re doing in terms of performance to stay motivated and engaged.

During 1:1 meetings, provide feedback to each team member and discuss their growth expectations. Also, don’t forget to take the opportunity to ask if they have any feedback about you.

However, feedback should be given in more than any form. You should be mindful and follow basic rules that make all the difference.

How to give feedback to your team members:

  1. Make sure your feedback is constructive. Does it add important learnings to the receiver and leaves room for improvement? If the answer is yes, go for it!
  2. Be mindful of their feelings. Be gentle with your words and treat your colleague respectfully, avoiding being judgmental or too condescending. Assess their reactions and stop if they become uncomfortable.
  3. Ask for permission to give feedback. Not all times are appropriate to give feedback, and it’s not always the right time to receive it. Make sure everyone is comfortable before you start talking. 
  4. Be specific. Avoid being vague, and use examples to illustrate the feedback you give.
  5. Justify why you’re giving that feedback. Make sure the receiver understands the impact of a particular work and why it’s essential to improve it.
  6. Suggest concrete next steps. Once again, be specific.
remote team communication

10. Use digital communication tools

When we look back and remember 2020, it’s hard not to think about how technology helped us back then.

Many companies were already using digital tools to improve communication and manage remote teams, but the pandemic accelerated that digitization.

Communication tools can help you improve communication with your team by assisting with two communication styles.

  • Synchronous communication: face-to-face conversations, instant chats, videoconferences, and any other interaction that happens in real time.
  • Asynchronous communication: Everything that doesn’t need an immediate response, like email, reports, or recorded videos.

Nowadays, the working world is experiencing a revolution. More and more companies are adopting flexible arrangements regarding physical presence in the office.

Whether you work face-to-face, hybrid, or fully remote, these are some of the tools that can help you communicate more effectively with your team: 

  • Instant chat: Slack, Microsoft Teams, Google Chat, Workplace
  • File-sharing tools: Google Drive, Dropbox, and OneDrive
  • Calendar synchronization: Google Calendar and Microsoft Outlook
  • Video calls: Zoom, Google Meet, or Skype

Digital communication tools can be your allies even if you work face-to-face.

For example, it only sometimes makes sense to interrupt your colleagues by asking them something. Also, couldn’t this meeting be an email? Or a message in the company’s internal chat room? Be mindful and take advantage of the tools that technology has given us!

11. Prioritize video calls

Even when working remotely, it’s nice to maintain familiarity between team members as that facilitates communication. So, you and your team members must see each other during meetings.

Video calls facilitate communication by reading each other’s facial expressions and body language, avoiding misunderstandings, and fostering connection.

Of course, there will always be more reserved people who prefer not to have the camera on. You should explain to them the importance of using video but if their opinion stays the same, respect their wishes.

employees talking

12. Resolve conflicts quickly

We’ve all had a colleague constantly bad-mouthing another or even their bosses.

This dissatisfaction can have numerous reasons, one of which is the lack of resolution of fundamental conflicts, which then escalate and become intrigued.

Although they may seem irrelevant, conflicts at work are like rotten apples — it starts with one, and the next thing you know, a back-talking attitude has spread.

Failure to resolve problems also builds up frustration, resulting in even bigger arguments later.

Avoid unnecessary tension that creates a bad atmosphere and hurts everyone’s performance by resolving conflicts quickly and effectively.

Set up a quick and transparent conversation and be honest with the colleague with whom you have disagreed. This policy of transparency and communication will spread to the whole team, positively affecting the overall team environment.

Read also how to deal with a lazy employee and how to deal with an employee who complains about the workload.

Conclusion

Good communication is one of the essential pillars of a team’s success.

Poor communication is also one of the main reasons why a team can be unsuccessful. You can improve your team’s communication, ensuring it’s effective, healthy, and honest.

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