Prime Advantage has invited industry experts to share insights on achieving manufacturing and business success. In this post, Karin Hurt, Founder and CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders and author of Winning Well and Overcoming an Imperfect Boss, discusses ways to strengthen teamwork and collaboration among colleagues.
Nothing will enhance your team’s productivity faster than better communication. Having a deliberate process and cadence of communication will save hours of lost time, productivity and drama.
If you don’t have a recognized plan, or haven’t spoken with your team recently about how communication is going, it’s worth taking the time to communicate about communication. Gather your team together for a focused hour and talk about the seven points below, and then construct your plan. It’s helpful to revisit the strategy regularly—once a month to see how it’s working and determine if revisions are needed.
“The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.“
-George Bernard Shaw
1. Determine what’s working or not working.
Basics must be first.
- What is working well about the way we are currently communicating?
- Where is our communication breaking down?
- What do we need to be talking about more? Less?
2. Identify the stakeholders and what they care about.
Giving your stakeholders the right amount of information how and when they want it reduces their anxiety and gets them off your back. And let’s face it, when you stay in front of the need-to-know curve, you look smart.
If you don’t know what your boss (or her boss) really wants to know–ask. Also if you produce and distribute reports and updates, it’s wise to ask who’s looking at them. Identifying your readership is crucial. I knew one manager who stopped sending all the mandatory reports his team was producing for three months, and no one noticed! I’m not suggesting this approach, but a quick check-in may save you some valuable time.
3. Find out what information your team needs from you.
Ensure you’re giving the team everything they need. Ask them. Then go around the room and have everyone ask this question. Be sure you’re clear on what you need from each team member and what they need from one another.
4. Use email effectively.
If you haven’t talked about this explicitly, I’m sure there are strategies you could use to be more impactful.
5. Purposeful meetings.Every meeting should have a purpose (tied to improving results or relationships). Be clear if the purpose of meetings is simply to update, brainstorm alternative communication strategies.
6. Monitor meeting effectiveness.
Talk about the best way to monitor meeting effectiveness (see meeting NPS). Do you begin meetings with clear objectives and desired outcomes? Do you stick to the agenda? Do you have an agenda? Are action items clearly documented with responsible parties and follow-up dates?
7. Make a plan to address conflict resolution.
Talking about how you’ll address conflict and disagreements before you have one can go a long way in improving team dynamics. Agreeing in advance that you’re open to feedback and the best way to deliver it will also help promote healthy dialogue. Introduce tools such as the expectations matrix to help structure discussion.
So many teams settle for good communication when it could be great. Or worse, assume miscommunication is just part of working in a team. Checking in on the process every now and then will reap huge dividends in future productivity.
Your turn. How do you ensure your team has effective communication?