Best Strategies to Improve Team Communication

César Gamio

Mastering team communication for a cohesive workplace

Effective team communication is the backbone of any successful organisation. It drives collaboration, boosts productivity, and builds strong relationships among team members. 

Whether in-person or virtual, clear and open communication is essential for efficient operational processes and workplace interactions.

Why is team communication important?

Communication is a part of living. Trees send signals to each other via their roots, male birds do strange dances to attract potential mates, crickets chirp faster when the temperature goes up… and we humans, arguably the most social living being of them all (at least before the launch of the smartphone), have been trying to understand and explain our complex inner workings to each other since day dot. 

Understanding that we are a species that thrives on collaborative and collective efforts, really puts into perspective why communication is such an important component for any organisation. Not only does it please our brains (our social organ), in a workplace context team communication can also: 

  • Enhance collaboration: It enables team members to share ideas, solve problems collectively, and work towards common goals.
  • Increase efficiency: Clear communication reduces misunderstandings and errors, leading to smoother workflows.
  • Build trust: Open communication fosters a culture of transparency and trust among team members.
  • Improve employee morale: When employees feel heard and valued, it enhances their engagement and satisfaction.

According to a study by McKinsey, teams that communicate effectively are up to 25% more productive. This highlights the need for businesses to prioritise and continuously improve their communication strategies.

Types of team communication

There are several types of communication at work, each serving different purposes and requiring specific approaches:

  1. Verbal communication:
    • Face-to-face meetings: Ideal for discussing complex issues or brainstorming.
    • Video calls: Crucial for remote teams to maintain personal connections.
    • Phone calls: Useful for quick and direct exchanges.
  2. Written communication:
    • Emails: Best for formal and detailed communications.
    • Instant messaging: Perfect for quick updates and informal discussions.
    • Reports and documents: Provide comprehensive information and formal records.
  3. Non-verbal communication:
    • Body language: Conveys confidence, attentiveness, and engagement.
    • Facial expressions: Essential for understanding emotions and reactions during conversations.
  4. Digital communication tools:
    • Collaboration platforms: Tools like Slack or Microsoft Teams facilitate ongoing team interactions.
    • Project management software: Asana or Trello help track tasks and deadlines efficiently.

Digital communication tools provide the perfect foundation for organisations to implement an asynchronous approach to working, which provides greater flexibility and opportunity for work-life balance to employees. 

Asynchronous working is a work model where employees complete their tasks independently of their colleagues’ schedules. Unlike synchronous work, where team members must be available simultaneously for meetings or real-time collaboration, asynchronous work allows individuals to work on their tasks at different times that best suit their own schedules and time zones.

Remember! Whilst asynchronous working is becoming increasingly popular. We recommend organisations to maintain some aspect of synchronous working in their approach, i.e. weekly team meetings, so that there is still regular opportunity for employees to interact, share personal and professional stories, connect and build relationships. Efficiency is key, but so is connection and engagement, so an approach that combines the two will give your workers the best of both worlds.

A woman working at a desk with a computer and wall decor.

How to improve team communication

To promote effective team communication, organisations can implement various strategies tailored to their specific needs and dynamics:

  1. Establish clear communication channels:
    • Define and use appropriate channels for different types of communication.
    • Encourage the use of dedicated platforms for team interactions.
  2. Promote open dialogue:
    • Create a culture where team members feel safe to express their ideas and concerns.
    • Regularly hold meetings where everyone can contribute.
  3. Provide training on communication skills:
    • Offer workshops and courses to develop effective communication skills among employees. Explore our employee wellbeing courses for targeted communication training options.
    • Focus on active listening, empathy, and conflict resolution.
  4. Encourage feedback:
    • Implement mechanisms for giving and receiving constructive feedback.
    • Use feedback to improve processes and address communication barriers.
  5. Leverage technology:
    • Utilise collaboration tools and project management software to facilitate communication and teamwork.
    • Ensure that all team members are proficient in using these tools.
  6. Regularly review and adapt communication strategies:
    • Continuously assess the effectiveness of communication practices.
    • Be open to making adjustments based on feedback and changing needs.

Challenges associated with different communication types

Each type of communication has its challenges, which need to be managed carefully:

  1. Verbal communication challenges:
    • Misinterpretation: Body language and tone can sometimes be misinterpreted.
    • Cultural differences: Different cultural backgrounds can influence how messages are received and understood.
  2. Written communication challenges:
    • Lack of clarity: Written messages can be unclear or ambiguous.
    • Overload: Too many emails or messages can overwhelm team members.
  3. Non-Verbal communication challenges:
    • Limited in remote settings: Non-verbal cues are less perceptible in virtual interactions.
    • Misreading cues: Body language and facial expressions can be misread, leading to misunderstandings.
  4. Digital communication challenges:
    • Technology barriers: Not all team members may be comfortable with digital tools.
    • Disconnection: Over-reliance on digital communication can lead to a lack of personal connection. 

We recently sat down with Organisational Psychologist, Erin Shrimpton, to discuss how companies can build engagement and communication in remote teams. 

She shared a lot of easy tips that organisations can put into practice to build team communication. 

Our favourite was the idea that employees should personalise their virtual meeting window. Adding things to your background during a virtual meeting that says something about you is a great way to start a conversation and connect with team members. Watch the full episode to access other useful suggestions.

A professional attending a virtual team meeting on his phone. Learn about team communication and effective strategies.

Effective team communication is the key to success

Mastering team communication is essential for building a cohesive and productive work environment. By understanding the different types of communication and implementing effective strategies, organisations can overcome common challenges and develop a culture of collaboration and trust.

For more strategies on managing communication and addressing challenges, explore our articles on team conflict and difficult employees.

By investing in improving communication, businesses not only enhance their operational efficiency but also create a positive and supportive workplace where every team member can thrive.

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