It’s possible that lack of communication is torpedoing your team. People can get in a room and talk, or email back and forth constantly, text, and send out reams of memos and still not be communicating. Communication is a two-way street. Communication between teams is a collaborative effort. Unfortunately, inefficient communication tends to lead to a lot of noise and confusion. Brushing up your communications toolbox will help you to communicate better with your team, and adopting six tips to improve communication should help you achieve your goals with a lot less drama and misunderstandings.
A lot of us never learned some very vital skills called “soft skills.” Soft skills are the ones that don’t turn up on the resume, but that are vital for success at work. According to the Department of Labor, soft skills fall into the following categories:
- Communication Skills
- Thinking Critically and Solving Problems
All of these are vital skills when it comes to communicating and working as a team. Taking your group through these skills and activities will help you to improve communications with each other, and even outside of your working life.
If you can admit you are a dummy, you have already solved the first part problem. One of the primary reasons for success for the “_____ for Dummies” books is that to a certain extent, at certain times in our lives, we are all dummies. We need to learn necessary skills that at times we may feel badly for not knowing. Some of the basic issues of communication problems are addressed by the Dummies directly. In this crib sheet, the basics of communicating with other people are laid out in plain bullet points. Some of them are very basic such as not saying yes when you don’t mean it, apportioning blame instead of dealing with problems, and expressing appreciation when given assistance and support.
Beef Up Your Toolbox
Part of leading a team is recognizing that some people are never going to be comfortable in a room full of other people. Introverts can be valuable parts of a team, too. Off-site workers can add a valuable refresh to everyone’s POV. Bringing them in, and keeping them in, can be a real challenge unless you are willing to start using communication apps to bridge the gap. Applications like Slack and Evernote can boost productivity and get collaborations on the same page, while video communications software like BlueJeans can bring people together without making meetings a chore to get to.
Sometimes things don’t need to be worked out at the office. The pressure to succeed in an office environment can often get in the way of finding solutions to problems. Getting out and going to lunch and chewing over the problems with your burgers can often remove the pressure enough to let you create a solution instead of hunting for one.
Brainstorming is a process by which one creates order out of chaos. Everyone is introducing ideas on an equal footing, everyone is letting loose with what if, and some of the best ideas can spring from the creativity of getting everyone in a room and having them loose. Even if it doesn’t solve the original problem it’s a pretty safe bet that you’re going to get a bunch of interesting new projects out of it.
Learn Your People
People like to be recognized for their individuality. Everyone has their own work habits, their own concept of personal space, and their own ideas. Instead of forcing people to work within a mold, allow them to work in a way that lets them use their own unique skills and perspectives to move the team towards its objectives. Remember, almost no one is happy being a corporate drone.
After reading this you’ve probably thought up some of your own ways to work with your team as a group, and as individuals. None of these ideas are a magic wand, and none will begin to work immediately. Instead, these habits need to be allowed to grow and develop over time into a working routine. Making changes into habits, and habits into routine can take months. You just have to be patient and keep working at it in order to bring these ideas to fruition. Encourage your team members to work with them as well. These changes can only become work culture when everybody understands why these changes are being made, and what they are intended to foster. You may find that some people who have benefited from a lack of communication or miscommunication resist these changes actively, but that the overall health of your organization will be the better for them.