team communication

Team Communication: Why It Matters and How to Improve It

Team communication is an essential element of every business’s success, whether it’s a two-person operation or a two-hundred-person operation.

Without good communication between co-workers, you can’t improve team skills, complete projects successfully, or endure the challenges that every business will face.

But what exactly qualifies as “good communication”? In this article, the experts at Sling will answer that question, show you why good communication matters, and discuss ways to improve it.

Table of contents

Team communication defined

team communication

At its core, communication is simply the exchange of information between two people. Team communication extends beyond that basic two-person interaction to encompass the exchange of information between any number of individuals in your business.

It doesn’t matter if it’s communication between a CEO and the brand-new hire or managers of two different departments, it all falls under the category of team communication on one level or another.

But as simple as that definition may sound, in practice, good communication is much more than simply exchanging data. It’s about the effectiveness of your communication rather than the communication itself.

For the transmission of information to be effective — be it spoken, drawn, or written — team members have to first receive the message accurately and then understand how it affects them.

If your words don’t satisfy those criteria, regardless of how much you say, your team won’t get the message you intended. When that happens in your business, it’s time to focus on effectiveness over quantity.

Making your team communication more effective (i.e., clear and concise) will dramatically improve the way your business operates.

Why team communication matters

team communication matters

1) It helps resolve problems

Problems amongst team members can spread and infect the rest of your team if you don’t provide a timely remedy.

When you identify a problem, don’t wait to address the issue. Gather all the parties involved and encourage everyone to talk.

Keep in mind that effective communication isn’t about who is right or wrong. Instead, it’s about being open, honest, and positive so that everyone feels their needs are met.

2) It improves employee engagement

Your team’s dynamic is like that of a family. As such, your employees will benefit from the same characteristics that make families strong: cooperation, solidarity, and bonds.

Improving employee engagement is one way to help your team members build those traits. But it all starts with effective communication.

Think of it this way: Effective communication leads to employee engagement, employee engagement leads to cooperation, cooperation leads to solidarity, and solidarity leads to strong bonds that can see your team through difficult times.

3) It prevents confusion

When you build effective communication within your business, you avoid the confusion that can dilute your message.

You’ll be better able to resolve problems, build strong relationships, delegate tasks, and motivate everyone to greatness. Each team member will know what you want them to do the first time you explain.

That will save you time and prevent your employees from becoming irritated because they’re confused about the particulars of your instructions.

4) It promotes inclusivity

Open team communication also promotes inclusivity among your workforce.

While you work hard to assemble a diverse team — one that is comprised of a group of people who exhibit unique and novel personality traits and characteristics — inclusivity functions to bring everyone together.

More specifically, inclusivity refers to the standards and behaviors within your team (and your business) that ensure that every employee feels welcome, safe, and valued as an individual with something to offer.

And the path to that type of inclusivity starts with open and effective communication.

When everyone on your team feels like you hear and appreciate their unique perspective, they’ll be more likely to get involved, give their all, and excel at whatever you ask them to do.

5) It sparks innovation

team communication sparks innovation

Strong communication serves as the foundation of innovation in your organization. How so?

Innovation relies on creativity and requires your employee to feel comfortable enough to express their novel ideas to others on the team. If your team members feel uncomfortable sharing their thoughts, the creative fire could die down and take innovation with it.

Promoting the type of communication that makes everyone feel safe to express their ideas also serves to fuel the fires of creativity, which, in turn, creates more heat in the form of innovation.

6) It stimulates growth

Clear and consistent team communication can remove the speed bumps and roadblocks that stand in the way of success and growth.

Such communication can eliminate confusion, apprehension, and doubt. That, in turn, can help your team members feel more certain about their assignments and confident in their abilities to overcome any minor difficulties that may arise.

With the clarity of purpose that good communication affords, your business can thrive like never before.

7) It gives everyone a voice

Encouraging and maintaining effective communication gives everyone a say in how things get done.

When your employees feel that your business values them as individuals and takes what they have to say as important, their performance, engagement, and overall happiness may improve dramatically.

And, when everyone feels like their voice is being heard, they’re more likely to feel like a united team pulling in the same direction rather than a group of separate individuals going their own way.

8) It fosters collaboration

Strong communication can foster collaboration — the combined philosophy and set of actions that emphasize teamwork, diversity, equal participation, and innovative thinking in the business.

With a culture of collaboration based on effective communication and project management in place, your business can find itself poised for success in ways you never thought possible.

How to improve team communication

Hike to improve team communication

1) Choose the best method

Team communication takes many forms and can be conducted with a variety of methods. But not all methods are conducive to every message.

When you consider which method to use in any given situation, take a few moments to think about how you would feel receiving the information. Would email make it feel too impersonal? Would hard copy be better for record-keeping purposes?

Matching your communication with the right distribution method for the job ensures that your team receives — and perceives — your message the way you intended.

2) Strive for clarity

Clarity is vital if you want to improve your team communication. To be as clear as possible, speak (or write) plainly and in a way that is easily accessible to your audience.

Give clear commands when necessary, and refrain from using ambiguous language whenever possible. Try to avoid jargon unless your team uses it often and it simplifies the communication process.

It will take some practice to achieve clarity in all your communication, but the benefits far outweigh the sacrifice.

3) Offer explanations

You want your team to express their ideas; that’s an essential part of good communication. But if you dismiss those ideas (even for legitimate reasons) without explaining why, employee morale can suffer.

Not everyone on your team will be privy to all the details that go into making a decision. When you come to a conclusion based on proprietary information and don’t tell anyone, your team will suffer.

Offer explanations as to why you decided the way you did. Tell your team why an idea won’t work. That way, they understand the thought process behind it all and can begin searching for new solutions.

4) Meet one-on-one

one on one meeting to improve team communication

Another good way to improve team communication is to meet with your employees one-on-one.

Doing so serves a number of different functions, including:

  • Helping you get to know them better as individuals
  • Helping them get to know you
  • Allowing you to demonstrate good interpersonal communication
  • Training them to exhibit strong communication with their coworkers
  • Ensuring that they feel free to come to you with their ideas and concerns

Try setting up a rotation where you meet with each employee for a few minutes every week, every other week, or every month to discuss what’s on their mind and keep them in the loop regarding the goings-on in your business.

5) Meet as a group

When meeting as a group to brainstorm, discuss projects, and play games, take the time to include communication training in the session.

Instead of dedicating an entire meeting to explicitly explaining good communication habits, weave them into the framework of the meeting so that your team gets plenty of practice incorporating them in their own communication.

Demonstrating these skills — and asking your employees to do the same — in a “real-world” environment, like a team meeting, is often more effective than sitting down for hours of training.

6) Create team communication etiquette

One of the most often-overlooked methods for improving team communication is training your employees in the proper etiquette.

In most cases, this applies to digital communication and when employees should and shouldn’t reply. If your team has ever gotten caught up in an endless Reply-All storm, you’ll understand the importance of this type of training.

Communication etiquette differs from business to business, but common components include:

  • Avoiding Reply All with email communication
  • Using BCC instead of CC
  • Determining when it’s necessary to respond to an email, IM, or text

In regard to that last item, few things waste more time than having to search for an important reply among 50 messages that all say “OK,” “Thanks,” or “Got it.”

Create a general rule or policy that team members don’t have to respond unless the sender explicitly requests it.

It can also be useful to train those sending messages to get in the habit of explaining what they want done instead of leaving it up to the whims of the reader.

For example, try writing, “No need to reply to this message,” or, “Do not reply to this message,” at the top or bottom of the text so that you don’t get 50 responses when they aren’t necessary.

Creating etiquette like this can help you keep your employees more engaged throughout the day and focused on more important tasks than responding to digital communication.

7) Establish clear roles

Virtual wall of team communication

Communication can get very chaotic very quickly if employees don’t understand where they fit into the chain of command and to whom they need to report.

Imagine someone from the IT department with a question about the server network approaching the head of the manufacturing department for an answer. And that’s only one simple example.

Such questions can be the source of lots of wasted time and more headaches than they’re worth. You can avoid misplaced communication — particularly between supervisors and those on their teams — by establishing clear roles and responsibilities throughout your business.

Doing so helps clarify the proper channels an employee needs to go through to find answers to questions and solutions to problems.

8) Evaluate team communication

Even though you may have good team communication already, there are always ways to improve.

In fact, it’s a good idea to keep communication at the top of your goals list from one year to the next and to never stop striving for improvements.

Take the time out of your busy schedule to evaluate the communication in your business at least once a year (more often if possible). Treat this evaluation like an employee review and be as honest and objective as possible.

Consider starting the evaluation by asking each team member what they think about the communication process and then observing how they communicate with each other and their superiors for a few days.

Doing so can give you powerful insight into the quality of communication happening throughout your business every day.

9) Make feedback a two-way street

Feedback is one of the most fundamental forms of communication that your team may deal with in the course of business.

As such, you want to make feedback a two-way street. That means getting comfortable giving feedback to your employees (and training them to get comfortable receiving it). It also means encouraging your team members to give you feedback when the need arises.

A good place to start promoting the importance of feedback is during a team meeting. Take a few minutes to comment on some aspect of their performance — or your own — and then ask the others in the meeting to add their own comments.

With practice, everyone will feel comfortable getting and receiving the types of feedback that help them grow, improve at their job, and contribute to the success of your business.

10) Maintain an organizational chart

We touched on this earlier, but it bears repeating: Building strong team communication is much easier when you establish clear roles and responsibilities within your business.

To make those roles and responsibilities as well-defined as possible, create an organizational chart and publish it in your employee handbook.

Then, train your team to refer to the chart as a hierarchy of oversight that they can use to find the names and responsibilities of the coworkers in their department, the coworkers in other departments, their immediate supervisors, their supervisors’ supervisors, and so on.

With access to an organizational chart of this type, everyone in your business will know where to best direct their communication in order to get things done in a more timely manner.

Scheduling software can streamline team communication

Scheduling software can streamline team communication

Effective team communication strengthens the employee/employer relationship. That relationship, then, motivates your team to work at their best despite the difficulties they face.

One of the best ways to foster such traits — and streamline team communication — is to incorporate scheduling software, like Sling, into your workflow.

The powerful suite of tools within the Sling app can help you:

And Sling’s communication features allow you to communicate more efficiently from a single platform instead of trying to coordinate multiple apps and contact channels.

With Sling, you can send messages to groups or individuals, keep everyone informed, and build a better company culture — all in real time.

All of that within the same platform where employees come to check their schedules. That’s effective communication.

For more free resources to help you manage your business better, organize and schedule your team, and track and calculate labor costs, visit today.

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This content is for informational purposes and is not intended as legal, tax, HR or any other professional advice. Please contact an attorney or other professional for specific advice.

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