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10 Tips for Improving Team Communication
10 Tips for Improving Team Communication

Develop effective communication habits so that you and your team are always on the same page.

Stephen Franklin avatar
Written by Stephen Franklin
Updated over a week ago

Effective communication is fundamental to any successful team. When everyone can clearly and quickly share information, the whole team benefits. Here are 10 simple practices that you can ensure that your team is up-to-speed, taking action, and making decisions based on a shared understanding.

1) Be open to feedback

When you make sure your communication is open and receptive to feedback, you're opening up the door for productive discussion. Open discussions can prevent you from thinking that you've communicated your idea effectively when in reality it's being misunderstood or poorly received. Make sure your team members feel like they have a voice by encouraging feedback and incorporating those ideas into your messaging and plans moving forward.

2) Encourage questions

It's important to encourage questions from everyone, including yourself. Every message has the potential for different interpretations. For effective communication, it's essential that everyone on the team arrives at a shared, common understanding. Clarifying questions allow the team to gain a deeper understanding and highlight the areas that are not clear. Verifying questions such as "Can you repeat what you heard?" directed to the audience should be used to ensure that the message was received and interpreted correctly.

3) Talk in specifics

One of the easiest ways to improve team communication is to speak more in specifics.

Avoid any jargon or overly abstract language and instead, use words that your audience can understand, making sure the specific details needed for clarity are included. For example, instead of saying "We need to quickly update the website design to be kicky and on-brand", say "We have two weeks to enhance our website design to incorporate a modern experience and better incorporate our company's Brand Guidelines and messaging".

4) Provide regular updates as situations evolve

Make sure that timely updates are provided to the team when new information or developments affect previous communications. If the entire team isn't evolving their understanding based on the same information, the team's shared understanding will diverge resulting in misalignment and plenty of headaches and missteps in the future.

5) Keep your messages short and relevant

In today's workplace, the amount of information that we all have to process each day can be overwhelming. Keeping important team communications concise and to the point will increase the likelihood of them being received and understood.

6) Be mindful of your audience

Our different communication styles affect the way that we deliver information and how we most effectively consume information. Communicating in a way that suits our personal preferences but isn't effectively interpreted by others introduces opportunities for confusion and misinterpretation. Being mindful of this and adapting to the needs of the team and individuals will result in better communication.

7) Make communication a team responsibility

When team members take an active role in adopting the behaviors and habits that result in better communication, teams can avoid the pitfalls of poor communication. Creating a team environment where all teammates share responsibility and actively hold each other accountable will always result in the best outcomes.

8) Be consistent

There needs to be a consistent process for sharing important information within the team. When critical information is inconsistently shared across a variety of channels (email, Slack, in-person, team wiki, etc.) the chances of miscommunication or lost information drastically increase.

Suggested Strategy: Dedicate a portion of your team meetings to explicitly share and acknowledge as a team any important information that needs to be shared. You and the team should format a habit of flagging anything that needs to be shared team-wide and these should be documented in the meeting agenda. As these subjects are discussed in the meeting, it's important to record any associated outcomes and notes so there is a single source of truth for everyone to reference.

9) Don't be afraid to repeat yourself

It's okay to repeat yourself, in fact, it's critical for effective communication. Team members have to consume and process a huge amount of information each day and it's unlikely that everyone is going to perfectly interpret and register every message to memory. Plus, revisiting announcements numerous times across a longer timespan allows team members time to further process, investigate, and consider the information resulting in new considerations that need to be discussed and clarified.

10) Favor overcommunication over under-communication

The risk of bad outcomes resulting from misaligned team members far outweighs the potential inconvenience of hearing a message numerous times. It's particularly important to reinforce the information that has a high impact or in dynamic situations were where related information is evolving.

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