Whitney Diehl is a member of the CloudApp guest post community, a freelance writer, and a reporter with a keen interest in all things tech and travel related. She holds degrees in Communications and Diplomacy and has several years experience in television production and content management.
Communication in life is everything - whether it be between you and your partner, a friend, or a shop clerk. We use communication to express needs, ideas, likes and dislikes, and without it, society wouldn’t function. But what happens when we encounter others that don't think or operate the way we do? As Life Coach Tony Robbins puts it: “To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.”
So how do we, as professionals and unique individuals, navigate the sometimes tedious path of communication with coworkers in order to optimize effective teamwork and reach workplace nirvana?
1. Clarity, Clarity, Clarity
No one, not even the most intuitive of employees can thoroughly complete a task if they don't know exactly what is expected of them. Prevent any confusion or apprehension with short but productive check-ins twice a week to answer any questions or concerns and to get a bearing on where your team stands with ongoing or one-time tasks.
It is also helpful clarify each members role to precisely pinpoint their individual responsibilities. Studies show that offices with a high level of role clarification had significantly higher levels of work satisfaction and lower rates of turnover. Smooth out details of their duties and outline what metrics will be used to define success in their role. This will make things more clear to them of what is expected, reduce friction between organization members, and put weight on accountability.
2. All Work & No Play Makes Everyone Dull - Fix It!
Its 2019 and office atmosphere is changing. No longer wanted are the stuffy offices of our parents' generation. As our beloved baby boomers begin to retire and millennials increasingly enter the workforce, employees want to find a professional home where they can grow and have fun at the same time.
Employees are more productive and content when they feel appreciated and know that they are a valuable asset to any team. In order to show this appreciation, do fun activities as a group. Whether its a bi-monthly team building lunch, or a fun and informal retreat outside of the city, providing a space for colleagues to let their hair down and see the lighter side of work improves how colleagues will interact. It creates an opportunity for coworkers to really get to know each other and not see one another as drones that come to the office simply for a paycheck.
3. Choose a communication platform that works for everyone
Different situations require different modes of communication, and with all the different team collaboration tools out there, picking the right one can be tricky. Managing remote teams may require regular video conferences and quality screen recording software, while in-house teams may prefer face-to-face collaboration sessions. Email will always be king, but those can be ignored or overlooked, and response rates might lag, while communication platforms that are purely messaging are intrusive and distracting. Choose a team communication tool where all modes of communication are right there in one place whether it be email, group chat, or video conferencing and reduces task-switching to keep communication organized and instant.
4. Leave the door open to trust
Most of us have been in a situation where we feel we can't voice our opinions or concerns or ask questions. Level the playing field for everyone and create an open door policy that will set a tone of candor that will build trust and improve communication with your team. An open door policy literally means that every manager or team leads door is open to every employee at any time to encourage open communication, feedback, and discussion about any topic of importance. By keeping literal doors open, you also keep the figurative ones of communication open as well.
5. It takes all kinds
Take a look around you. I’m willing to bet you work with people of all nationalities, races, ideologies, and languages. No one is cookie cutter, and everyone is unique. When people from all walks of life come together to collaborate, something incredibly special can be created. However, it does come with its challenges. Language barriers, cultural nuances, and maybe even physical time zones can throw a wrench into smooth communication. Get off to a good start with cultural awareness training. A lack of cultural awareness can lead to major communication mishaps, and in turn, reflect poorly on performance. But don't worry, cultural awareness is a skill that can be easily developed at both a professional and social level with the proper training and guidance.
6. Survey Says…
The best barometer to find out how your team or company is doing in the eyes of your colleagues is to send out an anonymous survey. Because office politics exist anywhere you work and can be a cause for great anxiety, it can be difficult for team members to be fearlessly honest. An anonymous survey allows employees to openly address issues in a safe space where they do not need to fear reprisal.
No matter what way you slice it, effective communication in any setting creates better results. Ameliorate team interaction to help resolve conflict stemming from miscommunication dilemmas, so that when differences are encountered, everyone involved is equipped with the tools to make sure all emotional and professional needs are met. Seamless and effective group communication allows you to better understand the goals and motivations of your colleagues, enables them to cultivate skills, and flourish as a valuable asset to your company.