What is team communication and why is it important
Dostoevsky once said, “Much unhappiness has come into the world because of bewilderment and things left unsaid.” However, a lack of communication can lead to much more than just unhappiness.
Although Dostoevsky (probably) didn’t have team communication in mind when he wrote his famous quote above, lack of communication or bad communication can lead to a complete team breakdown.
Team communication is important because when team members don’t communicate well throughout their joint work, they can’t successfully collaborate.
In this guide, we’ll go into the details of team communication and its importance, and cover topics such as:
- The basic definition of team communication,
- The benefits of good team communication,
- How poor communication affects a team, and
- Examples of good team communication.
We’ll also share some expert opinions and tips on how to communicate effectively in a team.
Let’s dive in!
Table of Contents
What is team communication?
According to the MIT Human Resources website, a team is a group “formed deliberately and carefully to meet work needs that an individual or a group of individuals cannot meet as effectively.” Meanwhile, the same website defines teamwork as “a shared commitment both to the team’s process (how the team works together) and to its product (what work the team accomplishes).”
In order for teamwork to happen, individuals working in a team need to work interdependently but also come together regularly to:
- Make decisions,
- Carry out discussions,
- Plan future work, and
- Solve problems.
To be able to do that, the team needs to communicate frequently and effectively.
Team communication represents all interactions and exchanges of information that occur in a team. This includes various:
- Types of communication (e.g. verbal, nonverbal, written, or visual interactions),
- Communication situations (e.g. 1-to-1 conversations, job interviews, or meetings),
- Communication styles (e.g. aggressive, passive, or assertive forms of communication),
- Communication channels (e.g. phone calls, direct messages in team communication apps, or emails), and
- Communication models (e.g. one-way, two-way, and complex two-way communication).
At its core, team communication is a transmission of information. However, in order to have truly effective communication in a team, we have to successfully transmit information — i.e. the person sharing the information has to convey the information properly, and the person or group receiving the information has to interpret it properly.
How does team communication relate to teamwork?
Team communication is a crucial element in establishing great teamwork across the workplace.
The flow of new ideas, recognition for your efforts thus far, feedback that inspires you to improve further, or, in gist, everything beneficial that comes from teamwork, requires constant, proper communication.
We spoke about this to Dr. Raffaello Antonino, a senior lecturer in counseling psychology, who agrees that team communication influences all aspects of teamwork.
“Think of team communication as the glue that holds the entire operation together. It directly impacts how well a team functions.
Effective communication ensures the workload is shared equitably, fostering a sense of unity and common purpose. It eliminates confusion by clearly outlining everyone’s role and responsibilities, increasing productivity and focus. It’s also your most potent tool in:
- Conflict resolution,
- Diffusing tensions, and
- Promoting understanding.
And let’s not forget, it’s through casual chats and shared laughs that strong bonds are formed, making the workplace a pleasant place to be. In essence, team communication is teamwork’s behind-the-scenes orchestrator, subtly but significantly influencing the team’s dynamic.”
A communications and PR expert, Jake Ciccarelli, agrees and adds that there are 3 key points of relation between communication and teamwork.
“Communication relates to teamwork in 3 key ways:
- Sharing information,
- Building trust with one another, and
- Increasing productivity.
Sharing information allows the team to see if everyone is on the same page about a task or project at hand and equips all team members with the appropriate and necessary information. Building trust in a team comes from knowing you can rely on one another when things get difficult. Lastly, increasing productivity goes with making other team members feel comfortable to communicate in your shared space — when someone is more comfortable, they will communicate any potential issues, which will facilitate higher chances of success.”
The impact of teamwork
As determined, effective business communication is of the utmost importance because teamwork relies on it, and teamwork has a myriad of benefits. Teamwork:
- Breeds great ideas — According to John J. Murphy, the author of “Pulling Together: 10 Rules for High-Performance Teamwork,” we may admire the “lone geniuses”, but each famous name whose inventions and skills we praise today had a team of people behind them who made it all possible to such an extent.
- Encourages healthy risk-taking — Working in a team allows individuals to share responsibility with their teammates, and thus encourages them to take some healthy risks. That is beneficial both for employees (as it helps them be perceived in a more favorable light) and organizations (as it allows workers to propose new solutions to old problems).
- Makes individuals happier (and more successful) — One Atlassian research reports that honest feedback, mutual respect, and personal openness (which are all integral to great teamwork) help make the members of a team 80% more likely to report high-emotional well-being and 60% more likely to achieve more and perform work faster.
- Helps teammates grow as individuals — Teamwork can help individuals understand their weaknesses and then work on improving them. Furthermore, working in a team means having a safe space to grow while being supported by other team members (through delegation, feedback, etc.)
- Decreases the chance for burnout — According to a study conducted by Edelman Data and Intelligence, 50% of employees and 53% of managers have experienced at least some level of burnout. Burnout is linked with the stress of having a lot of work to do and not enough time and resources to do it. Teamwork can alleviate this kind of stress as teams share the workload.
Why is communication important in teamwork? (a.k.a the benefits of team communication)
Teamwork and communication are interlinked and dependent on one another. A study done on teamwork and team decision-making showed that teams tend to reach conclusions through the exchange of arguments and communication, which leads to better group performance.
Better group performance is one of the most important benefits of team communication. The others are:
- Better understanding,
- Easier collaboration,
- Increased productivity,
- Improved creativity,
- Easier problem-solving, and
- Lower chance for conflict.
However, the list doesn’t stop there. Here are all the benefits of good team communication that highlight why you should pursue it for the sake of great teamwork.
Benefit #1: Good team communication promotes understanding
Good communication can help you avoid misunderstandings and miscommunication at work. Sadly, miscommunication is something that happens quite frequently.
According to a survey conducted by Interact and reported by the Harvard Business Review, as many as 57% of employees report not being given clear directions for their work. What’s more, 69% of managers report they’re uncomfortable communicating with employees, while 37% said they don’t feel comfortable giving feedback.
Another study reports that only around 14% of managers are confident in their skills when it comes to providing feedback. This can often prove detrimental to productivity and employee satisfaction, given that 72% of employees say they would perform better if they were given feedback (even if it’s negative feedback).
Clearly communicating intentions and providing feedback to your teammates or employees is crucial for success because it promotes understanding. Teammates and managers who communicate with each other are more likely to understand each other and overcome a number of obstacles in their work.
If you’re clear, concise, and precise, but also attentive on your own end when conversing with someone, you’ll increase the chances of understanding what has been communicated, for both parties in the communication process.
🎓 Pumble Pro Tip
Feedback is crucial for success, but that doesn’t mean asking for it is easy. If you need some insight into how to properly do it, check out the Pumble blog post below:
And, if you’re one of the 86% of managers who aren’t comfortable with giving feedback (especially virtually), then these two blog posts will help you gain some much-needed confidence:
Benefit #2: Good team communication leads to good collaboration
Although many people consider them one and the same, teamwork and collaboration are different. The main differences between teamwork and collaboration lie in:
- The diversity of skills (teamwork requires a group of people with similar skills, while collaboration requires a more diverse pool of experts), and
- The desire for creation (teamwork relies on agreements to reach a common goal, while collaboration thrives on uncertainty in hopes of creating something new).
Still, although different, teamwork and collaboration are interlinked, and teamwork relies quite heavily on collaboration. And even though that’s the case, studies, like the one conducted at the Queens University of Charlotte, show that up to 39% of employees believe that the people in their organization don’t collaborate enough.
Collaboration and effective communication go hand in hand and help build an effective workflow. Teams that communicate clearly throughout their work together, manage to collaborate better. In turn, they share the workload, which decreases stress levels across the team and minimizes the chance of individuals burning out.
As a result, business processes run more smoothly and all obstacles are noticed and addressed in a timely manner.
🎓 Pumble Pro Tip
Effective communication is crucial both for collaboration and teamwork. To find out more about it and pick up a few extra tips on how to communicate effectively, read the following guide:
Benefit #3: Good team communication increases productivity
All teams strive for productivity. But, productivity is only possible if everyone understands:
- Their roles in a team,
- The roles of their teammates, and
- The expectations for their work.
“What task should I work on first?”
“What resources will I have to work on the task?”
“What is my deadline?”
Answers to these and similar questions bring clarity, and clarity only comes when we invest effort in communication. As a direct result, everyone can fully focus on pursuing their roles in the expectations for the team’s common goals.
One study presented in Pumble’s workplace communication statistics shows that employees who feel included in workplace communication and receive detailed information are 5 times more likely to report higher levels of productivity. These self-reported increases in productivity are confirmed by other studies that show that 72% of business leaders share the belief that effective communication has a direct impact on employee productivity.
Moreover, good communication and better productivity are also connected indirectly. When you communicate more frequently, you decrease the chance of misunderstandings, which helps you work faster, and with better quality.
🎓 Pumble Pro Tip
Establishing good communication is a vital step in increasing productivity in a team. To find out what the other steps are, read the following Pumble resource:
Benefit #4: Good team communication increases motivation
Employees who aren’t “in the know” about what happens in their workplace are naturally less likely to feel invested in it and thus motivated to contribute to it in any way.
But, more importantly, employees who don’t receive information on what is expected of them due to lack of clear communication, simply won’t be motivated to do their tasks.
Of course, the motivation of an employee depends on quite a few factors, and clearly communicating their tasks and obligations is just one of them. Overall communication is also important.
In fact, all forms of communication can affect employee motivation, starting from the very simple, “How’s it going?” from a superior all the way to carefully thought out constructive criticism in the form of a review.
Frequent, clear, and thoughtful communication makes employees feel appreciated, included, and a part of a team, which, in turn, makes them more motivated. Quite a few studies prove this in practice. For example, one study presented in Trade Press Services stated that over 85% of employees feel motivated when they receive regular updates from upper management.
Benefit #5: Good team communication increases creativity
It’s often said that two minds think better than one. And, according to another article by the Harvard Business Review, communication that occurs between team members (i.e. internal communication) and communication that occurs with people outside of your team (i.e. external communication) both promote creativity, as they enable you to learn from others and work with a larger pool of information.
So, once you have a particular idea, it’s a great practice to use two-way communication to further discuss it with other people. They can share their own knowledge and experience on the subject, and contribute to your original idea with their own suggestions and alternative solutions.
As a result of such brainstorming sessions made possible through transparent communication, teams will increase the creative potential of individual teammates’ ideas and perhaps build or create new solutions that retain worth from the point of view of many different perspectives.
Benefit #6: Good team communication fuels innovation
One of the key differences between innovation and invention is that innovation can’t happen without teamwork. In order to innovate something, you have to work in a group, receive feedback from others, and workshop ideas.
Innovation most often happens in diverse, cross-functional teams that communicate well. What’s more, in order for innovation to happen, there needs to be a transparent and open exchange of ideas. As soon as there are team silos and a silo mentality, innovation becomes impossible.
So, improving team communication and encouraging team members to communicate openly and freely increases the chances of innovation.
Benefit #7: Good team communication helps you accept changes easier
According to an article by Forbes on how managers and employees perceive change that cites a 10-question assessment called “What’s Your Style of Change Management,” as many as 45% of frontline professionals prefer to retain their status quo.
But, the business world is often changing, and so is the marketplace.
By fostering good communication tactics and strategies, you’ll ease the negative effects people may associate with changes, by making everyone aware of these changes in a detailed and timely manner. Another Forbes article, “The Importance Of Communication When There Is Change In A Company,” states that communication eases the entire process and creates “synergy that promotes a better understanding of what you and your team are working to achieve.”
When everyone is aware of the benefits certain changes may bring for the future of the team, a project they are working on, and maybe even the entire company, these changes become much easier to accept.
That, in turn, also makes implementing change much easier. Communication is the core of any change implementation. Managers and leaders who successfully and openly communicate the kind of changes they are implementing, as well as the repercussions of said changes (in terms of tasks, responsibilities, and workplace environment), are more likely to gain the trust and goodwill of their employees.
Benefit #8: Good team communication helps you solve problems easier
Working on a project usually comes with its fair share of problems — problems that may require some difficult decisions. And, according to McKinsey’s article “The case for behavioral strategy”, as many as 73% of senior executives believe their companies make bad decisions more often than good decisions.
But, consulting with others makes difficult decisions easier, as you get a more diverse set of opinions and solutions to choose from. This applies both when trying to solve problems plaguing your individual tasks and your team’s project on the whole.
Benefit #9: Good team communication improves employee morale (and decreases employee turnover)
According to a survey by Recruiter, as many as 33% of managers state that a lack of honest communication affects team morale negatively. Furthermore, 38% of managers believe that the best remedy for low employee morale is communication.
Teammates who communicate with each other, and aim to communicate honestly, connect with each other better. What’s more, if managers communicate with their teams more, they may better understand individual team member’s skills and talents, and then use this knowledge to assign the right tasks to the right people.
As a result of improving the connection between team members and acknowledging the value of individuals, the work environment becomes more positive and attentive. This results in improved employee morale, but also in decreased employee turnover.
🎓 Pumble Pro Tip
If you’re lacking ideas on how to boost employee morale — and a good old “improve communication” simply won’t cut it — check out the following Pumble blog post:
Benefit #10: Good team communication increases employee loyalty
A loyal employee is every manager’s dream. Loyal employees gladly contribute to the company’s goals because they share them (or at least share the vision) and take pride in utilizing their skills for the success of the company.
By maintaining good team communication, companies can work on increasing employee loyalty. Good communication fosters respect, unity, and value, which can all lead to employees being more loyal.
Benefit #11: Good team communication helps you deal with conflicts easier
Diverse teams have teammates with different opinions, and such different opinions may result in occasional conflicts. After all, the report on workplace conflict titled “Workplace Conflict and How Businesses Can Harness It to Thrive” shows that as many as 85% of employees deal with conflict, at least on some level.
These conflicts may stem from misunderstandings or the feeling that you’re disrespected, taken advantage of, or disregarded in any way.
Good communication eases and prevents conflict as it helps people
- Voice their concerns,
- Understand each other’s behaviors and thought processes better, and
- Respond to differences in opinion with a more open mind.
Benefit #12: Good team communication creates a non-threatening environment
Successful communication with team members creates a healthy environment where everyone feels safe. Psychological safety is essential for job satisfaction and quality of life, as well as the quality of work done.
According to research on productivity in a toxic environment, a toxic environment — one including bullying, harassment, humiliation, and gaslighting at work — leads to emotional exhaustion and job burnout. It also decreases productivity significantly since people can’t function at their maximum capacity when they’re under constant stress.
On the other hand, when communication in teams is open and coworkers resolve conflicts in a professional and mature way, people feel safe and at ease, which allows them to work without any psychological and emotional impediments.
🎓 Pumble Pro Tip
Maintaining a non-threatening environment is one of the ways companies can foster mental health in the workplace. Read more about it in the following Pumble blog post:
Benefit #13: Good team communication builds trust
According to a study about trust in the workplace conducted by the Workforce Institute at UKG, trust needs to be earned — as reported by 63% of managers and employees. The main strategies for earning trust are listening and honesty (which are key features of effective communication).
If you are able to listen attentively and convey your own messages with clarity, as well as accept other people’s ideas and opinions, you help build the trust that everyone understands their responsibilities and duties. More importantly, you help build the trust that everyone means to carry out their work as expected.
In his article, “The Neuroscience of Trust,” Paul J. Zack states that trust can make or break a company. Building a culture of trust has a myriad of benefits:
- Increased productivity,
- Better collaboration,
- Longer engagement,
- More energetic approach,
- Less chronic stress, and
- Better life satisfaction.
The only way to reap all the benefits of trust is to create it — and you can do so by having open communication.
Benefit #14: Good team communication builds self-esteem
It’s true that a group is only as strong as its weakest link, which is why it is vital to build each individual in a team up and help them boost their self-esteem. Effective group communication can do just that — help everyone feel their best to strengthen the team as a whole.
The overall team resilience depends on the self-confidence of individuals. This means that the team won’t get disheartened in the face of failure or challenges, and it will easily bounce back from any setbacks.
Good team communication means ensuring that:
- Everyone has a safe space to voice their opinions, concerns, and ideas,
- Team members are given frequent constructive feedback,
- Achievements are acknowledged and celebrated, and
- Engagement is encouraged.
Successful teamwork and communication will not only build people’s professional self-esteem but will also reflect on their private lives. After all, work is a large part of our lives, and its effects can pour into other aspects of our identities and not just our work personas.
Benefit #15: Good team communication encourages future input
According to Westside Toastmasters, effective communication makes people more open and willing to share with the team, as they know that their opinions will be heard and valued.
Every time the team listens, respects, and maybe even accepts a new idea or opinion, it paves the road for more diverse and useful input from other colleagues across the entire team, in future interactions.
Benefit #16: Good team communication builds client relations
An organization can’t foster great relationships with its clients and other external parties if its internal communication is amiss.
When you need to communicate with the outside world, you do so as a whole — that is corporate communication. When a representative talks to a prospective client, they do so on behalf of their entire organization, so they need to be well aware of its internal processes.
If a representative handling a client miscommunicates their requests while relaying them to their team, the client will not get what they asked for and will quite possibly terminate their relationship with the business.
Effective team communication makes internal processes function like a well-oiled machine, which facilitates communication and collaboration with external parties.
🎓 Pumble Pro Tip
Communicating with third parties is often a stumbling block for many companies. To find out the best ways of handling third-party communication, read the following blog post:
Benefit #17: Good team communication improves the organization’s reputation
So, great communication and teamwork directly affect the company’s client relations, thus improving its overall reputation.
If your company is marked as sloppy, disorganized, or inattentive, this can have long-term negative effects on how the world perceives you.
However, it’s not just about your reputation in terms of how potential clients see you — it’s also about building your employer brand.
Successful communication and teamwork in the workplace can build a company’s reputation as an employer. Satisfied employees spread the good word, thus attracting more qualified job seekers. Over 80% of leaders agree that employer branding has a massive impact on a company’s ability to hire talent.
How poor communication affects a team
Poor communication happens when the sender and receiver have a different take on the message. That can happen due to many reasons, but the effects are always the same — miscommunication.
In teams, this problem can occur on a 1-to-1 level of interaction among teammates, between management and employees, as well as within a team as a whole.
The effects of prolonged poor communication in teams can be grave:
- Unstable work environment,
- Lower productivity,
- Disruption in collaboration,
- Low morale,
- Workplace tension,
- Poor external relationships, and
- Loss of reputation.
Let’s learn more about each consequence of miscommunication.
Consequence #1: Poor communication creates an unstable work environment
When teams are unable to communicate effectively, they are easily overcome by the constant uncertainty and stress of not having clear objectives. And, as mentioned before, employees who don’t know what’s expected of them are less likely to be motivated to do their tasks.
Consequence #2: Poor communication lowers productivity
When there’s a breakdown in communication, team members can’t function at their optimum level. This lowers employee engagement and, given that engaged employees are 14% more productive than disengaged ones, the overall productivity of the team.
Consequence#3: Poor communication causes disruptions in team collaboration
Without effective communication, team members are often left to their own devices and are unable to properly collaborate. This, in turn, shuts the door to innovation, brainstorming, and any other form of collaborative work.
Consequence #4: Poor communication causes low employee morale
Without proper communication, employees can feel underappreciated, which can lead them to lag behind with work. When employees are disheartened, they are less motivated to utilize their skills for company gain.
Consequence #5: Poor communication creates workplace tension and conflicts
In an atmosphere of uncertainty and miscommunication, tension can build up and disrupt the workflow. The most visible, and at the same time, the most detrimental effect of poor communication is conflict among coworkers, which can harm the entire team.
Consequence #6: Poor communication causes poor external relationships
Poor communication is infectious, so when team members miscommunicate, they can relay confusing and even contradictory messages to clients and other external parties.
Consequence #7: Poor communication can lead to a loss of reputation
When poor communication becomes the norm, the entire company suffers, and as bad reviews pile up, the organization’s reputation takes a huge hit.
What are the components of the team communication process?
In order to improve team communication, we must first understand it. But to do so, we’ll need to understand the processes of general communication first.
According to various theoretical frameworks, the communication process is a series of actions taken in order to successfully communicate a message. It involves 8 main components:
- The sender,
- The message,
- The channel,
- Decoding, and
There are also two additional components to the process of communication that some researchers add as quite important:
- Environment, and
The 8 main components of communication
- The sender — The sender or the source is the person who initiates communication. According to the authors of Business Communication, the obligations of the sender are:
- Selecting the type of message,
- Analyzing the receiver,
- Using the you-viewpoint,
- Encouraging feedback, and
- Removing communication barriers.
- The message — The message is the piece of information (e.g. a thought or idea) the sender wants to transfer to others. The message may be transmitted in several different ways, including:
- In spoken form,
- In written form,
- As visual information, or
- As nonverbal cues.
- Encoding — Encoding is the process of turning the thought or idea the sender wants to convey into communication by choosing the right words in the right order to “describe” the thought or idea, and then placing the message into an appropriate channel.
- Noise — Noise or interference is everything that interferes with the communication process during encoding or decoding and distorts the intended message. Noise can be physiological (e.g. hunger), psychological (e.g. internal issues we may have), physical (e.g. noisy office), or semantical (e.g. not understanding the other person due to overuse of jargon).
- The channel — According to McLean in his book The Basics of Interpersonal Communication, the channel is “the way in which a message or messages travel between source and receiver.” Good examples of communication channels are face-to-face communication or a team communication app.
- The receiver(s) — McLean defines the receiver as the one who “receives the message from the source, analyzing and interpreting the message in ways both intended and unintended by the source.” For the communication to be effective, the receiver(s) will need to:
- Be attentive in order to understand the message,
- Have the right communication channels active, and
- Not be distracted by the previously mentioned noise.
- Decoding — Decoding is the process of turning communication into a thought or idea, to make sense of what was communicated.
Feedback — Feedback is the reply the receiver has to the message. It answers the question of whether the message was properly encoded, sent, decoded, and interpreted.
2 Additional components of communication
As mentioned, certain theoretical frameworks add 2 more components:
- The environment, which is “the atmosphere, physical and psychological, where you send and receive messages,” according to McLean, and
- The context, which is “the setting, scene, and expectations of the individuals involved.” Context may be interpreted differently by different participants in a conversation, in terms of its formality and the rules the communicators should follow.
Team communication example
So, now that we’ve understood the communication process in general, it’s time to see how this process applies to communication in a team.
In gist, the team communication process involves the same listed elements.
In any instance of the communication process among teammates, members of other teams, and managers, someone will be regarded as a sender who’ll need to encode/transform a line of thought into a message. Furthermore, someone will be regarded as a receiver who’ll need to decode/understand the message and then provide suitable feedback/reply.
At any point during this process, noise/interference may arise to distort the original message and/or feedback and disrupt communication.
Let’s take a look at how that might look in real life. For the purpose of this example, let’s imagine Jessica and Milo, who work together as a team on a blog website. Jessica is a writer and Milo is an illustrator.
How team communication unfolds
In this example, we’ll have Jessica be the sender of the message, and Milo the receiver. Jessica (the sender) wants Milo to create a graph for her future blog post.
To communicate that to him, she goes through all the steps a communication process has to have:
- She encodes her thought process that led to the idea of creating a graph into written form, where she explains how she wants the graph to look.
- She manages to convey her idea for the graph clearly and concisely, despite being distracted by her dog loudly barking at the front door of her home office (physical noise).
- She sends her request to Milo (the receiver) as a direct message in a business communication app, Pumble (the channel of communication).
To ensure her message is interpreted correctly, Jessica also adds a reference image for the graph, just to make sure that Milo understands what elements this particular graph is supposed to have.
Take a look at the image below that depicts how Jessica’s delivery of her message would go.
So, Jessica did everything right. Let’s take a look at how Milo (the receiver) interprets the message.
He also goes through specific components of communication:
- He receives the written message and the reference image and decodes everything in such a way that he understands clearly what Jessica has envisioned for the graph.
- He manages to do so, despite being quite hungry (physiological noise).
- He sends her a reply that he understands what she needs and that he will send her what she asked for at a specified time.
In the image below, you can see Milo going through the steps we mentioned.
Why is this an example of good communication?
The exchange of information between Jessica and Milo was effective — Milo understood what Jessica needed and provided feedback on that request. Here’s a recap of all the reasons why this particular exchange was successful.
Reason #1: Jessica was effective at explaining her request
As the sender, Jessica successfully encoded her idea into a piece of information. She explained everything she wanted the graph to contain, and she was clear, precise, and concise while doing so. She gave Milo access to the draft that contains the data, so he can take in a larger context of the data for the graph if needed.
Reason #2: Milo was effective at interpreting and replying to the request
Milo, as the receiver, was successful at decoding the piece of information he had just read. He was also successful at sending Jessica appropriate feedback. He was clear about understanding the request and provided precise times when he’ll deliver upon that request.
Reason #3: The channel of communication was effectively chosen
The messaging app they used proved to be a great channel of communication for this conversation, as it allowed Jessica to attach a reference image to clarify her request. Plus, considering that the conversation was realized in written form, Milo can use Jessica’s description of the graph as a reference whenever he needs a reminder of the points they’ve discussed.
🎓 Pumble Pro Tip
Picking the right communication channel is often vital for successful communication. If you’re having trouble choosing the right one for you, take a look at this Pumble Learn article:
Reason #4: Both parties successfully overcame interferences
Both Jessica and Milo managed to overcome the noise (i.e. the barking dog and the feeling of hunger) threatening to disrupt the effectiveness of their communication process.
Reason #5: The communication environment was suitable
The atmosphere the two communicators built while communicating was pleasant, and Jessica did not let her dog (who was a part of that environment, at least on Jessica’s part) disrupt her line of thought at the time and cloud the message she was trying to convey to Milo.
Reason #6: The context was clear
Both parties understood the context of this communication interaction, i.e. each other’s expectations. Jessica preemptively understood that Milo might need more context than simply explaining her thoughts, which is why she provided an example image of what she would like Milo to create. In turn, Milo made it clear that he understood what Jessica was aiming at.
How this example of team communication could have gone wrong
So, the previously described example of communication between Milo, the illustrator, and Jessica, the blog post writer, is an example of good team communication.
However, this particular instance of the communication process could have gone in a completely different direction.
Risk #1: The interferences could have won
The dog barking in front of Jessica’s door could have led her to forget to highlight important elements of the graph in her written message.
Moreover, Milo’s feeling of hunger could have led him to misinterpret the type of graph Jessica wants him to create, even if she was clear about this in her written message. Milo also could have been distracted by his other assignments, meaning that he may have not been paying sufficient attention to understand what Jessica is requesting.
Risk #2: There could have been a lack of clarity
Jessica could have also been vague in her request, meaning that Milo may not have understood what type of graph he needs to create.
Milo could have been vague about when he’ll get back to Jessica about her request.
In addition, Jessica could have paid less attention to the formatting of her written request, which means that Milo could have had a harder time distinguishing where Jessica’s written request ended and where the data she wants to include in the graph started.
Here’s an example of what that particular interaction would have looked like.
Risk #3: There could have been technical issues
Aside from all the things we mentioned, there also could have been technical issues. For example, Milo could have received the message later than it would have been ideal, due to problems with his internet connection he wasn’t even aware of, considering he usually creates illustrations in an offline app.
As demonstrated in our example, good communication involves properly conveying and understanding a message. And yet, the process of communication can go wrong in various different ways.
Still, good communication among teammates, but also with other colleagues and managers is always worth pursuing. What’s more, improving team communication means improving the team’s odds of success.
If you’re struggling with communicating effectively in a team, here are the best tips on how you can achieve productive, effective communication.
How do you communicate effectively in a team?
Poor communication is the leading cause of workplace failure — a fact that over 86% of managers and workers agree with, as one Feirce Inc. study revealed. That is why acquiring strong team communication skills can do wonders for you and your coworkers. But, which exact approach can you take in order to achieve effective communication in groups and teams?
Here are some tips on how to effectively communicate in a team.
Tip #1: Be honest
Honesty and open communication are the cornerstones of successful teamwork. However, people often choose to conform at work in fear of going against the current. But the truth is that inauthenticity at work creates a dissonance within a person that causes them to drift away from the rest of the team.
What’s more, when a team member expresses their disagreement with the general idea, they provide a different perspective that could benefit everyone.
For example, let’s say a member of the marketing team is the only one who notices that the new slogan could be misinterpreted. If they decide to keep quiet only because everyone else agrees the slogan is great, this could seriously damage the brand.
Still, honest communication doesn’t mean you should bluntly and rudely say everything that’s on your mind. Maintaining positive communication while being honest is of the utmost importance because it builds inter-team relationships and increases motivation and productivity (among other things).
🎓 Pumble Pro Tip
Being dishonest and censoring yourself in the hopes of maintaining a “social status” is one of the most common communication mistakes employees make. Find out what the other 13 are (and how to overcome them) in the following Pumble blog post:
Tip #2: Be clear and concise
As demonstrated in the example with Jessica and Milo, one of the most important components of successful team communication is being able to convey the message clearly and precisely.
So, think before you speak and try to get your point across as effectively as possible.
Not communicating clearly leads people to rely on assumptions when interpreting the message, which is one of the leading causes of communication breakdown.
Miscommunication, in general, leads to misunderstandings, and the latter can cause all sorts of problems within your team, such as missed deadlines, errors, bottlenecks in the workflow, and even conflict.
Tip #3: Be respectful and considerate
Research about respectful communication at work presented in a study “The Effect of Respect: Respectful Communication at Work Drives Resiliency, Engagement, and Job Satisfaction among Early Career Employees” showed that people value respectful engagement more than autonomy, job security, and high income.
So, make sure to respect your teammates’ time and energy and be careful not to overburden them. If you want to delegate a task to someone, first check if they have the time and are willing to do it. If someone is on a break and doing nothing, it doesn’t mean they are available for work.
Being considerate can also mean offering help if you see that someone is struggling or even bringing a cup of tea to a stressed-out colleague.
Seemingly little things can go a long way and truly strengthen your relationships within the team.
Tip #4: Use nonviolent communication (NVC)
Nonviolent communication is a concept created by Marshall Rosenberg, Ph.D, presented in his book Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life. This process includes:
- Observing without judgment,
- Expressing your feelings,
- Expressing your needs, and
- Voicing your requests.
We asked Avigail Lev, psychotherapist, author, mediator, and executive coach, what she thinks the advantages of NVC are. She states that it opens up many possibilities for team communication.
“Nonviolent communication is a powerful tool that promotes win-win scenarios in problem-solving. It teaches people how to focus on identifying underlying needs rather than surface-level wants, which allows us to truly understand what is important to each party involved.
When we can distinguish between wants and needs, we can engage in negotiations that are more likely to meet everyone’s core needs, cultivating a sense of satisfaction and cooperation.
This approach opens up the possibility for creative problem-solving solutions that shift our focus from rigid positions to flexible exploration of options that address the underlying needs of all parties.”
She continues that through utilizing NVC, we can reach often unattainable win-win solutions.
“When we recognize, value, and negotiate diverse needs, it enables us to find win-win scenarios that promote understanding, collaboration, and sustainable resolutions.
NVC helps us understand our own limits, boundaries, needs, and desires, resulting in more effective communication and reaching win-win solutions that benefit everyone. It also helps us develop a better understanding of ourselves, through fostering self-awareness and allowing us to connect with our own emotions and needs.
This self-awareness empowers us to communicate our thoughts and emotions more authentically and assertively.”
🎓 Pumble Pro Tip
NVC is one of the tactics you can use to achieve effective communication. To find out what the rest of them are, read the following Pumble Learn entry:
Tip #5: Listen attentively
Getting your message across successfully is only part of the work. Great team communication also relies on active listening. This is a skill you can practice by being attentive to what your colleagues are saying and truly understanding their points of view.
To ensure you’re doing your best to actively listen when you’re receiving a message, you can try to:
- Adjust your attitude — a positive attitude makes you more receptive to what other people have to say.
- Pay attention — paying attention and focusing on both verbal and nonverbal cues people are sending us makes us better listeners.
- Adjust your response — not making assumptions and being flexible when listening to what the sender of the message is trying to convey is also an important feature of active listening.
This way, you’ll not only improve your overall team communication and collaboration, but you will also show respect for the other team members and their opinions.
🎓 Pumble Pro Tip
Active listening is one of the vital skills that effective communicators have. To find out more about it, check out this Pumble Learn entry:
Tip #6: Choose the best channel for conveying your message
Effective and efficient communication also depends on the team’s smart use of different communication channels.
Choosing the right channel to contact a coworker is especially important if you’re working in a remote team and can’t simply hop to their desk and ask a question.
But even in the office, face-to-face communication is often not the best option. For example, you won’t go from person to person delegating tasks if you can do that through a project management platform. Similarly, you won’t stand up in the middle of the office to shout an announcement that you need to deliver to an entire group of people. Instead, you’ll use a different channel — one that is a better outlet for organizational communication.
Likewise, even in one-on-one conversations, when remote workers need to consult their colleagues on a problem, it’s much more practical to discuss it in a team communication app, such as Pumble, than send emails back and forth.
🎓 Pumble Pro Tip
Maintaining communication through the proper channels is one of the best ways to make your remote team feel connected. Here are a few other tips on how you can do that:
Tip #7: Find everyone’s preferred communication styles
Aside from finding a communication channel that best fits everyone’s needs, it’s also vital that you understand every team member’s preferred communication style.
Not everyone will communicate in the same way (just like they won’t receive the same message in the same way).
We asked Ciccarelli about this and he stated that recognizing differences in communication can be the best strategy for improving communication effectiveness.
“Initiate a thorough discussion about each team member’s preferred communication style.
Recognizing that individuals may have unique preferences and challenges when it comes to communication enables the team to adapt their approaches accordingly. In particular, some team members may find it difficult to ask for help, which is why proactively offering assistance without waiting for a direct request can be an effective way to check in with them.
This proactive approach demonstrates support and fosters an environment where team members feel comfortable seeking assistance when needed.”
Tip #8: Be open to feedback and constructive criticism
No one is immune to mistakes, and we often can’t see our own errors. That’s why we should value constructive criticism coming from our colleagues, as it can help us learn, grow, and stay engaged.
Constructive criticism is just as important as employee recognition for improvement and engagement, so we should welcome both. In fact, feedback of any kind encourages engagement — ¼ of female employees and ⅕ of male employees state that providing feedback and recognition is a powerful engagement tool.
Even if you don’t agree with the feedback you receive, take it with grace and don’t get offended. Simply explain your perspective and try to find common ground. Where there’s room for feedback, there’s room for improvement.
Being open to constructive criticism means allowing your team members to prompt you to always strive to become better at what you do.
Tip #9: Address issues as they arise
When left unaddressed, even small issues tend to create frustrations that eventually lead to major problems in the team. So if something is bothering you, be sure to communicate it in a respectful, neutral tone and try to deal with it right away.
Communication in successful work teams is unobstructed and doesn’t steer away from dealing with difficult things.
You may find it hard to deal with the problem, but by addressing it right away, you clear the air and save yourself from building up resentment.
Tip #10: Engage in bottom-up communication
Finally, ensure that all team members, no matter their spot in the team hierarchy, are included in the conversation. That is something that Dr. Antonino highlights as especially important for teamwork and the overall success of the team.
“Often the best ideas come from the ones on the front line, but these can be stifled by hierarchical dynamics. Encouraging communication from those at the lower rungs of the ladder to the top can be a game-changer. It’s like opening the windows and letting fresh air into your strategy planning, giving everyone a sense of ownership and responsibility.”
Dr. Antonino also urges you to remember that effective team communication isn’t a one-way street.
“Remember, this isn’t just about extracting ideas from your team. It’s also about fostering an atmosphere of trust and respect, where everyone feels their voice matters. And it goes without saying, leaders must be prepared for both constructive feedback and the occasional harsh truth. As they say, the truth can hurt, but it can also heal and pave the way for growth.”
🎓 Pumble Pro Tip
Clearly, communication is of the utmost importance. If you’re looking to further improve it, check out these two Pumble Learn entries:
Importance of team communication: Better team relations and increased productivity
Good team communication plays a crucial role in establishing effective teamwork and improving the work experience for the entire team. Most importantly, good team communication boosts productivity and improves the relationships between team members.
Of course, the importance of team communication lies in many other benefits as well. Great team communication:
- Promotes understanding,
- Leads to good collaboration,
- Increases productivity, motivation, and creativity,
- Fuels innovation,
- Helps you accept changes and solve problems easier,
- Improves employee morale (and decreases employee turnover),
- Increases employee loyalty,
- Helps you deal with conflicts easier,
- Creates a non-threatening environment,
- Builds trust and self-esteem,
- Encourages future input,
- Builds client relations, and
- Improves the organization’s reputation.
Ultimately, good team communication stands as the foundation of everything teamwork stands for, as it can be linked to various crucial benefits that lead an organization to success.
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