How to improve team communication

When communication in a team is off, every aspect of work takes the blow — from employee happiness and productivity to company success and earnings. So team communication is an integral part of successful team collaboration, and it’s worth taking a bit of time to assess the state of it in your organization and see how to improve it.

In this guide, we elaborate on why improving team communication is important — and provide you with 28 tips on how managers and employees can work together to take their communication practices to the next level.

How to improve team communication - cover

Why is it important to improve team communication?

Great team communication is essential for the success of any organization. As many as 86% of employees and managers believe that a lack of communication and collaboration are the main causes of workplace failure. Here are some compelling reasons why you should strive to improve your team communication.

Great team communication boosts employee happiness

Improving communication can boost overall team happiness — and employee happiness is a vital condition for long-term success. According to one Gallup report, teams that rank in the top 20 in terms of connectedness surpass those less connected by 66% regarding employee wellness. This number shows that teams with healthy and regular communication are much happier than others.

Open and regular communication improves team motivation

When employees don’t get all the necessary information they need to perform a task and they don’t feel free to ask for it, it’s only natural that they won’t feel motivated to do their jobs.

However, clear communication about the team’s immediate tasks is not the only thing that matters — team members should also get regular updates on company goings-on and plans. This information helps them see the bigger picture, i.e. how their work contributes to overall company success.

The figures presented by Trade Press Services support that claim, with as many as 85% of employees stating they feel the most motivated when their managers offer regular updates about the company.

Great team communication is essential for employee retention

The above-mentioned report by Gallup has found that people working in connected teams are 59% less likely to leave the company. Furthermore, one Gusto report shows that 37% of employees place “working with a great team” at the top of their list of reasons for staying in a company.

It’s clear that the state of communication in the workspace plays an important role when employees are trying to decide whether to stay with the company or move on.

Effective communication equals higher productivity

According to a report by McKinsey, organizations whose employees are well-connected through social technologies show a productivity increase of 20—25%. 

What’s more, research by Gartner shows that employees who are more informed outperform their peers by as much as 77%.

So unobstructed information flow is integral for team productivity. 

The easier it is to find the right information and communicate with team members and managers, the better everyone is at performing their daily tasks.

Effective communication saves money

Many companies are unaware of the fact that the state of communication in their teams has a serious impact on their earnings. 

According to SHRM, even smaller companies with up to 100 people lose as much as $420,000 per year due to poor communication. 

By putting some effort into improving communication, they can save a lot of money in the long run.

How managers can improve team communication

Improving team communication when you’re a manager may seem like an intricate process — but, it’s actually simple once you start implementing the right strategies. 

In line with that, here are 13 great strategies that will help lead your team to better communication.

How managers can improve team communication

Build your self-confidence

Statistics indicate that as many as 85% of people suffer from low self-esteem. 

But this trait is essential if you want to help yourself and others communicate better in various communication situations. It’s especially important for managers who often need to communicate information about projects and tasks, organize group work, and also serve as mediators between individual teammates.

Here are some ways you can build your self-confidence:

  • Boost your existing skills — Identify the skills and talents you have that are vital for your role and responsibilities in the company. This way, you’ll also be boosting your self-esteem;
  • Learn new skills — Nothing improves your confidence as much as learning a new skill that is essential for your role, e.g. active listening;
  • Copy other confident people — Observe the people from your environment and identify the confident ones. Then, aim to emulate their strengths;
  • Leave your comfort zone — Leaving your comfort zone in terms of communication patterns may seem daunting at first. But, the ability to change our behavior and adapt to the current situation helps build self-confidence, because it shows we have great, unexplored potential we can tap into in the future;
  • Set personal goals — Set SMART goals and work a bit every day on achieving them. The steady personal growth resulting from achieving these goals will help you feel much more confident.

Clarify team roles

According to Effectory, role clarity can improve performance by a whopping 25%. 

When everyone has all the necessary information about their role in the team, they can be much more effective and efficient. 

Here’s how to clarify team roles:

  • Clarify expectations — Clarify the purpose, responsibilities, and priorities of a specific role. This will help employees understand what their role is about;
  • Delegate based on strengths — To get quality results, you’ll need to assign work based on who has the talents and skills to bring those quality results. And, don’t forget to properly recognize people for their strengths and accomplishments they achieve as a result;
  • Align team roles and goals — Once you’ve clarified team roles, it’s time you clarify team goals. And, understand and clarify how specific team roles can help you achieve these specific goals;
  • Promote transparency — Even when you think you’ve defined team goals and roles clearly, there is still room for confusion. Teammates may still work on the same tasks and take on the same responsibilities, creating meaningless and unnecessary double work as a result. That’s why you should invest extra effort into making everyone’s roles and responsibilities transparent.

Provide feedback

According to a survey by Ragan, as many as 69% of managers feel uncomfortable while communicating with their employees and 37% don’t like giving feedback. 

However, providing feedback is an essential part of healthy workplace communication. 

Here’s how to become better at it:

  • Think about feedback’s purpose — Ideally, your main motive should be helping someone improve their work — but, feedback can sometimes be a personal matter and you should be clear about your true intentions before providing it;
  • Make it a habit — Make it a habit to provide positive and negative feedback regularly. This way, you’ll make feedback no different than everyday conversations and meetings, which will ultimately make it less scary;
  • Make feedback immediate — On your end, providing immediate feedback will stop you from overthinking and building up the perceived discomfort. On the receiver’s end, providing immediate feedback will help make the greatest impact;
  • Focus feedback on specific behavior (not the person) — If you focus your feedback (especially the negative kind) on the behavior and NOT on the person, you should decrease the discomfort — by decreasing the chance that the receiver will react negatively;
  • Avoid creating “feedback sandwiches” — An easy way to provide negative feedback and avoid a negative reaction is to “sandwich” this negative feedback between two positive statements about someone’s performance. However, most people will see this tactic as manipulative and even insincere;
  • Provide regular positive feedback — When looking for ways to make improvements, it’s all too easy to only focus on the negatives you want to be corrected. However, providing recognition when and where due is crucial for boosting employee morale and motivation.

Accept feedback

To improve work and communication with employees, it’s not enough that employees receive feedback — you, as their manager, will also need to accept feedback. Achievers’ 2020 Engagement & Retention Report indicates that as many as 90% of employees say they are more likely to stay at a company that is comfortable with receiving and acting on feedback. 

Here’s how to improve how you accept feedback:

  • Be open to it — Being open to feedback is the first step to encouraging others to provide you with constructive feedback;
  • Listen to feedback attentively — You should make it a habit to listen to it actively,  without interruptions;
  • Reflect and follow up on feedback — There’s no use in feedback if you don’t truly consider its merit and act on it;
  • Organize employee surveys — When you think you’re not getting the feedback you need, it’s time you take a more direct approach — for this purpose, you can implement anonymous surveys to collect employee feedback in regular intervals.

Clarify workflows

Making sure the expected workflows and processes are well-communicated is key to productivity. Here’s how you can make sure they are clearly defined:

  • Clarify the “communication code” — Make sure you have a clear communication plan, especially if you’re a remote team, which defines your communication goals, how to communicate, which channels and apps to use in which situations (e.g. use Pumble for urgent communication, set a video call for complicated matters), etc.;
  • Establish rules for meetings — You’ll need to define clear workflows for how you’ll approach meetings, i.e. what types of meetings you will have, the purpose of each type, how long they should last, etc.;
  • Clarify project work — Clarify the details of each project and how it will unfold by defining tasks, milestones, assignees, deadlines, priorities, resources, etc. Better project communication will result in better organization, and ultimately, better results.
An example of an urgent message in the Pumble chat app
An example of an urgent message in the Pumble chat app

Introduce an open-door policy

Having an open-door policy means encouraging transparency and openness with the team. 

The expected outcome of the open door policy is the following: employees who have opinions, ideas, feedback, or anything else to share, can feel free to stop by the manager’s office to talk about it. Here are some of the best practices for introducing this policy:

  • Have a virtual option — Encourage employees to approach you online if they’re unable to do so in person. You can implement an online calendar for scheduling calls and a meeting link for joining calls at the scheduled time;
  • Adjust to expectations — Organize a dedicated meeting during which you’ll discuss what your teammates might want or need from the open-door policy;
  • Define boundaries — Discourage gossip and casual chit-chat and make it clear what employees can discuss with you;
  • Establish a conflict management plan — Have a procedure in place for when employees approach you with the expectation of settling their disagreement;
  • Handle requests on time — Depending on the seriousness and importance of the matter discussed, no request should remain without a response for too long;
  • Don’t make the request process complicated/formal… — A simple email or chat app ping should be sufficient to reach you;
  • …but, a more formal alternative should exist — If any employee feels more comfortable issuing an idea or opinion via an email, for example, they should have such an option;
  • Guarantee confidentiality — You should make it clear that the ideas or opinions they share during these meetings or messages are confidential;
  • Encourage input — Make the effort to elicit opinions and ideas on your own — to further encourage people who may have great ideas, but are reluctant to approach you on their own.

Organize team-building activities

Team-building activities are a fun and practical way to improve communication in your team. Most team-building activities require the teammates to communicate in order to collaborate and solve problems — others focus exclusively on improving team communication.

There are four types of team-building activities:

  1. Ice-breaking games — Ice-breaking games help people in new teams get to know each other better and understand how they can best collaborate in the future;
  2. Time management/planning games — Games that are focused on planning and time management help people learn how best to organize group work and plan it in accordance with the time they have to finish everything;
  3. Problem-solving games — Problem-solving games are focused on helping teammates understand how best to approach and solve specific problems and challenges;
  4. Communication games — Communication games are focused on helping teammates deliver information effectively, listen to others attentively, and discuss possible solutions to problems and challenges.

🎓 Looking for fun team-building games? You can find them here: 40+ best team-building games for improving communication

Provide communication training

Communication training refers to training meant to help develop key communication skills, including:

  • Speaking skills (with a special highlight on how to be assertive) — e.g. how to use appropriate vocabulary and proper pronunciation;
  • Listening skills — e.g. how to pay attention, defer judgment, and respond appropriately;
  • Business writing skills — e.g. how to clearly state your purpose, use concise language, and display confidence;
  • Public speaking skills — e.g. how to connect with your audience, how to keep it short but memorable, and how to paint a picture through storytelling;
  • Responding to conflict — e.g. how to recognize conflict, focus and what you can control, and find solutions. 

You can organize dedicated meetings and workshops to help your employees practice these skills and learn what good team communication really means.

Build a positive work environment

For your employees to thrive, you’ll need to provide them with the emotional, intellectual, and physical support they need to perform their best. To do this, you’ll need to build a positive work environment. Here’s how to do that:

  • Prioritize onboarding — According to one BambooHR survey, 17% of employees cite ineffective onboarding as a key reason why they quit their jobs within the first three months. Because of this, you should make the effort to improve your onboarding processes;
  • Make people feel comfortable — A comfortable work environment requires physical, but also psychological comfort. So apart from comfortable offices and workstations, you should encourage people to speak up without the fear of judgment or reprimand;
  • Have regular check-ins — According to one Ernst & Young survey, 39% of American workers claim that regular check-ins keep them happy at work, so make sure to practice them, either in person or via DMs if your team is remote;
  • Invest effort into creating a good workplace culture — According to a report by Deloitte, as many as 88% of employees believe that having a distinct workplace culture is important for an organization’s success. So, make the effort to define a mission, vision, and values for your company;
  • Provide learning opportunities — You can build a more positive work culture by providing your teammates with learning opportunities, such as coaching sessions, job rotations, webinars, etc.
An example of a check-in conversation in the Pumble chat app
An example of a check-in conversation in the Pumble chat app

Address diversity challenges

Teams may be characterized by certain cultural differences, including nationality, language, race, religion, etc. 

Sometimes, people may clash because of these differences, and it’s up to the manager to understand these differences and work with them in mind. 

To properly address any diversity challenges, you can do the following:

  • Train staff — Organize sessions of cross-cultural training. During these sessions, you can teach your teammates about different cultures and how they can respect each other’s cultural differences;
  • Establish guidelines — If you want your teammates to accept each other’s differences and overcome them, define clear rules and guidelines. Define what is considered appropriate cultural behavior, and what is not;
  • Forbid negative behavior — Make it clear that prejudices, discrimination, and harassment based on cultural differences will not be tolerated under any circumstances. Then, define what the consequences will be if someone violates these policies;
  • Be accommodating — Make the effort to be sensitive towards different cultures and show the teammates that you respect and accept their differences, to help them better respect and accept each other.

Encourage honesty and transparency

Honesty and transparency are the key predispositions for effective communication and productive work. But, many employees may withhold information because they believe honesty will get them into trouble. Moreover, they may overlook key work policies and processes, because of a lack of transparency. 

To improve transparency and encourage honesty within your team, you’ll first need to lead by example. Make sure all your decisions as a manager are transparent. Also, be honest about the possible drawbacks of your decisions.

In order to encourage honesty and transparency, do the following:

  • Make information accessible — Ensure that critical information — such as company policies, work rules, contact info, etc. — is always available to everyone. Also, keep everyone posted about any company updates. You can share announcements in the #general channel of your chat app so that everyone sees them promptly;
  • Provide context for assigned tasks — When assigning tasks, you should help task assignees place these tasks into the bigger picture and understand why these tasks are important for the success of a project;
  • Own up to mistakes — Everyone makes mistakes, even managers. But, what separates a good manager from a great one is how they deal with mistakes. Transparency and honesty in this department can help teammates feel more at ease about their own mistakes — and help them focus on correcting their mistakes, rather than covering them up.

Enable frequent communication

To help teammates communicate better, you’ll need to give them a chance to communicate frequently. Here are some tips on how to do that:

  • Encourage social breaks — You can encourage office teams to socialize in the kitchen or organize table football game sessions. Remote teams can enjoy casual chit-chat in chat app channels focused on more casual topics (e.g. #memes, #movie_recommendations, #music_recommendations, #game_recommendations, #pets, etc.);
  • Utilize social media — Having social media accounts for your brand is not just a great way to communicate with customers, it’s also a great way to encourage teams to communicate through the brand they are building;
  • Organize company retreats — Picnics, hiking trips, city tours, campouts, ranch visits, wellness weekends, kayak rides, or simple lunch outings are all great solutions to help teammates socialize in a more informal setting;
  • Celebrate birthdays and work anniversaries — Celebrating birthdays and work anniversaries is a small but efficient gesture to help build a team-oriented community and help teammates feel valued and accepted among their peers. Plus, it gives people a great opportunity to socialize in an office setting.
An example of a public channel dedicated to pets in the Pumble chat app
An example of a public channel dedicated to pets in the Pumble chat app

Adapt your approach to fit specific teams and teammates

Each team is unique in a certain way — the same applies to the teammates that constitute a team. 

Here are some ways in which they can be different:

  • As we’ve previously mentioned, teammates may differ in terms of their cultural background;
  • They may also differ in terms of their communication styles. Are they predominantly submissive, aggressive, passive-aggressive, manipulative, or assertive? Are they supportive (people-oriented) or controlling (task-oriented) communicators? Are they direct or indirect communicators? Are they functional, intuitive, personal, or analytical communicators?;
  • They may differ in terms of their personality types. Are they introverted or extroverted? Are they sensing or intuitive? Are they thinking or feeling? Are they judging or perceiving? Some personality types may collaborate well and some may clash. Moreover, teammates’ personality types can also influence how they’ll communicate with each other.

🎓 To learn more about the different communication styles mentioned here and what effect they can have on communication within your team, check out our comprehensive guide to the types of communication styles.

How employees can improve communication in a team

Improving team communication when you’re an employee may seem like a process that is beyond your power — but, the contribution of every teammate counts. 

In line with that, here are 15 great strategies that will help you improve how you communicate with teammates and managers on a daily basis.

How employees can improve team communication

Share and follow updates

Company workflows depend on the successful communication of news and updates. That’s why it’s important to always ensure that you and your teammates are on the same page when it comes to task progress, the latest company information, and priorities. 

To achieve this, do the following:

  • Talk to everyone — Don’t hold back about participating in small talk during break time — the more you communicate with your teammates on trivial matters, the easier it will be to talk with them about work issues. In turn, talking about work issues when they arise will help everyone stay in the loop;
  • Review priorities together — By practicing this, you’ll avoid duplicate work that happens when two people do the same task without being aware of it. Moreover, you’ll also avoid focusing too much attention on tasks that are not your immediate priorities;
  • Attend meetings — Meetings are important for sharing information and news on progress, but also for building relationships, identifying and solving problems faster, asking important questions, making better decisions, and more.

Work on key communication skills

To communicate effectively, you’ll need to nurture the right communication skills on a daily basis. 

So, make the effort to do the following:

  • Be clear — At any time, be clear on what you’re trying to convey — what do you want the other person to understand?;
  • Listen to others — To establish a two-way communication process, apart from clearly conveying your thoughts, you’ll also need to actively listen to others. Pay attention to what others are saying, and don’t let your thoughts about what you want to say in reply distract you from the message you are receiving;
  • Be direct — If you have any questions, concerns, ideas, or new information, present them to your teammates directly. Watch your tone and other non-verbal cues, to avoid having your directness be interpreted as rudeness;
  • Hone your writing skills — According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), as many as 74% of employers look for candidates who possess strong written communication skills. In line with that, you should pay special attention to perfecting this type of communication;
  • Avoid jargon — Refrain from using jargon words and phrases, especially if they don’t have a universal meaning. Not everyone will be familiar with them;
  • Avoid absolute language — Avoid using absolute words such as “always”, “never”, “no one”, and “everyone”. They can be interpreted as “allowing no exceptions” — despite “always”, “never”, “no one”, and “everyone” being statistically unlikely qualifiers in real life, no matter the subject you are discussing. As a result of using such absolute words, you lower your credibility as a speaker and diminish the value of the claims and arguments you make, even when they are valid.

Contribute ideas and solutions

Proper teamwork usually requires teammates to participate in a lot of decision-making and problem-solving activities. So, whenever there is a situation where the team is expected to make a decision or solve a problem, any teammate should feel free to contribute with relevant ideas and solutions. 

Before you pitch any ideas, ensure that you do the following:

  • Aim to understand the problem or decision — Before looking for an appropriate solution or idea, ensure you have clearly defined and understood the problem or decision and its importance for a task or project;
  • Drop your biases — Make sure you never jump to conclusions. The most obvious solution may not be the best one, and a certain bias may be stopping you from exploring other options;
  • Consider the available data — Chances are you’ve already encountered a similar problem. Use the knowledge you gained while solving that problem to solve this one. If you need additional data to find a solution, ensure you talk to the right people about it;
  • Consider possible outcomes — Every solution has several hypothetical outcomes — make sure you consider them before you pitch your idea to the team. Most importantly, think about the best- and worst-case scenarios, as well as the most probable outcome of your solution;
  • Prepare what you need in advance — Whatever you need to set your idea into motion, prepare it in advance, no matter whether it’s specific teammates you need to talk with, the equipment you need to use, or simply your courage to speak up.

Document everything

Employees and managers waste a lot of time looking for the information they need. One IDC white paper that covered 1,200 IT professionals and information workers found they spend as many as 4.5 hours per week simply looking for documents. 

This problem can be fixed if teammates make the effort to do the following:

  • Make documentation thorough — Save your emails and direct messages. Take notes in meetings. Make sure you have a document trail of everything you do, as you never know when you may need it;
  • Put verbal agreements in written form — When you have an in-person talk with a teammate about a problem or idea, always put what you’ve ultimately agreed on in the written form. For example, you can write an email or send a direct message to your teammate containing the highlights;
  • Properly organize information — Documenting everything of importance won’t get you far — unless you make the effort to properly organize all the information you document. This won’t be a problem in your team chat app, where you can search for the information you need at any time.
Search option in the team chat app Pumble
Search option in the team chat app Pumble

Ask for feedback

For communication to be effective, feedback needs to flow both ways — just like managers should receive it, so should employees. 

Here are some tips on how to ask for it and make sure you receive quality feedback, be it positive or negative:

  • Ask the right people — Turn to your teammates and managers — after all, they are your closest collaborators and are in the best position to rate and comment on your work;
  • Ask yes/no questions — If you ask several people direct questions about your work, and they all reply with a “Yes” or a “No” on a particular matter, you’ll be certain that you can trust the feedback. For example, you can ask “Do you think I need to improve in X?”;
  • Ask open-ended questions — Open-ended questions require more time to answer — so, you may want to save them for your immediate superior or closest colleague. Such questions can help you get more data on a personal trait or skill you need to work on. You may ask something like this: “What are my weaknesses and strengths, in your opinion?”;
  • Ask at the right time — Your managers and peers may not always have the time to give you feedback, so check when they’re available. 

Provide feedback

According to one 2020 Engagement & Retention Report, as many as 90% of workers are more likely to stay at companies that accept and act on feedback — and yet, only 12% of managers solicit feedback. In line with that, members of a team should make a conscious effort to provide feedback to their managers. 

Here are some guidelines:

  • Ask first — Asking whether it would be OK if you were to provide some feedback will help the manager mentally prepare for potentially negative feedback. Plus, it will help lower the chances that the manager will be defensive about what you say;
  • Be proactive about providing feedback — If you have specific feedback to provide, do it directly. For example, if you believe that having more check-ins would help you stay on track with work, tell that to the manager directly;
  • Offer positive feedback — If you get recognition from your manager on a regular basis, return the favor when appropriate. Namely, Achievers’ 2020 Culture Report shows that 53% of senior leaders and 42% of senior managers want more recognition in the workplace;
  • Offer constructive feedback — This type of feedback comes from positive intentions, and it is supportive and aimed at achieving positive results;
  • Phrase the feedback as a question — For example, if you believe that the duration of stand-up meetings is too long, frame your concerns as a question for the manager: “Do you think that the stand-up meetings take too long?”. You can then examine the arguments for and against the idea together;
  • If you’re struggling, say it — Chances are that your manager is simply unaware of the fact that you are overworked and struggling to keep up. Telling them this can help them understand that they need to manage their expectations differently.

Adjust your communication style

Just like managers, employees should also mind the differences in communication styles, or else there are bound to be some challenges within the team. 

Here are some examples:

  • People who are predominantly manipulative may trigger frustration, anger, and annoyance in the people they are communicating with;
  • Moreover, people who are predominantly submissive may trigger guilt and resentfulness in the people they are communicating with;
  • Indirect communicators are likely to hesitate to contribute in meetings, which means that direct communicators will take charge — no matter whether their ideas are really the best;
  • Analytical communicators, who predominantly focus on data while conversing, may clash with personal communicators, who predominantly focus on emotions while conversing;
  • In the end, different MBTI personality types may also clash in communication. For example, sensing people prefer tangible information, while intuitive people prefer to take in information by observing the bigger picture. In line with that, in discussions, they’ll provide and seek out different types of information.

Because of these differences, it’s important that you properly understand your own communication style.

It’s also important that you understand the communication styles of your teammates and managers. 

Once you do, you’ll be better able to communicate with them, because you’ll understand their expectations better, and be able to answer them and contribute to conversations in an assertive manner — one that has you stand up for your own right, but also respect the rights of others.

Offer help

Helping someone can be beneficial both for the person receiving help and the person providing it. 

However, providing help can also be a double-edged sword — especially if not handled properly.

For example, the person being helped may suffer a drop in self-esteem due to seemingly needing help with work in the first place. Sometimes, your offer of help may also be rejected, despite your best intentions, which may discourage you from offering it again.

To avoid these pitfalls, practice the following:

  • Subtly make it clear you’re available to help out — Offering your help directly may make you come off too strong, especially to people who neither want nor need your help at the moment. So, instead of offering your help directly, make it clear that you are available to help out when needed. This way, you’ll encourage others to seek you out, instead of actively trying to guess who needs help, and when;
  • Learn how to take “No, thank you” as an answer — If you offer help to someone and they reject you with a “No, thank you”, don’t insist on it — even if it is a manager you’re trying to impress with your skills and knowledge on a subject;
  • Focus your offer on someone’s lack of time (not lack of abilities) — When you offer people your help, you risk making them think that you are insinuating that they are somehow incapable of doing their share of the work. To avoid this, focus your offer on someone’s lack of time, not their lack of abilities.

Ask for help

So, you’ve understood the importance of offering help to your teammates and managers. But, it’s also important that you actively ask for help when you need it. 

To properly ask for help, you’ll need to do the following:

  • Tailor your plea to the situation — Don’t just ask the question, provide some context so that the person you’re asking for help understands why you need it. For example, instead of asking the manager “What’s my role in the project?” after they’ve explained it, try asking “Hey, I think I’m a bit confused about my role in project X. Do you have time to talk about it and maybe answer some questions, just to check whether I’ve understood everything correctly?”;
  • Ask privately — If you’re in dire need of assistance, you can avoid making your problem seem like a bigger deal than it is by asking for help privately;
  • Demonstrate you’ve tried to solve the problem — Explain and demonstrate that you’ve already tried to find a solution on your own. This way, the other person will understand that you’ve already tried your best, but simply need additional support — and will be more likely to help you;
  • Be specific — Be as detailed as possible so that the other person can quickly understand the issue and help;
  • Stay engaged with the task — If someone has agreed to help you with a task, don’t leave them to work on it alone. Provide assistance where needed, and answer any additional questions they may have.

Be accountable

According to thought leader Anne Loehr, as many as 84% of workers describe themselves as “trying, but failing”, or simply “avoiding” accountability — even when they know how to fix a problem. But, accountability is an important factor in successful team communication. 

To be accountable with your work, you’ll need to:

  • Declare commitments publicly — This way, you’ll gain more motivation to pursue them,  because you will want to avoid disappointing the expectations of your peers and managers;
  • Make public to-do lists — To increase your accountability, make it clear what you are accountable for. Create clear to-do lists. You can create them online and share them in your team chat app, by sending an attachment or a link to your team.
A to-do list sent as an attachment via the Pumble chat app
A to-do list sent as an attachment via the Pumble chat app

Be respectful

Employees who don’t feel respected tend to perform worse at work —  according to one poll, 80% of workers who don’t feel respected on particular occasions say they lose work time worrying about the incident, and 48% admit they intentionally decrease their work effort. 

To treat others at work with respect, do the following:

  • Treat others how you want to be treated — Kindness, politeness, and consideration are the foundation of respect;
  • Don’t complain behind someone’s back — Whenever you have something to say to your colleagues or managers, either say it to them directly or don’t say it at all;
  • Think before you speak — Before you pitch in on a subject, think about what you want to say and how you should say it. Get your thoughts in order, understand what you want to say, formulate it in your head first, and then say it;
  • Learn how to disagree with someone — Disagreements in a team are normal. But, it’s how you show your disagreement that counts – especially when it comes to showing respect;
  • Avoid gossip — According to a survey by Office Pulse, as many as 72% of professionals admit to gossiping about workplace matters. However, before you engage in gossip about someone, remember that the person you are talking about is a real human being with feelings — feelings that are likely to be needlessly hurt if they find out what you’ve been saying. 

Learn how to act in meetings

We’ve already established that it’s important to attend meetings, but the productivity of these meetings depends on the attendees — so, you should also learn how to properly act in them. Here are some tips to help you with that:

  • Understand the meeting’s purpose — Is the purpose to share/hear new information? Is it to solve a specific problem? Understanding the meeting’s purpose will help you prepare for it and contribute as best as you can;
  • Follow the meeting etiquette — If your manager has established some rules for your team meetings, stick to them so that the meeting can go smoothly;
  • Contribute with meaningful information — When in a meeting, don’t talk just to talk. 
  • It’s the responsibility of all attendees to keep the meeting on point and productive — so, try not to side-track the group with matters unrelated to the meeting agenda.

Get to know your team

To be able to communicate effectively about work matters, you should make the effort to get to know your colleagues and managers — and make it easier to communicate with them by socializing from time to time. 

Here’s how to get to know your colleagues better:

  • Initiate small talk — Next time when you’re making coffee or tea in the office kitchen together with a group of colleagues, ask them some questions. If you and your team operate remotely, you can initiate small talk virtually. Create public channels in your team chat app for certain fun topics, such as #pets, #digitaldrawing, #nba, #star_wars, #movies, #music, #tv_shows;
  • Have lunch together — Taking a lunch break together can help a team carve out a bit of time every day to unwind and bond;
  • Participate in company events — Team-building activities, birthdays, work anniversaries, and quick foosball/table tennis sessions are a great opportunity to socialize and bond with colleagues — and learn more about them in a more relaxed atmosphere.
An example of a public channel dedicated to company game nights in the Pumble chat app
An example of a public channel dedicated to company game nights in the Pumble chat app

Make the most out of your communication tools

Your communication tools are what enables you to communicate with your team in the first place. So, make sure you use your company’s official communication tools and aim to make active improvements in the way your team uses communication channels

To do so, you’ll need to make the effort to do the following:

  • Use your communication tools regularly — Whatever communication tools your company prescribes, make sure you use them regularly — and as prescribed;
  • Fill out profiles in apps — Profiles in communication tools are there for a reason. So, make sure you fill them out as requested, i.e. add a profile picture, job title, and your contact information so that people know who you are and how to reach you.

Adapt your approach depending on who you’re communicating with

Just like managers should adapt their approach when speaking to different teams or people, so should employees. 

We’ve already mentioned some differences that may necessitate extra consideration in communication, such as cultural differences, communication style preferences, and personality types.

So try your best to be mindful of your teammates and respect your differences.

Wrapping up: Improving team communication takes a mutual effort

Proper team communication is not that difficult to uphold — but it requires some effort from both employees and managers. 

As communication is a two-way street, so should the work on improving it be.

Managers can do their best to set clear expectations and procedures to help streamline the information flow, but employees need to meet them halfway.

Likewise, employees can reach out to their higher-ups and colleagues, but if they are unresponsive, disinterested, or hostile, it’s no use.

However, by working together, teams and their leaders can accomplish all their communication goals in a short time and with little effort.

References

  • Alton, L. (2018, April 13). Why low self-esteem may be hurting you at work. NBCNews.com. Retrieved December 3, 2021, from https://www.nbcnews.com/better/business/why-low-self-esteem-may-be-hurting-your-career-ncna814156. 
  • Chui, M. et al. (2019, February 13). The Social Economy: Unlocking value and productivity through social technologies. McKinsey & Company. Retrieved December 3, 2021, from https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/technology-media-and-telecommunications/our-insights/the-social-economy. 
  • Corporate Communications Leadership Council. Gartner. (n.d.). Retrieved December 3, 2021, from https://www.gartner.com/en/corporate-communications/role/communications-leaders. 
  • Durinski, T. (2020, October 13). 2020 Engagement & Retention Report: Achievers. Retrieved December 3, 2021, from https://www.achievers.com/resources/white-papers/2020-engagement-retention-report/. 
  • Eisenberg, A. (2016, September 14). Coworkers, benefits matter most to employees. Employee Benefit News. Retrieved December 3, 2021, from https://www.benefitnews.com/news/coworkers-benefits-matter-most-to-employees. 
  • GX Core Beliefs and culture – deloitte. deloitte.com. (n.d.). Retrieved December 3, 2021, from https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/global/Documents/About-Deloitte/gx-core-beliefs-and-culture.pdf. 
  • Harter, J. (2021, September 13). U.S. employee engagement reverts back to pre-covid-19 levels. Gallup.com. Retrieved December 3, 2021, from https://www.gallup.com/workplace/321965/employee-engagement-reverts-back-pre-covid-levels.aspx. 
  • HCPro, I. (2021, December 3). How do communication and personal accountability relate to one another? HCPro. Retrieved December 3, 2021, from http://www.hcpro.com/HOM-282053-5627/How-do-communication-and-personal-accountability-relate-to-one-another.html. 
  • Inc., D. (2018, January 24). Productivity, lost time, and the power of AI to make search easier. Medium. Retrieved December 3, 2021, from https://medium.com/@diamond_io/productivity-lost-time-and-the-power-of-ai-to-make-search-easier-a59d4cd85a26#. 
  • Knilans, G. (2021, October 24). Using internal communications to enhance business growth. Trade Press Services. Retrieved December 3, 2021, from https://www.tradepressservices.com/internal-communications/. 
  • Loehr, A. (2017, June 8). Why accountability is a must for teamwork and how to create it. RSS. Retrieved December 3, 2021, from https://www.anneloehr.com/2017/06/08/accountability-a-must-for-teamwork/. 
  • Pijnacker, L. (2019, September 25). HR analytics: Role clarity impacts performance. Effectory. Retrieved December 3, 2021, from https://www.effectory.com/knowledge/hr-analytics-role-clarity-impacts-performance/. 
  • Porath, C., & Pearson, C. (2019, March 19). The price of incivility. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved December 3, 2021, from https://hbr.org/2013/01/the-price-of-incivility. 
  • Shenhar, A. (n.d.). Keeping Management’s door open: How to establish an Open-door Policy that Works. researchgate.net. Retrieved December 3, 2021, from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/242340756_Keeping_Management’s_Door_Open_How_to_Establish_an_Open-door_Policy_that_Works. 
  • SHRM. (n.d.). The Cost of Poor Communications: A Business Rationale for the Communications Competency. Retrieved 02.04.2021, from https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/behavioral-competencies/communication/pages/the-cost-of-poor-communications.aspx
  • Vitukevich, N. (2019, July 31). Office gossip runs rampant. Office Pulse. Retrieved December 3, 2021, from https://officepulse.captivate.com/office-gossip-runs-rampant. 
  • Working, R. (2018, June 25). Survey: 69 percent of managers dislike communicating with staff. Ragan Communications. Retrieved December 3, 2021, from https://www.ragan.com/survey-69-percent-of-managers-dislike-communicating-with-staff. 

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