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How To Keep Teams Communicating: 11 Proven Strategies

In addition to trust, clear communication is foundational to any professional team’s success. If its members have problems communicating with each other, it will not only reduce the team’s overall effectiveness, but could also damage morale, individual performance and even the bottom line.

As their manager, you can help pinpoint issues with a team’s communication, but it is up to the team members themselves to fix those problems. To ensure that the process of identifying and solving a team’s communication problems won’t devolve into a blame game or result in further miscommunication, focus on strengthening practical communication skills.

Below, 11 professionals from Forbes Agency Council look at the most effective ways to locate and fix the issues hindering communication between team members before they cause a ripple effect.

  1. Get To The Root Issue

Communication challenges are not usually not personal in nature; they are just misunderstandings. So take the time to get to the root issue (e.g., missed deadlines and deliverables, misallocated timelines, etc.) and have each of the parties express their viewpoints. Then, put an accountability plan in place to resolve any challenges that might have risen to the surface. - Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne LLC

  1. Be Consistent With Your Own Communication

Always be the first person to do a status check on each of your employees. There is definitely an inefficiency problem when people aren’t communicating. You have to look at the pain points of each person first, and then piece them all together to create a sustainable solution. - Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS

  1. Create A Safe And Trusting Environment

The foundation of company culture is trust and transparency. Without a safe environment, people will not open up. And opening up is crucial, as only addressing problems head-on will lead to productive solutions. There needs to be frequent communication, and we encourage non-task based conversations in an effort to strengthen team bonding. - Christoph Kastenholz, Pulse Advertising

  1. Observe And Listen To Your Team

Observing and listening to your team is a great way to uncover areas that need improvement in their communication and determine preferred channels for communicating. Providing your team with a channel in which they feel comfortable openly communicating helps avoid a breakdown and promotes open communication. - Hannah Trivette, NUVEW Web Solutions

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  1. Align The Team’s Goals With Leadership’s

Poor communication means that team members are not aligned with leadership. Leaders must publish four to five annual goals for the team with key performance indicators and milestones to meet. They must get alignment from each team member at the start, and they need to check in each week to measure actual versus planned results. Direct discussions must occur when deliverables are dropped. A good leader will never accept low performance. - Michael Fox, Corberry Digital

  1. Create And Share A Survey Or ‘Feedback Form’

Create a standard survey or a “feedback form,” and then share it with all members of your team. Make sure that the questions focus on perceived and witnessed issues (or ones that were reported in confidence), then do one-on-ones with all relevant team members over a short period of time. Pull people in quietly; don’t make a huge interoffice announcement. Show grace. - Christopher Tompkins, The Go! Agency

  1. Take Emotions Out Of It And Look At The Data

First things first: Take emotions out of it and look at the digital paper trail. Review emails, logged tasks, timestamps, etc. to see where things are actually slipping through the cracks according to the data. Then, have an honest heart-to-heart with all team members aimed at finding solutions, not pointing fingers. Show your team an example of the type of communication you expect. - Bernard May, National Positions

  1. Have One-On-One Conversations To Identify Issues

Before you make assumptions, have a conversation with each of them individually and see if they can identify what the issues are. Often, if you ask them first, they can give you a clear picture of what’s going on from their perspective. Then, you can piece it all together and address it as you see fit. Regular team meetings will also help minimize communication breakdowns. - Skye Suttenfield, Seen Media Group

  1. Understand What Motivates Each Individual

Effective managers provide their teams with all of the resources required to win in their roles. This includes the manager’s leadership, which can take many forms, including listening. Assuming that everyone wants to do a good job, understanding what motivates each individual may be vital to cultivating a team that’s motivated to work together. - Patrick Nycz, NewPoint Marketing

  1. Determine What, Who And When For Accountability

What, who, when—those are the absolute keys to every action plan and discussion within my organization. What is the issue? Who is responsible for it? And when is it going to be taken care of? When you get to that level of accountability, you’ll find that things get completed. If everything is done in a gray area, it won’t. - Douglas Karr, Highbridge

  1. Look For Signs Of Competing Goals

Poor communication among team members is often a sign of competing goals. Establishing a clear desired outcome and identifying each person’s part in getting to that outcome is critical. That needs to be followed up with a communication and process structure that clarifies the appropriate ways and times team members should contribute to and weigh in on the project. - Roger Hurni, Off Madison Ave

First published at https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesagencycouncil/2021/03/02/how-to-keep-teams-communicating-11-proven-strategies/?sh=282c6d765c5d March 2, 2021