Effective team communication is one of the utmost important aspects to be taken care of while handling large remote teams. Here is an article that talks about how to handle team communication efficiently. Read on!
To make sure a proper running of a company, the completion of projects on time, ensuring a good synergy with the clients requires effective team communication between the members of the team. It’s an essential skill to help you work together in a better way especially if you are a remote employee. In this post, you’ll learn how to quickly improve communication within your team.
What is team communication?
In simple words, conversation or exchange of information between two or more persons, either verbally or by written (via message, mail, etc.) is called team communication. In the workspace, where everyone works independently, it is necessary to have proper communication with the team members.
Proper communication enhances the quality of work or makes it much better when there exists proper communication between the team members.
All interactions and exchange of information in a team is team communication. In an organization where many individuals work independently, team communication is essential in completing the projects, meeting deadlines, and mainly working in harmony.
Team communication is essentially the exchange of information between the members of a team, located either virtually or physically within the office premises. It can be verbal mode, written mode, or digital mode of communication.
The interactions involve an exchange of ideas, sharing daily progress status, discussions on risks and issues, and many more. Various team communication software like Zoom, Google Meet, Slack, Microsoft Teams, etc. are leveraged to facilitate easier and faster communication in teams.
Employees working in a remote environment need to frequently interact and collaborate for better efficiency and productivity. Therefore team communication plays a vital part in the success and overall performance of the team.
Communication in the workplace
Communication in the workplace comprises of interchanging ideas and information among two or more different individuals or groups. Companies are more and more focusing on an effective communication framework to build an environment of trust and harmony among the employees.
Eventually, it results in increasing the motivational level, and inspirational level of the employees; thus enhancing the productivity of the company. Team communication or individual communication proves to be an effective method to decipher any critical issues and bring in innovations and ideas.
There is minimal fear of conflicts between the employees of an organization. From the leadership level to the new joinee level, it is crucial to maintain transparency in team communication. To strengthen team communication in the workplace, you must create a receptive atmosphere where the members are tolerant towards each other.
The conversations must be simple, easily understandable, and must not be confusing. This facilitates openness and confidence in the discussions. In certain situations, face-to-face interactions are vital to develop a sense of respect and belongingness. Imparting training to enhance competency is also another proven means of communication in the workplace.
Workplace communication is predominantly beneficial for both formal and informal means of exchanging conversations between team members or teams. It increases the ability to work in a team with greater efficiency and effectiveness.
The members are expected to be proficient in verbal as well as written communication skills; a preferred check by recruiting companies during the hiring process. Strong and interactive communication at work eliminates the possibility of any toxic relations between the team members.
Besides, it facilitates the resolution of issues jointly; thus leading to faster time to market. Additionally, the informal means of team communication reduces delay in decisions by reducing conversational gaps.
Many companies prefer using visuals for imparting their messages to their employees. Especially leaders who are in strategic positions prefer promoting their viewpoints, ideas, thoughts, and company’s vision and mission via visual presentation tools. The employees are easily able to grasp the essence of the conversations and can adhere or align themselves to it.
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Communication and teamwork
Communication and teamwork are inter-related, boosting team bonding by easing the communication bridges. Important is to follow the rules since team members from different diverse cultural background and languages are involved in an organization. Hence to reduce the communication barriers, it is vital to engage in teamwork.
Both communication and teamwork prevent missed deadlines, enhancing the company’s visibility in the international market. Misunderstandings are eliminated, fostering a sense of coherence among the team members. Companies thus organize team events to nurture a sense of mutual respect among each other.
Team communication eliminates any obstacles or hindrances in conducting project or program activities or tasks in an organization. It is advisable to conduct a communications group review at frequent intervals to judge the effectiveness of the activities and games conducted to enhance team communication.
This exercise will help analyze the impact of team communication on the productivity of the employees and the overall team performance. If you find that the communications team enhanced, you can rest assured of the ways and methods adopted for building up a strong communication framework between the teams.
Team building communication
Effective communication within a team instills greater problem-solving and the generation of innovative ideas and thoughts. Hence encouraging team building communication is a mandatory aspect in companies and organizations desiring to achieve their goals faster.
The team members think creatively based on individual talents and skills. They assist, guide, and support each other for better alignment to the company’s objectives. Potential conflicts are mitigated.
To answer a basic question, “Why is communication important in teamwork?” An analysis was conducted by Small Group Research. The group surveyed almost 103 samples and concluded that the positive impact of teamwork communication on a company’s productivity can be measured.
A division in communication in successful work teams may lead to reduced staff morale and low motivational levels. Companies are therefore stressing on creating a friendly and cooperative environment through communication team building initiatives.
One to group communication
One to group communication comprises 2 types – group communication between 3 or more people or in a group and inter-personal communication which involves face-to-face interactions. Both types aid in building up a relation of friendship.
The communication mode can be in the form of emails, phone calls, messages, chats, etc. Both in the academic world as well as in the professional world, one to group communication leads to positive results. Feedbacks and comments on any issues or any deliverables are easily sorted out without any significant delays.
Communication in groups and interpersonal interactions even enhance the competency level of individuals through knowledge sharing via experience and expertise. While talking about individual communication vs group communication, there is a subtle difference between the two.
One necessitates understanding the personal feelings and emotions of each other even in the work environment. While the group communication in teamwork demands strong bonding and harmony between more than 3 members. It needs more coordination, patience, and empathy from the participants.
Inter team communication
In the majority of organizations, multiple departments or teams need to work in close coordination for achieving program or project objectives. For example, a manufacturing firm will involve the production department, inventory department, logistics department, financial department, etc.
Without a well-defined inter team communication framework, the chain of activities within the teams may break. In other words, the inter team communication definition is a concept of promoting the different stakeholders to collaborate and support each other, even though they belong to separate business units or departments.
There are several challenges in inter team communications. The reason being the teams do not operate at the same time or on the same premises. They do not meet in the regular cadence calls. Hence companies have to open up various means of channels to promote inter team communication meetings and conversations.
Use collaborative tools, audio and video conferencing technologies to facilitate more engagement between multiple teams. The expertise and efficiency of inter teams usually vary. Sometimes teams may be located in different regions and need to connect remotely.
Unless there are harmony and goodwill among the teams, the overall performance and stability of the company will be jeopardized. Hence defining an effective inter team communication framework is one of the key success criteria for any organization.
Group communication skills
A group in an organization majorly comprises of a supervisor or manager, module leaders, and team members; entrusted to achieve a specific objective or goal for a program or project. Group communication skills are an art that all companies must aspire for; to achieve better customer experience and productivity.
Different communication group styles can be adapted depending on the interactions required. It can be dominant or result-oriented, influencer or relationship-oriented, steady or cooperative and conscientious or value-driven.
Using the right communication media is also vital, for example leveraging team meetings, conference calls, group chats, informal gatherings, etc. Identification of barriers relating to language, culture, emotions, perceptions, etc., and resolving them is also a vital part of communication in groups and teams.
Team communication skills
The most important team communication skills are elaborated here,
- Listening to colleagues is one of the most important aspects of team building communication skills. It helps to understand the logic provided by the speaker as well as the feelings expressed by the person. Eventually, it guides the recipient to engage in expressing feelings or opinions relevant to the discussion and topic.
- Understand and use the non-verbal mode of communication to help better connect with fellow team members. Research conducted by SalesForce has proved that 93% of communication in group work via the non-verbal mode of conversations. It can be in the form of gestures, reactions, etc.
- Ensure the team members are not mentally and physically stressed out during the group communication process as it may hamper seamless interactions.
- All verbal and non-verbal communication in group work must be respectful, polite and not harm the beliefs and sentiments of the fellow team members.
- All team members must think before expressing their opinions and ideas. The information imparted must be relevant, related to the topic being discussed, and logical.
- Accept arguments with grace and ensure a balanced approach to provide justifications on potential disagreements.
- A person in a team must lead a discussion without waiting for the others to start the conversation. It is one of the smartest team communication skills.
Importance of team communication
Team communication is essential to keep the team members productive, effectively allocate the work to the professionals, and in turn, achieve the goals of the organization. But lack of team communication deteriorates the performance of the employees, especially if it’s a remote team.
Good communication helps in achieving productivity, output and improves morale in general. The importance of strong communication is essential to succeed in business. When managers are good and strong communicators, they would be able to solve the issues within the team, manage the conflict, and build a good relationship with the members.
Strong communication of the management is not just to solve the ongoing issues but also to empower and encourage the team members. Only when there is a good channel of team communication, innovative ideas are communicated without any hindrances.
Employees should be encouraged to communicate openly without any fear, and this totally relies on the communication style of the organization. All these attributes to the growth of the business. Team communication is the basis of everything from the beginning till the end that helps in achieving the goals of the organization.
Methods of Communication
Methods of communication can simply be classified into 2 types.
1. Verbal communication
Any interaction or exchange of information that takes place verbally between two or more persons is called verbal communication. Verbal communication includes face-to-face conversations, group meetings, conversation in phone calls, online meetings, etc.
2. Non-Verbal communication
Any interaction or exchange of information that does not take place verbally and takes place as written/documentation in a letter, email, group chats are termed as non-verbal communication. Non-verbal communication includes email, postcards, WhatsApp groups, Telegram groups, Messenger, etc.
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Effective Team communication strategies
Work doesn’t go well if there isn’t a proper way of communication. Every company, especially companies that has its employees in different time zones, has to ensure a good flow of communication. The 3 effective team communication strategies are listed below.
1. Regular meet-ups
Scheduling regular meet-ups to strategize the work is important. This gives a chance for everyone in the team to present their ideas and discuss them relevantly. It also helps in understanding the current status of the ongoing project. Preparing an agenda of the meeting and specifying the time limit of the meeting also helps in reducing the time wastage of everyone.
2. Online tools
Using online tools effectively helps in saving time. In today’s technologically advanced era, it would be difficult for everyone to turn up to the office; rather it would be a waste of time for the remote workers to travel a significant time and attend the meeting. Online tools help in effective communication and reduce the wastage of time.
Some of the online tools are unremot, Skype, Google Hangouts, Slack, Zoom, etc. According to ‘Lifesize 2019 Impact of Video Conferencing’, 48% of business professionals use video conferencing more frequently than they did 2 years ago.
3. Clear, transparent, and inclusive
It is necessary to be inclusive, clear, and transparent in conducting a meeting. Prior to the meeting, the mediator should be clear about the agenda of the meeting, the motto of the meeting, who should participate (the stakeholders), and the desired result.
Inviting the right people to the meeting and making sure that anyone is not missed is also an important task to the mediator. If any references to the previous meeting are about to be mentioned, it is necessary to inform the stakeholders who haven’t attended the previous meeting.
Tips: Conducting team building activities helps in keeping the team members engaged.
Strategizing team communication for remote teams
Strategizing team communication for remote teams is a bit different compared to team communication when they are commonplace. Remote teams are the future of work as it significantly reduces the rent, electricity cost, etc. for the employers.
Apart from that, it also saves the traveling time and energy of the employees. The ‘Global Mobile Workforce Forecast Update’ says 1.87 billion workers will be mobile by 2022 globally. Here are some of the real solutions adopted by companies to communicate effectively for remote teams.
1. Conduct regular virtual meetings
When it comes to remote teams, it is necessary to schedule regular live meetings. The Messenger being there to update about the status of work, asking for other information, etc. it is important to have regular live meetings with the remote workers to know the issues they are facing. When it comes to remote teams, trust is an important aspect. Live meetings help in understanding or to read the body language, which reveals other things that they don’t intend to say.
2. Specify the objectives
The communication method may be by a messenger or virtual. But it is important to clearly specify the objectives of the project. The responsibility assigned to them should be clearly communicated, which is the ultimate purpose of having her/him as a team member. Specifying the objective should be taken care of but not to micromanage the workers. If there are any doubts, they will get in touch, but micromanaging makes to feel them hassled.
3. Do not bombard the group with messages
The messaging groups are meant to specify the objectives and to be specific to the point. Be clear about what to say/ask. Don’t bombard the online groups with a lot of messages which make them feel annoying. Let the group strictly be used to pass the information. Birthday wishes, individual conversations should be strictly avoided in the groups. An unofficial group could be used for all such purposes.
Apart from regular virtual meetings, inviting the remote employees to the workplace or a commonplace helps in creating a bond with the team members. It could be scheduled monthly or 15 days once, or ideally a Friday evening whichever suits the organization.
5. Invest in good technology
A lag during visual communication makes both the employer and the employee feel annoyed. It also ends up consuming a lot of productive time. Better coordination is required for effective communication. And the execution of work. So it is better to invest in an effective team communication tool.
Team communication software
Team communication is essential, and so is the team communication software as it helps the remote workers in saving time. Team communication software helps in saving the time and energy of the remote workers in attending the meeting.
Not only the remote workers but also the employees who are on a holiday or a vacation or working in a different branch of the office. Now, let’s see some of the basic information about team communication software.
- unremot – unremot is a video-based online collaboration tool, most effective for remote teams. It can accommodate 20+ users, who can view video as well as screens of other participants.
- Skype – Skype is a partly free video software suitable for up to 50 participants. The software can be used from a phone, desktop, tablet, etc., and helps in recording the call.
- Google Hangouts – Google Hangouts is a communication software developed by Google. It is a paid software ranging from INR 210 to INR 1650 accessible for 100 to 250 software. Screen sharing and video recording are some of the features of Google Hangouts.
- Slack – Slack is also a paid software that can host up to 15 persons for video conferencing. Only 2 persons can engage in a free video-conferencing call.
- Zoom – The software allows to host up to 100 participants at no cost with a limit of 40 minutes on group meetings. The number of participants can be hosted from 100 to 500 with availing additional features paying from USD 14.99 to USD 19.99.
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How to improve team communication
Poor communication at work leads to misunderstandings, missing deadlines, arguments which adds up the stress for every team member. Here are some of the tips to improve your communication.
- Identify the root of the problem: To improve team communication start with analyzing what we lack and where we lack. To begin it from the root cause and addressing them properly is a way to improve team communication. This reduces half of the efforts in improving team communication.
- Be clear: While communicating, be clear and specific so that they are clear about what they are responsible for. Make sure the entire team knows the scope of the project and clearly explains the expectations from each and every member of the team.
- Meetings at regular intervals: Meetings should be properly conducted at regular intervals. There could be many things running on the minds of the team members. Regular meetings happen as a chance to address all the issues they face while working on a project.
- Encourage feedback: Encourage your employees for clear and detailed feedback. Well, no one is perfect. So we all need constructive feedback to know about us.
- Communication training: Communication programs helps and improve the communication skills of the employees. Communication skills improve not only conversation skills but also presentation skills, managerial skills, etc. This helps in the effective communication of the employees. Such training investments for the employees should be considered as an asset of the company.
- Agenda – The agenda or the tone of the meeting must be set forward at the beginning by the moderator or the leader for effective team communication. This assists the members in interacting amongst each other with a definite purpose and objective. So if you are looking for how to improve team communication, then consider setting up the context upfront.
- Mutual respect – Every team member in a group demands respect. Hence granting space to each member while being respectful to each other’s views is the best way to communicate with a group. Establishing a connection through mutual respect is very essential to improve team communication.
- Psychometric tests – It is recommended to conduct psychometric tests to be familiar with all the team members, their interests, domains or technologies of expertise, personality, preferences, etc. These tests help improve team communication, providing a perfect baseline for interactions.
- Roles – The roles of each team member must be clarified and communicated in the group. Improper clarification of the roles may eventually lead to multiple communication problems among group members. It eases the interactions and conversations in team comm.
- Group activities – It is advisable to start a conversation with confidence to take a lead in the communication group activities. You can build up an environment of trust and confidence right at the beginning; one of the effective team communication skills.
- Method of communication: The organization should opt for a better method of communication considering the nature of work, the presence of employees, etc. Some employees of the organization would be remote workers. Therefore, all the aspects should be taken into consideration, and the best mode of communication should be chosen.
Communication group activities
Communication team building and group activities must be fun-filled and engaging to ensure participation by all. Some of the popular communication and team building activities and games are mentioned for easy reference,
- Jigsaw Puzzle – The team is divided into multiple groups. Each group is assigned an online jigsaw puzzle and they can huddle separately to solve it. The group that provides the solution first is the winner. It is one of the most popular communication teamwork games.
- Deserted in an Island – Form groups of 5 to 10 people. Ask them to imagine as if they have been deserted on an island and about 20 to 25 items have been washed ashore for them to use. But they can only pick up 5 to 7 items. It helps the members to understand the importance of communication in teamwork.
- Two Truths and a Lie – One of the preferred teamwork and communication group activities, followed by a majority of the companies. Each person tells two facts and a lie about themselves and others need to guess which is the truth and which is wrong. Not only the members understand the importance of team communication, but they can know each other better.
- Pictionary – In this particular communication group activity, each group appoints a leader. The leader is provided with an object or a person which he or she has to draw. The other members of the group have to guess the object or the person from the sketches.
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What is team communication?
Most of the teams work independently. All the interactions, exchange of information that happens between the members of the team is team communication.
What is a remote team?
A remote team is comprised of workers/employees responsible for a project working from different geographical locations.
What are the effective team communication tools?
Skype, Google Hangouts, Slack, Zoom, GoToMeeting are effective virtual communication tools. Gmail, WhatsApp groups, Telegram groups are effective messengers for a group.
How to improve team communication?
Being clear and specific, scheduling meetings at regular intervals, encouraging feedback from the team members, investing in communication training are some of the ways to improve team communication.
What are the methods of communication in the workplace?
Verbal communication and non-verbal communication are commonly known 2 methods of communication in the workplace.
Why is team communication important?
Team communication is important to exchange information with the team members helping to achieve productivity, output, and morale in general.