For companies that practice it, positive team communication offers many benefits. Instead of pursuing multiple, conflicting agendas, employees learn how to speak with one voice. Morale improves, too, as managers and workers embrace different ways of communicating with each other. Ultimately, promoting an atmosphere that encourages open dialogue is the key to making this approach work. Organizations that adopt these principles stand a better chance of achieving their goals, as well as staying competitive.
Challenges and Conflicts
Conflicts arise when managers focus on the employee's need to understand the organization's purpose, while neglecting his desire to learn new skills and build self-esteem by getting recognized for a job well done. When trying to build better teams, another point to consider is whether effective communication is happening at all levels. Communication between executives and managers often breaks down as the messages ripple through the employee ranks, which also tends to reduce competitiveness and productivity.
Effective Team Characteristics
To solve communication problems, good managers must understand what makes an effective team, "Inc." magazine advises. One essential characteristic is a set of agreed-upon common goals that are simple, measurable and relevant to the task at hand. Participants should also understand how their individual efforts contribute to the desired goal, which promotes a collaborative atmosphere. Ensuring that all players know the goals and their roles is a part of effective team communication. Teams that build these interdependent relationships are less likely to engage in blaming or finger-pointing when things don't go well.
People are natural problem-solvers. To capitalize on this tendency, managers should set aside time for exercises that build communication, creativity and trust. Professional team-builder Ken Keller took this approach in having a group of executives create their own signature wine brand, design a label and develop a marketing plan, according to "Entrepreneur" magazine. A panel of judges then evaluated the best efforts. Such methods build stronger relationships, because the participants must rely on each other to figure out an unfamiliar task.
Getting everyone involved works well for issues that require a group commitment, or consensus. For example, your employer may ask you to participate in collective goal-setting exercises, or discussions of potential options. The idea is to get all the participants feeling some ownership in the final decision. The more strongly you feel this way, the more likely you'll commit to the agreed-upon line of action, and communicate better with fellow team members.
Whether you're an employer or manager, you should always consider the overall climate in any initiative to improve team communication, public relations recruiter Lindsay Olson states in a June 2012 "U.S. News & World Report" column. For example, inviting employees to play paintball might be ill-advised in a hostile or aggressive organizational atmosphere. You must also consider what you're trying to accomplish, how long the process might take, and how much participation you can expect from managers in reinforcing any communication-enhancing and team-building effort.