Communicating Effectively With Your Team

Feb 3, 2014 | Communication, Good Working Environment, Leadership

Kids communicating with tin can telephones

It’s pretty hard to work for a place if you don’t understand your job or what the business does. Employees are the ones who propel businesses forward—the ones who complete daily tasks delegated by leadership. But for this to happen, expectations must be communicated in a manner that is understood by all.

A business’ success relies heavily on how well its vision is communicated to both customers and workers. Therefore, communicating effectively is key to building and maintaining a thriving leadership relationship with your team. As a leader, it is your job to inspire others and get them on board with your goals. Avoiding some basic communication breakdowns can help this process. Here are a few tips to help:

1. Keep Messages Clear and Simple.

Vagueness is too common in today’s workplace. To lead effectively, you must provide all the details for deadlines, projects, and visions. Follow the basic “who, what, when, where, and why” model. For example, saying, “This project is really important. It needs to be done soon” might prompt more questions. What is “soon” in this case? Today? The end of the week? By next quarter? Instead, be specific and say, “This project will be presented to our client next week. Please email your work to me by Friday at 5:00 p.m.” 

2. Watch Your Nonverbals.

Nonverbal communication is any form of interaction in which you don’t speak. Nonverbals often deliver a stronger message than words. Examples include the way you dress, eye contact, and gestures—your body language. When speaking with others, maintain eye contact, acknowledge their conversation by actively listening (nodding your head), and be aware of your facial expressions, such as scrunching your eyebrows or frowning. Never check your phone or email when talking to someone else. Respect their time by giving them your full attention. 

3. Encourage Dialogue and Feedback.

Nothing can hinder this more than interruption. Be respectful of others by listening to their thoughts and refrain from jumping in before it’s appropriate. Never put others down. If you’re doubtful of an idea, ask an open-ended question for additional clarity. Frequently checking in with employees can help them feel more comfortable to ask you questions or offer ideas. Be approachable and available for conversation. When presenting an idea, make sure everyone is on board by asking questions like, “Does everyone understand?” or “May I clarify anything?”

4. Keep Employees in the Loop.

When difficult issues arise, don’t dance around them. Doing so can hinder productivity and morale in the workplace. Instead, be open, honest, and informative. If something like layoffs or budget cuts may occur, never deliver the news via email or phone. Always do so face to face, providing ample explanation for the events.

5. Recognize Gender Differences.

Men and women typically communicate differently. Acknowledge this and adapt your style accordingly to clearly communicate your message. For example, women often communicate more relationally, whereas men can be more direct or confrontational. Know how to effectively send your message to your intended audience.

6. Listen.

Listening to your co-workers’ needs can prevent many communication breakdowns. Take the time to figure out how your employees best receive messages. Value their feedback and ideas. Realize that employees are the ambassadors of your brand. Because of this, it is crucial that they understand the values and occurrences within your business.

Communication is invaluable when running a business and being an effective leader. What are some ways you have learned to better communicate with your co-workers? Leave a comment below—we’d love to hear your thoughts!

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