Your employees may be your greatest asset, but effective team communication is your greatest investment.
The importance of finding effective ways to exchange ideas, create cohesion, and understand unified goals can’t be understated. Whether you’re CEO or a new employee, it’s important to keep everyone on the same page so the team functions as a unit instead of a group of disparate professionals who just happen to work in the same building.
Are you suffering from a case of Nobody Told Me’s, I Didn’t Know’s, or What Are You Talking About’s? You may have built the Dream Team for your business, but if they aren’t communicating efficiently, it can be a company nightmare.
Here are some tips for fostering effective, efficient communication:
1. Schedule Regular Meetings
It’s important to schedule regular meetings for every level of your organization.
Full-team meetings are a must—you may be tackling projects within a specific department, but without keeping the big picture in mind, it’s harder to understand what impact your work has. Employees should understand how their work contributes to a greater goal and the company as a whole so they have a better idea of their purpose.
Here at Hudson Fusion, we’ve recently launched a set of regular “What, Why, How, Who” meetings with the whole team. We identify what tasks need to be done for each client, why those tasks need to be done, how we plan on achieving them, and who is responsible for each step of the overall tasks.
All in all, it’s helped the team keep up to speed and goal-oriented as a whole. The “What, Why, How, Who” system has streamlined the agenda, meaning less time meeting and more time working.
Organize regular meetings with your smaller departments as well. Touch base with your team members, give a run down on what’s everyone’s plate, and be sure to get a feel for how they’re feeling. Are they…
- Stuck on a project?
- Excited about a new campaign?
- Proud of their work?
Positive or negative, be sure you know how your team is prepared for the work in front of them so that they collaborate effectively, deliver good work, and know what new projects to expect.
2. Incorporate Technology/Apps
Technology is a double-edged sword. Used excessively, it can be a major distraction for employees, but when used efficiently, technology can enable effective communication among your team.
Beyond the norm—phone, email, etc.—here are a few types of apps you should consider downloading to help your team communicate and collaborate:
- Inter-team Communication (Slack, HipChat, GoToMeeting, Zoom)
- Task Organizers (Asana, Jira, Reminders, Google Calendar)
- Collaborative Tools (Google Docs, Quip, Dropbox, Basecamp)
3. Bring in Organizational Training
Consider bringing in a third-party consultant to help implement personalized communication solutions for your team.
Having a third-party perspective can help avoid bias, presumption, and group-think. Professional communications consultants can help organize your team approach by:
- Improving leadership development
- Enhancing internal communications
- Setting clear goals
- Optimizing your business strategy
4. Always Organize Tasks
It’s important to break down top-level goals into subtasks.
It may seem daunting to hit your ideal revenue goal or conversion rate, but if you’ve created a set of SMART goals that lead up to your ideal benchmark, then lofty ambition becomes “Pfffttt…that’s easy.
Company leadership may be responsible for dictating these tasks, but it’s important to have an open discussion around the planning and execution of said steps.
For example, if the CEO hopes to bring in 100 leads and suggests (keyword suggests, not demands) that a paid advertising campaign targeting a certain buyer persona would be a good first step, if another team member is confident that another route would be more productive, they should be given the opportunity to explain why.
Open up the floor for debate, but don’t let it devolve into chaos. Create a clear direction, and make an informed decision before your 30-minute meeting stretches into a lively 2-hour dispute.
5. Enforce Clear Accountability & Leadership
It’s impossible to enforce accountability without establishing leadership levels. Whether you’re talking about the team as a whole, a certain department, or a single project, it’s important to clearly define who reports and who is reported to.
Leaders are responsible for organizing tasks, keeping campaigns on track, and establishing benchmarks for projects. The rest of the team is responsible for completing tasks, meeting deadlines, and reporting progress to leadership.
Accountability at the individual, departmental, and full-team levels may vary in scope, but they’re all fundamentally the same: they ensure that the team is functioning on both a micro and macro level.
6. Ask Questions, and Provide Answers
If you’ve ever been in a situation where you’re hesitant to ask a question either directly to a coworker/employee or generally to the team during one of your (hopefully) regular meetings, then there’s a major communication gap at play.
Create an environment that not only encourages your team to ask questions, but to answer them. Questions may clarify an approach, but answers can vastly improve them.
Empower your team to be open about any confusion and to be confident enough to clear it up.
7. Promote Accessibility
Your team members should be accessible, especially if a project’s progress depends on it. If the clock is ticking toward an upcoming deadline and you haven’t gotten a response about the last step of a project, you should be able to pick up the phone, type out a Slack, or walk to their desk in person to be sure they received it.
We’re not saying you should necessarily enforce an open-door policy—walk-ins can be disruptive, especially if you’re in the middle of a meeting or phone call—but encourage team members to show when they’re available and how.
For example, here at Hudson Fusion, we rely on Google Calendar to know when team members are in meetings, on the phone, or out-of-office. We also know the best way to reach each other (i.e. our Creative Director is almost never on Slack, but our Copywriters use it on a minute-by-minute basis).
8. Encourage Transparency
Transparency is key to effective team communication. Be direct, clear, and open across the board, especially if you’re giving direction or providing feedback.
It seems intuitive, but it’s important to consciously be as straightforward as possible when explaining next steps or the scope of a project.
Consider what relevant information is needed for each person involved, and lead with that. Try starting your initial conversation specifically with “We are doing X, Y, and Z, and your roles in the project are 1, 2, and 3.”
When it comes to giving feedback, beating around the bush is kryptonite for your business. If you’re unsatisfied with the outcome of a project, you may be tempted to soften the blow by starting with the classic, “It’s really good, but…”
Stop right there.
It’s important to let your team know if they missed the mark. If you sacrifice the quality of the project for the sake of a coworker’s ego, you’re not only creating a low-quality product, but you’re also misleading your team member into believing the approach/execution/outcome of the job they did was adequate.
That being said, don’t hesitate to support your coworkers’ strengths. If they did a good job, let them know! Credit where credit is due—deserved praise is a universal motivator.
If you’re having trouble fostering transparency in your office, consider conducting an anonymous survey to give your team the opportunity to speak their mind without fear of judgement.
9. Foster Trust
Most importantly, your team needs to trust each other in order to communicate effectively.
This may go without saying, but avoid company gossip. It’s petty, poisonous, and totally unproductive.
Creating an open, engaging exchange of ideas and opinions without fear of criticism, denial, or being totally ignored can be challenging. Empower your team members to be confident in their skills, struggles, and opinions, and make sure every voice is heard and respected.
Create a “Judgement Free Zone” without the pizza…or with it.
Speaking of pizza…
10. Have Fun
This one speaks for itself.
We’re not robots. We’re all human—and while we work hard to meet and exceed client and internal expectations, we genuinely enjoy each other’s company.
Team bonding promoted better communication, better relationships, and better work. And who doesn’t want that?
That's why Hudson Fusion works so hard at working as a team—and trust us, it shows.