Strong communication is the driving force for everything you do at work. As a project manager, it’s your responsibility to set the tone for how your team members communicate with one another. In this piece, we discuss the importance of team communication and provide strategies for how to improve engagement in the workplace.
Your communication style says a lot about you as a leader. Are you supportive and relaxed as you guide your team through creative projects? Or are you more intense in your delivery, pushing your team members to work efficiently and create winning deliverables? There are various communication styles, and failure to communicate effectively can cause low performance and morale.
Team communication is critical—but luckily, developing good team communication practices is easy. As a project manager, you can set the tone for how your team members communicate with one another. If you’re currently struggling with communication, don’t worry. Communication styles aren't set in stone and in this article, we'll cover the basics on how your team can implement communication best practices. Here’s how.
Strong communication is the driving force for everything you do at work. You can trace project quality, stakeholder relationships, and customer satisfaction back to how well your team communicates with one another.
Good communication leads to effective decision making, engaged team members, and successful projects. On the other hand, poor communication within your team may cause:
Imbalanced or duplicate work
Disappointing project results
Poor customer feedback
High team member turnover
High stress environment
Low team member engagement
To improve team communication, you must lead by example. Practice mindfulness and take action to be transparent with your team members. Proactively answer their questions, and give them context about why you’re making decisions. Effective communication isn’t easy—but by creating a culture of open dialogue, you can create a healthy work environment.Improve team communication with Asana
There is more than one way your team communicates. You must know of all five forms of communication if you hope to build a high-performing team. Use this chart to identify areas of communication where your team can improve.
Verbal communication: Verbal communication is the most important point of interaction between team members. Whether your team talks face to face, over the phone, or through video conferencing, these conversations can be the deciding factor in how one person perceives the other. Verbal communication provides the best opportunity for team members to express their thoughts.
Nonverbal communication: Nonverbal communication includes things like body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice. Many people aren’t aware of how nonverbal communication affects their relationships. But in fact, more than half of all communication is nonverbal, which is why it's important to pay attention to nonverbal cues.
Written communication: You can easily control how you communicate through writing. Your team should have a common goal to communicate effectively through every written communication channel, including email, project management tools, messaging, surveys, or reviews. Knowing how to express yourself through writing can benefit your team and your audience.
Visual communication: Visual communication is important in team meetings or training when you’re sharing information through slides or videos. The benefit of visuals is that you have time to think before you present your message to others. Before sharing, consider whether the visuals you’ve chosen will help your team understand what you’re trying to communicate.
Listening: You may not think of listening as communicating, but effective communication can’t occur without it. Listening is how you receive information when others speak to you. Active listening, in particular, creates a healthy work environment because it shows the communicator that you’re engaged and paying attention to what they have to say.
There are various strategies you can use to improve team communication in the workplace. Whether your team works remotely or in the office, these action steps will promote team collaboration and foster healthy relationships, regardless of position or rank.
Conflicts at work can start off small and seem inconsequential. For example, one team member may shift their deadline, which means another team member has less time for their part of the project. The first team member apologizes to the other, and all seems well. But if the first team member continues to shift deadlines—and the second team member hasn’t communicated how that impacts their work—the second team member can become resentful and frustrated. When team members don’t resolve conflicts quickly, tension builds and work performance suffers.
Tip: Teach team members conflict resolution strategies so they can address issues quickly, directly, and respectfully. That way, small problems don’t turn into big ones.
No one likes to feel micromanaged, but without some guidance or team collaboration, team members can experience a lack of engagement. As a manager, it’s important to encourage team members while still giving them freedom to be creative.
Try exchanging information and ideas with your team through brainstorming sessions and weekly workshops. Remember to not only ask for ideas from your team, but show that you value each idea. This reassures team members that you support them.
Tip: Schedule weekly meetings so everyone can share what they’re working on and ask questions if necessary. Meetings are a great way to engage your team without interrupting important focus time.
Team members at the bottom of the team structure may not feel comfortable speaking up and sharing ideas. When you promote bottom-up communication, you encourage team members in every position to brainstorm ideas and communicate their opinions. You can promote this type of communication by building trust and morale with your team and giving them a sense of ownership in projects.
Tip: Team members may need a boost if you want them to feel comfortable speaking up. Ask them for their ideas, opinions, and feedback so they get used to sharing. Encourage team members in different environments, like team meetings, surveys, one-on-one interactions, and a suggestion box format.
A communicative workplace is one where team members prioritize transparency. If you and your team members can be honest with one another, then you’ll reduce the chance of miscommunication and any risks that come with it.
One way to be transparent as a leader is to be honest about business performance and disclose information as it occurs. You should also provide constructive criticism when you feel it’s necessary so your team members can improve their skills. Most importantly, it's critical to connect their daily work to big picture goals. Giving team members context and showing them why their work is important can increase motivation and make them feel like valued members of the team.
Tip: There’s a difference between transparency and oversharing. For example, it’s helpful for your team members to know if the company met annual revenue goals, but you don’t need to share your personal issues with the CEO happening this week.
Team communication occurs in group settings and in individual interactions. When team members interact, they bring the energy from each experience back to the group.
Regular one-on-one meetings are your chance to address issues and check in on the well-being of your team members. Your team will be more confident when you offer them space to talk freely. You can also encourage your team members to schedule one-on-ones with one another, so they can get to know each other and build collaborative relationships.
Tip: You don’t need to take on the role of therapist as a manager, but you should care about how your team members are doing. If a team member is struggling emotionally, see if you can give them time off so they can come back to work in a healthier state.
An important part of team communication is performance feedback. Team members need reassurance about how they’re doing to stay motivated and engaged. During your one-on-one meetings, give feedback to team members and discuss room for growth. You can also ask team members if they have feedback for you.
Tip: Team members may not always feel comfortable giving you direct feedback. Consider distributing an anonymous survey so you can get honest opinions from your team on your performance as team leader.Read: 3 ways to collaborate remotely with your team
Knowing how your team members communicate can help you manage your team as a whole. The DiSC profile is a personality and behavioral assessment that categorizes a person’s primary communication style as dominant, influencer, conscientious, or steady.
Communication styles are complex, and your team members may have characteristics from more than one of the four styles. But understanding each person’s primary style and tailoring your communication to it can go a long way in building a strong team.
Team members with dominant communication styles are intense, efficient, and focused on results. You can usually spot these individuals because they’re competitive and driven to succeed. While these individuals are natural team leaders, their weaknesses can be impatience and too much confidence.
Tip: Challenge dominant team members so they feel motivated at work, but remind them to keep the team and the company mission in focus at all times.
Team members with influencer communication styles are the socializers of your group. These people know how to charm others and create an energetic and engaging environment. Your influencers will succeed at customer and client relations because they enjoy talking to people.
Tip: Keep influencer team members from losing focus by giving them tasks that fit their skill set. Allow them to express themselves in their role while making sure they aren’t a distraction to others.
Team members with conscientious communication styles are your high achievers. These team members work hard to produce error-free work and will go out of their way to grow their knowledge. A conscientious team member may prefer to work independently so they can control their performance.
Tip: These team members tend to prefer objective leadership so there’s no room for miscommunication. Allow conscientious team members to work on projects they excel at. Give them clear guidelines and measurable feedback.
Team members with steady communication styles value consistency and stability in their work environments. Unlike dominant team members who enjoy challenges, a steady team member may prefer a more predictable role in customer service or IT. A relaxed work environment allows team members with steady communication styles to feel comfortable and at peace.
Tip: Provide steady team members with a stable work environment. If changes occur, deliver them incrementally whenever possible. Actively listen to these team members so they feel heard and give them clear direction on any complex tasks so no questions remain unanswered.
Remote work is becoming increasingly more common across the world, which means a lot of team communication occurs online. But even if you work in the office, you likely use team communication tools to share information and streamline your workflows.
There are team communication tools available for everything, including:
Messaging and chat: Use instant messaging and chat apps to discuss projects and ask questions in real time.
File sharing: File sharing apps let you share documents without the need to transfer them between team members.
Video conferencing: Video conferencing is a great way to see your team members face to face if you’re working from different locations or time zones.
Document editing: Online document editing allows you to share and save documents automatically. Your team can collaborate on documents because they’ll remain viewable and editable to other team members.
Project management: You can’t maintain strong communication with your team without a project management tool. Project management tools like Asana offer task management, goal setting, feedback, file sharing, and more.
When you can store, share, and refer to your work, your team will have more clarity in the workplace and communication will become easier.
Better communication among team members requires you to lead by example. The members of your team will speak up and become more engaged when you encourage them to do so. Team communication tools like Asana are designed for collaboration, and they can help you build healthy habits that lead to success.Improve team communication with Asana