Any leader who is working on becoming a more effective communicator can tell you the one ingredient they need to focus on is themselves.
But ask those same leaders what the focus should be on to make their teams communicate better, and the answer is not so clear. While one can focus on others, there are many other factors to consider that enhance or disrupt communication and need attending.
The trick in communication is to get a group of people to not just work towards a common goal and mission, but to communicate along those same lines as well. When members of a team speak, email, and communicate in alignment with the direction of the team, an extra layer of synergy takes place that enhances the performance efforts of everyone. But when those points of contact are taken away for any reason, there is a drag factor that can hinder even the best aligned performance.
In creating a more effective means for communication among your various teams, here are some strategies to keep in mind:
- Communicate your expectations for communication. As a leader you need to lay the groundrules for effective communication. Whether it’s the suggestions below, an internal policy, or a culture of openness of interaction, make sure your teams know how important it is to communicate.
- Make all speaking points aligned with core values. The best company I worked for had as one of their four criteria for any project, “Is it us?” This kept our core values in front of us and aligned projects with our overall mission. In always promoting your core values to the team, you can funnel any behavior, including communication, through them and eventually have the team talking along these lines quite consistently.
- Remind everyone what communication is. Emails, phone calls, talking, texts, notes, unspoken tones, industry jargon, and team meetings are all aspects of communication. Having your team realize there are many ways to get their message across and connect with others will open up the flow of ideas and bridge those walls that may otherwise become silos and hinder those connections.
- Keep it professional. Unfortunately, many an individual or team has lost credibility because of unprofessional communication. Years back I had to reign in part of my new team as their lack of professionalism prevented other teams from being comfortable working with them. If your team raises their level of respect for each other and others outside of themselves, the relationships and openness to work together will strengthen and any uneasiness will be eliminated.
- Make it constructive. Disagreements are a natural part of any team dynamic. How your team handles those differing views can either edify the team or tear it down. Instill a culture, and expectation, of constructive communication. Never speak detrimentally of a person. Speak to the facts and address the behavior. Have your team be eager to catch others doing something right, to encourage, and to build everyone else up in every interaction.
- Train them to communicate as a leader should. Many of these strategies involve extending sound leadership communication to your people. When you give them the same tools as yourself, you are bestowing on them an expectation to take ownership of the communication of the team. This will also help develop new leaders and solidify the culture you are attempting to create.
- Appreciate, praise and celebrate. Let your people know that each member is appreciated, celebrated, and valued throughout the organization. In setting this example, your teams will see the inherent value of others and be more open to their input. Individuals who feel connected in this way will share more, participate more, and keep the flow of information going, which will benefit the entire team.
Overall, a strong culture of unhindered information, openness to thought diversity, and appropriate communication will enable a positive and comfortable tone in which everyone can give continued input. Set the example and get your people plugged into the flow of thoughts by building a team that values each person's voice.
More From Paul LaRue
Paul LaRue is the creator of The UPwards Leader and Instigator for Lead Change Group. His background in senior leadership,. strategic planning, culture change, and people and organizational development gives him unique insight into the workings of successful organizations. Paul has given speeches and training sessions for many public and private entities and stresses the virtue of a culture that centers around core values and character in leadership.