1) What Team Communication is and what components it includes:
Effective team communication is an imperative factor underlying success of a project or enterprise. If the members of one team cannot communicate with each other well enough, then they don’t have a real possibility to develop their “common language’, and hence they cannot nurture a really strong team spirit, so they are just doomed to address each other in a defective way, waste their business time, reduce their own effectiveness and after all endanger success of their project. In other words, a team that fails to build good communications between its members seriously harms its performance potential in all other respects: collaboration, time, results, etc.
Learning ways to improve communication within a team will improve productivity and will support the overall team structure. The effective framework for collaboration is a thing to be established at the initial steps of a team formation, as far as a profound approach to the communications enables to develop them healthy, with much less counter-productive inefficiencies to be resolved then.
Team Communications are grounded on the following “moral” elements:
- Openness and honesty: there are no “secrets” on a healthy team. People are fully encouraged to share their ideas (even if they seem unpopular) and express their private opinions freely. Opinions could be alternative ones to initiate a discussion, or it could be a case of constructive criticism – all this is appreciated as a positive power making the team stronger.
- Trust: people should trust each other as professionals and as personalities. This is based upon the right ethics which are common to all team members. There should be quite high moral level in the team, so non-transparent decisions or managerial misconducts such as favoritism cannot take place.
- Recognition: all the people in the team are equally and fairly recognized for their efforts and achievements. If something was reached through joint efforts of several persons, then nobody can single-handedly appropriate these achievements as if they were his own merits – everyone who contributes into creating certain results is a peer owner of these results (because this person owns responsibility for these results as well).
- Identity and diversity: people working in the team are not the same of course. It is necessary to respect everyone’s identity and individuality, but there should be no individualism. People need to be united by sharing identity of their team, they need to share so called team spirit – a spirit of comradeship and mutual support.
Team Communications need the following “technological” elements:
- Communicational tools: everything that people can use to exchange information between each other – phone, email, SMS, instant messengers, working software, etc. According to needs of a specific team, a proper mix of these means should be created.
- Rules and framework: a team needs to be somehow regulated in their communications. This refers to forming up a way allowing them to use their communicational means effectively – for example some questions can be hardly solved via email, but they can be solved very quickly if considered via phone or in person.
- Communicational plans: communications need to be planned as well as all other activities of a team. These plans are like a “backbone” of the whole communicational policy of a project – the following communications can be built around. These plans for communication include agendas of meetings, regular reporting, some prescheduled questions to be discussed, etc.
2) A way to build effective Team Communication:
Enable team communications:
- Install all necessary communicative tools (optional) to interconnect your people:
- Email clients;
- Instant messengers;
- Corporate cell phones;
- Inner phone line;
- Workflow and documents management groupware;
- Arrange standards that build a cohesive culture:
- Make the team members know definite working plans and expectations put upon everyone;
- Adopt common performance standards and excellence measures;
- Implement framework of communications: how different types of questions are handled;
- Establish leadership that promotes the best morals you need in the team;
- Manage requirements to results, supervise (but don’t direct) activities to achieve them;
- Assemble the team while being guided by a need for good communications:
- Pick up people sharing the similar levels of moral and business ethics you need;
- Avoid people who seems to be inadequate to these requirements: it may really take too long time for them to get adapted in the team (persons who seem too individualistic, aggressive, tough in socializing, etc);
Guide and support communications:
- Plan the team communications to a maximal degree which makes sense:
- Outline purposes and topics for regular prescheduled meetings on the project;
- Limit timing of the meetings and urge people to approach them only when having a specific meeting agenda at hands;
- Implement a working schedule enabling people to have some time for informal meetings and communications daily;
- Provide everyone with a frequent and profound feedbacks, as feedbacks help to:
- Reduce uncertainty;
- Solve problems early;
- Nurture trust;
- Facilitate relationships;
- Better the quality of work;
- Enlighten the business plans for the team members:
- People from all levels of your organization need to know place of their objectives in a bigger business scheme (this will help you to implement them into the company’s mission);
- Appoint managers to regularly update awareness of the supervised team members;
- Emphasize openness of the managers to suggestions and questions;
- Grow trust, reliance and friendship in the team:
- Schedule frequent team meetings in person (sometimes you may use teleconferences);
- Resolve and facilitate interpersonal problems quickly, do not ignore them;
- Practice icebreaking exercises at the beginning, and continually invest into team-building;
- Let the people communicate to each other as frequent as they need;
- Minimize chatters during working hours, but allocate some informal time for employees to discuss their questions;
3) A simple way to Improve Communications with VIP Task Manager:
VIP Task Manager is a client-server product that stands for collaboration between people, so it enables the managers to improve communications of their staff in terms of particular tasks and projects. Let’s consider simple step-by-step instructions to enable the employees to communicate on their tasks, workflow and other corporate interactions, using this product:
Task Tree, Resource List, Task List modes:
- Plan a project – create a hierarchy of task groups populated with tasks;
- Subscribe employees in Resource List to get Notifications on task changes – maintain their level of communications with the progress and recent changes in the database;
- Assign task to appropriate performers and appoint task supervisors to let them communication upon the tasks;
- Set Permissions to make sure that employees can see and operate their tasks;
- Communicate task details to performers and supervisors by filling parameters of the tasks and inputting notes (people connected to the task will be automatically notified of all inputs);
- Attach organizational documents to tasks and let the users share them (open and modify them as a link, or read-only as an uploaded file);
- Communicate tasks progress to management in real-time (by changing task statuses, degree of task completion, etc);
- Let the people communicate with each other in real-time using Comments and Notes;