In your position as team leader, the quality of the relationship among your team members is perhaps one of your biggest areas of focus. A unified, communicative team produces the best results, but it’s not always easy to develop. People simply have different beliefs, backgrounds and social skills, all of which can prove challenging in your quest for an effective work flow.
Try these effective strategies to bolster good communications:
- Institute a courtesy policy. When employees are clear about the organization’s position on treating each other respectfully, they’ll realize that they play a part in ensuring it’s supported. Insisting on common courtesy is the most direct way to improve communication among co-workers. Outline your expectations about how they address others and respond in various situations. Establish consequences for non-compliance with the courtesy policy so they realize how important it is to be in accordance. Engage them in discussions about the positive impact it has on their jobs when they’re courteous and respectful to others.
- Cross-train staff. A great way to improve communication among co-workers is allowing them to see and understand the elements of other people’s jobs and responsibilities. Having an appreciation for what happens on the other side inspires your team members to communicate without prejudice. Cross-training allows team members to experience each other’s challenges so they can communicate with an educated perspective as opposed to ignorance. It’s also beneficial when they can see how their work impacts other areas of the organization.
- Encourage effective communication. Encouraging team members will show up in their desire to work harder, which, in turn, bring back benefits to you. For example, when you see your team members offering excellent customer service, recognize their effort. You could consider structuring a point system for different elements of communication. Some examples of healthy communication are courtesy, respectfulness, changes in task-related expectations and honest feedback. Highlight those team members who are doing this effectively so other team members are inspired to improve their level of communication as well. Make the praise public. Include a discussion about effective communication during annual and mid-year reviews.
- Have regular team meetings. When you bring all members of your team together, it gives you the opportunity to hear what everyone is saying and understand their positions. In addition, it gives them a chance to have direct, open communication with each other. Ask members of the team how they feel about upcoming changes in the organization. Find out from them the issues they are having with others and encourage them to relay the details directly so openness can be achieved. Try to determine if there are areas of the organization’s operations that aren’t as effective as you would like and discuss how strengthening communication can turn things around.
A team is only as strong as its leader. Make sure you are demonstrating the behavior you want to see in your team. As you already know, a team that isn’t capable of communicating effectively soon diminishes from a lack of cohesiveness and common goal. If you improve the flow of communication, you’ll avoid having your organization experience that end, start placing significant importance on how co-workers communicate. You’re sure to achieve smooth operations as a result.
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