Mastering Team Communication: Key Strategies for Small Businesses
“Good communication is the bridge between confusion and clarity.” – Nat Turner
This quote is especially true when considering the communication within your team in your business.
Communication between team members, whether it be from employee to manager, CEO to team or team member to team member is like a bridge between two people, and the only way to make sure that the message doesn’t fall through the cracks is to make sure your messages are communicated on a well-constructed system.
Does your communication bridge look like this?
It is a competitive world for small businesses today, and it can be difficult to manage a team and be able to instruct, and communicate with them in a way the makes their role, their jobs, and your expectations of them clear.
Let’s explore the significance of effective team communication while providing insights and tools tailored for neurodivergent, women-owned businesses to boost collaboration, maximize productivity, and embrace their unique strengths.
Your team is your most important asset, Now is the time to help conquer communication challenges within your team. This this article will help you learn how to establish the habits and systems to create the clarity in communication across the board.
You stoked? Me too, let’s get started.
The Power Couple: Tone and Clarity in Communication
Having a perfect combo of tone and clarity in your messages does more than just boost communication – it’s the helps create an unstoppable and empowered team. It sets the stage for everyone to feel heard, valued, and inspired to share their ideas.
Let’s discuss each piece of this and how they work together in team communication.
What is tone? Why does it matter so much? Tone tells the underlying story or context of what you are trying to relay.
Refers to the attitude and emotions you convey in your message. It’s the subtext, the feel of what you say or write, and it comes to life through your choice of words, expressions, and even punctuation. In communication, the tone can make or break relationships, trust and collaboration.
Have you ever received an email that starts with…. “Per my last message”…
You can tell right away that the tone of the message is irritated and a bit passive aggressive.
If the email starts with something more along the lines of, “Hey! I’m sorry my last message wasn’t clear enough. What I meant was ……”
A few extra words conveys that you aren’t angry, but still pointing out that you answered the question but may have not been a way that the person understood.
Both messages convey the same information, but the tone sets a different atmosphere for the recipient.
Equally important, if not more so, is the clarity of the message. It doesn’t matter if you spend 30 minutes structuring an email, if the information isn’t clear to the reader, then it’s not going to have its intended effect. When your message is crystal clear, there’s less room for misinterpretation, which ultimately leads to better collaboration and productivity.
“Great, I get it Ana, but I ALWAYS think my message is clear… at least to me. How can I make sure it’s clear to others?”
Well I’m glad you asked! How do you make sure your message is clear? Let’s see the following list for some pointers on how to make sure your messages are well-rounded, hit all the main points and doesn’t leave any pertinent information out.
Structure it: Organize your message in a logical and coherent manner. Start with a clear purpose, followed by supporting details and a concise conclusion. (Bonus point! create a template to create all of your messages from this! << insert message template here >>
Be specific: Use concrete, straightforward language. Provide examples and details that leave no room for doubt instead of vague statements and industry jargon. Write for an 8th grader!
Keep it concise: Say what you need to say in as few words as possible. Sometimes being too wordy can muddle your message and obscure the points you’re trying to make.
Ask for feedback: Checking your team’s understanding of your message can catch any potential misinterpretations or confusion, and provide an opportunity for further clarification. This is especially good to go over in meetings to make sure everyone has a understanding of any decision or action items.
So, to put these two concepts together, your communication tone, clarity and ability to see any possible issues or perspectives is a message that will not only help your team communicate with each other, but your approach to them as well.
The following list is good to keep in mind.
- Be approachable: A friendly and relatable tone encourages open dialogue and sets the right mood for magnificent brainstorming sessions.
- Keep it clear: Concise, specific messages help avoid the “lost-in-translation” trap, ensuring your team stays in sync and runs like a well-oiled machine.
- Embrace empathy: Your team is more than just a cog in your business machine. Show compassion, and it will not only elevate morale but also strengthen your team’s bond.
Placing emphasis on team communication is simple, but not necessarily easy.
Devote time and energy to improving your team’s communication, and you’ll see the wonders it does for your overall productivity.
- Determine communication methods. Always communication the same type of message the same way. (examples include: Project-based communication within the project. Personal communication within your messaging tool. Team-communication on an agenda and meeting.
- Keep messages brief
- Hi XXX
- State positive message or introductory sentence to the rest of the message
- State question, comment or main point of the message. If it’s a longer message, use bullet points when possible.
- Wrap up message with pleasant outgoing statement. Good to have a few of these on hand.
Online Communication Tools: Beyond the meeting
So now that we’ve got the basics down, we can start to look at the cool tech that can help us communicate better with our remote teams. Nowadays, remote teams are more and more common, thus making communication tools even more important than they ever were before.
In the small businesses I have been involved with, there are three key tools that always need to be present in order to ensure smooth communication. No, these don’t include email. (Actually, email should be the LAST way to communicate with your team.) You need a way to allow your team to understand your company goals and vision and always have access to it, as well as a way to see the projects and tasks they need to do as well as talk about them, and lastly a way to have quick conversations, cheer each other on, or celebrate as a team.
(I am going to purposely leave out Zoom or video meetings for now, as they could be an article on their own with all the tools and digital meeting decorum they require)
Understanding your business at a glance
There is so much information and history for every kind of business, as to who you are, how you serve your clients, what you do, it’s hard for anyone working with you to grasp it all at once.
This is why I recommend utilizing Airtable as a way to bring all of your company’s information together in one place.
- Typically the first thing I create for clients that utilize airtable is Business Hub, or Executive Hub that houses everything the business employees or the CEO needs to know about the business and find at the drop of a hat. I’ve also heard this termed as a “wiki”. It’s basically a table of contents for things like Brand boards, Zoom Links, Services, Team details, Course notes.
The reason I prefer creating this in Airtable is because you have the ability to view the information ins multiple different ways, making it easy to understand from anyone’s perspective.
- Without a doubt, a Task List, or Project Management tool should be a no-brainer when it comes to increasing better communication. My preferred tool for this is ClickUp. Although it claims that it is the one app to replace them all, it really is a show-stopper when it comes to project management and task communication.
I can’t express the importance of keeping project communication within the project, and not in separate emails or slack messages or gosh-forbid…. TEXT messages.
The more you want your business to grow and be self-sustainable, the more important this becomes, and although excel or google sheets can be a great starting place, being able to create projects, send emails from the projects, track hours, associate documents within a variety of ways is the right amount of functionality for businesses that aren’t ready for the ERP systems, but find Trello too limiting.
- Last but not least is the way to send quick non-project-related messages, random questions, or ideas to the group. While ClickUp has a chat functionality, most of my clients prefer the quickness of Slack. I too am a fan, as long as I’m able to turn off the annoying “Click-click” sound effect every time someone messages!
I only warn that it doesn’t become a distraction to work, or in your home personal life.
So with three tools, you have a good amount of support to clarify and help.
In essence, tools like ClickUp and Airtable aren’t just the sprinkles on your donut.
They’re game-changers for boosting productivity, clarifying team requirements, and creating a group that doesn’t just finish tasks, but totally nails their goals. So, let’s step up our digital game and embrace the future.
The Power of Active Employee Contribution and Casual Interactions
Now let’s take a deeper dive into the world of communication statistics. Here we’ll highlight the instrumental role of employees in strengthening communication. We’ll also explore why venturing outside the cubicles and conference rooms for some team-bonding can work wonders.
First, let’s look at the role of each team member in the realm of communication:
- Employees aren’t just “cogs in the communication machine”. Each one is a vital player, intertwining their unique perspectives to create a vibrant tapestry of ideas.
- This level of engagement morphs the workplace into a dynamic hub of collaboration and innovation.
- The floor should be open to all voices. Whether it’s an innovative idea, constructive feedback, or a concern, every contribution helps navigate the ship.
- Active listening is our secret weapon. Communication isn’t just a one-way street, it’s a dual carriageway where speaking and listening play equally crucial roles.
- Nurture a culture of transparency. When openness becomes our second nature, trust thrives, paving the way for robust and healthy communication.
Then there is the added benefit of socializing outside of work:
In the digital and remote age, it looks a little bit different than meeting with friends at a happy hour, but there are still remote ways you can enjoy each other’s company. The following are the benefits
- Deeper Connections. Sharing a laugh over a cup of coffee (digital or otherwise) or on a Zoom call helps to build bonds that transcend work roles and responsibilities.
- Socializing unveils various sides of our colleagues. Understanding these different facets fosters mutual respect and empathy, two linchpins of effective communication.
- Fun gatherings are morale-boosters. Sharing excitement for non-work-related events can inspire and introduce a deeper level of commitment, paving the way for open and enthusiastic communication.
In a nutshell, employees are integral components in shaping communication, not just passive receivers. Keep the conversations flowing and make room for shared experiences.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1: How can I get my team to communicate better with each other?
Nailing this is like acing a triple backflip! Fostering an environment that encourages open dialogue is key. Value every input, promote active listening, and provide constructive feedback. Empower your team with the right communication tools to keep everyone on the same page.
Q2: What are the 4 C’s of effective communication?
Ah, the fantastic four! They’re Clear, Concise, Coherent, and Complete. These ensure your message is understood and doesn’t resemble a riddle from an ancient prophecy. Keep your message clear and to the point, maintain a logical flow, and provide all necessary information. Now you’re talking!
Q3: What role does empathy play in effective business communication?
Empathy is like the secret sauce in your communication burger. It helps you understand team members’ perspectives and respond effectively. It’s about tuning into their frequency and acknowledging their feelings. Remember, a little empathy can turn a good communicator into a great one!
Q4: What are some common barriers to effective team communication and how to overcome them?
Just like hurdles in a race, these can slow you down but not stop you. Barriers could include unclear instructions, information overload, or technological hiccups. Overcoming these takes patience and strategy. Provide clear guidelines, don’t bombard your team with excess information, and ensure access to reliable communication tools. Let’s leap over those hurdles together!
Empowering your team with effective communication is the secret sauce to boosting productivity and fostering a strong, collaborative work environment. So, harness these insights, step up your communication game, and watch as your business blossoms into a powerhouse of innovation and success.
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