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The Importance of Effective Team Communication

How’s your communication skills?

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I’ve seen my fair share of dysfunctions of workplace team communications in my places of employment and working as a freelancer. The biggest struggle is a lack of communication, where your leader and team members, lack effective communication skills, such as listening, trust, commitment and understanding.

I’ve worked with art directors who use words like brilliance, and intensity in the wrong context. Imagine how difficult it becomes to complete a design when you’re taking direction from someone who isn’t using words in the right context. So, you get back to your desk and try to decipher the true meaning of what the art director was communicating, while solving the design issues, that weren’t addressed properly. Talk about frustrating.

Communication breakdown can take a huge toll on your workload, and present new stress by giving you a whole new challenge to figure out. First you have the challenge of the original problem to solve, and now you’ve got a breakdown in communication, while communicating the initial challenge.

Lots of teams aren’t ready to own up to mistakes made; to be vulnerable, trust each other and stop taking shortcuts to getting things done, which bumps the communication process from frustrating to impossible.

But let’s not make this sound too discouraging and as if communication problems can ever be resolved. They can be, probably, within a few months of trying to make significant changes. I’m going to outline them here.

First I have to say, this is why I have embarked on the entrepreneurial journey, and why I have changed my title to Communication Designer. I want to work within a design firm that has solid communication, in every aspect. Between team members, staff, collaborators, and our clients. This is because communication and design, are tied together. They are not separate and are completely one entity that flows into the other. In order for us to get started on your design piece, we need to communicate. We need to discuss the problems, issues, and concerns and resolve them with discussions identifying the solutions we can use with design and discover the correct medium to communicate the information to your market.

Communication is huge. It’s key to our daily lives. We see it in so many elements; nearly every element of our days. Signage, posters, flyers, gas station pumps, electronic billboards, T.V.s, newspapers, text messages and emails are a few examples of messages communicating to us daily. It’s not just verbal communications or engagement with others. We’ve become so accustomed we’re not aware of the key processes.

Here are the Key Steps to
Effective Team Communication

Listening

The most important skill in the communication process is listening. Speaking and hearing are important too. It is listening, though, that is the most valuable skill, and is also the hardest for anyone to achieve. If you’re a good listener, you truly are a good communicator. When it comes to listening, we have to understand that there are many barriers to obtaining accurate interpretation from a message, such as lack of interest, distractions, attitude and ego towards the person speaking, defensiveness and irrational judgment.

If you can break down these types of barriers, your team will learn to come to meetings with questions, concerns, and suggestions so they will be heard and addressed.

Trust

Consistent behaviour is key to earn the trust of your team. Trust is, ‘reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, surety, etc., of a person or thing; confidence.” An effective team cooperates with one another, while continually maintains team independence, and in turn learns to build and develop trust.

If you’re working in the communication industry, it’s your job to be the expert and lay it all out for clients, so their trust is earned when you meet expectations and deadlines by sticking to commitments.

Commitment

Commitment really means engagement. It’s being fully present, forgetting the past and being aware of the present moment, engaging in a passionate conversation about issues and decisions to be successful in completion of a project or task.

Understanding

Understanding is a mental process to comprehend. Sure this is a bit redundant and sounds a little like circular logic, but it needs to be defined. This can apply to many things, like, cooperation, interpersonal skills, intelligence and awareness. All are very important elements of understanding and require a lot of practice to master. When bad information is passed, it can be very damaging to a team’s productivity, so understanding is a key skill to effective communication.

Respect

This is fairly simple. Don’t laugh at a team-members’ creative suggestions, innovation or ideas. Don’t reject their suggestions, concerns or suggestions, but actively listen and constructively review and discuss what’s been put on the table without making anyone feel silly, stupid or embarrassed.

Accountability

Is when you’re accountable on a subject and are obligated to report, explain or justify something, with a responsible answer.  Set aside your personal needs and agendas and focus what’s on what’s best for the team’s success. This also means you’re able to admit when you’re wrong, and when someone else is right. Effective communication requires attention to accountability and learn embrace using the two phrases, “I was wrong” and “you were right” more.

Is That All There is to Effective Team Communication?

There’s many more key factors to effective communication, such as emotional intelligence, developing and refining interpersonal skills, identifying expectations and the means in which we communicate, such as face-to-face meetings, phone and email. It’s always best to meet in person, so that you can connect with your members of the team so you will relate, hear their tone of voice and see their body language. Each are visual cues that are key to communication. Phone and email make it easy to eliminate those parts of the process and sometimes can hinder progress and success.

I want you to know how vital communication is to us at Actually, and how passionate we are about providing you with the best managed communication design services you’ll ever encounter. We know the importance and value of effective team communication, and we’re dedicated to your success. Don’t ever forget it.

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