The value of communication between a company's team members can't be overstated.

Among other benefits, effective workplace communication builds rapport and trust between colleagues, maintains transparency in the workplace, enables better employee management, boosts morale, and facilitates innovation.

In short, effective communication is key to your business' productivity and bottom line. Here's how to make it happen.

1. Identify the team

The first step to improving communication within a team is to specify just who belongs to that team in the first place. This might sound obvious. But one study found less than 10 percent of 120 surveyed teams were able to correctly identify who was part of their respective teams.

In addition to identifying who is on the team, it's important to clarify the roles and responsibilities of each of these people. These two steps together will ensure team members know whom to communicate with and for what purposes. And that will greatly streamline office communication.

2. Develop (and enforce) procedures

There are some contexts in which procedures can be more cumbersome than they are efficient. When it comes to communication, that's not always the case. Outlining procedures for common communication needs will eliminate confusion by providing employees with a clear-cut plan of action.

For example, you could require that all requests of a certain type be submitted in writing. Or you could post a sheet detailing how everyone on the team prefers to be contacted for certain requests. If you're not sure where to start, pay attention to frequently asked questions within the team--those are the topics that most warrant developing a procedure.

It's not enough to create these procedures, send out a memo, and call it a day. You must consistently implement these processes in order for them to facilitate effective communication. Make sure everyone on your team is trained in these procedures, and notify staff of any updates as they arise.

3. Provide a platform(s) for sharing info

As part of your procedures, it's a good idea to provide employees with platforms where they can share project updates, new ideas, questions and concerns, and so on. This will help teams stay in regular contact and reduce the need to rely on email or formal meetings (which can be major time sucks and aren't necessarily effective communication tools). Digital platforms such as Slack and Asana are great for this. Some companies also find distributing an internal newsletter on a regular basis helps keep everyone on the same page.

4. Encourage and facilitate casual interactions

Time spent chatting by the water cooler or during midday walks isn't wasted. Instead, it's an investment in building positive relationships between coworkers. Casual hangouts are an opportunity for coworkers to communicate their character to each other and build rapport. When your employees know and care about each other, they're more likely to understand one another's communication styles, work collaboratively, and share honest feedback. And that can do wonders for your team's productivity.

5. Lead by example

Your team will be more likely to engage in frequent and constructive communication when that behavior is endorsed by the group leader. Model the communication styles you want to see by treating employees with respect, providing them with specific and actionable requests, asking for (and acting on) honest feedback, celebrating teamwork, and continually working to improve your own communication skills.

When you focus on enhancing communication within a team, you facilitate higher productivity, improve morale, and build a healthier office culture. That's why it's so important to make effective communication a company-wide priority.

Published on: Mar 21, 2017