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5 Ways To Communicate As A Team

5 Ways To Communicate As A Team

Enhance team communication with regular meetings, collaboration tools, project management software, clear protocols, and fostering open dialogue.

Face to Face Communication

Face to face communication is one of the most irreplaceable tools in team dynamics. It helps people in at least four ways: it improves communication’s effectiveness, clarity, trust and opportunities for fruitful work, and collaboration. On the other hand, it is important to be prepared for face to face communication properly – with a clear agenda, which will help stay on track, active listening, encouraging participation and following up afterward.

Benefit of Face to Face Communication

Face to face communication is more effective in comparison to other ways of interaction due to the number of reasons. According to UCLA professor, Albert Mehrabian, 93% of communication’s effectiveness goes to nonverbal communication-related attributes, such as facial expression and tone of voice. A study by Harvard Business Review reveals that 67% of people who participated in the research are positively affected by short face to face meetings when they seek better understanding of something. Moreover, big corporations follow that lead as well because Forbes Insight states that 84% prefer face to face meetings for building stronger relationships.

Improved Clarity Transitions

Eye contact helps not to deviate from the main topic, nodding promotes better understanding and use of verbal cues. Trust building is one of the most beneficial attributes of face to face communication for a lead. It allows a face-to face-interaction to see the real people, behind which many just see emotionless robots or, figuratively speaking, avatars. One more aspect is the opportunities for fruitful collaboration, and in the world of IT it is particularly important because there you do not need people to produce creative ideas. A study from the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology confirms this claim, concluding that face to face communication and mentioning only the most important details and cues in their discussion will definitely lead to more creativity.

Best Practices for Face to Face Communication

Firstly, be prepared for the meeting in advance with the clear agenda. It will help you stay on time and on track. Secondly, you should not forget to use active listening skills, such as maintaining eye contact, nodding and giving verbal clues of understanding. Thirdly, participation is the key aspect to any kind of meeting, and you should definitely make everyone feel important. A study by MIT proves the opposite – the lack of participation leads to the lack of success – makes its chances to occur precisely zero. Last but not least, the meeting should be followed up by an email or even a shared document with key insights, decisions and a list of who is responsible for what task.

Email and Instant Messaging

Emails and instant messaging have overtaken team communication by storm and have become one of the most ubiquitous tools. These tools provide a number of advantages; however, their success is based not on the tool itself but on the way it is used. Therefore, this article will guide how the two technologies contribute to the organization’s performance and their proper use.

General Description of Email and Instant Messaging Advantages

As shown in the study by McKinsey, 82% of professionals use email as their primary mode of communication at work. They offer the ability to communicate in real time and asynchronous mode that allows members to remain connected regardless of the geographical location. Additionally, email and instant messages can be used as an electronic archive that allows locating all the discussions and files on a particular project.

Example of Email Communication

One of the examples of the effective use of email communications is the necessity to provide project updates and deadlines to the company. In this case, the task requires the dissemination of the detailed information, attachments, and updates to all participants. For example, the project manager can provide the project team with a weekly report on the progress of the design task completed, tasks that are currently being worked on, and the pending design work. In this case, such an email will be considered an effective tool for notification, coordination, and dissemination of the information.

Example of Instant Messaging Communication

Another example of implementing new technologies is the software development company’s need to complete the project within a certain deadline. Thus, the software engineers can use Slack channel to discuss relevant issues, such as code reviews, web development tasks standing in the queue, troubleshoot production and testing environments, and add other tools for more effective development work.

Descriptive Subject Lines

The subject line of the email must be descriptive so that the recipient knows from the beginning the priority and content of this message . For example, instead of just “Update”, it is more appropriate to write; “Weekly project progress report. Week of …”.

Conciseness and Clarity

Emails and especially instant messages should be kept short and to the point. Irrelevant information should be avoided, and bullets or numbered lists should be used. The writing style must be clear and shorter rules for good writing optimization should be applied.

Immediate Response

It is unethical to expect others to work according to one’s schedule. Therefore, it is recommended to inform the other participants the time when he/she will be available for the response.

Create Separate Communication Avenues

Email should remain the way to document decisions and provide formal communications only. Issues, the discussion of which does not require such gravity, should be dealt with via instant messaging.

Teleconferencing and Video Conferencing

Teleconferencing and video conferencing have revolutionized team communication, allowing teams to collaborate no matter how far apart individual members are. Here is a detailed overview of their meaning and use in team functioning:

Benefits of Teleconferencing and Video Conferencing

  • Allow teams to communicate no matter how far apart the individual team members are.

  • Teleconference allows to assess how a participant reacts to the news.

  • Video conferencing emulates the experience of working together in an office.

  • Teleconferencing and video conferencing are used to make decisions, brainstorm ideas, and organize work processes.

    Example of Teleconferencing

Imagine a company that has to deploy its marketing research teams in every continent. The police should send regular updates remotely, discussing the results and common challenges. For example, teleconference allows the sales team to coordinate their weekly updates. Sales team leaders can provide reports from each of the seven regions they are responsible for, discussing sales strategies and dealing with common problems.

Example of Video Conferencing

The marketing team needs to brainstorm ideas for the new ‘Go Green’ marketing campaign. Each team member works from home, so a video conference helps everyone to see the faces of other participants and the reactions. In this case, the sales team would use Zoom and share important data about the new advertising campaign. The team leader may ask his subordinates to share the ads that their ADS and market trackers are suggesting, to present data about the possible reasons for consumers to allow a product to maintain the ecological status.

Best Practices for Teleconferencing and Video Conferencing

  • Testing the technology in advance is recommended, which includes the verification of the right equipment in advance.

  • Recommendations and requests should be left for audio and video conferences via video or video only.

  • Encourage conversation by including all participants in the discussion, asking questions, and seeking advice. Making video or presentation materials available and sharing them may be a good idea.

  • Base your decision on what data you collect and what decisions are made on it using teleconferencing or video conferencing.

Team Meetings and Group Discussions

Both team meetings and group discussions are important sessions where ideas, goals and thoughts are brought to light, developed, and shared among team members. The following paper seeks to define the importance of these forums and the ways of implementing team meetings and group project sessions .

Thus the advantages of team meetings and group discussions are summarized in the transparence, responsibility, and synergistic approach to the work of team members. According to the research published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, team meetings support the two earlier mentioned components. Besides, the results indicate that the more useful meetings are organized, the more perfect performance is reached by the team members . Here are some examples of both group meetings and discussions.

Team Meeting:

At the end of the workweek, the common project team is expected to gather and summarize the results. Project Manager is the leader of the group. His/her task is to tell the team members the actual and project results of the work: what had been done and why, what had not been done yet, how to do it in a shorter possible period, and what are other milestones available by the moment. For instance, in a software development company, such meeting can include the discussion of the parts of work, how much work is implemented, what platform requires more staff, and others, as the result, how much time it will take to complete the project. In this way, each task is discussed, and the maximum quantity of people is engaged in a short-run model of task completion.

Group Discussion:

In the cross-divisional team that develops a new product, a separate group discussion is made. These can be either a brainstorming or problem-solving model or a discussion of users’ opinions and perspectives during design sprints. Each person takes part in a discussion of the joint approach; the results are provided by all at a general meeting, but new ideas are proposed and shown. For instance, in a cross-functional or another type of group, round discussion of the new elements is provided to come to a final decision.

Online Collaboration Platform and Project Management Tools

Nowadays, online collaboration platforms and project management tools have become critical for all modern teams. They enable a seamless mode of communication, tasks assignment, and collaboration. Find the detailed explanation below, concerning their importance and real-life implementation.

Short Summary:

These tools facilitate the workflow and increase transparency and productivity of a team. According to a survey conducted by Wrike , 94% of the respondents became more productive in case they used project management software. Further on, an ultimate Case Study was developed to describe how these pluriform can be applied in practice.

Platforms’ Benefits:

There are several advantages of using such technologies:

  • Workflow standardization and acceleration: example: Event Planning Schedule;

  • Staff performance monitoring;

  • Filter tasks by task start or due date;

  • Real-time monitoring of the team’s productivity.

Example of the Online Collaboration Platform:

An online collaboration platform will be considered with an example of a marketing company. The tool used in the company is Asana . The Social Media Manager created an Event Planning Schedule in Asana to avoid constant delays and make the event preparation smoother. She sends the invites to the Service List and determines the deadlines for Applications, Flyers, Complete List of Participants, and Public Talks. When the Due Date arrives, the following notifications appear in the Action Items column:

  • Revision of Applications to be tailored;

  • The flyer is complete, waits for voting;

  • The list of participants is complete, must be verified; Talks are ready for approval.

Example of the Project Management Tool:

Used by the engineering team of a software company named Atlassian. The team will create user stories in Jira to capture the anticipated behavior of the software, list possible bugs, and conduct sprints. At a Sprint planning session, each engineer sends a velocity of 5 and the current backlog to prioritized List is recorded for the following Sprint:

  • Add PayPal to checkout;

  • Search logs;

  • Replace permission icons.

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