Effective communication is such an important part of successful teams, when team members effectively communicate they are well equipped to work through any team challenge or opportunity that comes their way.

There is no one size fits all for how to communicate optimally which each individual but the basics of effective communication will put you on the right track, the following is a list of sound communication principles and questions you can ask yourself to improve your communication with each of your team mates depending on their key preferences and needs:

1.Time is a precious resource, ensure your communication is focused and provide only as much detail as the recipient needs to understand and engage.

2.Demonstrate active listening whenever possible (repeating back a summarized version or asking clarifying questions).

3.Determine if your team mate processes information better through verbal communication or written communication, although you should never use one form exclusively, when you need to ensure your team mate clearly understands the information, make sure you provide it in the form that best suits them.

4.Check for visible confirmation that your team mate is listening and engaged, if not save the communication for a time when you are both able to fully commit to the conversation. If the time never seems right, be a little more forcefully and specifically ask for confirmation that what you are saying is being heard.

5.Determine if your team mate likes to process information in a linear manner or is comfortable discussing an idea from many different perspectives and adjust your communication accordingly.

6.Determine if your team mates need facts and figures to connect to an idea or if they need to have an emotional connection before fully engaging. You will need to think through both dimensions but put the focus on one or the other with particular team mates.

7.Determine if your team mate likes to process information internally prior to being able to engage in a discussion about alternatives or is comfortable with full brainstorming, asking a team mate who requires internal processing time to engage on the fly will not only deliver sub-optimal results it can create tension in the team as they have been placed in an uncomfortable position.

8.Ensure your verbal and non verbal communication is consistent, some team mates will be less focused on the non verbal but some place a very high degree of importance on the consistency of verbal and non verbal communication.

9.For key communication (not suggesting you evaluate each conversation before engaging) determine if you need the team mate to take action from the communication or simply to be aware. The approach and detail you provide will be quite different depending on the objective.

10.Check with your team on a regular basis about how well communication is going, are there areas where there is too much information being discussed/disseminated, are there areas where there is a void in communication, are there ways team members would prefer to communicate i.e. a weekly meeting instead of having to write a weekly activity report.

Being an effective communicator is important for most dimensions of work life but particularly so when working as part of a team. The more each individual is cognizant of their own needs and strengths and those of others adjustments can be made on both side to optimize communication effectiveness.


Author's Bio: 

Lynn is a partner at Conundrum Adventures, a team building company that delivers high quality experiential team building to the corporate market.

Lynn has held executive positions at a variety of organizations. They include EVP of a dot-com start up responsible for vendor relationship management, technology and consulting to VP Global Sourcing for Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. Throughout her career she has demonstrated the ability to lead and inspire teams to achieve excellent results. Lynn draws on her experience to effectively facilitate team discussions to find creative solutions to the most challenging problems. Lynn holds an HBA and an MBA degree from the Ivey Business School.