Last week my family and I were lucky enough to go and see the England Lionesses football team play at the Euros. It was a fantastic experience! It always is when you watch your country’s national side and feel part of the extended ‘team’ in the stadium.
When watching football matches, I’m always fascinated by the way the players communicate with each other. And with the difference it makes to their results.
If you have a group of individually talented players, their skills will only take them so far. If they don’t talk to each other, they will get in each other’s way and miss passes. My daughter’s coach is always encouraging them to communicate more on the pitch, because he knows they play better when they do.
Keeping a team connected
The same principle applies to work-based communication too. Your people may be talented but without effective communication they won’t fulfil their potential. Tasks will be missed or duplicated, tensions and frustration will build up, good ideas will go untried.
One of my own business values is to be connected. This means in practice that I always consider myself to be part of the organisation I am working with for the duration of my connection to them. This might be through a brief contact in a workshop, a longer review project or an ongoing mentoring relationship.
Over the years I have been privileged to witness many different groups and teams in action. My belief in the fundamental importance and impact of communication in the functioning of teams and organisations has been reinforced over and over again.
If you are planning how your team is going to stay connected in a fast-paced and changing world, I hope you find these tips helpful.
3 elements that I think are vital for effective team communication:
Clear objectives and shared purpose – what are we here to do and how do we all contribute to that.
This is helped by leadership communication that offers the right mix of local support and understanding with the link to the official communication from the organisation as a whole.
Formal and informal opportunities to communicate with each other.
Having a chat with a colleague by the kettle (or via online messenger) is equally as important as a formal team meeting, although it may serve another purpose. If you only have one or other of these, your team will not be so successful. A mix of ways to communicate and connect, along with clear, shared understanding of what is acceptable and when, are vital.
Willingness to be open, honest and challenge each other.
Effective teams don’t always agree with each other about everything. And that’s OK. It makes a big difference if you can bring these discussions out into the open and work out a way forward. Finding the way forward is crucial. If you get stuck at the disagreeing stage, that doesn’t help.
Many teams get some, but not all, of these right. Others communicate in ways that work for them, but might not be as effective elsewhere. I have seen all sorts.
If you need help with your team communication, please get in touch for a chat about how I could help.
Thank you to all the teams I have worked with over the years. You have all taught me something.
Until next time