#OfficeGoals: Effective Team Communication

Aug 23, 2016 | Human Resources

At every point of customer contact, you and your staff can make the difference between one-time connections and patients for life. With so much riding on team harmony, cooperation, and more, are you keeping your communication game strong? Learn the what, why, and how of effective team communication from Audigy human resources expert Steve Hughbanks.

It’s hard to dispute that communication holds an essential role in team effectiveness. Studies point to the importance of communication in management and leadership, employee satisfaction and retention, patient care and safety, and so much more.

For most workplace teams, however, effective communication isn’t automatic. Instead, it usually requires learning, practicing, and implementing a few skills and techniques.

The good news? Anyone committed to collaboration, customer satisfaction, personal growth, and team success can master some key steps in effective communication.

Understanding the Basics

What does effective team communication look like? It’s helpful to think of team communication as a continuous process with some crucial elements:

  • Positive energy
  • Consistency
  • Teamwork
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Trust
  • Shared purpose
  • Encouragement
  • Respect
  • Appreciation
  • Desire to participate
  • Willingness to seek input

Disagreements, too, have a place in effective communication — especially when they’re treated as a vital part of making sound decisions. With various people contributing diverse perspectives, it’s natural to not always see eye to eye. Using words that express calmness and cooperation rather than forcefulness, however, can help turn disagreements into positive opportunities.

Making the Case

What makes effective team communication so important? There’s no shortage of research on the topic. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, for example, employees and HR professionals alike rank communication between staff and senior management quite high in importance for job satisfaction.

Similarly, employees point to lack of communication — along with lack of recognition, concerns with leadership, and relationships with co-workers — among the reasons they leave their jobs.

Did you know most of the reasons employees quit their jobs are within the control of the employer — whether having to do with workplace culture, environment, opportunities, or other factors? Here are three reasons effective communication is so crucial:

  • Goal Alignment — When team members understand the value and importance of personal, professional, and financial goals and hold each other accountable, effective team communication can play a big part in aligning individual goals with those of the practice.
  • Purpose and Value — Effective communication and staff morale go hand in hand, benefiting the bottom line by putting the focus more on becoming a practice or provider of distinction and building community awareness of the business through the power of a solid team.
  • Talent Retention — Ensuring employees have a direct and clear career path and understand how they fit into the big picture helps them thrive, which helps the business. Replacing staff costs money — possibly up to three times the yearly salary of the person being replaced — making effective communication that fosters transparency and engagement a valuable investment toward employee retention.

Taking Action

How can effective team communication help you leverage your strengths and resources for success? Keep these tips in mind:

  • It all starts with the recruitment process. From the minute an individual applies for a position with your practice to the last moment they serve on your team, clear and effective team communication should be a solid part of the employee life cycle.
  • Effective team communication can help demonstrate your practice’s brand, sending a clear message not only about the services you offer but also the high standards, discipline, and sense of organization by which you deliver them.
  • Communication consistency can go a long way in building confidence across your team. Sticking to one-on-one and group-meeting schedules, coming prepared with an agenda, and following through on captainships and other elements of accountability help reinforce consistency.
  • Through this consistency, staff also gain a reliable and open forum in which they can feel valued and appreciated for their insight and ideas.
  • Effective communication gives employees a voice — increasingly important for staff satisfaction — and can help not only curb conflict and misunderstandings but potentially reduce grievances and lawsuits.

Embracing effective communication as part of your team’s culture brings many benefits, including improvements in retention, engagement, working relationships, and sense of value.

Thinking Outside the Lines
Getting creative pays off. One practice owner with a particularly shy staffer arranged for the employee and another team member to enjoy dinner at a local restaurant, giving the two employees a chance to break down communication barriers and improve engagement for an even more cohesive team. It worked.