The importance of smooth and streamlined communication for team effectiveness and efficiency can hardly be overestimated. If you are unable to establish proper communication among your team members, it means that they don’t truly belong to your company but just happen to work there. There is no chance of instilling the core values of your business in them, which is a recipe for disaster in the long term.
Fortunately, the quality of communication isn’t something that changes randomly. Of course, some of it comes from gathering the right people to work together. But in my experience, it depends to a considerable extent on whether the business owner/executive possesses certain skills. In this article, I will cover three such skills that I’ve seen time and again to make or break a team.
1. Understanding the Value of Conflicts
Whenever a group of people gets together, conflict is unavoidable (85 per cent of employees claim to be dealing with conflict on some level). Even if they work towards a common goal, they may see the road towards its achievement very differently. There are many reasons why conflict may arise, but a good leader sees it not just as a bothersome obstacle, but as a growth factor. Approaching conflict situations with such a concept in your mind will be crucial to successful conflict management.
When everybody in a team agrees with each other and the team lead, it doesn’t necessarily mean that all of them are truly united in their views. It may mean that they just don’t care enough to have their own opinions, or the company culture doesn’t encourage open discussion.
Whenever there is a conflict, the team lead should do his best to understand the situation, make it obvious for everybody that they can safely express their thoughts and discuss the solution with each other. A successfully resolved conflict can make a team more cohesive and efficient than if there were no conflict to begin with.
Takeaway: Conflicts may and should be a growth and improvement factor, not something that has to be avoided at all costs.
2. Skill at rapport building
While certain types of leaders see 10 minutes spent talking to an employee on non-job-related topics as wasted time and a dangerous precedent, others perceive it as an important element of rapport building. Building rapport with your employees means that you perceive each other not just as a set of functions within a company, but have genuinely great relationships as human beings.
It can be done in many ways. Develop a culture of listening – when speaking to your employees, give them your undivided attention. When running meetings, make sure to give voice to everybody. Use praise, but make sure it is genuine and comes as a reward for real achievement so as not to devalue it.
Ask questions – it shows your interest in your team, in what and how they are doing. It can also create the culture of invention and innovation in your team, giving its members an opportunity to be more solution-focused as opposed to simply following instructions. And finally, find time to get to know other team members – team communication doesn’t work if you don’t truly know each other.
Takeaway: Set aside time and effort to build relationships with your employees as human beings, not just replaceable elements of a machine that is your business.
3. Emotional self-regulation
Humans are emotional creatures, which means that no matter how smart the leader and his associates are, their efficiency is dependent on their ability to regulate their emotional states. Your current emotional state influences how you process information, what decisions you make and how you interact with other people. This means that a high level of emotional self-regulation is essential for efficient work – especially for those in senior management roles.
This doesn’t mean that emotions should be firmly kept out of the workplace altogether. Despite it being a long-professed ideal, it is a highly inefficient approach because it shares one thing with all the other ideals: it is unattainable. Instead, you have to work your emotions through or temporarily set them aside so that they don’t influence your judgment and work. Being aware of your emotions will eventually lead you to better self-awareness in general, and if your employees know that you don’t act on your emotions alone, they will feel safer in their own communication with you and each other.
Takeaway: As nobody can fully remove emotions from the workplace, you have to learn to self-regulate and promote the same among your employees. This way, emotions will not be detrimental and can even benefit your business.
In my experience, business owners and team leads who lack these skills tend to be the worst disruptive elements in communication between their own employees. Fortunately, these are skills, not innate qualities. Just like any skills, they can be learned – and you should make it your business to do it.
Author bio: Melissa Burns is a business consultant and an independent journalist. She spends her time writing articles, overviews, and analyses about technology, business innovations, and global trends. Occasionally, she also conducts workshops for young and promising startups. Follow her @melissaaburns or contact at email@example.com