In a recent Dynamic Communication workshop with a group of local business owners an overwhelming number of them had a similar question: How do I improve communication between my team members?

There is a myriad of articles out there telling you how to best improve communication between groups of people. Some give a top 10, some even venture into the top 50, but how do you really make sense of this generic information and apply this to your unique team?

In our experience with many different businesses who have varied in size, industry and scope, one thing holds true. You will never be able to improve communication between team members without first knowing how they prefer to be communicated to.

Open, honest and transparent

One of the simplest methods you could adopt right now to avoid poor communication is to simply ask individuals how they prefer to be talked to. Do they prefer informal or more formal styles? Do they like to be given small or long term deadlines? Would they prefer emotional connection or non-emotive interaction? By simply asking openly for this feedback you can begin to adapt how you and others communicate based on their preferences. Remember though to make a simple note (a Post-it will do), so you don’t have to continually ask and appear discourteous.

Clear roles and expectations

It would be great if all employees knew what they needed to do and did it all the time. Unfortunately, this perfect world may never be achieved but should be aspired to by any business owner. Try outlining key roles and responsibilities when onboarding a new hire or review them regularly with existing employees to bring clarity to their work and help them understand where they fit in the organization. Then, create an action plan together to meet these expectations and clarify who is responsible for the success of them. This will ensure higher probability of executing action items effectively and will empower employees to think and act independently. You also will not have to continuously repeat yourself and constantly feel like that nagging boss with your staff.

Train and gain

Your employees come to work to do a job they are trained in, which probably didn’t include emotional intelligence and communication skills. There are a number of training sessions you could invest in or even facilitate yourself with the help of online activities (see below for a link to a resource library). One easy way you could try right now is use a simple DISC exercise and identify someone’s dominant behavior and adjust your communication style accordingly.

Step 1 – Identify someone’s behavior with using the 2×2 grid below

Extrovert + Task Focused = Dominant

Extrovert + People Focused = Influencer

Introvert + People Focused = Steadiness

Introvert + Task Focused = Compliant

Simple DISC explanation

Step 2 – Identify ways to and not to communication using the table below

Ways to communicateWays not to communicate

DOMINANT

  • Be brief and clear
  • Be well organized
  • Talk around the subject
  • Dictate to them

INFLUENCER

  • Be warm and friendly
  • Ask “feeling” questions
  • Be cold and inattentive
  • Be controlling

STEADINESS

  • Be prepared
  • Be accurate
  • Be disorganized
  • Be loud and informal

COMPLIANCE

  • Be non-threatening
  • Ask opinion
  • Be demanding
  • Rush the decision-making process

This simple exercise may not be that magic fix you were looking for but your staff will at least start to become more educated in how to improve communication and start to be aware of how to adapt their style when speaking with others.

You will be amazed how applying these basic changes can improve communication and dialogue between team members. Why not give them a try today and see how small changes to your communication go a long way?

Further resources can be found here at The Team Building Directory.