5 Communication Habits to Fuel Team Productivity
We often label communication as a “soft” skill. However, poor communication can impact your team. A report from The Economist Intelligence Unit found poor communication has a variety of detrimental effects on employees, including:
- Delay or failure to complete projects (44%)
- Low morale (31%)
- Missed performance goals (25%)
- Lost sales (18%)
Some reported those lost sales were worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. The kicker? Each is avoidable through better communication skills.
“Fundamentally, when there is a good, effective communication stream where clarity is present, it absolutely increases productivity,” says Jeff Miller, Ph.D., senior director of talent management at cloud-based talent management platform Cornerstone OnDemand.
Research firm Gallup has repeatedly shown the link between employee engagement and productivity, yet just one-third of employees engage at work. For instance, leaders who communicate daily using a combination of face-to-face, by phone, and digital methods are the most successful in engaging their employees. Even good communicators can often fine-tune or improve their skills. Adopt these five habits of great communicators to boost productivity in your organization.
In addition, a whopping 88% of office workers surveyed by American Express OPEN said they have pretended to understand office jargon. The more complicated the exchange, the more likely it is that your team members will lose time trying to interrupt it. Clear, precise language lets people know exactly what they need to do and what is expected of them.
Whether you’re leading a big conference call or having a one-on-one conversation, when you need follow-up action, recapping is important. Discuss the issues at hand, then invite any questions so your team or audience knows they can feel safe asking for clarification, says communication expert Cheri Torres, co-author of Conversations Worth Having: Using Appreciative Inquiry to Fuel Productive and Meaningful Engagement. “Sometimes, people need more detail or a broader context,” she adds.
Next, once you’re sure you have a shared understanding of the conversation, recap the next steps. Make sure participants understand who’s responsible for the upcoming tasks. That way, everyone is on the same page.
Each person has a unique communication style. For instance, some people are introverts, while others are more outgoing. As a leader, you should do your best to understand your team’s communication needs. Sometimes, doing so is as simple as pausing throughout the conversation to allow people an opening to ask questions. Similarly, you may follow up with team members after they’ve processed the meeting, Torres says.
Watch for facial expressions, voice tone, or body language—they’re very telling. You may find important clues about the clarity of your communication. In other words, if your audience members look around or shift in their seats, you may need to adapt your message or its delivery.
Next, as your team embarks on the tasks necessary to fulfill your expectations, Miller says it’s crucial to establish check-in points. This gives your team members an opportunity to ask for additional clarification, address questions that arise, and report progress. This practice also gives you an opportunity to provide additional feedback and ensure your directives weren’t misunderstood.
In conclusion, productivity-enhancing communication is a work in progress. Be an active observer of your own communication style, adapting and adopting what works best for your team.
Even if you’re meeting with your team virtually, it’s important to keep the communication flowing.