To pull off a successful project, a major element is good communication. However, not everyone is an expert in effective communication. So here are some tips to help you communicate well with your team.
Tip #1: Face to Face is Best
When you are wanting people to get things done or complete a given activity for you, the best communication is face to face. Granted, sometimes face to face is not the most practical, but whenever possible talk to a person–well, in person. This kind of attention from you as a leader communicates not only the facts surrounding the project, but it also creates an atmosphere of respect that translates to importance and attention on the part of your team members.
Tip #2: You can’t seem to over communicate.
The old axiom holds true: Tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, and then tell them what you told them. When managing your team be sure to re-emphasize what you’re trying to accomplish, check in with them and make sure they know what’s going on, and check back to make sure they are proceeding as planned. It is kind of like calling to plan a babysitter two weeks in advance, then calling again a week ahead to make sure everything’s still ok for the intended day, then calling the day of the event to finalize. This kind of proactive communication eliminates mistakes, heads off the tendency to forget anything, and in general just keeps everything organized and on track.
Tip #3: Each person on your team may need to be communicated to in a different way.
Just like in school when every kid had a different learning style, as adults in the work place every person has their own way of communicating. The way one person inputs information may be completely different than another. Similarly, people tend to remember instructions and notices in different ways. Some members may rely on face-to-face communication before they are fully on board with a given activity. Still others may need face-to-face meetings to be followed up with an email. And yet another member may work best with a phone call. Be flexible and try to tailor your communication to what works best for each team member. And don’t be afraid to incorporate many different forms of communication.
Tip #4: Get others to repeat back to you what you said so that you know your message was understood.
Expert communication means nothing if the receiving party doesn’t understand. Therefore it is essential that you take the time to make sure that your communication was received in the way you meant to present it. A good way to check for this comprehension across verbal lines is to ask the person you’re speaking with to repeat back to you what you just said. This step should not be seen as patronizing as repeating it back does not have to imply that the recipient did not grasp the material, but rather that you as a communicator might have presented the information in another way that what you intended. Repetition on both sides of a conversation ensures that what gets said is what gets heard.