You are the leader of your life, your team at work or in business, and you are in charge of the relationships that are attached to every aspect of your life. The quality of the relationships between you and your family members and friends, between you and your business associates, and between you and your team members should be one of your biggest areas of focus.
A unified, communication practice produces the best results, whether it’s in a personal relationship or a business one, but open and productive communication isn’t always easy to develop.
People have very different beliefs, backgrounds, experiences and social skills, all of which can prove challenging in your quest for more productive and positive communication.
Try these effective strategies to bolster good communications:
1. Adopt a personal courtesy policy. When the people you communicate with are clear about your personal (and organizational) position on treating one another respectfully, they’ll realize that they play an important part in ensuring it’s implemented and practiced. Insisting on common courtesy in your personal and business interactions is the most direct way to improve communication.
* Outline your expectations about how those you have influence over should address others and respond to various situations.
* For employees, establish consequences for non-compliance with the courtesy policy so they realize how important it is to be in compliance.
* Engage others in discussions about the positive impact it has on their productivity and effectiveness when they’re courteous and respectful to others.
2. Cross-train staff and influence other professionals . A great way to improve communication among co-workers and other professionals is allowing them to see and understand the elements of other people’s tasks, effects on a specific project, and their responsibilities.
* Having an appreciation for what happens To those they work with on the other side of a challenge or project inspires your team members to communicate without prejudice.
* Cross-training allows team members to experience each other’s challenges so they can communicate with an educated perspective as opposed to ignorance.
3. Incentivize effective communication. Incentives for team members encourages them to work harder, which brings additional benefits to you, your team, and your company. Recognizing the efforts of those going above and beyond makes them more likely to repeat the behavior.
* Structure a reward and tracking system for different elements of communication. Some examples of healthy communication are courtesy, respectfulness, changes in task-related expectations and honest feedback.
* Announce recipients of communication incentives so other members of the project team are inspired to improve their level of communication as well.
* Remind team members and professionals that, although you are incentivizing effective communication, it’s still their responsibility to participate in that level of discourse even if you’re not there to see it.
4. Have regular team / project meetings. When you bring all members of a team or project group together, it gives you the opportunity to reinforce and encourage direct, open communication, and allows everyone to hear and understand each other’s positions, fostering better relationships.
* Ask members of the employee or project team how they feel about upcoming changes to what they are working on.
* Find out directly from those involved about the issues they are having with others and encourage them to relay the details directly so openness can be achieved.
* Try to determine if there are areas of the company’s (or project’s) organization that aren’t as effective as they could be, and discuss how strengthening communication can turn things around.
As you already know, a company or project team that isn’t capable of communicating effectively soon suffers diminished returns and lower productivity due to a lack of cohesiveness and a common goal. To avoid having your team or company experience that, start today to place more importance on communication. Smoother operations and better results will surely follow.