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How to Improve Communication Within a Team

Think about NASA and their Apollo missions. The navigation guys, the computer systems experts and the flight surgeon are just some of the different teams in Houston that are constantly communicating with each other. 

Each team is simultaneously communicating with mission control. Mission control takes all of this information and passes information up to the astronauts who are blasting through space thousands of miles above them. Any breakdown in communication across any of the teams can derail the whole mission and have dangerous consequences.  

Now, consider your own team. You might not be navigating the cold vacuum of space but miscommunication can still cause the same problems. Here’s how you can improve your internal communications. 

Improving Team Communication

When asked why a project had missed a key deadline, 28% of employees said poor communication was the primary cause. It’s easy to get caught up in external communication that you neglect what’s happening within your four walls.

 

Step One: Review 

Consider your current internal communication strategy and think about how everyone talks to each other and the platform they use to do it. Are you plagued by long email chains or the constant notifications of a messaging service like Slack? You’ll need to determine what’s working and what isn’t at the moment before you can make any positive changes. 

While carrying out this internal review, give every single person within the organisation the opportunity to provide feedback on communication. What’s working for one team might cause serious headaches for another. The only way you’ll know this is by sitting down and hearing about these challenges. 

 

Step Two: The Platforms

There are a bunch available and all of them are great at what they do. Slack is perfect for quick informal chats between remote workers. Email chains offer accountability and an effective audit trail. Zoom is great for visuals - you get the idea. And there’s nothing wrong with a good old-fashioned conversation too. 

Each organisation wants to communicate in a slightly different way. You’ll probably settle on a combination of platforms but it’s worth trialling a few to see what works. Most will offer free trials of some sort and then you can just go with the ones you like. 

 

Step Three: A Strategy

To reduce unnecessary communications that just get in the way of the important stuff, establish an internal communications strategy for everyone to adhere to. The purpose of this is so everyone knows how they should communicate in any particular situation. 

For example, you’d expect any emergency situation to be communicated about in a different way than the usual day-to-day bits and pieces. Similarly, you’d want staff to choose the platform most appropriate to the context of the message. The same emergency situation would require fast, instant messages - not emails which are slow and easily missed. 

 

Step Four: Leading By Example

Once the strategy is in place and the platforms have been chosen, it’s up to you to set an example to the rest of the organisation. Staff are more likely to follow the new strategy if they see you leading by example. 

Have an open door policy to build trust and encourage any member of the organisation to provide suggestions on how communication can be improved further. 

 

Organisations Who’ve Transformed Their Internal Communications

Here are examples of organisations who’ve thought outside the box to improve communication within their teams. 

Microsoft

Large group meetings are often essential but dull. They shouldn’t feel like lectures or as though the same few people are always the ones being heard. To make sure everyone gets involved (and to make sure they’re concentrating), why not follow Microsoft’s example? 

They introduced Ralph the rubber chicken to their usual meetings. No matter whether they were small or large, Ralph was present. Basically, whoever wanted to speak could raise their hand and be thrown the chicken. Only with the chicken could you speak.

 

TED

How many days have you wasted through unnecessary meetings? TED realised that meetings were a poor allocation of resources and there were better ways of communicating important information. 

That’s why they implemented an 18-minute limit on all meetings. As soon as that threshold was reached, the meeting was over. This encouraged all staff to prioritise their work and get straight to the point. Staff found the meetings more enjoyable and had more time in their day to be productive. 

 

Virgin

Richard Branson is always keen to embrace anything that generates new ideas. He realised the same environments day after day stifle innovation and creativity. Staff members weren’t communicating new ideas because they just weren’t having them. 

He changed all that by implementing a switch to innovative spaces. Meetings, catch-ups, phone calls - all of them had to now happen in interesting environments. Whether it’s just a park bench or local cafe, he found that new and vibrant spaces improved communications. 

 

Ready to Improve Your Communication Skills?

We’ve created a free guide that’s packed with tips to improve your communication skills. You might be a little hesitant when it comes to public speaking or you’re finding a breakdown in communication between departments.

Either way, this is the guide for you. Download your free copy now using the link below. 

Download the Handbook