Successful teams are made up of all types of people these days.
Diversity: a mix of introverts and extroverts, different economic and ethnic backgrounds, both the visionaries and the doers. It is this blending that makes up the best teams.
And yet, with such diversity there can be some complications, tensions, miscommunications, or even just lack of communication. Sometimes you have a talkative group that connects with each other right away, or you might have a group that stays silent during each meeting. You might have the makings of a great team that collaborates well, but to get there may mean overcoming some roadblocks along the way.
One of the most common roadblocks often comes down to an issue of communication. People are all different, and that means that everyone has a different communication style as well. At times, those styles are like texts that failed to send—the other person doesn’t receive the message.
Today, in the era of the coronavirus, we need communication more than ever. For many people, an effort to stop the spread of the virus with social distancing can quickly become a case of social isolation—with all the relevant side effects. This has magnified not just the potential of a physical illness people can catch, but the possibility of a mental one many people face while being quarantined. Thankfully, though, there are many ways to combat that. Our Strange Days blog series takes a look at a few ways to manage that struggle in both our personal and professional lives.
The issues of team communication can be difficult enough even when you have the option to walk down the hall and knock on the door or cubicle of the person you need to chat with. Now, though, with the face-to-face option eliminated for many of us, that leaves only emails, Slack, and videoconferencing as the gateways to team collaboration. So how do you communicate and collaborate effectively in this new Work From Home world?
Here are three tips on how to communicate and collaborate well, even while working from home.
1. Get the right tools
There are many ways to pound in a nail. You can use a shoe, a piece of plywood, or even a rock. But the most effective way is to use the tool made for the job, like a hammer. Make sure you and your team have the right tools to communicate effectively. That means ensuring you have the right technology, like Slack, Zoom, Google Hangouts, join.me, or whatever else you are most comfortable using to communicate with. Knowing the best way to set up your at home video conference is another part of communicating with your team in the best way possible.
This seems like the most basic part of any communication, right? But having the right tools may also mean taking stock of what is working and what is not working and replacing it with something better. Here is a list of tools you might want to double-check you have to optimize your team’s WFH communication.
2. Ensuring psychological safety
Anybody can form a group, but an effective team is only made by a group that can proficiently communicate. When everyone is on the video call, brainstorming for your next marketing campaign, the best results come about when everyone feels comfortable enough to chime in. This is called psychological safety, which professor Amy Edmondson at Harvard Business School says is ‘‘a sense of confidence that the team will not embarrass, reject or punish someone for speaking up.’’ This is achieved when people feel a sense of safety and belonging due to mutual trust and respect within the group. Maybe some of your team members are just quieter people, or maybe they don’t feel comfortable in the group to speak up, even if they do have fantastic ideas. Make sure your team can hear the best ideas from everyone by ensuring a sense of trust within your group.
3. Create new social norms
Team communication does not always have to be business-related. Talking about your dog, the ‘drooling colleague’ passed out next to you, can be a great way to share a laugh and create a connection with your human co-workers. Rather than decreasing productivity, allowing team members to share their lives and have fun with each other actually increases overall productivity. According to McKinsey Global Institute, employees’ productivity increases by 20-25% when they feel connected to each other.
When you normalize workplace socialization, even when working remotely, you will find that people are much more engaged in their teams. With the options to chat with colleagues while refilling your coffee cup or microwaving your lunch out of the equation, it takes a little more creativity now to connect. Maybe you take five minutes before you get started on the video meeting to have everyone share about their day. Having established social times like a midweek team check-in, setting aside social chat time, or sending a spontaneous coronavirus meme to each other can all be important ways to stay connected, be healthy, and increase communication for your team.