Advertising
Advertising

Published on April 1, 2019

How to Boost Team Performance with Transparent Communication

How to Boost Team Performance with Transparent Communication

As many founder and team leaders would attest, clear communication––coupled with genuine transparency––is key to inspiring employees and, ultimately, growing as a company.

But in a truly collaborative environment that consists of powerful, capable hires, transparency is important for more than just inspiration. It’s critical for giving your people what they need to effectively do their job. If you don’t share data, plans, or concerns with your employees, you’ll hamstring them. Instead, you need to equip your people to make the best possible decisions for their area of responsibility.

But this needs to work the other way around, too; employees themselves need to be transparent about where they’re at in terms of progress, what resources they need to get their job done, and the challenges they’re facing or foresee facing in completing new projects. When that happens, everyone in your company has a chance to thrive.

That said, fostering and sustaining a culture in which this kind of two-way communication and trust exists is difficult, and it gets harder the bigger you grow. It requires you as a company leader to constantly prioritize and reinforce these values.

If this is something you’re struggling with right now, here are some steps we took to improve this at our company, Honey, that might be helpful for you:

1. Hire Someone Who Is Solely Focused on Internal Communication

This is what it looks like to truly prioritize strong internal communication: you have to invest in it.

That’s what we did at Honey, at least. We hired someone to set the cadence of internal discourse, fine-tune the messaging from leadership to ensure we’re conveying things the right way, and to facilitate back-and-forth between teams. Especially as we crossed the 100-employee threshold, we realized this was something we simply weren’t equipped to do on our own––not while also doing the work of COO, CEO, CTO, etc.

Advertising

The truth is, you have to treat communication as its own department or vertical. That’s because it really is as crucial to your company’s success as your product, or your marketing, or your sales.

If people on your team lack essential understanding around the reasoning behind certain decisions or company direction, or if they don’t have the information they need to do their job––if you or your teammates ever enter meetings surprised by what’s being discussed––you won’t be as efficient as you could be.

Don’t let that happen. Approach communication with careful and purposeful orchestration.

2. Be Honest and Sincere with Your Employees

Of course, you can’t just outsource communication and transparency and hope it improves or sustains. You have to do your part as a company leader.

That means being honest and sincere with your people in your messaging and in your conversations with them.

As we all know, communication hinges upon trust. Your people will only be 100% honest with you regarding their needs and challenges if you are 100% honest with them. They will only care about your company and the integrity of your communicative philosophy if you genuinely seem to care.

That means you should share news and updates across departments. Share updates from the executive suite with your engineers. When you have a potentially exciting conversation with an investor or advisor, tell your people. Engage with them if it’s appropriate to do so.  

Advertising

Communication is very much a two-way street.

But it’s also true that sometimes it’s hard to be 100% transparent with employees. If you’re in the midst of an acquisition, for example, you may not be legally able to to.

But employees will give you the benefit of the doubt in these situations if you’re sincere with them––if they know that honesty is a core value of the company.

3. Establish the Right Flow During All-Company Meetings

To get a bit more in-the-weeds, how you relay information and conduct conversation is very important. But you can’t just say that communication is important. You must also set out to communicate effectively.

The most likely way you’ll do that is during meetings.

It’s important, then, that you hold and conduct meetings the right way. Things like whether everyone in the room is comfortable, whether your delivery is engaging, the lengths of meetings––we find people can generally only focus for 90 minutes at a time––all matter.

In fact, your attention to detail as a leader will go a long way in determining how effective you are at facilitating internal communication. In our company, even small adjustments like asking presenters to abide by certain templates and formats in their presentation slides went a long way.

Advertising

You can say communication is important all you want, but unless you’re communicating correctly, it won’t matter.

4. Allow Q&A Time with Your Employees

Aside from all-hands meetings, you also need to schedule time specifically for question-and-answer sessions.

These could look like one-on-one meetings (if you’re a smaller team) or forum-oriented meetups where you as a leader don’t have any specific agenda other than fielding and answering questions from your team.

If you’re not already doing this, try it. You’ll be surprised how much your employees want to utilize their voice––how many concerns or questions they want addressed.

5. Do 360-Degree Reviews

Finally, to truly encourage and sustain a culture of transparency, you must submit yourself to the same expectations of reflection and appraisal as your employees.

That means conducting 360-degree reviews.

Most people don’t enjoy receiving constructive feedback. That’s as true of executives as it is of managers and engineers.

Advertising

We get defensive and fold inward because we feel like we’re being attacked. But designing feedback sessions as two-way conversations helps ensure the person sitting on the other side of the table understands that the purpose of providing feedback is to help the whole company improve and become more effective.

It also proves to your people that you really do value transparency and that your culture really does value equality.

The Bottom Line

At the end of the day, improving your internal communicative processes is something of an ongoing project which you can always work to improve. But prioritizing communication and transparency––and investing in it to prove it is important to you––is still crucial for inspiring your employees, helping them improve, and elevating your company’s overall effectiveness. It encourages growth and asks everyone to “level up” to be the best teammate they can be.

It’s a critical component, in other words, of your overall strategy. Don’t neglect it.

More Resources to Boost Team Performance

Featured photo credit: Romain V via unsplash.com

More by this author

Glen Allison

Glen is the Chief Operating Officer at Honey. He focuses on a culture of excellence and shares entrepreneurial tips.

How to Boost Team Performance with Transparent Communication

Trending in Smartcut

1 10 Essential Soft Skills That Will Help Advance Your Career 2 The Savvy Employees Guide to Asking for a Raise 3 Why You Feel Stuck in Your Career After Staying in a Job Longterm 4 10 Simple Yet Powerful Business Goals to Set This Year 5 How to Nix Your Credit Card Debt in Less Than 3 Years

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on April 11, 2019

How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

Possessing strong communication skills will help you in every phase of your life. This is especially true in the workplace.

I have personally worked with several leaders who were masters of communication. A few were wonderful speakers who could tell a great story and get everyone in the room engaged. Those of us in attendance would walk away feeling inspired and eager to help with what came next. Others were very skilled at sharing a clear direction and job expectations.

I knew exactly what was expected of me and how to achieve my goals. This was the foundation of an energized and vibrant role I was in. What I have found is strong communication skills are incredibly helpful and sometimes critical in how well we perform at work.

Here we will take a look at how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

How Communication Skills Help Your Success

Strong communication skills pave the way for success in many ways. Let’s look at a few of the big ones.

Create a Positive Experience

Here are two examples of how well developed communication skills helps create a positive experience:

When I first moved to the city I now live in, I began a job search. Prior to my first live interview, I was told an address to go to. Upon arriving at the address provided, I drove around and around attempting to find the location. After 15 minutes of circling and looking for the address, I finally grabbed a parking spot and set out on foot.

What I discovered was the address was actually down an alley and only had the number over the door. No sign for the actual company. The person that gave me those very unclear directions provided a bad experience for me.

Had they communicated the directions to get there in a clear manner, my experience would have been much better. Instead the entire experience started off poorly and colored the entire meeting.

As a recruiter, I frequently provide potential candidates with information about a job I’m speaking to them about. In order to do this, I also provide a picture of the overall company, the group they might be joining, and how their role fits in and impacts the entire company.

Time and time again I have been told by candidates that I have provided the clearest picture of a company and role they have ever heard. They have a positive experience when I clearly communicate to them. Even when the position does not work out for them, often times they will want to stay in touch with me due to the open communication and beneficial experience they had during the interviewing process.

Advertising

Strong communication skills will provide a positive experience in virtually any interaction you have with someone.

Help Leadership Skills

It’s certainly a skill all its own to be able to lead others.

Being a mentor and guiding others towards success is a major hallmark of great leaders. Another characteristic of effective leaders is the ability to communicate clearly.

As I referenced above, having a leader who can plainly articulate the company’s mission and direction goes a really long way towards being the Captain of the boat that others want to follow. It’s like saying “here’s our destination and this is how we are going to get there” in a way that everyone can get on board with.

Another critical component of everyone helping to sail the boat in the right direction is knowing what your portion is all about. How are you helping the boat move towards its destination in the manner than is consistent with the leaders’ vision?

If you have a boss or a manager that can show you what it takes for not only you to be successful, but also how your performance helps the company’s success then you’ve got a winner. A boss with superior communication skills.

Build Better Teams

Most of us work in teams of some sort or another. During the course of my career, I have led teams up to 80 and also been an individual contributor.

In my individual contributor roles, I have been part of a larger team. Even if you are in business for yourself, you have to interact with others in one manner or another.

If you have strong communication skills, it helps to build better teams. This is true whether you are in an IT department with 100 other fellow programmers or if you own your own business and have customers or vendors you communicate with.

When you showcase your robust ability to communicate well with others while interacting with them, you are building a better team.

Now let’s jump in to how to improve communication skills to help you pave the way for your workplace success.

Advertising

How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

There are many tips, tricks, and techniques to improve communication skills. I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much information, so let’s focus on the things that will provide the biggest return on your time investment.

Most of these tips will be fairly easy to become aware of but will take time and effort to implement. So let’s go!

1. Listen

Ever heard the saying you have two ears and one mouth for a reason? If you haven’t, then here’s the reason:

Being a good listener is half the equation to being a good communicator.

People who have the ability to really listen to someone can then actually answer questions in a meaningful way. If you don’t make the effort to actively listen, then you are really doing yourself and the other person a disservice in the communication department.

Know that person who is chomping at the bit to open his or her mouth the second you stop talking? Don’t be that person. They haven’t listened to at least 1/2 of what you’ve said. Therefore the words that spill out of their mouth are going to be about 1/2 relevant to what you just said.

Listen to someone completely and be comfortable with short periods of silence. Work on your listening skills first and foremost.

2. Know Your Audience

Knowing your audience is another critical component to having strong communication skills. The way you interact with your manager should be different than how you interact with your kids. This isn’t to say you need to be a different person with everyone you interact with. Far from it.

Here is a good way to think about it:

Imagine using your the same choice of words and body language you use with your spouse while interacting with your boss. That puts things in a graphic light!

You want to ensure you are using the type of communication most relevant to your audience.

Advertising

3. Minimize

I have lunch with a business associate about 3 times a year. We’ve been talking for several years now about putting a business deal together.

He is one of those people that simply overwhelms others with a lot of words. Sometimes when I ask him a question, I get buried beneath such an avalanche of words that I’m more confused than when I asked the question. Needless to say this is most likely a large portion of why we never put the deal together.

Don’t be like my lunch business associate. The goal of talking to or communicating with someone is to share actual information. The goal is not to confuse someone, it’s to provide clarity in many cases.

State what needs to be stated as succinctly as possible. That doesn’t mean you can’t have some pleasant conversation about the weather too.

The point is to not create such an onslaught of words and information that the other person walks away more confused than when they started.

4. Over Communicate

So this probably sounds completely counter intuitive to what I just wrote about minimizing your communication. It seems like it might be but it’s not.

What I mean by over communicating is ensuring that the other person understands the important parts of what you are sharing with them. This can be done simply yet effectively. Here’s a good example:

Most companies have open enrollment for benefits for the employees in the fall. The company I work for has open enrollment from November 1 to 15. The benefits department will send out a communication to all employees around October 1st, letting them know open enrollment is right around the corner and any major changes that year. There’s also a phone number and email for people to contact them with any questions.

Two weeks later, we all get a follow up email with basically the same information. We get a 3rd communication the week before open enrollment and another one 1 day before it starts.

Finally we get 2 emails during enrollment reminding us when open enrollment ends.

There’s minimal information, it’s more of a reminder. This is effective over communication.

Advertising

5. Body Language

The final critical component to how to improve communication skills for workplace success is body language. This is something most of us have heard about before but, a reminder is probably a good idea.

When I am in a meeting with someone I am comfortable with, I tend to kind of slouch down in my chair and cross my arms. When I catch myself doing this, I sit up straight and uncross my arms. I remember that crossing arms can many times be interpreted as a sign of disagreement or conflict.

In general, the best rule of thumb is to work towards having open body language whenever possible at work. This means relaxing your posture, not crossing your arms, and looking people in the eye when speaking with them.

When you are speaking in front of others, stand up straight and speak in a clear voice. This will convey confidence in your words.

Conclusion

Possessing strong communication skills will help you in many facets of your life and most certainly in the workplace.

Good communication helps create better teams, positive experiences with those we interact with, and are critical for leadership.

There are numerous tactics and techniques to be used to improve communication skills. Here we’ve reviewed how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

Now go communicate your way to success.

More Resources About Effective Communication

Featured photo credit: HIVAN ARVIZU via unsplash.com

Read Next