Why: Good communication is the foundation of collaboration, engagement and performance
What: Everything that is relevant to your team (e.g. team’s activity, company news, information from upper management, etc.). Share good news as well as bad news (don’t hide it)
How: Prepare what you have to say but don’t overthink it. Be as clear and specific as possible. Ask if they have questions or concerns (if they don’t, ask again). Use the right channel (mail, meeting, conversation, etc.)
When: Rather sooner than later (your team will appreciate that they hear the news directly from you and not from someone else). Regularly and as much as needed (repetition and frequency will reinforce your message)
To whom: Give the same level of information to all your team members
Invest in your communication
Good communication is the foundation of successful teams. Indeed a team cannot work well together if they fail to communicate. Communication happens in different ways, between managers and their team members but also between the team members themselves. As such, managers need to communicate effectively to their team members but also to create the conditions of transparent communication among their team members.
It is also important to keep in mind that communication is a skill that you can learn and always try to improve. With some practice and attention, all managers can become better communicators and have a positive impact on their team.
Choose what you communicate
Before communicating to your team, it is important that you decide what is worth being communicated. If you only wait for big news or announcements, you may end up communicating too rarely and letting your team with too little visibility and potentially creating frustration or anxiety. On the contrary, making a specific communication for every single event may put your team under the impression that you are bombarding them with messages and that none of them are really important.
To make sure you share relevant communication with your team, ask yourself the question: is this relevant information for them? or put differently, what if I don’t share this information with them? If you are still not sure, don’t forget that there is more downside to under communicating than over-communicating.
Prepare but don’t overthink
To be effective and well understood, communication requires some preparation. Before you communicate with your team, make sure you precisely know what message you want to convey. If it is not clear in your mind, there is little chance that it will be clear for them and it will most likely create confusion. Also, don’t convey too many messages in your communication and focus on one clear message. When receiving too much information, your team members may end up remembering only one or two elements and forgetting the rest.
If preparation is key, authenticity is as important, if not more. Being honest and authentic in your verbal and written communications is the best way to get your team to understand and receive positively your message. To do so, don’t over think too much how you want to say what you have to say. Communicating honestly, genuinely, and authentically is often the most powerful way of communicating.
Be concise but not mysterious
To be effective, communication should always be simple and bring clarity. Preparing your communication may cost you some efforts beforehand but may also save you a lot of time afterwards. Indeed, if you are clear in your initial communication, you will not have to explain it. Using a reduced number of words to communicate is often a great way to make sure that your message is simple and straightforward.
However managers should never overestimate their team’s ability to understand what they mean. If your message is too concise, it can also mean that your team has to make an effort to interpret your message, with the obvious risk of misunderstanding it. We recommend you to prepare and share your message with the intention of being as clear as possible but don’t go too far in that direction.
Choose the appropriate channel
Choosing the right channel can help you get your message through to your team. First, remember that there is no right or wrong channel per say; it really depends on what you want to communicate.
Oral communication can be very effective as it gives you the opportunity to see how your team reacts, read their body language, and provides you feedback and a chance of clearing potential doubts immediately.
Written communication can also have its benefits as it enables you to choose exactly the words you want to use and gives opportunity to react for team members that may be less inclined to speak out in groups. It will also enable the team to refer to that message if needs be.
The best way to choose the right channel is to use your own judgement. For example, announcing a change or a re-organisation in the team cannot be done with an email and usually requires some explanation. On the other hand, celebrating a new client can simply be done by sharing an email with your team. In any case, make sure all your team members get your communication at the same time.
Finally, it is important to avoid abusing multiple channels. Who would like to have a manager who tells you something verbally, sends you an email to say the same thing and then texts you to ask if you’ve read the message?
Listen and challenge yourself
Last but not least, to be a good communicator you also need to be an effective listener. When you communicate with your team, give them time and space to react, to speak out, and ask questions. If your team members don’t react, ask them the question or invite them to rephrase what they understood and clarify the message if needed.
Your message may be based on personal and subjective assumptions that you are not fully aware of. Therefore, don’t hesitate to challenge yourself and the way you communicate regularly. “Do I sometimes filter what I have to say?” is a question you should ask yourself to avoid communicating in a biased way. Don't let your assumptions get in the way of you sharing news or opportunities with your team.
Wrap up: Managers who realise the importance of regular communication, who think about what they communicate and how they structure their messages have the most impact on their team. Being clear and authentic, choosing an inclusive and adapted channel, and listening actively to each team member’ reactions is the key to impactful communication. / communicating with impact.