Communication is essential for teams to thrive. And leaders play a key role in the way their team members communicate. It’s important for leaders to both lay a foundation of strong communication from the start and also to continue to strengthen and develop that as their team grows. While most leaders would agree that communication is important, it’s not always as apparent how we can ensure it’s successful. If you’re a team leader who wants to bring your team’s communication skills to the next level, here are some key places to focus.
As a leader, you set the precedent. You demonstrate how your team should respond in different situations and how communication will play a role. This means leading by example. If you want your team members to maintain open communication with their clients, show them what that looks like. If you want them to feel comfortable coming to you with a problem, make that known. If something goes wrong, be open about it with your team so they’ll do the same with you. Whatever you want communication to look like among your team members, you need to embody that as their leader.
Sure you’re managing a team, but you’re also managing individuals. Using communication to support your individual connection with each team member is key. This means forming a rapport through friendly exchanges in the office. It also means making the space for one-on-one meetings where you can delve into discussing individual goals and challenges. When you prioritize maintaining open communication with each member of your team, you show them that you’re invested in their growth, you earn their trust and respect, and you create an environment in which your leadership will be most effective.
In addition to your relationship with each employee, the relationships among your employees are also important to your team’s success. Your team members need to be able to work together in order to deliver the best overall service. As a leader, you can support these connections by creating opportunities for more communication among your team members. From planning a team offsites to simply ensuring that everyone participates in meetings, you help your team members develop the open communication and connection they need to thrive.
As a strong leader, you don’t just want to maintain the status quo, you want to drive growth. You want to help your employees reach new levels of success and improve throughout their careers. You want to ensure that the same is true of your team as a whole — that as a group, your team is making forward progress. Communication in the form of feedback is essential here. When you commit to giving your employees open, honest feedback on a regular basis, you help them identify and strengthen the areas they need to improve. But the feedback shouldn’t just go one way. Ensure that you create a communication environment in which your employees can share their feedback with you as well. Do they need more support in a specific area? Is there something that needs to be clarified? When leaders create a two-way feedback system built on strong communication, they create an infrastructure for improvement.
Though intangible, communication is the lifeblood of a team. When communication breaks down, everything else seems to go with it. While the communication dynamic can feel like something that develops organically, leaders can step up to play an important role in its development and maintenance. What do you think about the importance of communication on your team? I’d love to hear your thoughts.