Being an entrepreneur means waking up each day and solving problems. As your business begins to grow, the complexity, intensity, and variety of the challenges you face also grow. But an effective way to minimize repetition of the problems is – communication.
The minute you begin expanding your team, communication takes center stage. Whether it is strategic, product, or project planning, it becomes imperative for companies to have efficient communication models in place.
It is important to be aware and pay attention from the get-go because before you realize it, poor communication can get in the way creating a domino effect. Unlike the Industrial Age, it is pivotal that organizations, big or small, have free-flowing communication a two-way street. Because, there’s nothing healthy communication cannot fix.
So what are some ways you could implement strong communication strategies?
Team Dynamics and Ways of Maintaining an Open-Door Policy
The 101 of healthy team dynamics in the Information Age is to remember to break down the barriers of bureaucracy and hierarchy. Whether it is an open-door policy to share feedback with leaders, or writing emails to make suggestions, discuss challenges or critical feedback – keeping it transparent yields better results and also earns employees’ trust.
Building a team with trust as a base forms a strong foundation that doesn’t collapse easily, and that is why communication is directly proportional to evolution and growth. You can do this by:
- Reassuring Employees: Schedule an hour every other week to meet with different teams, do a check-in to understand real-time challenges. Instill the confidence that feedback will be taken constructively.
- Revisit and Reflect: Close loop on the most pressing issues, revisit them and discuss to show progress on the efforts being put in to change the status quo. Back it up with metrics and reflect on the action plan.
- Keep Conversations Simple and Straight: Team meetings don’t always have to be heavy-duty and complex. Remind your team of this by calling for all-hands-on-deck meetings, to encourage sharing observations on what needs improvement and what seems to be working.
- Lead By Example: Reiteration is easier when it is through actions. Keep the theme of open-door policy recurring and consistent, not just in meetings, but in the way the top management operates.
- Leading Virtual Teams: The idea of traditional business operations is rapidly changing. Sensitizing communication channels to adjust to different team members’ communications preferences in the digital world is a big learning curve. Focusing on deliverables versus availability is an important message to communicate.
Take a look at our article on Leading Virtual Teams if you are interested in learning more about this topic.
Cultural Considerations when Dealing with Communications
Diversity and Inclusion is an inevitable consideration while growing as a team with blurring business boundaries. That means it is important to sensitize and educate managers to accommodate different styles of communication and what is ‘normal’ across the board. Work towards creating synergy amongst teams and team members. Encouraging direct and respectful conversations to learn how everyone operates differently, taking note of body language, or non-verbal cues.
With globalization and expanding into newer markets, there are additional layers to peel off – such as time zones, interpretation of tones, perception of authority, sensitivity to sarcastic remarks, acceptable topics for making jokes etc. Leverage the strength that a cultural mix brings to the table and learn to put in the effort into fostering effective tools of bringing the best out of people. It can be your turnaround story.
Challenges and How to Overcome Them
Many challenges arise because of struggling communication channels, but most can be solved through coherent strategies. Improved communication and collaboration through leveraging social technologies can improve an organization’s productivity by 20 to 25%. So how do you overcome challenges and bump your growth?
- Assumptions on Perception: Many problems can be avoided if we avoid assumptions. After a message is delivered, speak to your employees and help them paraphrase what was communicated, so there are no assumptions on perception. Everyone perceives things differently and so it is important to be extremely clear on delivery and messaging.
- Not Enough Listening: In the urge to establish policies, procedures, and operational methodologies, listening often slips through the cracks. Listen to what your team is saying through every method. Make observations and take notes on what is being communicated.
- Vague vs. Vivid Messaging: Whether it is delegation of tasks, project responsibilities, deliverables, or establishing working standards – give a vivid account of the organizational culture you’re trying to establish. Cryptic and vague messaging can cost time and resources.
- Avoiding Difficult Conversation: Encourage and empower your employees to discuss any uncomfortable issues that might be hindering their productivity. It equips them to deal with difficult clients and manage expectations. It can otherwise set a wrong precedent in the long run.
- Demand vs. Urgency: Building the habit of assisting employees with prioritizing tasks helps teams channel energy productively. Demanding delivery when there’s no real emergency can lead to sloppy results.
Here’s an article on common communication challenges and how to overcome them if you want more examples.
It is important to understand that communication is more than just an isolated event or a one-time occurrence. It is a crucial aspect of life and business that is constantly shifting and evolving. When a problem arises, look back and identify the source, but also take it as an opportunity to look forward and fix it, permanently.
Improving team dynamics through open-door policies, two-way communication, the right tools both digital, and strategies is pertinent to the growth of your startup.
Cultural considerations and sensitivity to diversity and inclusion is another important element that organizations cannot afford to miss while establishing strategies in place. Asking open-ended questions to understand cultural contexts, perceptions, and perspectives can propel growth with a lot fewer pitfalls.
It is also important to have an open mind and remember that while there are some common challenges that one can easily avoid, communication challenges are inevitable especially when starting out. Again, there is little an open conversation cannot solve.
What does communication mean to your organization and what are some challenges you faced? What steps did you take towards resolving them?