“Communication is a skill that can be learned. It’s like riding a bike or typing. If you just work on it, you can really quickly improve the quality of every part of your life. ” – Brian Tracy
Did you know that the lack of communication skills in a team is one of the main causes of project delays and failures? The appropriate flow of information in the team is crucial in many areas of project work, including in strategy planning, goal analysis, management, implementation or evaluation. In addition, communication becomes particularly important when it concerns changes or crisis situations significant for the project – therefore it is worth taking care of its quality and applying it based on the principles about which you can read below.
What is good communication?
Contrary to appearances, this question is not easy to answer. Before that happens, let’s imagine the following situation:
You are a UX and you have been assigned to a very important project for the company. From the very beginning, you didn’t know exactly what was expected from you. You have received incomplete information; You didn’t quite know what the responsibilities of the team were. Important information came to you late and the people in the team worked more on their individual result than on the team result. Other people in the team duplicated your work at certain points. Finally, you handed over the project on time, but it turned out not to be adapted to the realities, with an incorrectly defined target group and objectives.
Thus, we already know what good communication in a team is definitely not. So what is it?
“Good communication is about conveying the message in such a way that the recipient understands the interlocutor’s intentions. This process makes sense only when the received message is as similar in meaning as possible to the sent message and encourages the recipient to take actions consistent with the sender’s expectations”[i]
This is a simple and telling definition of good communication. We will develop it a bit and supplement it with other aspects important for the communication process in the team.
Verbal and non-verbal communication – they both matter
In the team, as well as in other areas of our life, two methods of communication can be distinguished. They are: verbal and non-verbal communication. Verbal communication includes speaking, listening, writing and reading. Non-verbal communication consists of body language, and thus all gestures, facial expressions, handshake, eye contact, space between interlocutors or body position.
It is important to use both types of communication consciously, i.e.:
– choose the right type of communication for the place, time and form of the meeting
– always send a clear, complete message
– use language and terminology that our recipient surely knows and understands
– make sure that the information provided reached the recipient without any distortions
– it is also good to check that the recipient has understood the message correctly
In order to “conquer” the effectiveness of verbal and non-verbal communication, it is worth refraining from messages that may adversely affect mutual trust in the team, building “good ground” and a good atmosphere. What are those behaviors? For example, overly emotional reactions, lack of a factual and objective approach to the discussed issue/problem, or focusing on individual success, and not the success of the entire team (e.g. making decisions without consulting the team). In order to increase the effectiveness of communication, it is worth starting with… a communication plan.
Communication plan – an important part of any project plan
This part of effective communication in a team is often forgotten, but such a plan is essential for effective project work. At the very beginning, it is necessary to establish who, to whom, when, what information and in what form. So everyone involved should have knowledge of who is involved in the project, what is the role of those people in the project, what is the scope of their duties, and what are the deadlines for each stage of work. Once we have a communication plan, we can move on to choosing the tools.
Increasing the effectiveness of communication in the team – selection of tools
There are many effective communication tools that the entire team can use. When choosing such a tool, it is important to consider the team’s preferences – in the exchange of information, their comfort and convenience are also important. Therefore, if there are people who report inconvenience in using a given tool, it is good to take it into account. In this way, you can avoid the likely negative impact of this tool on both the way information is exchanged and the success of the entire project.
Below is a list of tools that facilitate real-time communication and allow you to optimize the flow of individual messages at each stage of project work. We encourage you to try them out:
- Clubhouse (mainly for IT projects)
Brainstorming and Kanban – why does it work?
After tools, it was the turn of techniques that work well in project communication.
Brainstorming, i.e. generating ideas, is a tool that has been known and used in business for years. Its role in the communication process is often underestimated and reduced only to the area of creative thinking. Meanwhile, working through a given problem using this method can put team communication back on track. Keep in mind that brainstorming stops being productive with large numbers of participants. Especially when we have many different topics to cover. In smaller teams, generating ideas allows for effective exchange of information and experiences between people who often have a different point of view and look at a given issue in a completely different way. This in many cases leads to the development of effective methods of communicating and working on the project.
The Kanban board visualizes all tasks that are assigned to a given project. We see them in the form of appropriately marked columns that show what the backlog is, what is the delay, what is still to be done, what has already been completed, etc. The board can also be personalized and new columns added, depending on your needs and design requirements. When we look at the Kanban board, we will immediately see what stage of the project we are at. With Kanban’s help, work on the project becomes much clearer and more transparent for all its members.
Finally… a soft approach
All those methods will not function properly if we are not friendly with each other and we do not treat others with respect, listen to what they have to say, inspire and motivate them, share the acquired knowledge and not be afraid to ask (for advice, explanation).
BECAUSE GOOD COMMUNICATION IN THE TEAM WILL BE WORKED BY BEING HARD TO PROBLEMS, BUT SOFT TO PEOPLE.
[i] Kozioł L. (2005). Selected aspects of interpersonal communication in the company