“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” George Bernard Shaw
I really like the quote above. I know there have been times when I’ve told someone something, thought it was clear and it wasn’t clear to them at all. I always try to improve my communication skills because as a Virtual Assistant, I know how important that is in business.
So how can we communicate better with our team? Here are 3 suggestions from me:
Make sure they’re in the loop.
Are you telling your team members what they need to know? I know this seems obvious, but I can’t tell you how many times a client thinks they’ve told me something and didn’t. In multi-member teams one person will tell one of the team members, but not the other ones who also need to know. In their mind, they’ve given the instructions, unfortunately, not everyone who needs to know was informed. This can be remedied easily enough by having a group meeting where everyone who’s involved in the project is in attendance. If that’s not possible, then have the team member who does know what’s happening, send an email to the rest of the group so everyone is on the same page.
Weekly Meetings and Other Tools
Weekly meetings and project management systems are also good ways to communicate with your team members. Make sure the meeting is productive. Don’t conduct the meeting while driving in your car and have an agenda where all members can add items to it to be discussed as a group. I’ve been in meetings where the leader wasn’t prepared and was trying to remember what they wanted to talk about off the top of their head while driving. Be present for your meetings.
A project management system can help sort out who needs to complete what tasks and what the status of those tasks and project are. You can stay on top of things in your business without micro managing everyone. Reminders can be sent out to team members so things don’t fall through the cracks. It’s a great “nonverbal” way to communicate.
Clarify, Clarify, Clarify
I learned the importance of this tip many years ago. While I said early that some people have a harder time getting their point across, you still have to be clear about what you need to do and you can’t change other people. With that being said, if you’re not sure about the instructions you have or what someone is explaining to you, ask for clarification. If it’s still not clear, ask again. I work with creative people and they don’t always think linearly. That’s not good or bad, it just is. So while their brains are all over the place, I have to ask them to clarify what they want as a way to make them stay on track with one thought process at a time. That helps me support them in the best way I possibly can.
Remember, your team is there to support you, to help you reach your goals. Communicate to them with that in mind.
Leave a comment below and let me know what you do to make sure you’re communicating clearly with your team members.