Communication is the glue that holds an organization together, and the team communication strategies you employ can make a significant difference at your business.
Effective internal business communication spreads knowledge throughout your company, improving employee engagement, productivity and retention — which in turn boost customer satisfaction and benefit both top and bottom line.
While it may seem obvious that effective communication within a team is important, it’s not always clear how to go about it. The following tips, gathered from research conducted by Willis Towers Watson, are proven strategies for effective team communication in the workplace that boost team dynamics and financial performance.
But first, let’s look at the relationship between successful communication and your bottom line.
Measuring Communication Against Financial Performance
Research by Watson Wyatt first confirmed the correlation between communication effectiveness, organizational turnover, and financial performance. Since then, additional research has solidified the fact that effective communication is a leading indicator of financial performance.
Researchers have nailed down how communication reverberates through a company, with a lasting impact on revenue and growth. The diagram below shows how effective team communication strategies generate highly engaged employees which improve retention and productivity, leading to quantifiable financial returns.
So how can you ensure you are communicating with your team in the best way possible?
5 Team Communication Strategies To Start Practicing Today
We’ve picked 5 of the most compelling team communication strategies from the Hierarchy of Effective Communication, seen below, to help you get started. Without a doubt, adopting these strategies will impact your business’s success across customer satisfaction, productivity, employee retention, and overall performance. That’s something everyone can get on board with.
1. Follow a Formal Communication Process
If you aren’t treating communication as an important business strategy with deliverable results, it’s time to start. Effective workplace communication drives real results just like any other strategy.
And while no one would deny that communication is important, too many companies don’t have a formal strategy or process for ensuring it. In a world where almost 80 percent of the workforce is never in an “office” or near their colleagues, that’s a real problem.
When a service technician has a problem that a coworker 6 states over can easily solve with a quick message, access to instant communication directly drives business objectives like a reduction in repeat visits, improved time to service, higher customer satisfaction and overall productivity. Just from one interaction.
Vivint, a leading smart home technology provider, has seen this happen first-hand after leveraging technology to drive real-time communication across its field workforce. Vivint now correlates communication to employee retention and time to service and has found that employees who communicate the most are also the highest performers.
Create a clearly documented communication plan that guides all communication activities to lay the groundwork for effective internal communication. It should be specific on what metrics and technology will be used and require communication managers to meet regularly with leadership and other management to discuss communication issues and opportunities.
2. Leverage Technology
Technology has advanced drastically from the early days of the Internet and email. Unfortunately, most companies are still leveraging decades’ old office-worker based communication systems. These systems just don’t measure up to the way we communicate today.
Think about it, texting and messaging apps are the way most of us communicate. But when we show up to work there are three different kinds of collaboration apps, email, and maybe even a company intranet that you can never remember the password for.
Need to share an update to a group of coworkers? Good luck deciding between email, yammer, Jabber, SMS or WhatsApp. Or even worse, need an answer right away? Have fun trying to find the right person with the right knowledge who will answer in a timely manner.
And on top of this complicated and slow process, is the fact that almost 80 percent of the workforce doesn’t even work at a computer. These deskless workers are out in the field, working with customers. They can’t be sitting at a computer waiting for an answer to finish the job at hand. They need something fast, easy to use, on the device that’s already in their pocket.
There is a trend of forward-thinking companies who understand that the way we communicate has changed and this requires a modern, mobile-first communication platform with every mode of communication all-in-one. By taking advantage of an employee communication tool that’s built for the future of work, these companies are setting themselves up for success both today and in the future.
3. Use Employee Input
Within your formal communication process should be an emphasis on encouraging employee feedback, both positive and negative. The importance of employee feedback is two-fold: it can provide real insights into how to improve business processes and make employees feel valued and connected to business objectives.
While polling the field can be an effective way to find out how your workforce is feeling, it’s even better to simply be in touch with what’s going on with your employees day to day. When you have insights into what’s really happening out in the field, what employees are struggling with and where opportunities lie, you can proactively weave employee experiences into your decisions, without even having to poll the field.
Incorporating these experiences means you can improve deficiencies while generating a company culture in which everyone feels valued and heard. Achieving this circles back to our previous point of leveraging technology. Communication technology that provides analytics is a powerful way to always stay connected with your workforce.
4. Focus on Continuous Improvement
Improving your business isn’t a one-off thing, it should be continuous as you learn and grow. To find ways to improve internal communication, you have to set up metrics and measure the effectiveness.
Choose the metrics that matter most to your business. Then identify the communication changes that need to happen and track the metrics to see if they improve.
Are customers are unhappy with time to service? Are teams that should be working together, like sales and marketing, working in silos? Maybe employee morale is low and it’s affecting your customers.
Visibility into what’s going on in the field is a great way to continuously improve your business. When you have access to conversation analytics at your organization, such as trending topics, you will know what areas need improvement. Conversations could reveal that the training materials for a certain installation procedure aren’t robust enough, and you could quickly broadcast a short training video on the topic, thus solving the issue simultaneously across the workforce.
Leadership at Vivint Smart Home recognized that communication technology could be their path to improved operations. After getting everyone on Zinc, they were instantly plugged into their technicians’ needs and technicians were connected to each other.
“At headquarters, we are getting direct, streamlined feedback on how to improve things…and the interteam communication is a huge lift for team building and morale.
Each team has its own culture and ‘heartbeat,’ so to speak, because they have access to this communication tool.”
-Kyle Christensen, Communications Manager, Vivint Smart Home
This change, in part, resulted in Vivint dropping their time to service rates by 37 percent and increasing employee satisfaction by 50 percent.
5. Create Employee Line of Sight
Companies with highly effective communication practices make it a point to communicate the “big picture” to employees and help them understand how their actions influence bottom-line results. Creating this sense of being completely connected to what’s going on at the company boosts employee engagement, and as a result financial performance.
A McLean & Company study found that organizations with highly-engaged employees had an average three-year revenue growth of 20.1 percent, versus the average 8.9 percent revenue growth rate.
Furthermore, a Gallup poll found that organizations with higher employee engagement levels experience:
- 10 percent higher customer metrics
- 21 percent more productivity
- 22 percent more profitability
- 22 percent higher-than-average shareholder returns
How companies go about employee engagement is very important, yet most companies are lacking in this department. Communicating the big picture during quarterly or annual “all hands” meetings simply isn’t frequent enough, and emails and newsletters go unread.
Technology can facilitate regular top-down communication that keeps workers connected and engaged, via the mobile devices they already have. Whether it’s sharing an engaging video from the CEO, relaying a new operating procedure to the entire company, or sending an important safety alert — transparent, real-time communication drives employee engagement and gives them the knowledge they need to do a great job.
We are big believers in the power that communication holds in transforming your business. And luckily, there is a lot that technology can do to help you implement these team communication strategies.
As you go along, keep the following points in mind:
- Create a documented communication plan that links to business objectives and identifies deliverables and results
- Leverage new technology to facilitate team communication and empower employees
- Implement formal measures to assess the effectiveness of communication programs
- Focus on transparent top-down communication to connect employees with company goals