Promoting Open Communications in a Team Setting

3 Feb

In any team environment, people need to feel appreciated. One meaningful way to let team members know they are valued is to create a setting where people feel that what they have to say is listened to. So, whether as the leader of a for-profit work team or a volunteer team, if you are desirous of promoting open communications within your team, the following ideas are worth implementing or following:

  •  A team leader’s role needs to be clear, understood and accepted by the team. Team leaders have a choice as to how they approach leading the team. They can take the lead and utilize a “team-driver” approach where they take an active lead or they can function more in a “team coach” role where team members are accountable to one another. Regardless of the approach, the leader’s role must be clearly understood.
  • As the leader, determine when to criticize the team as a whole, or individual team members separately. A good rule of thumb followed by many team leaders is if the issue involves three or more team members, then it’s acceptable to bring up the issue to the entire team. If the issue involves only one or two team members it’s best to address the issue(s) one-on-one.
  • Create a team atmosphere for the acceptance of criticism by establishing team run rules or guidelines for criticism. Such rules should include:
    • Avoid public name-calling.
    • Throwing someone under the bus is not acceptable.
    • Openly admit mistakes.
    • Assume positive intent of the giver of criticism.
    • Don’t criticize by email.
    • Do not shoot the bearer of bad news.
    • Give credit where credit is due.
  • Team leaders cannot assume that merely stating the goals of the team equates to acceptance by all team members. To ensure that team members are committed to the stated goals of the team, it’s best to ask. Start off by meeting individually to promote an open and candid conversation. Leaders can’t afford a “go along to get along” mentality.
  • Establish a process whereby team members assess how well the team is functioning.
  • Show leadership by admitting mistakes.

Today’s teams are complex.  For teams to be successful, leaders need to go beyond the superficial. Instead of just talking about “open communications” leaders need to work to bring this dynamic to life for the team.

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One Response to “Promoting Open Communications in a Team Setting”

  1. Cesar February 3, 2014 at 7:56 pm #

    Deb, 100% on the mark. Communications is key in industry and in combat to achiving success. Best Always – Cesar

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