Workplace Communication: How To Build A Thriving Team
Building a team is complicated. As a leader, you know that hiring and keeping strong team members takes consistent work. You also know how valuable strong team members are to your organization. So, how can you build an engaged team? Today we want to dive into workplace communication—a key pillar in employee happiness and flourishing.
Team Communications Today
An average workday for employees typically looks a little something like logging into a computer, reading emails, checking a task manager, and checking to-dos off a list. The influx of technology has certainly helped streamline communication—we work in Slack, develop projects in Redbooth, schedule meetings via Zoom, and so on. But, team communications, as they are now, are still a source of workplace burnout and unintended stress.
Employers expect more from us now than ever before, and societal pressures to be productive and compete with yourself and others can feel like a heavy weight to carry. The truth is, many of us have so many logins and tools that it becomes overwhelming and nearly impossible to stay on top of everything all the time. Not to mention the times that we are in a text group, Slack, or email where we aren’t even needed, just somewhere subject-adjacent, chosen to be involved.
According to Harvard Business Review, research has shown that executives spend an average of 23 hours a week in meetings compared to 10 hours in the 1960s. What could we as leaders be doing with those extra 13 hours a week that are spent talking around a boardroom table or on Zoom?
How To Hold Effective Meetings
If you communicate effectively with your team, you will be able to produce better returns for all of your stakeholders. This is a fact and one that we discuss in our Wholeness At Work self-guided coaching program. We certainly do not want to demonize meetings, because collaboration, info sharing, and making sense of data, and brainstorming ideas together are vital elements to thriving business. But, what we do want to avoid is wasting time and precious energy. The trick is to use collaboration time wisely and free people up to do their best work, both solo and with others.
Tips For Effective Meetings
Keep Your Meetings Scheduled
Nail down a time and keep it—no switching days or swapping to a new location last minute. Doing so creates anxiety and can leave your valuable team preparing for a meeting that may or may not happen.
Have a Clear Agenda
You don’t have to share your agenda with the team, but having a purpose for the meeting and an outline of all of the things you need to cover will help you to efficiently keep on track and not waste time on other items. If you don’t have a clear purpose for your meeting, cancel it until the group is clear on what you want to gain from the time!
We all learn and listen differently. Some of us thrive in meetings and others don’t. Ask your team individually about their communication and meeting preferences to best create this time together for everyone, and then continue to ask and iterate as you move forward.
Host Agenda-Free Meetings
Okay, this may seem like it goes against everything we’ve talked about thus far, but hear us out. There is something beautiful about veering off-subject, learning about your coworkers’ personal lives, asking silly questions, and sharing personal stories. We don’t want to take that completely off of the table. The problem persists when this sort of thing takes up 20% of each meeting. Instead, host happy hours, virtual calls, hybrid meetings, or team outings where work is off of the table (as much as it can be) and the fun is turned on.
Transparency With Your Team Is Key
We talk a lot about core values, purpose, and mission for a few key reasons. One, it helps you to know what you are working toward and why. Two, it helps your team know what they are working toward and why. And finally, it helps your clients or customers know what you stand for. Without transparency of your ideals it can be difficult, albeit impossible, to keep your team engaged. If you don’t know why you are doing something, you will be hard-pressed to find an employee who will. So, create your goals, and then share them with your team. Proper communication and transparency keeps everyone aligned and on the same page, resulting in happier clients, employees, and results. Beyond that, share your failures, wins, processes, procedures, and invite open feedback in your organization. Your team might know of a new technology or have a different perspective based on their background that could make your workplace an inviting and safe place for all.
Value Cultural and Relational Diversity
It is essential to truly understand and give value to the cultural and relational diversity within your organization. If you have grown up around people who look, dress, believe, and earn like you—chances are you may not be aware of some of the needs and cultural beliefs of others. Take time to get to know your team. Ask questions. Open up difficult conversations. Support where you can. And don’t be afraid to show vulnerability yourself. Leaders can sometimes get entrapped in their own belief systems, but we promise you that if you open yourself and your organization up to others with kindness and compassion, everyone will benefit.
At the same time, if the faces sitting around your leadership table all look the same, it’s time to do the work of restoring equity and representation into your circles of power. Want to make changes in progressing your company towards more diversity, equity and inclusion but are afraid and don’t know how? Please reach out. We have a team of incredible, wise partners who can partner you on this journey, no matter where you are starting out today.
As always, if you need help aligning your team or find yourselves struggling with persistent workplace burnout, we are here to help. You can check out our self-guided coaching program, Wholeness At Work, to help you and your team beat burnout for good, or contact us about customized corporate offerings with Erin Rocchio, MPOD.