How to set a communication rhythm with your team
Communication is at the heart of all high performing teams. Without it, we wouldn't be able to successfully progress in the work that we do.
At The Juniper Company, we put huge emphasis on communication, making sure to hold regular catch-ups and team meetings so that all members of the team are aware of each other's progress and priorities for the week. But how can you stay in touch when communication can be restricted?
As part of our Juniper Berries series on team health and building high-performing teams, we’ve been thinking about how you can keep in touch with your team when members are working from home or abroad, or perhaps if you’re part of a larger organisation.
We’ve found that no matter the size or geographical spread of a team, agreeing a communication rhythm with your team is key. Through contracting with those you work with, you can agree some simple communication principles to help your team collaborate more effectively:
Never underestimate the importance of regularity. It’s vital that all members of the team know when each other are available to communicate so that it doesn’t get in the way of an individual’s priorities or existing commitments. If there is someone in your workplace that you need regular communication with, why not set a scheduled time either daily, weekly or monthly so that you can plan for it and therefore get the most out of it, when it does occur? And most importantly, make sure this time is in both of your diaries so you don’t double book!
Set boundaries on communication to avoid wasting time. In our team, we have introduced a new way in which we run our weekly team meetings. We set aside ten minutes at the start for everyone to catch-up (particularly if someone has been away from the office), share updates amongst the team and determine how everyone is feeling. Once this time is up, we refer to our specific priorities, state our progress on tasks and where we might need help or input. This keeps the meeting concise and stops us from getting side-tracked in to conversations that need to happen separately. Thus, the time for this communication is best used by all team members involved.
We’ve found that for this approach to work, we all need to buy-in to the approach – agree beforehand who will time the catch-up (we like to use a timer on a phone for this) and how you will flag to one another if you are getting side-tracked. Jemma’s favourite is: “shall we have a separate meeting to discuss this?”.
Finally, the most important tip I could give you from my time at Juniper is that people are much more responsive to personal communication than they are to written. If communication is lacking through email, pick up the phone and talk to them on a human level - not only will you both be able to communicate your thoughts clearly, but you can also build better and more open working relationships. Who wants to be just another email in someone’s inbox anyway?
Could you use any of these tips to help improve how you communicate with your team? Remember, it’s never too late to sit down with your team and agree your own communication principles. Let us know how you get on!