Updated: Jul 24, 2020
A team that communicates openly with each other is a unit on the right path to success. When a team is driven by honesty and transparency, there is less room for arguments and misunderstandings, thus allowing each member to focus their time and energy carrying out productive work.
It is important for leaders to create and encourage a culture of open communication among team members. Here are a few steps that can achieve this.
Step 1: Clearly define the team culture that you are committed to creating
The first step is to define the kind of open communications culture you wish to create and what exactly it is you are striving for by encouraging the practice. Generally, open communication means transparency, honesty, and collaboration between all team members. Everyone gets equal access to resources so as to promote efficiency and productivity.
Leaders shouldn't hesitate to ask their employees for suggestions and solutions for creating such an atmosphere. In fact, by giving employees an opportunity and a platform to express their opinions and ideas and be heard, you are already taking the first steps towards building a culture of open communication.
Step 2: Agree on the behaviours required for that team culture to flourish
Now that you have laid down the culture that you wish to devise, the next step is to promote acceptable team behaviours that would help that culture establish itself firmly. It is essential to understand that a team is a group of different individuals from various backgrounds coming together to work towards a common goal. So, you cannot expect each one to flawlessly fit in and do precisely what they are supposed to do in the way you prefer.
Besides, when you are creating a new culture for a team, you shouldn't assume that everyone is on the same page and knows their role when it comes to implementation. As such, it is vital that there are agreed team behaviours. For example, every team member may be required to mail out weekly updates on a project to other colleagues, or they may be asked to share their feedback during meetings.
Step 3: Recognize team members who exhibit those behaviours and provide feedback to those who do not
Positive reinforcement plays an important role in encouraging open communication. Now that you've agreed with team members on the actions that will assist with incorporating the culture you want, it is your duty as a leader to ensure that the approved team behaviours are followed.
Don't forget to recognize and appreciate team members who are diligently exhibiting those roles. This will encourage them to keep up the good work. If there are members who fail to put in the effort, provide honest feedback clearly and directly. If they have issues, lend a hand by helping them come up with solutions.
Lastly, you shouldn't forget to review the team culture and practices as required. You may need to do so in order to keep up with the progress that your team makes.