Collaboration: Why Communication is Key

Nothing can shut down a great collaboration or project faster than poor communication! One missed email, misunderstood instructions, or a sassy remark can result in all kinds of problems. Having systems and resources in place to encourage strong communication will do wonders for your collaborative project. We can never assume that everyone knows what to say, to whom, when, and through what channel, especially when a project or group is newly formed.

Let’s face it…communicating effectively isn’t always easy. We’re often afraid of saying something stupid or we might worry that what we have to say isn’t important. Even when we do try to express our thoughts or opinions, there are barriers that get in the way, such as language skills, emotions, past experiences, and the various distractions we face daily.

Together, let’s learn 6 key ways to amp up that collaboration by setting communication levels to MAX:

  1. Communicate frequently and openly

Don’t think of daily check-ins, weekly meetings or email updates as administrative burdens; they are essential for keeping operations running smoothly. They can be kept brief but impactful, keeping in mind that it’s important to know everyone’s up to speed and that there are no questions or concerns that remain unanswered. There should never be a time when someone says, “I wasn’t told that we changed this…” or, “If I’ve been doing this wrong all along, why am I learning it now?”.  Keeping the communication lines open at all levels, leads to a more supported, productive team.

  1. Practice active listening

Rather than immediately evaluating and responding, get those listening skills working hard. Pay close attention to what people are really saying, take notes, and notice their body language. If members of the team feel truly listened to, they’ll feel respected and more confident knowing their input is valued.

  1. Don’t punish or judge

Remember, there are no bad questions or ideas! True innovation comes when there is freedom to think, talk, explore, challenge and create without negative repercussions. Fuel that passion and nurture an environment that’s free from judgement. If there are issues that arise involving individual behaviours, address them in a professional, respectful manner on a one-on-one basis outside the perimeter of the group.

  1. Encourage full transparency

One thing to avoid during a collaborative project is having people whisper among each other, or secretly question its authenticity, authority or transparency. This can significantly break down the group’s morale, leading to reduced performance and a general sense of malaise. There needs to be candid, honest communication throughout all stages of the project. If something does need to be restricted or withheld, explain openly why that process is in place. Honesty is always the best policy.

  1. Respect diversity of individuals and ideas

Every individual comes with their own unique experiences and challenges. Novel perspectives lead to novel ideas and…novel ways to solve problems! Diversity isn’t just about having a mix of genders, cultural or socio-economic backgrounds, nationalities or abilities, it’s about gaining more ‘intellectual diversity’ too. Make sure there is enough time to bring all those fabulous minds together and not isolate people into tasks or cubicles for too long without quality communication.

By improving communication, you inject your collaborative project with more clarity and purpose. While some things may catch you off guard along the way, keeping communication strong is something that’s always within your control. The potential for success is endless as long as there is an environment that encourages innovation and respect, which are natural outcomes of strong communication.

Not convinced your project or team is going where you want it to? Connect with me and we can work together to bring your project or business to heights you didn’t know were possible.

“In teamwork, silence isn’t golden, it’s deadly.” – Mark Sanborn