Team Building Skills
To build an effective team, you must understand what each person brings to the team: the skills, strengths, and motivations. As much as possible, the individual characteristics should complement each other.
Team dynamics and individual attitudes become very important to the team's success. It is important to recognize individual leadership and communication styles, too.
Think about your own attitude toward working in a group. Do you:
- Enjoy working in a group?
- Prefer working alone?
- Often work in groups?
- Do you participate actively?
- Do you do your share?
- Do you have important things to contribute?
- Feel that group decision-making is important?
- Judge other people fairly?
- Read other people accurately?
- Like being rated based on group work?
- Feel comfortable in a leadership role?
As a member of a group, your attitude towards group work plays a
major role in the success of the group. After thinking about your
attitudes, see if there are any ways that you could improve your
attitude to make the group stronger.
Remember that the other members of your group will probably
have attitudes that are different from your own.
- Are you aware that the message you hear may not be the one the person meant to send?
- Do you know that the words you choose may not mean the same thing to the receiver as they do to you?
- Do you think about the receiver of your message before sending it to determine the affect it will have on him or her?
- Do you watch body language to evaluate the impact of your message?
- Do you avoid using jargon, especially when the receiver might not understand it?
- Do you try not to use words that will intentionally distract or annoy the receiver?
- Do you know that how you speak your words is as important as the actual words you say?
- When you have something to say, are you honest about needing to say it?
- In your communications, do you try to be short and to the point?
- Do you think about the format for sending your message and whether written, telephone, e-mail, or one-to-one would be the best format?
One of the main ingredients necessary for team success is effective communication. Even with individuals working on independent tasks, at some point all the parts must come together as a whole. Communication is key to success.
First, think about your own communication style. If you answered "yes" to the above questions, then you have strong communication skills. If you answered "no" to any of the questions, you might want to think about how this may impact your team. For example, if you answered no to the question about being short and to the point, members of your group may become frustrated waiting for your point to be made. The next time you work in a group, think about how you and the other members of your group communicate and the ways communication could be improved.
Some Basic Communication Rules
There are some basic rules that you can use to be an effective communicator. Some of these rules seem elementary, but you would be surprised at how many people do not follow them. Communicating clearly and honestly with your coworkers will eliminate a lot of the miscommunications that occur.
- Get to know the people you work with. This does not mean that you have to become best friends or socialize outside the work place. You want to get to know them as humans. Find out about their families, pets, and hobbies. Knowing the people you work with will give you some commonality. Knowing them as people will help you better communicate with them.
- Be consistent with your message. Say what you mean, and make sure your words, tone, and body language are consistent with that message. Saying one thing and expressing another with your mannerisms will confuse the receiver of the message.
- Be clear with your message. Do not try to talk over someone's head or use technical jargon when talking to someone who does not understand it. Use words that your receiver will understand. Ask for feedback. Ask if there are any questions. Send a clear message and verify that it was received correctly.
- Be polite. Remember to say "please" and "thank you" to the people you work with. Everyone likes to be appreciated, and extending kindness is a simple way to show you care. Address them kindly, too. For example, ask them to do something rather than order them to do it.
- Be a team player. Many companies encourage workers to collaborate on projects. Being a part of a team takes effort, but the rewards can be well worth it. On a team the work and responsibilities are shared, so good communication skills become even more important.
- Take time for the big discussions. Schedule a meeting, make an appointment, or simply allot enough time for the conversation. Do not rush. Make sure that you have enough time to communicate your message and make sure that it is understood. If the discussion is likely to become emotional, make sure that there is time to deal with it.
- Know how to solve problems. If problems arise, solving them often takes a lot of communication. First the problem must be identified, and then solutions must be found. A good problem-solver can help coworkers communicate and set realistic goals.
- Realize that it is not about winning. When there is conflict, there must be resolution. Too many times people view conflict resolution as a win for one side. The way to resolve conflict is to get everyone talking and strive to find the best solution without people winning or losing.
How to Communicate
How should you communicate in the workplace? You understand the basic rules, and you have an important message that you want to send. This message is so important that you have been putting it off for some time. Here are some things to consider:
- What is your message? Make sure you are clear about the message. You must be able to deliver the message and mean what you say.
- Who are you communicating this message to? If you have gotten to know your coworkers, then you will have a better understanding of how your message will be received.
- What are your expectations? If you expect specific outcomes, state them. Do not leave the receiver of your message guessing what you expect.
- When and where will you communicate your message? Make sure that the receiver has adequate time to receive the message. Also consider the location. If the conversation is likely to become emotional, make sure it is in a location to prevent the other person from embarrassment.
- How will you deliver the message? Verbally may not be the best way to deliver a message. Knowing the message, intended outcome, and the receiver, you may choose to send email or write a letter. On the other hand, do not write a letter to avoid personally discussing an issue with a coworker.
- Why should the person listen to you? If you are the manager, then this is clear. However, if you are a coworker, think about why your message is important. If you can communicate the reasons early in the conversation, then you will have an easier time relaying the message.
That is really all there is to it. You now know how to communicate effectively. With practice it will become easier.
Next section: Poor Communication Behaviors