*Some companies ban Facebook; others thrive by using social networks to boost team communication and collaboration.
Research by the McKinsey Global Institute estimates that businesses that use social technologies within teams can raise the productivity of “interaction” workers, or high-skill knowledge workers such as managers and professionals, up to 25 percent.
By embracing technology interfaces employees are already using, communication is enhanced and workers flourish. Enterprise social network Yammer, which is similar to Facebook, is an example of a platform that startups, small businesses and corporate teams can use to discuss ideas, mitigate problems and provide positive reinforcement to others.
Effective team communication increases productivity, increases job satisfaction and has a positive effect on absenteeism and retention, but a 2016 poll by Gallup found only 17 percent of employees strongly agree there is open communication throughout all levels of their company. While implementing an internal social network provides a way to strengthen team communication, here are other ideas on how to foster meaningful dialogue within a team.
Decrease the possibility of errors in communication based on misunderstandings by using online tools that record conversations, like Skype. Group chats that are recorded allow for instant collaboration while also allowing team members who weren’t part of the immediate conversation to catch up by going over records.
Using a cloud storage backup tool also helps team members communicate more effectively in the future because they’re able to have access to the latest pertinent data and tailor their messages effectively. A 2015 study by the International Association of Business Communicators found communications in high-performing organizations were twice as likely to keep language simple and jargon-free. Availability of data helps make messages more effective. Instead of wasting time getting up to date on projects, team members are able to directly view and analyze data to simply present ideas for solutions.
According to a study by Alive with Ideas, 93 percent of communicators acknowledge the importance of creativity in internal communication. This means it’s important to forgo constantly dry email chains and shake up team communication strategies with more creative approaches. Think video chats, walking meetings, team brainstorming sessions held outside the office and social team-building events that allow members to feel more connected to each other.
It’s also important to gauge how teams want to communicate and then to incorporate those various approaches. Use an anonymous survey tool to ask team members to rank their preferred methods of communication and give suggestions on how to improve collaboration. You’ll make them feel more a part of the communication process and work to make every employee feel valued by using methods that resonate with them.
Test, Measure, Evolve
To optimize team communications, it’s important to measure specific strategies used on projects, identify strengths and weaknesses, and apply successful techniques to future projects. For businesses that use an intranet system to communicate, social message board or group chat, look at when peak communication times are to better to make important announcements or start brainstorming sessions. Talk to employees who aren’t as likely to use internal digital communications to find out what would make them more attractive.
Regularly use quick and simple surveys to get feedback on what employees need regarding work communication and to garner suggestions for improvement. Use trends to guide a communication strategy, and always strive to evolve communication based on what’s working and what’s not.