Information & Training. | TQM. Total Quality Management.
Ensuring Effective Team Communication.– Effective and efficient team communication is essential for the success of every organization.
– Effective communications ensure a clear understanding of roles, responsibilities, challenges, expectations and targets for the team.
– An open two way flow of communication builds supportive, positive relationships between team members.
– Teams facilitate communication and ensure greater understanding within communication flows, versus communication between individuals performed on a one-to-one basis.
– Positive open communication improves motivation and supports alignment of the team with organizational direction and objectives.
Team Communication.Effective communication within a team arises where there are factors present such as:
The team members see benefits in achievement of the team objectives.
There is a personal sense of ownership.
The members have a trust in each other.
There is an openness to listen to the opinions of the other team members.
The team members are supportive of the team leader and value his/her direction.
There exists an honesty in the communication flows between the team members, based on acceptance of the facts.
The team members understand the challenges and accept the risks which may arise during the project, however, there is also an understanding that appropriate support and understanding will be available from outside the team.
Tools and techniques to optimize team communication.There are three key foundations upon which the effectiveness of communication within a team is optimized, which are based around the elements of:
i) team housekeeping,
ii) team leadership and
iii) the team membership.Housekeeping is associated with meeting room layout, meeting times, duration, recording of minutes, clear identification of actions, etc.. For example, it is important an appropriate agenda is circulated in a timely manner and followed within the meeting, accurate minutes need to be recorded and circulated, etc..
The team leader is critical to successful communication within the team. The role of the leader will be to ensure that the team objectives are clearly understood. The leader will need to monitor the atmosphere within the team and have an understanding of how individual members view the operation of the team. Both within and outside the team, the leader will need to talk to individual members and identify un-expressed concerns, un-expressed fears, suppressed opinions, etc.. The leader will be anticipating potential barriers to effective communication and will steer the team meetings accordingly. Ideally, the team leader will have inputted into the original choice of team members and will have sought to bring together a naturally cohesive group of individuals, however, in many teams, the team leader may only be chosen after team formation, therefore team membership may not be a responsibility of the leader.
Team membership brings opportunity and responsibility. Effective communication can only be achieved, where the team members are willing to actively communicate. The team leader will have outlined the objectives and the importance to the organization. Ideally, an appropriate mix of individuals, with the relevant skills and personalities will have been selected for the team project. The team leader will have encouraged an open supportive environment, with clear agreed direction towards objective achievement. Fact based analytical tools and techniques should be applied to structure and promote communication between the team members towards goal achievement. Examples of such techniques may be:
The techniques selected will be dependent on the team objectives and the skills, experiences and preferences of the team members. Regardless of the techniques selected, each techniques will encourage discussion on the facts and help remove emotion and opinion.
How does the Organizational Environment impact Team Communication?Communication within a team will be heavily influenced by the wider organizational environment. A team and the team members do not operate in isolation from the overall organizational influences and they will bring the culture and norms of operation from the organization into the team meetings.
The organizational environment can be viewed in a multiplicity of ways, one approach is to determine the “formality” associated with the structures and approaches to change within the organization, then compare to the development and application of management decisions, i.e. the level of “consensus” in decision making.
In the “formal” organizational environment, there are very rigid decision structures, promotion may be determined via length of tenure versus achievement of objectives. Requests for information may need to be formally submitted and proceed through a pre-defined process before replies are received. Directly contrary to the “formal” is the “informal” organization. In this latter approach decision making is taken by those seen in leadership positions by the members of the organization. Communication flows in all directions and management have little to no direct authority. Examples of “formal” organizations may be large government departments, the military, large long established religious organizations. Examples of “informal” organizations may be community associations, clubs, protest groups.
In addition to considering the formality of structures, the level of consensus in decision making should be considered. Is there a desire to achieve as much consensus as possible before a decision is taken, or is there an adversarial approach to decision making, direction and change.
The “formality” versus “consensus” observations can be developed into a matrix, which will indicate the expected team culture.
In the formal, adversarial organization, teams tend to have a large membership, made up of inter-departmental committees, there can be a significant level of conflict within such teams.
In the formal, consensual organization, teams may again be large, but the members will share similar beliefs and be open to address problems and will be keen to effect change.
In the informal adversarial organization, there can be significant tension, decisions can be very difficult to achieve, often agreement may only be achieved on non critical issues and the more significant challenges may be avoided.
In the informal, consensual organization, the team will usually be relatively small, with the team members closely identifying with each other, the members will share common beliefs and a common motivation to achieve the team objectives. The team will actively pursue objectives and often strive to surpass initial targets.
How can such a consideration of organization culture be applied to improving team communication and hence overall team performance?
Management need to have an understanding of the prevailing organizational culture, is it formal, informal, adversarial, consensual? If a strategic objective is to improve organizational performance via the introduction and promotion of team driven continuous improvement, then such a strategy will not readily achieve results in a formal, adversarial environment. What can management do to change the organizational culture in order to facilitate team performance? Delegation of responsibilities so that decisions can be taken at lower management levels? Physical re-location of staff into cross-functional groups to encourage the natural flow of communication and the development of relationships between staff of different functions? Introduction of a positive employee recognition program? Ensuring promotions, rewards are based on performance rather than seniority? Etc…
Ensuring the effective delivery of the communicated message.As detailed previously there is an ongoing “noise” impacting on all communication. As a manager, supervisor, leader, it is important that your message is accurately transmitted and understood by staff and ideally they value and accept the message. There are three key stages associated with this “listening” process. The member of staff receiving a communication needs to:
Understand the communication.
Accept the communication.
Value the content of the communication.
Associated with the “understanding” process, is the ability to internally represent what is being communicated into our own terms, in our own language, in a way that the representation that we make in our own minds is an accurate reflection of what has been communicated. Understanding can be negatively impacted by environmental factors, for example, in a large group, it may be difficult to physically hear a speaker, or maybe the language being used by a speaker is not the natural first language of the recipient, etc.. It is important for the communicator to identify any potential obstacles to a clear understanding of the message being communicated.
When the message is received and understood, the recipient needs to decide if he/she accepts what has been communicated. Is the message accepted as per the opinion and perceptions of the sender or does the recipient disagree with the point of view being offered? Accepting will be highly influenced by previous experiences of the individual, the history of the organization, the track record of the communicator, the opinions and perceptions of peers, of family, the community, etc.. A message may be accepted without question, if the recipient trusts and closely identifies with the individual sending the message, for example, a political leader communicating well understood and previously accepted political points of view, a union leader closely identified by union members, etc.. A message may not be accepted where sent by an individual, who is not trusted or who is identified with an opposing side, for example, a political leader who has not previously delivered on promises and is now making new promises immediately prior to an election, or a senior member of management, with a track record of being aloof from staff and a history of implementing organizational cut-backs while simultaneously increasing self bonuses.
Ensuring staff within an organization “accept” messages from managers, supervisors, leaders, requires the development and building of long term relationship with staff, based on a consistent, accurate, reliable, honest history of open two-way communication.
Having understood and accepted (or not) what has been said, a recipient will give a high or low value to what is been communicated. The value associated with a communication will be influenced by both the sender and the receiver.
The sender will assign a level of importance to the communication and relay this level of importance to the recipient. The value of the message will be determined with the consequences associated with the message as detailed by the sender, or may be influenced, by the means of communication, for example, a email circulated to all employees by a senior manager, may not be seen as having the same importance as the calling of “all employee” meetings which are attended in person by the same senior manager.
The value will be heavily influenced by the recipient, who will consider the message being communicated versus the streams of other ongoing communications, also versus the history of such messages, the current status of the environment in which the recipient operates, etc..
Managers, supervisors, team leaders, etc., need to carefully consider the messages they wish to communicate. They need to identify the key communications and plan their communication strategy so that staff will be able to identify those messages which need to be valued, versus, the numerous other communications they will be receiving in parallel.
Information & Training. | Total Quality Management Tools and Techniques …
- Continuous improvement utilizing Analytical Techniques.
- 5 why’s analysis
- Process Flow Diagrams/Flowcharts/Process Mapping
- Check sheets /Check Lists
- Run charts
- Scatter Diagrams/Scatter Plot
- Cause and Effect/Fishbone/Ishikawa Diagrams
- Identifying sources & causes of variation
- Control/Shewart Charts/DPU Charts
- Cpk and Ppk Analysis
- Pareto Analysis
- Bottleneck Analysis
- Etc. Etc.
- Information & Training presentation >>>