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1 easy way to improve team communication in your business

In workplaces today we are inundated with information from many sources, and many businesses and organisations say they need to improve team communication.

Some information is important and needs action; some is just to keep us in the loop; and some (such as marketing from other companies, and email scams) is just distracting!

Depending on the needs of your role, you may be juggling information from multiple avenues such as:

  • Several email addresses
  • Landline phone calls and messages
  • Mobile phone calls, messages and text messages
  • Internal messaging platforms such as Slack
  • Regular mail
  • Fax (yes, particularly in the medical field, some businesses still use fax machines)
  • Post-it notes left on your desk

Improve team communication in your business

And if your business is actively marketing, you will need to monitor messages from different social media platforms.

This barrage of information is in addition to the verbal, face-to-face information you receive from colleagues, managers, and customers as you go about your work day; and possibly endless meetings (only some of which are relevant to you!).

(We’re talking here about the information overload that impacts our 40-ish hour work week … let’s not forget about the information demands of wrangling ‘life admin’, extended family, friends, kids, social activities – and the bombardment of social and news media.)

Research on the impact of information overload at work indicates that it’s a growing problem affecting small business and larger organisations.

It’s no wonder that in workplaces information gets missed and miscommunication occurs!

Whatever the size of your business, it’s essential to have a strategy to simplify tasks and improve team communication.

To illustrate a solution using logistics, let’s discuss Fedex, the World’s largest express transportation company.

(trust us – there’s a lesson here on how to improve team communication in your business which we’ll explain shortly!)

In a Yale University Economics assignment in 1962, Fred Smith outlined an idea for an overnight delivery service.

Instead of packages going directly from the sender’s location to their destination, he suggested all packages travel to a central hub before being sent on to their final stop.

1 easy way to improve team communication in your business - improve team communication

At the time this seemed illogical, as a package going from Seattle to Los Angeles on the West coast would travel through the distribution centre in Memphis Tennessee, in the South East.

However this hub-and-spoke delivery system simplified a logistical problem of multiple delivery points, and formed the creation of Smith’s company FedEx and its promise ‘when it absolutely, positively, has to be there overnight’.

In a similar way, using a central hub can improve how you manage tasks and information, and therefore improve team communication in your business.

On a typical morning, you may be juggling emails, phone calls, phone messages, text messages, regular mail, verbal requests from colleagues … and the odd post-it note left on your desk.

Using the spoke and hub idea, instead of trying to remember everything individually, gather each item requiring action onto a single to-do list.

Your hub may be a system provided by your workplace, such as Google Tasks, Microsoft To Do, Monday, or Asana. Or you may write a simple to-do list on paper.

What’s most important is that you have one central place to capture all your tasks. For example:

  • You receive an email requesting information that requires some research. Acknowledge receipt of the email, then create a task on your to-do list to do your research and reply
  • You listen to a phone message to call a supplier. Add the task to your to-do list, then delete the phone message
  • Your colleague walks by asking for a copy of last week’s report by end of business. Add a task to your system so you remember to do it before you leave
  • You return from break to a post-it note on your desk from someone asking you to drop by their desk – add the task to your to-do list then throw the post-it note away.

When you view sources of information as spokes, and your to-do list as a hub, you can use the Fed-Ex model to improve your own communication and task management.

If your business uses a central task system, here are examples of how the hub concept can be leveraged to improve team communication:

  • The receptionist adds a phone message to his manager’s electronic to-do list, instead of writing a post-it note or mentioning the call to her as she walks by
  • A supervisor adds the agenda for next week’s toolbox meeting to the calendar appointment, to which all attendees are invited, instead of printing it out and handing it around
  • The workshop manager writes all jobs on the whiteboard with deadlines (instead of simply verbally tasking each production worker)
  • A work team share an online calendar, and add their appointments and location for all to see.

The amount of information you receive can create distraction and overwhelm – but when you use information technology to your advantage it can improve team communication in your business.

Find out more about Yellow Coaching’s time and priority management workshops and coaching for individuals and teams here.