virtual team management

6 Tips for Better Team Communication

May 20, 2020

I’m Kate.
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As more and more companies and businesses have shifted to online work with virtual teams and online businesses are on the rise, you may be starting to feel like your communication is a hot mess. How do you maintain strong communication when you are used to working in person? How do you make sure things are clear when you are now working through a screen?

Well hopefully I can help! Today I’m giving you my top 6 tips for better team communication.

Keeping your mind open

Being a great leader means knowing and being able to communicate with your team members in the style that best suits them and being aware that there are different communication styles. You will want to make sure to keep an open mind to understanding that not everyone fits in the same box and each member of your team might communicate in a different way. The best thing you can do is ask your team members or even include this as part of the interview process to ask how they best communicate. Do they thrive better in a face-to-face environment, does email suffice or maybe they need the instant communication through a tool like Slack. You want to get to know your team members and understand that some may need more details, some may be visual and need visual representations of what you need and others might need examples to go off of.

Make sure your team knows the goals, vision and mission of your company
This may not seem like a big deal but this can do wonders for team buy-in and helping with your team communication and moral. This should be part of your on boarding with a new member but should also be communicated regularly. There is nothing better than feeling like you are all working towards a common goal as a team. Making sure your team knows the goals and your vision for the project will help them to understand the reason behind why they are doing what they are doing. It’s great to keep these in a place like your Company Guidebook so your team can refer back to them if necessary.

Related: How to Onboard a New Remote Team Member

Clearly Define Everyone’s Roles and Responsibilities
Take it from me there is nothing worse than not having a clear idea of what your role is on someone’s team. Things hopefully start out well but sometimes as teams grow and dynamics shift, everyone’s roles and responsibilities can get cloudy and start to overlap to the point where people are confused. Work can start being duplicated because it hasn’t been clearly communicated what each team members roles and responsibilities are. This should be something you are reevaluating on a regular basis especially as new people are added to the team. This would be another great thing to add to your company guidebook as well. You could list out everyone’s responsibilities and expectations so they can refer back to them as needed. Things become so much simpler when people know exactly what it is they should be working on and what they are responsible for.
**If you need help setting up your company guidebook, I do a complete walkthrough as a little bonus with my Refined Systems Handbook.

Have an open door (even virtually)
Ok this one is HUGE! When you have a team you want to ensure that they feel comfortable being able to come to you with any issues, concerns and most importantly feedback on how things are running, whether positive or negative. I think this can be done in a number of ways, whether it be establishing a set time with each team member every week to have a 1:1 meeting with you or knowing the ways they can communicate with you if an issue arises takes the guesswork out of how to approach you. If there is uncertainty around how to bring things up to you they will be less likely to say anything. You also want to make sure that when team members do confide in you or come to you with issues that you take that feedback with an open mind and not in a negative or defensive way that will make them feel like it is not accepted. Establishing that open line for feedback will do wonders for your team.

Weekly Meetings
On the heels of having an open door policy, having weekly meetings with your team will be so beneficial for your communication. I have worked on a number of different virtual teams over the years and I can honestly say that the ones where we had weekly meetings made me feel that much more confident in the work I had to get done that week. It gave me the opportunity to get my questions answered in real time and gave us the chance to bounce ideas off each other and really make sure we started the week with a full understanding of what was ahead. This also eliminates a lot of the messages in Slack or Asana as well, which is a nice little bonus as all those back and forth convos that can often take a ton of time each week.

Setting up the right softwares
Having some key softwares in your business will be essential for effective virtual communication. And most you probably use already. Things like Slack for those day to day conversations, quick questions and updates is key for your team to operate well. These days I think everyone is familiar with and uses Zoom but this is a great tool for your weekly team meetings as well as 1:1 meetings. You can record them so if anyone misses it they can watch it back and you can also share your screen so you can show things that may need a visual explanation. And let’s not forget actually seeing your team’s faces at least once a week! Another essential tool for great communication is Loom. This screen recording software allows you to record your screen and give instructions and guidelines for projects or be able to clarify anything that may be confusing. It’s always great to be able to talk through your thoughts or explain something as you show someone. Not being able to walk to someones office or desk and explain something in person or get clarification can take some getting used to but having Loom gives you the ability to do that same thing virtually.

If you need any help setting up the structure for these systems make sure to check out The Refined Systems Handbook now available in my shop!

Clear and effective communication is the staple in a strong virtual team. Making sure you establish great lines of communication will do wonders and ease a lot of stress and uncertainty not only for your team members but for you as well. Your team members are not mind readers so giving them exactly what they need and the opportunity to ask questions will make things so much smoother and ensure they will succeed in their role.

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