Why every manager needs a team communication strategy

Meaningful team communication encompasses several areas that impact employee engagement

Utilising a strategic communications roadmap can be the key to building a team culture of open communication and collaboration, writes Jennie Walker

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” George Bernard Shaw’s quote brilliantly highlights the disconnect that often happens in communication between managers and their teams. While there may be a steady stream of email communications and meetings, meaningful team communication can be infrequent or absent.

Meaningful team communication encompasses several areas that impact employee engagement, such as:

  • reinforcement of team vision and mission
  • updates on team and organisational performance
  • recognition of positive aspects of team performance
  • recognition of specific individual contributions to the team
  • facilitation of professional development opportunities
  • leading innovation and continuous improvement efforts
  • providing relevant updates on the company and industry
  • strengthening collaboration among team members.

Research continuously affirms how employees dislike meetings, and the reasons abound – they are boring, redundant, or ineffective; people over-participate or don’t participate at all. Everyone can cite a different reason for displeasure. But the message is clear: meetings are not always the right answer for communication. This is why a manager’s communication strategy must be dynamic.

“Meetings are not always the right answer for communication”

The strategy can be mapped out showing what needs to be communicated, the communication frequency and method, and who needs to be involved (see strategic communications roadmap). This plan can then be integrated with the manager’s and team’s calendars to ensure communication takes place and to provide the team with a sense of consistency. This is important for keeping employees engaged and building a team culture of open communication and collaboration.

After a manager has developed a team communication strategy, they will then need to decide how to engage and inspire team members during these sessions.

Consider the following ideas.

  • Invite individuals to lead parts of the meeting
  • Rotate meeting leadership
  • Start with a social activity
  • Use an alternative format, such as a standing meeting or meeting outside
  • Incorporate a motivational video or activity
  • Keep conversation flowing by inviting participation and asking questions

A strategic communications roadmap

Communication typeTopicsFrequencyMethodAttendees
Team vision session
  • Updates on company results and industry news
  • Positive examples of how the team has added value to the organisation this month
  • Team and individual recognition
  • Opportunities for team improvement
MonthlyInteractive in-person or virtual meetingEntire team
News and status updates
  • Relevant company news
  • Upcoming events for the week
  • Project updates
  • Individual recognition/events
WeeklyInteractive shared site and/or emailManager sends to entire team
Professional developmentIndividuals have flexibility to follow own development plan;  shared team needs will be organised as neededBi-annuallyVariesIndividual team members
Performance conversation
  • Recognition of accomplishments
  • Coaching for improvements
  • Support and resources
Quarterly (small team) or bi-annually (large team)Interactive in-person or virtual meetingManager and individual team members
Innovation workshopWorking session to improve processes, products or serviceQuarterlyIn-person or virtual working session(s)Entire team divided into specific project teams

Image source: iStock