So, you’ve had just another frustrating experience with one of the colleagues. Cause – a communication clash that led to misunderstanding. And, this is not the first time you’ve been part of such a scenario. While working with people that come from a different cultural background can hugely contribute to the team spirit, it can also be a cultural minefield.
When developing a team, we mostly focus on hiring people who not only have the right skills and knowledge but also the ability to fit within the team culture and become one of the players. However, even if they show a remarkable insight and exceptional ability to handle the most difficult issues, how can you predict if they will be able to communicate effectively across the team? At the end of the day, good communication is a groundwork for a successful business and startup success.
To be able to struggle with these challenges, we first must learn how to understand our differences and incorporate techniques that will make the team communication more efficient and workplace less stressful.
Here are a few things you can do to help your team culture grow and your business thrive in the long run.
1. Understand who you are speaking to
To encourage your team players to communicate effectively you need to be aware of different types of personalities your team is comprised of. DISC profile categorizes primary personality styles as Dominant, Influencer, Steady or Conscientious.
Dominant type – they love action and they don’t waste their time handling implementation details. Instead, they like to focus on the big picture.
When communicating with this type of person, you need to keep in mind that they will barely talk about their personal issues and focus mainly on work. Also, don’t be surprised if they lack patience since they like keeping everything organized and they are decisive most of the time.
Influencer – While influencers tend to be friendly, open and highly collaborative, they are unable to focus for a longer period of time and, therefore, are well-suited for short-term projects. Talk to them openly, in a casual manner and note down all the important data they can refer back to once the meeting is over. Never talk down on them or undermine their willingness and enthusiasm to come up with new ideas. If you nurture your collaboration with an influencer, you will gain their trust in no time and your efforts will be rewarded.
Steady type – this kind of person respects loyalty, consistency, and stability. Although they can adapt easily to the working environment, they still may need a little encouragement to be able to show their real potential. The easiest way to break the ice is to praise the recent contribution they made to the organization. However, don’t force them to make rash decisions and do remind them of deadlines.
Conscientious type – these people like showing their expertise and strive towards acquiring new skills. While they seem competitive and friendly, don’t expect them to chit-chat with you about everyday things. Also, try to be as precise as you can when discussing an issue and avoid giving them feedback in the form of criticism.
2. Choose the right communication tools
Even if your team members vary in their knowledge and communication styles, it’s still important to keep their communication flow. The easiest way to do this is to implement the tools that will help your team communicate with a breeze and deliver best results. Communication and collaboration tools let your team work on their tasks in real time, discuss any burning issues instantly and organize their workload without much hassle.
Communication tools like Hipchat enable you to create channels or rooms where you can invite your teammates and comment on some projects, upload and share files and documents. Another tool that every business owner should have in their toolkit is an efficient project management tool like ActiveCollab. It helps your team stay well-organized and build a real team culture.
3. Learn how to get past cultural barriers
One of the common roadblocks every project faces when working with the team is cultural diversity. The fact that people come from different cultural backgrounds has a huge impact on communication of the entire team. For example, while Americans tend to be very open and chatty, in some parts of Asia people are more indirect. Also, while some people use hand gestures to make a certain point, some Asian people might consider hand gestures rude. There are a few techniques you can incorporate to overcome these common cultural barriers:
• When giving a presentation, speak less and use more visuals to convey your message. In this way, you won’t fall into a trap of miscommunication or misunderstanding
• Since not all of your team members speak the same language, make sure you use simple terms and less tech and more universally understood language. This should help you keep everyone on the same page.
• Be aware of nonverbal language from some of your employees that may indicate the lack of understanding
Naturally, you can always come up with some team-building ideas and give people opportunity to get to know each other better in a creative and entertaining way.
Design a communication plan
Before initiating a project (e.g wordpress development), design your communication plan.Involve all of your stakeholders and focus your attention on their needs. As the project progresses, there may be a lot of changes you and your team will have to make. In such scenario, keeping everyone updated is instrumental for project success. When devising a communication plan, every project manager has to struggle with the same challenge – how to answer and balance all of the stakeholders’ needs.
For instance, while some of them like communicating by email, chat or video conference, others prefer meeting and face-to-face communication. The easiest way to keep everyone in the same loop is to work on building a good relationship. This should give you a more accurate insight into how you should communicate and stimulate them to become effective. The ultimate goal is to build trust and reduce the amount of time spent on communication, thus increasing efficiency.
The simplest communication plan aims at building and nurturing trust among team members. It should answer these questions:
• Who will you communicate with? (e.g marketing team)
• What will you communicate with the rest of the team? (e.g the budget)
• When will you communicate?(e.g monthly, weekly)
• How will you communicate? (e.g one-on-one or group meetings)
• What is the format of your communication? (e.g presentation)
Use appropriate forms of communication
Whether you are working on a small-scale or large-scale ambitious project, you must ensure that there is a constant communication stream between your team members. If the project doesn’t involve a large team, the communication can easily be carried out by email. However, if you are running a complex project with a number of virtual, geographically dispersed teams, an in-house meeting will not be viable. In this case, you need to use technology and organize a video conference where all team members will participate regardless of the time zone they belong to.
Finally, if you want to create a healthy working environment that will create the groundwork for successful future project management, you need to encourage and practice open communication. People want to feel they are part of a bigger picture, something larger than themselves they can contribute to.