Article (September-2021)


Effective Communication - Fuel that drive team dynamics

Pavithra Urs

Designation : -   Associate Director-People Operations

Organization : -  Leading Entertainment Company

Other Writers : -  Sanjeev Himachali - Principal Consultant & Talent Strategist, EclipticHRS


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In the past few years, collaboration was listed as one of the top five skills employers need the most. Your ability to work well with others on a team is essential for developing your career in just about every field, from health care to government, sports, education, tech, and the military. We find ourselves working in teams, why?

Because research shows that effective teams produce better outcomes than individuals or uncoordinated groups. And yet, many teams struggle to reach their potential. Or to put it another way, as Malcolm Gladwell has said, "The kinds of errors that cause plane crashes are invariably errors of teamwork and communication."

Whether you're a newly minted team or you've been working together for years, there's likely room for improvement in the ways you communicate and collaborate. By giving everyone on the team defined roles and responsibilities, you can better coordinate and avoid duplicate efforts and missed opportunities.

Some key collaboration process roles to consider are the meeting convener, recorder, and monitor. Depending on the nature of your team, each of these roles can be subdivided into more specific roles for your team, and these don't necessarily need to be aligned with your functional roles in the organisation. Think of these as separate working titles for your specific team.

Some teams divide out these roles and keep them the same for every meeting. Others swap roles on a regular basis to make sure this important labour is evenly distributed throughout the team.

When it comes to setting goals, choose a template that makes sense for your team, whether it's KPIs, SMART, or SMARTER goals, or some other performance metric.

Make sure your team collectively establishes shared goals for your work together. Once you've established your goals, take a few minutes to discuss your conditions of satisfaction. These are the minimal requirements to reach completion of a project.

Conditions of satisfaction are different than goals. If your team's goals are on the high end of what you hope to accomplish as a group, the conditions of satisfaction are on the low end. What's the bare minimum everyone will be comfortable with having completed? For example, for students, the goal in a course might be to earn an A on an assignment, but the condition of satisfaction would be a passing grade.

Teams often set lofty goals initially but adjust their expectations once the work requirements are understood. Having a clear definition of what is acceptable before you start your project, will save you time, and frustration down the line.

With your goals and conditions of satisfaction in mind, you'll want to develop a team charter. A document that outlines commitment for how your team will collaborate on your work together.

Typical team charters include ground rules for team meetings, norms for communicating with each other, details for how you'll make decisions, consequences for not meeting expectations, and what you'll do if you experience conflict.

The team's charter should establish some ground rules for how to handle these types of things. After your team has decided on norms for communication, operating procedures, and general expectations, you can document all of this in your team charter.

Cross-cultural communication within teams - It's well established that today's teams are global and teams that harness their diverse perspectives and talents have better outcomes than those who don't. And yet, communicating across cultures can present some challenges.

A model to help you think through the cultural issues that can come up in cross-cultural business communication is abbreviated as LESCANT. This points to seven areas - language, environment social organisation, context, authority, nonverbal, and time.

To consider in international business settings, I'll briefly highlight some things to consider in each of the seven areas, starting with L, language.

When it comes to your language, use clear and basic phrasing whenever possible. While everyone on your team may be using the same language, it's easy for information to get lost in translation. The same words can have different meanings in different parts of the same country. Keep in mind, everyone on your team may not have the same level of language fluency, and that may influence how they participate in group discussions, especially if things unexpectedly come up. It's easy to confuse language proficiency with confidence, but that can be a mistake. A teammate may have strong evidence to support an idea and have some trouble articulating it, or vice versa.

In terms of E, environment, what external cultural factors impact your team's work or dynamics? This can include aspects of your physical realities and a host of other external factors.

Next, how are the cultures represented on your team socially organized? How do religion, race, gender, and class factor into the societies your team is constructed of? One example that can be tied to friction on teams is how people view individualism versus collectivism.

The next letter, C, is context. Which of your teammates are from high- or low-context cultures? In a high-context culture, communication is explicit. Communicators are direct and verbalize every word they need to get their point across. In a low-context culture, communication is implicit and relies more on non-verbal cues, silence, and the unsaid. Recognizing these subtle differences will improve your team's communication.

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Pavithra Urs & Sanjeev Himachali