Communication is an important element in creating an effective team. It’s worth taking time to define team communication, what supports team communication, and what undermines team communication.
When feedback or internal surveys determine that team communication is not satisfactory to some of the team members, steps should be taken to correct the situation. However, most often leadership jumps to the solution without examining the underlying issue or issues which may be creating a communication deficit within the team. Leadership may institute a weekly call, or have a newsletter created to enhance team communication. Without examining the source of the communication problem, and addressing the source, these measures have a better chance of making things worse than they do of improving the situation.
In the diplomatic world, relations between two countries are sometimes characterized as warm or chilled. Team communication can be described the same way because it too is predicated on relationships. The relationship is an important element in effective team communications as it is the basis for perception and interaction.
The most important element in a team’s relationship is trust. A lack of trust engenders defensiveness as well as an unwillingness to be vulnerable and open in communication. Without trust, team members may talk but may not communicate candidly about what needs to be done to ensure success for the team.
Stephen M. R. Covey’s book, The Speed of Trust, provides a well-balanced analysis of the role of trust in relationships and organizations. The matrix below appears in The Speed of Trust to help visualize the optimum blend of characteristics that comprise the healthiest form of trust in a team environment, Smart Trust™.
Driving your team towards Smart Trust™ relationships will require education, confrontation, and transparency. The effort will be great, but so will be dividends of creating a trusting team dynamic.