What Is Team Communication?

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Team communication is the interaction that takes place among the members of a work team or group. Effective team communication is vital to the success of the group in performing its role as well as to the morale and work enjoyment of its members.

Communication Formats

Team communication typically begins with task assignments and directives from company and team leaders. Such assignments involve top-down intrateam interactions. Within the team, one-on-one and small group interactions drive information sharing and collaboration on task completion. Teams also share information and back-and-forth discussions through electronic and paper documentation. In a customer service setting, for instance, each customer's account contains call reports so each service team member can see the dialogue that has taken place.

Team Communication Benefits

Effective communication is key to high performance and productivity in a work team. When each person clearly understands his role, listens well to instructions, offers updates and insights, and gives progress reports, leaders, individual team members and the collective unit are more aware of what has been done and what remains to complete.

Additional advantages of effective team communication

Identity and cohesion: An indirect result of team communication is the development of a sense of identity and cohesion, according to the University of Northern Iowa Business Communication program. As team members share ideas, engage in professional debate and work toward resolutions, they form important bonds that strengthen their problem-solving abilities as a unit.

High engagement: Effective team communication contributes to high engagement among team members, which leads to happier employees and strong performance, according to Intuit's QuickBase. High energy levels and a commitment to look for new opportunities and ideas are tied to high engagement as well.

Strong performance: When team members interact regularly, they tend to lay ideas and challenges on the table for group discussion. Doing so allows for piggybacking and building of good ideas into great ones. It also creates opportunities to nip potential problems in the bud.

Team Communication Limitations

A primary limitation of team communication is time. In situations in which time is of the essence, team collaboration can impede a more swift decision made by an individual. Thus, a quick decision by an experienced, autonomous leader works better under such circumstances.

Other Limitations

Office structure: Effective team communication typically requires an office arrangement that simplifies opportunities for engagement. An open floor layout without walls and with team members in close quarters works best.

Conflicts: Teams go through stages of development, beginning with initial formation, according to UNI. Conflicts between and among employees can occur at any point, but they are especially common during early forming stages before workers build rapport and respect. The ability of team leaders to encourage impersonal debate and to stifle personal tension is valuable in overcoming conflicts.

Communication barriers: Diverse work teams bring broad perspectives, but language and cultural barriers can impede constructive communication. Training on cultural awareness and sensitivity and translators are sometimes needed to overcome these barriers. UNI indicates that for employees, a commitment to working well in a team is one of the most common factors in gaining job promotions.

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