Communication is tough.  It is one of the hardest things to consistently do so that everyone feels a part of the team and no one gets left behind.  It is also one of the most important characteristics of a healthy and thriving team.

Here’s a simple, 4-step plan to develop an effective communication plan for your team.  Use it and modify it to fit your needs and the needs of your team.  And, please, let me know how it goes and what your experience is with it.

Step 1: Establish a Communication Plan

The first step to effective communication on your team is to have a plan. The saying goes, most people don’t plan to fail – they just fail to plan – and end up wondering why things aren’t working.  Having a communication plan will help you and your team know what’s expected of them as well as how to communicate with you and other team members.

In order to develop your communication plan, you first need to think about the end result.  What do you want to achieve?  How do you want communication to look in your organization?  Who will help execute and evaluate the plan once it has been established?

Brainstorm with your team about effective communication strategies.  Have members of your team be part of the communication team and ask who would like to help implementing and evaluating the plan.

Step 2: Enlist Communication Coordinators

Who is responsible for communication on your team?  In a sense, everyone is responsible for communicating to the team. However, in larger teams, it might be a good idea to enlist some help.  Consider setting up “communication coordinators” that can help with communication efforts to your team.

Types of communication coordinators:

  • Internal – this coordinator would be responsible for internal communication to certain team members.  This person would email team members about upcoming deadlines, project completion dates, reports due, etc., so that everyone is on the same page and aware of progress.
  • External – depending on your needs, this type of coordinator communicates to anyone outside your team (other teams in the company that need to be “in the know”, customers, vendors, partners, etc.)  This person would handle email as well as social media communication.
  • Social Media – if you have a large team, you might consider have a coordinator that will take care of all social media communication for your team, especially if your team has a developed presence on social media platforms, this could come in handy.

 Step 3: Execute the Plan

Once you’ve established your plan for your team, it’s time to execute! Don’t worry about having everything perfect.  It will be a work in  progress.  Go ahead and begin to implement the plan – you can tweak it as you go.

Communicate the plan to your team, as well as let them know who to go to if they have questions, ideas, or concerns (preferably your communication coordinators will be your front-line go-to group).

Give the plan ample time to be put into place before making major adjustments or assuming that it’s not working.  If it’s something that is brand new, give people room and time to adjust to the new way of communicating.  It’s more important than ever for you and your coordinators to be the cheerleaders of this new plan and how it will improve overall communication for your team.

Step 4: Evaluate and Adjust

Soon after your plan has been executed, you will find that things need to be tweaked.  Isn’t that the way it usually goes?  It’s all part of the process.  Develop a simple plan to evaluate and adjust as needed. Here are a few ideas:

  • Check in with your communication coordinators on a regular basis
  • Have them help make adjustments as necessary
  • Give them the authority to adjust things as they see fit (communicate those parameters)
  • Evaluate as a team to determine what needs to be tweaked or celebrated
  • Let your coordinators lead out in the change

An effective communication plan is only as good as the attention that it gets and how well the plan is executed, evaluated, and adapted.  This is something that must be intentional or it won’t happen. As the leader of the team, it is up to you to get it going; however, it is also up to you to make sure you have help and get others involved as quickly as possible.

Once you’ve gotten into a rhythm with your communication plan, you will be able to meet less with your coordinators as you figure out what is working and what is not.  There will always be minor adjustments that need to be made or small issues that need to be addresses, but once you figure out the major adjustments, you can begin to hand off more and more to your coordinators, since there will (hopefully) be only minor tweaks that need to be made.

Celebrate your victories and encourage your team.  Consider giving out incentives for the most effective communicators in your group.  Make it fun and be creative.

Do you have an effective communication strategy for your team?  What else would you add or change?  Let me know in the comments below!

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