It’s been almost half a year since I started my job as an Intern Ruby on Rails Developer at Nopio (now a more experienced Junior) and I’ve decided to share some thoughts on how expectation compares with reality in regards to your first job in web development, and to offer some advice that may be helpful from someone who has been there.
Effective communication is the glue that holds a team together. Without proper communication, a team is like an engine that has been broken into several parts that fail to cooperate and power the machine to go forward.
Every team member has their own tasks and individual projects, but together all of them create a complete picture. By implementing smart communication practices, you’ll ensure that all parts of your project work together seamlessly.
Here are 6 best practices that show how to improve team communication.
1. Encourage team members to give feedback – and ask for it!
Feedback is one of the most common points of contact between team members, as well as teams and supervisors. Make sure that you have healthy feedback practices in place. Detailed and constructive feedback should become the norm – if you send someone’s work back to them with a note to improve, don’t expect to get the results you want.
Nobody is a mind reader, even the best communicators in your team. State your feedback clearly and make sure it coaches your team rather than create boundaries. Open communication is essential to the success of your team, so be sure to write these standards down – nothing helps teams more than a documented company culture.
Also, encourage a two-way conversation that helps everyone to self-evaluate and improve their performance in the long run.
2. Use project management tools
You can help your team collaborate by equipping it with a set of practical project management tools that offer a shared space for everyone to work together. Visualize project tasks on a digital Kanban board to increase team transparency and help team members save time on sending each other messages about what they’re working on at the moment and which tasks they have completed. One glance at this board is enough to get all the information.
Digital tools also help to reduce the number of meetings. And we all know that meetings are the least productive activity to which our team can dedicate its precious time. Use shared documents and mind maps for brainstorming instead of forcing everyone to sit together in a room and be creative.
3. Educate your team about the best forms of communication
What takes 30 minutes to write down may take 5 minutes to explain during a call. Develop guidelines for the use of different communication tools in your team to help team members decide which tool is the best one for the job.
For example, create dedicated channels on Slack to help your team deal with fewer emails. Build and document collaboration processes and the communication tools they involve to make sure your team knows what’s next and how to deal with the current workload.
4. Open the doors
If you keep your team members shut behind closed doors, you’ll create an atmosphere that simply doesn’t allow for open communication. By opening your doors and encouraging an open plan office, you’ll make everyone feel that they’re part of one team. Transparency is critical for building trust and clarity. Inspire your team to ask questions, voice their doubts, and come to you for help and guidance.
5. Assign roles and responsibilities
Make sure your team members know what’s required of them – what they need to do and how they need to do it. Clarify roles and responsibilities to avoid miscommunication and other problems that arise from diverging expectations.
You can do much more than just assign responsibilities and hope that team members will take it from there. Empower each and every person so that they become responsible for their work and complete tasks efficiently, inspired by intrinsic motivation. Avoid micromanaging, or your team will spend more time reporting to you than getting their work done.
6. Create a knowledge base
Chasing for information is one of the more common things teams lose time on. That’s why you need to create a central repository of knowledge to which team members can contribute freely. Such a knowledge base is closely connected to the project management tools we’ve mentioned above.
It serves as a point of reference for everyone involved in the project. Instead of getting lost in email attachments, every team member can access a space dedicated to all the essential project information and deliverables produced so far.
It can be as simple as a folder shared in the cloud or a company wiki platform – the result be the same: less time wasted on contacting colleagues for information.
Invest in developing effective team communication practices.
Promoting good communication in a team is a complex process that deals with the expectations, experience, and preferences of team members. Companies with a strong team culture have documented communication practices and promote transparency at every step of the project.
Are you looking for a dedicated development team that knows how to communicate seamlessly? Get in touch with us; we have ample experience in team management to lead our teams to success.