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Create Stronger Teams Through More Effective Communication

If you follow the Emergenetics blog [1], you already know that strong, effective communication is the key to fostering innovation, securing employee engagement, and advancing productive brainstorming and solution development. Unfortunately, attaining highly transparent and productive communication within teams is both necessary and incredibly challenging. Teams are present in every organization, but as our previous survey reports [2] have shown, 59% of HR and organizational leaders surveyed at ASTD stated that team communication was the single greatest challenge to organizational development.

Think about what that means: not only will teams with communication issues be less productive in terms of the actual work they do accomplish, but they’re also likely to miss opportunities. Poor communication translates to teams that come up with less creative and innovative solutions – at a slower pace.

And it isn’t just the work; poor communication can lead to an environment that is argument-prone and conflict-ridden—perhaps in a way that permanently damages the team dynamic.

So can we point to an underlying issue? I believe that one key way to address team communication issues starts with an understanding about the cognitive and behavioral preferences of team members. There are optimal team dynamics that we’ve discovered through our work and research [3], but understanding is the starting point to uncovering any team’s communication issues.

Take for example a diverse team with members across the spectrum of Expressiveness and Assertiveness—without an appreciation of this team’s diversity, those differences manifest themselves as conflict, difficulty in reaching consensus, and an unwillingness to compromise. Likely, long-term damage to cohesiveness will result.

On the other hand, teams that are similar in thinking and behavioral preferences have the tendency to create an environment where team members conform with each other, leading to groupthink and a lack of outside-the-box solutions. These teams have the ability to perform and communicate differently, but not without an understanding of where they’re coming from.

It’s about balance and showcasing cognitive diversity in helpful ways, as teams built without this perspective may not be optimizing their work in the organization. How, then, do we go about building a team that is not only productive but also innovative? One that is able to debate and criticize ideas in a constructive way that takes into account team and organizational goals?

At Emergenetics, we think there’s a blueprint to creating highly integrated, communicative teams. Teams built with an emphasis on diversity and a foundation of understanding and respect are able not only to offer complementary approaches and skills, but also to use differences of opinion in a way that leads to insight, diminishes conflict, and generates results.

Start with a framework to address team communication by balancing the team’s thinking and behavioral preferences [4]. Once a team is balanced, individual members can use their strengths to improve the entire workings of the team together.

Behavior plays an obviously important role in how a team communicates and performs—a spectrum of behavior is a helpful to creating a nuanced approached to communication.

Team communication done well is a big challenge, but it’s an even bigger reward. By utilizing different perspectives, you can turn around the way your team communicates and fully utilize the power of healthy, productive team relationships and communication.