Thursday, May 23, 2013

Teamwork - Tips for Federal Communicators

Posted by: Moniqua Roberts, Program Analyst/Communications Specialist on May 23, 2013

How often have you heard the (dreaded) words, “team project”? Did you silently cringe in your seat or welcome the opportunity to work with your esteemed colleagues, those excellent federal communicators in the office next to yours and down the hall? If we are perfectly honest with ourselves, the answer would be a little of both.
The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.
George Bernard Shaw

Communication and collaboration can be a sweet dream or a beautiful nightmare (thanks for the lyrics Beyoncé).

In a team, bad communication means your message doesn't resonate with your intended audience. Verbal and non-verbal cues might be missed and misinterpreted. This happens even in teams made up of communications professionals, people who studied communication, perform communication functions on behalf of agencies, and often think that they are pretty good at communicating.

Even as communicators, there are barriers that prohibit your message from getting across. How do you effectively communicate in these instances?

I started to ponder, how can we prevent barriers from stopping effective communication and collaboration in a team environment, in which federal communicators are working together? I think the following tips may be helpful.

1. Listen

The number one communication barrier is the failure to listen. It is critical to listen to your team members’ suggestions and be open to constructive criticism. It has often been said that two heads are better than one. Life brings a variety of experiences that can offer viable solutions. Failure to listen can ultimately affect the dynamics of the group, cause misunderstandings, missed deadlines and ultimately failure to meet the desired objectives of the project.

2. Adapt to Change

Be flexible in your thinking. Team environments can nurture professional and personal growth. If you can be open to different thought processes, there are valuable lessons for all parties. If many instances, there will be role reversals. Team members must be objective. Innovative ideas are usually produced in a team environment and solutions to problems are met. Avoid ineffective team environments that do not allow or foster growth.

3. Establish Guidelines & Boundaries

To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.
Tony Robbins
There must be clearly defined roles and assignments for projects. If each team member properly defines his or her role, or if a leader clearly defines all roles, this will help prevent communication breakdown. The objective of the project should be clearly stated and the role of each member should be targeted with specific responsibilities outlined. All team members should have a clear sense of purpose. There should be conflict resolution tools in place to eliminate problems/disagreements before they escalate and cause division amongst the group. Set deadlines and adhere to them.

What other tips do you use to encourage effective communication and collaboration on team projects with other federal communicators? Share your tips by submitting a comment, below.

This discussion is brought to you by the Federal Communicators Network. We've published lots more on this topic. Read Let's Join Hands: Accomplish More Through Collaboration!, then learn more about how federal communicators work in teams to accomplish internal communications in Employee Communications and Engagement.

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