How Communication and Trust Improve Team Efficiency

BY Austin Richards
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If you finally have the team in place that you’ve always wanted, congratulations. A hand-​picked team is likely to achieve great success. But most groups of co-​workers won’t reach their potential unless their manager takes specific action to improve team efficiency.

Here is a roadmap for managers to follow.

Use Trust to Improve Team Efficiency

Employees who have joined a new team to complete a project may not automatically trust co-​workers or the leader. One source of distrust may be a natural part of their personality, easily detected by a psychometric assessment.

In other cases, employees may have been burned in the past by a work event that resulted in a bad outcome. Having learned a hard lesson, these employees will be watching over their shoulders. They might believe a co-​worker will say something negative about them or find fault with the data they produced. 

To improve efficiency, team members need to experience positive interactions and build trust. These interactions should start with the manager who must consistently insist that team members respect each other, says DP Taylor. Employees should feel that nobody will berate them for their innovative ideas or for making a mistake. Only then, will they begin to trust in their work environment.

Taylor also encourages managers to build teams that can work together closely in person. There is no substitute for spending hours together trying to solve problems. When employees encounter failure, they can encourage each other to keep trying. It is in these moments, when employees are most vulnerable, that they can build trust.

Your Communication Style Matters

When you first assemble your team to discuss the timetable for the goals they must achieve, don't make assumptions. Not everyone automatically trusts and understands you. In working toward team efficiency, they will want to know what's in it for them.

You may be accustomed to delivering verbal orders and then expect your team to carry them out. The problem is that your team members may not all excel at close listening.

They may not understand their exact role in the process. Or they want to avoid looking foolish by asking for guidance in a group meeting.

Referring to a written plan may be more comfortable for some members of your team. If you don’t provide such a document, you may soon learn that two individuals are duplicating each other’s work. Or you might find out that another team member has gone down a rabbit hole that has little to do with the project goals.

To avoid this situation, communicate frequently and in multiple formats with the group. You can reinforce your expectations by talking with each team member individually in the style that works best for them. Review their psychometric assessments.

In these reports, you’ll learn whether your employee prefers to ask you questions as needed. Or they might appreciate hearing a recap from you regarding their work so far. And they may also benefit from your explanation of where you want them to focus their efforts.

Build Trust Through Close Listening

Good communication with team members also means enhancing your listening skills. Remember that you likely selected specific individuals to join your team because of their talents. When they encounter a problem, show courtesy and respect by listening to the problems they raise.

Ask for their recommended solutions before you jump ahead with what you think is best. Your job as a manager requires you to improve team efficiency. You should also help each employee do their best work by and remove obstacles on the path to successful project completion.

Optimizing team efficiency means tracking many moving parts.

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