Importance of communication in team building
V T GOPINATH Executive Vice President
Communication in an organisation is akin to bloodstream in human body. Human body at times develops arteriosclerosis that impairs or retards efficiency. An organisation could also develop ‘Infosclerosis’ or simply put communication sclerosis, adversely impacting operational efficiency or growth potential. Communication is a process of passing on information, instruction and understanding from one person to another. In nutshell, it is a bridge of meaning and helps people to cross over the river of misunderstanding, which separates people. Of course, communication has its limitations too. The best of plans poorly communicated will have disastrous consequences and a well-communicated poor plan also does not guarantee any success or accomplishment of the desired task.
People are the source of greatness in any organisation. The laws of mechanics, never having an output greater than their input, restrict all resources barring human. People alone through their creativity can produce output greater than the sum of their inputs. Therefore, the prime objective of an organisation is to develop a pool of great people who thrive on performance challenges through team building process. Develop a strong performance ethic across, which will be equally stimulating and rewarding both for the individual employee and the organisation as well. The edifice of successful organisation depends on team building efforts, which broadens understanding of the organisational objectives by individuals through their commitment, motivation and satisfaction drives growth process and delivers management effectiveness. If everybody in a team understands strategies and goals, then only performance can be enhanced through focused development to produce significant values.
Hence, it is absolutely imperative to integrate management systems, culture, structure and business process with human resource to the overall business strategy. What drives and delivers management effectiveness and employee satisfaction is the optimum balance between internal and external resources.
Let us now turn to the fundamentals of team building. If I were to cite an example of great team building, what first comes to my mind is that of Trapeze Acrobatics in a circus. It excites and amazes the audience with their breathtaking performances. Far above the ground, fliers swing back and forth and fly through the air from one trapeze to the other and their successful performance depends on absolute trust between the members.
It is clearly evident that excellence is not just luck; it is the result of lot of hard work, planning, practice and timely execution by an excellent team that owns responsibility and also committed to each other.
People need organisations and organisations need people. Both seek fulfillment of objectives and therefore should be willing to work together towards common objectives. Like there are best machines for certain jobs there are best people for certain jobs, which also depends on their skill, experience, knowledge, communication ability, attitude and above all team spirit. Individuals differ in a million ways like fingerprints; no two individuals are the same.
The objective of communication should be to harness the capabilities of individuals and develop them as a team. Show them how group dynamics works and enhance their need fulfillment. Understand that you cannot employ only a person’s skill or brain, all that can be employed is a whole person. It is all the more necessary for an organisation to take cognizance of the aspiration of group members and then embark upon development themes for both individuals and groups.
While the law of gravity is supposed to operate uniformly in Japan or London or an atom of hydrogen is identical in Moscow or Washington, individual behaviours would vary in different circumstances and places and would have different motivational levels under different leaders. Organisations’ ability to capitalise on capabilities like leadership talent and speed are what produces superior values.
People’s respect for companies is not how they are structured or their specific approach to management, but their ability to innovate and their response to certain needs both internal and external, their apparent and genuine responsibility towards society. Such organisational capabilities are what we call as key intangible assets. The collective skills, abilities and expenditure of an organisation are the outcome of investing in staffing, training, compensation and above all communication. Importance of communication in team building represent the ways people and resources are brought together to accomplish goals.
Communication is essential to execute framework. Strategies, constant dialogue and evaluation are imperatives for delivering excellence. While communicating to all locations to create a cooperative culture of its own with shared values, mission and goals, care must be taken to understand the regional, ethnic difference and value them adequately before developing communication process. Successful corporates succeed to top by learning to do a few key things better than others.
Management communication is important to make sound decisions. Communicating decisions both upward and downward is necessary for the successful implementation of the plans and goals. Just as a photograph cannot be clearer than the negative from which it is printed, managers cannot communicate more clearly than they understand. Therefore, it is a must to develop positive communication attitude and gain the trust of others before planning for communication.
Nearly all communication is symbolic. It is necessary to recognise that words have several meanings and communicate different things depending upon the context in which they are used. The same word may have both positive and negative impact depending upon the context and timing and also who communicates it to whom (authority level) and the degree of emotional bonding.
Some major barriers to communications are judgment, emotions, social and cultural values, distance and personal experiences. All play a very important role in communication. One suggestion is to use simple words and phrase, short and familiar words, short sentence and paragraphs and arrange thoughts in a logical and direct style. Learn the art of plain talk and readable writing. It is also important to know the conceptual / intellectual level of the group or individual to whom you communicate and the purpose of the communication. Differences between what one says and what one does is that person’s communication credibility gap.
Competent employees have the skill for today’s and tomorrow’s business requirements, and committed employees deploy those skills regularly and predictably. They make quick and important changes rapidly. Speed refers to individual’s ability to recognise opportunities and quickly act. They are also very conscious of the returns on time invested. Such managers analyse and recognise the problems likely to arise and strategise themselves to deal with them in a positive and proactive manner.
They learn to collaborate and gain consensus on serious organisational challenges and create a proactive, supportive and challenging climate. To quote Goethe, ‘Knowing is not enough, we must apply, willingness is not enough, we must do’.
More often than not, while embarking on changes in system and procedure and endeavouring to instil definitive values, an organisation would come across resistance to change. A careful analysis of the changes sought and resultant outcome of the changes to be carried out should be appropriately weighed by the decision makers before communicating to team members.
Communication of benefits of the new system and how people’s role might change and demonstrate what is in it for them. People are changing all the time, but these are their own chosen changes. Otherwise change results only when they are told to so.
Collaborate – Involve prospective users in change decision. Change is not usually the problem; it is the way it comes down.
Commiserate – Let people know, it is ok to complain. It provides a useful outlet. Allowing complaints and disagreements enable to measure resistance before you spend money on the new initiatives.
Don’t denigrate– Learning curve is upside down when you learn new things. Your performance actually declines before it improves. Allow the notion of unlearning as people abandon old ways.
Equity theory – Perception of equity is often a matter of controversy and endless debate and a major cause of dissatisfaction among employees.
Feeling of fairness – Decision should not only be fair, but should also appear to be so. The individual’s perception levels vary depending upon their skill, knowledge, potential for growth and above all integrity and commitment.
Merit – Team members when they get recognition get highly motivated and enhance their performance level.
Affiliation – A motivated employee aspires to do quality work and continuously search for mastery and professional growth. Power motivation is a significant requirement amongst employees to be seen as effective in team building process.
Role Conflict – When the expectations of a role are materially different or opposite, a person tends to be in role conflict. There is no way to meet expectations without rejecting the other. When roles are not adequately defined, role ambiguity exists. Dysfunctional results occur leading to dissatisfaction.
Status – Social rank of person in comparison with others in a social system is called status. Both formal and informal. One needs to recognise these aspects while communicating with team members
Environment that people create is culture – Behavioural patterns that develop from culture influences individual achievement, affiliation, competence, power motivation and work ethics. Role is the pattern of action expected of a person in activities involving others. Team members should understand the key elements in organisational behaviour and then embark upon developing a communication culture to create a conducive atmosphere for all.
A successful organisation should continuously strive to understand the individual needs and constraints that impede their performance as a team member as well as a group and render every possible assistance to ameliorate their difficulties to the extent possible.
I would like to state that the success of an organisation depends on its ability to create a cohesive team both committed to realise individual and organisational goals in equal measure. And this is only possible if the importance of communication is greatly understood and appreciated by one and all in the company.