When you think of what makes a good startup, the first few things that probably come to mind are: how innovative the idea is, who makes up the team, if they are funded, how they make money, and how much press they are getting. While all these, in varying levels, are crucial to the success of a startup, one underestimated component that makes a good startup great is effective communication.
Communication is so vital for a business because beyond how much profit it makes, what determines its continued success is how well all resources align to achieve the overall objective. How else can you know when to expand or where to cut costs if decision makers and executors are not on the same page? Effective communication within a startup fosters alignment of goals and purpose. It also helps team members tap into each other's unique knowledge, talent and experience.
You are probably wondering: “What does this have to do with me? We are a team of less than ten; our communication is solid”. And therein lies an assumption that has destroyed one too many startups. Thinking that small teams translate to better communication leads people to ignore sometimes obvious communication gaps in their startups. Here are a few tips to help your team communicate more effectively:
- Understand Your Team
Do you know everyone’s name on your team? That’s an obvious question, and your immediate response was probably ‘of course’. But how much do you know about your team beyond their full names and what is written on their CV? For a team to function efficiently, it helps to go beyond knowing the basics. Take a step further and know what they are good at, how they work, what they value and how they fit into the larger narrative of your startup. Because everyone operates differently, understanding your team members as individuals and as a collective helps you know how best to interact with them to yield maximum results.
- Know Your Tools...and Choose What Works For You
It seems like every other day, there is a new tool launched that boasts of helping teams communicate better. From email alternatives to productivity apps, there is the constant temptation to switch to one new software or the other. Pause! Before you jump on to the latest communication bandwagon, ask yourself:
- What do I need this for?
- How would we use it as a team?
- How is it better than what we use now?
- What is the learning curve for our team?
If you are not clear on the answers on any of these, even if your current method is pen and paper, you might want to rethink adding another layer of communication. Instead, consider knowing what jobs need to get done in your startup and then choosing tools optimized to accomplish them.
For example, do you need a way to send short and frequent information within your company while also sharing documents and other files? Do you need to share policies and documentation with your team, but also want to allow them to collaborate and make comments? Hen Google Docs or One Drive might be your solution. Regardless of how you prefer to communicate and what tool you end up using, remember that you don’t have to stick with one way of communication. Mix and match as you deem fit and settle on the ones that work best for your team's current circumstance - size, location or budget.
- Create Safe Spaces
Beyond the day to day work operations, build a space where people feel safe to voice their opinions and thoughts in a courteous manner, without the fear of repercussions. Bonus points if you implement some of their contributions so they see that their feedback is valued. Letting people know that their input is valuable can directly translate to growth for your startup and empowers your team to take ownership of key parts of your business.
- Be Direct and Deliberate
The fastest way to kill team communication and productivity is to be ambiguous with your expectations or requests. Start by establishing when and where contributions and decisions can be made. Do you prefer meetings or casual lunch conversations? Whichever works best, ensure that at the end of each conversation, there are clearly defined action steps. It is also important to communicate those action steps concisely, including what needs to get done, who should do it and when it should be completed. This way, there is a sense of accountability and an avenue for shared team regulation.
How do you manage your team collaboration? Share with us in the comment section. Need help setting up effective communication channels and strategies? Let’s help you. Contact us for a consultation. Here’s what some of our clients have to say. Our goal is to empower businesses like yours by providing them with the tools and knowledge necessary to drive high business performance.
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