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The most successful teams that I have had the opportunity to be a member of had a couple of things in common: one, strong leadership and two, open and effective communication. Throughout the years, I have also observed that a common challenge faced by many teams and leaders is communication.

Dr. Steven Covey opens his book, THE 8TH HABIT, sharing the  results of a telling survey done  by Harris Interactive. Can you imagine working with a team where only 37% know what the organization is trying to achieve and why? Where only 20% of this team is enthusiastic about the team’s goals. Where 80% of this same team doesn’t know how their job relates to achieving the team’s goals. Where only 15% of this team feels enabled by the team to achieve their goals. This means that 80% of the team is, by default, working against their own team.

Me either, yet too many teams are operating exactly like this, referral teams included. There are many factors that go into this, but the most important factor that I see is communication.

How can you improve your team’s performance and your communication?

Let’s look at a couple of steps you can implement right away to improve your communication with your team.

Communication isn’t about what you say;  it is about what is heard.

I hear this complaint from so many, “I told them …, but they didn’t seem to get it.” Effective communication is considered effective if it works.

Step 1 – Find out what your team is hearing/understanding. Communication is not only accomplished through what you say, but much of it is nonverbal and tied to your actions. Ask your referral team a couple of questions to see how well you have communicated your message. Some questions that you might ask would be: What is unique about my business(or doing business with me)? What kind of referral am I looking for? What problems do I solve for clients?

Communication is a two-way street.

This is one that I get called on too often. Effective communication is never one way, especially when a team is involved. If you simply talk to individuals, they tend to tune you out pretty quickly. Many folks that I have worked with will say, I asked my team this, I told them that. People need time to open up and really communicate, you can’t just sit them down in a meeting, ask them something and expect to get honest, complete feedback. Even with Step 1, give your team time to get the answers back to you. I usually give about 24 hours for that exercise.

Step 2 – Learn about your team and their preferred means of communication. We all receive information in different ways.

Communication never ends.

Just because your team understood your message today, you can’t stop. Each message deserves the same effort that the previous messages did. In fact, I like the Japanese philosophy of Kaizen or continuous improvement. Every relationship and team is a new beginning and comes with its own unique challenges.

Step 3 –  Keep improving your skills and knowledge.

Good Luck and Good Networking,