• Aida Xie

Effective Workplace Communication

Establishing communication patterns in your organization is essential to ensuring success. Companies that lack communication or have a poor communication system are bound to fail. On the contrary, organizations that create and maintain effective communication methods will experience increased productivity and improved capacity.

Communication might seem easy, but communicating effectively actually takes quite a bit of finesse. Picking the right words to get our message across and listening with our minds instead of just our ears are skills that we all need to work on. Miscommunication can lead to quarrels in a social setting; however, repercussions such as poor productivity and even litigation are a lot more serious in the workplace.

How do we actually communicate effectively at work? Most, if not all, will state that face to face communication can work wonders. A quick daily huddle is one such example, it provides an avenue for teams to align their tasks for the day properly, discuss yesterday’s highlights and brainstorm for solutions to any problems that members encountered. The crucial aspect is actually the personal nature of it. The majority of meaning interpreted in conversations comes not from the words themselves but from the speaker’s facial expression and body language, according to a research conducted by a psychology professor based in an America university. Additionally, having eye contact with the people you are talking to enables a cultivation of trust and sincerity. This will build a stronger bond between members which will result in more efficient collaboration and teamwork.

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Having said that, how do we do the same for our offshore teams? They are based not only in another office but another country. Communicating with remote teams can be a challenge because the flow of ideas can be disrupted by several factors such as cultural misunderstanding, time zone differences and language barriers. One possible solution is to get important team members together in the beginning. An offshore ambassador, most likely to be the team leader, should spend some time together with the main onshore team to collaborate and understand each other better at the start. That decisive individual who will eventually be with the offshore team physically will help smoothen communication by relaying instructions and feedbacks respectively. Last but not least, it comes down to the fundamentals, having regular conversations to connect with the offshore team on a personal level. Simple topics such as asking about impending weekend plans or general questions about personal lives are a good start. Constant communication is vital for team success as you will build relationships, share ideas and best practices easily and subsequently, achieve professional development.

Offshore team relationship is like a long distance relationship and effective communication is the key to its success. Understanding different cultural nuances, body language and emotional responses may be difficult on the phone, a video call or through email. Ultimately, it is about building trust and letting the team know that you are fine with them disagreeing with you and that it would not affect their work or career prospects. This needs to be communicated explicitly and demonstrated sufficiently. Similar to any relationship, it takes time, effort and has to work from both sides. In the long run, benefits such as synergy and productivity levels will definitely improve.

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