How to Improve Team Communication
28 October, 2021
I inherited an enterprise-level program in a medical devices company that was handling two products in their clarity phase. Although the program was running for three years, the stakeholders were entirely unaware of its progress. There were eight streams of communication, but hardly any transmission of information to the stakeholders as there was a lack of oversight.
First and foremost, I got to know about the eight workstreams and their activities which were listed in an internal stakeholder mapping. This helped me to understand their challenges, identify the stakeholders who were involved and who they were working with.
The second portion was identifying the external high-level stakeholders who were not satisfied and they included the Heads of North American and Western European sales.
To deal with this, we established a program structure in a face-to-face meeting with the leads of the eight streams to make sure that the teams knew each other. We worked together to identify the team rules and expectations from each team. This helped us in establishing a roadmap for the senior leadership.
In addition, it was vital that we put in place a cadence on reporting for bringing all the teams together. People were using their own budgets for this program but were unable to achieve any positive outcome. Having a cadence on actual reporting helped us determine the teams’ challenges and accomplishments. Bringing the teams under one umbrella, produced positive results and we started seeing changes from the second quarter.
I worked with the teams to identify a point person who would play a leadership role and have a general idea about his/her team’s status, challenges, strengths, and weaknesses. As all the teams were geographically dispersed, they couldn’t meet frequently and there were cultural issues while communicating. Therefore, we set up initial expectations with respect to these cultures, and have clearly written deliverables.
- Always do research, interviews, and observation before carrying out reactive measures when inheriting new teams.
- Take time to meet and get to know your teams. Face-to-face meetings are always more effective but technological advances have allowed more personal interactions.
- Develop a roadmap for the long-term engagement rules which can be referred to and built upon for carrying out certain activities. This helps teams to set ground rules for negotiables and non-negotiable items.
- Identify the motivation of your senior team leaders, if they are persisting against a change.
- If there is any friction between two parties, work to get a middle ground which will eventually benefit everyone.
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