Photo by Annie Spratt for Unsplash
Ah, collaboration and group work. We all dreaded it in school, but now it all makes sense – this is why we focused on it in school. In the professional world, everything we do revolves around teams and communication within them. Oftentimes, with group work, we aren’t sure if we are contributing enough to the efforts when compared to others. Most of the time, this is hard to gauge. We have a good estimate of the work we are doing, but we can’t perceive how others feel about it. At the end of the day, all we can do is our best to be an effective team member. When it comes down to it, functioning in a group and personal connection are synonymous. They involve the same foundational principles of communication.
Corporate Communication Skills
To properly function in a small group, you need to intelligently and emotionally communicate with one another. Effective communicators:
- Can explain their own ideas
- Express their feelings in an open but non-threatening way
- Listen carefully to others
- Ask questions to clarify others’ ideas and emotions
- Can sense how others feel based on their nonverbal communication
- Will initiate conversations about group climate or process if they sense tensions brewing
- Reflect on the activities and interactions of their group and encourage other group members to do so as well
Regular and open communication gives team members a place where they can share their thoughts, ideas, and feelings. When open communication ensues, a healthy climate will emerge and an effective process can be followed. This enables group members to gain the skills needed for a healthy group climate.
Skills for a Healthy Group Climate
To work together, group levels must follow some level of cohesion. Cohesion emerges when group members exhibit the following skills:
- Openness: Group members need to be willing to get to know one another, particularly in their personal lives. This gives way to new ideas, diverse viewpoints, and personal connection within the group. Members listen to others and elicit their ideas creating a balance between the need for cohesion within a group and individual expression.
- Trust and self-disclosure: Effective group members trust one another enough to share their own ideas and feelings. A sense of mutual trust develops where members can be honest with one another. Trust also grows as members demonstrate accountability for the tasks they have assigned themselves.
- Support: Group members support one another as they accomplish their goals. They exemplify a sense of team loyalty, helping members who are experiencing difficulties. They view one another as collaborators instead of competitors.
- Respect: Group members communicate their opinions in a way that respects others. This can be effectively done through constructive feedback
Having the skills for a healthy group climate is nothing without skills for an effective group process. This is one of the best communication strategies when it comes to working in a group with others. Once this is in place, you can give group members the skills needed for an effective group process.
Skills for an Effective Group Process
Group members need to know how to function so that they are productive and accomplish tasks effectively. An effective process will emerge as members exhibit these skills:
- Individual responsibility and accountability: All group members agree on what needs to be done and by whom. Members then determine what he or she needs to do and take responsibility to complete the tasks. They can be held accountable for their tasks, and hold others accountable.
- Constructive Feedback: Group members are able to give and receive feedback about group ideas. Giving constructive feedback requires focusing on ideas and behaviors, offering suggestions for improvement. Receiving feedback requires listening well, asking for clarification, and being open to change and new ideas.
- Problem-solving: Group members help the group to develop and use strategies central to their group goals. As such, they can facilitate group decision making and deal productively with conflict.
- Management and organization: Group members know how to plan and manage a task, how to manage their time, and how to run a meeting. For example, they ensure that meeting goals are set, that an agenda is created and followed, and that everyone has an opportunity to participate. They stay focused on the task and help others to do so too.
- Knowledge of roles: Group members know which roles can be filled within a group and are aware of which roles they and others are best suited for. They are also willing to rotate roles to maximize their own and others’ potential to complete tasks.
These skills are crucial for the success of a small group and personal connection. When everyone plays their part and works to communicate with one another, they help the group as opposed to hinder it. Everyone can perform their tasks equally, without the fear that they aren’t doing enough.