Establishing a Culture of Communication

You probably wouldn’t disagree with the popular phrase, “Communication is key.” But how well are you actually acting on it? If your staff, volunteers or boss were asked to grade you, how would you fare?

Communication can mean the difference between support, cooperation and cohesion—and not. It can unite teams or divide them. And understanding not only the power of communication, but being able to honestly evaluate your current situation, can make your team stronger and more effective.

COMMUNICATION ESTABLISHES TRUST

No one needs to tell you that trust is the foundation for any good relationship, whether that’s at home or at work. And leaders that communicate well with those on their team will build confidence.

Most of us tend to think that we shouldn’t bother people with too much information, so we withhold it completely or only release it in large amounts. And while it’s true that you don’t want to bombard your team, releasing information regularly will be appreciated. It shows them that you recognize their important contribution and want them to stay updated on all relevant aspects. Communicating to your team shows that you value them. And we are more likely to trust those who value us.

COMMUNICATION ESTABLISHES AUTHORITY

The person who answers questions is often the person with authority, and this may or may not be the actual leader. But if you’re the head honcho, you need people to come to you for answers, issues and feedback.

Creating a culture of communication is actually one of the easiest ways to address this topic. To manage teams effectively, there should be a point person or people for information to flow through. And if you’re the one who has proven themselves to not only have the information, but distribute it and follow up on it, people will naturally come to you as the expert and authority.

COMMUNICATION ESTABLISHES A SYSTEM

In this instance, a system is actually two-fold. First, you need a logistical system for communicating with your team. Examples could include good, old-fashioned email, an email service provider like MailChimp, a Facebook Group, a project management system like Slack, a Google Site, or a volunteer system like Planning Center. Take your group’s unique personality into consideration. And for anything outside of email, adequately train them on it and their role, as well as any expectations. The effectiveness of the tool will also rest squarely on your shoulders as the leader. Give it time to take effect, and after three or six months, evaluate with your group to make sure you took the best route.

The second implication of “system” in this respect relates to the expectations, either explicit or implied, that are created as a result of creating a culture of communication. For example, you can state the frequency from which they’ll hear from you, what kind of information they should expect, what they should do with the information, and the purpose for creating a new system. On the implied side, it may take some time to build. But with consistency, you’re reinforcing to your team that they can trust you, you have the authority, you recognize and appreciate their value, and that good communication matters to you. These things will serve your team well, and also make them feel like they have a voice that will be heard.

And if all of that doesn’t convince you, think about it this way: Others notice your team’s communication, and your communication as a leader. What you do, or don’t do well, will always be observed by others. Creating a culture of communication can mean more volunteers, additional staff, less turnover, and financial or moral support from those above and below you. You’ll need all those things to do your job well, which means serving your mission and the ministry well. It’s hard to communicate to our world and community about who we are and what we believe if we can’t adequately communicate with each other.

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