Team Building: Improving Team Communication - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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Team Building: Improving Team Communication

Communication is one of the keys to customer satisfaction in the landscaping business but it’s just as important to have strong communication on your teams and between departments. Even if you think your current team communication is good, there is always room for improvement.

Effective communication leads to better productivity and fewer misunderstandings, missed deadlines and frustration among your staff. Below are some best practices when it comes to team communication as well as different work collaboration and communication tools.

Best Communication Practices

1. Schedule Regular One-On-Ones

Even if you have an open-door policy, this doesn’t necessarily mean someone on your team is going to come to you to voice concerns or pitch ideas. However, if you have a weekly call or meeting with your team members in a one-on-one setting, it’s more natural for these matters to be discussed. If your organization is too large to do this as the owner, make sure their manager is conducting these meetings so they can get to know the team members’ strengthens, ideas for the organization and understand their ambitions.

2. Hold Efficient Team Meetings

Team meetings allow you to communicate lengthy or complex topics and discuss them with others. Set an agenda for these meetings, whether they’re just for a department or the whole staff. Without an agenda, important topics can be missed. Be clear on how team members need to prepare for the meeting so time isn’t wasted and try to limit the meetings to 50 minutes or less.

3. Actively Listen

It doesn’t matter what your position is in a lawn care or landscaping company, everyone needs to practice active listening. If your boss is telling you something, you shouldn’t be formulating your response. Likewise, owners and managers shouldn’t pretend to listen to employees and be thinking about other tasks still at hand.

Active listening calls for you to listen to what words are actually being said, how the words are being said with tone and body language, and what else is being implied without being stated outright. A good way to ensure you’re really hearing what the other person is saying, paraphrase what the message is before responding.

4. Create Role Clarity

Part of the reason communication can break down on a team is a lack of role clarity. This could be an individual not knowing what all their responsibilities are in a company or it could be uncertainty of who is responsible for what on a certain project. If your sales team works with project managers where they pass off a client once they’ve signed the contract, is it clear who conducts a satisfaction check once the project is completed? Creating role clarity will prevent tasks from being missed or work being duplicated.

5. Understand Different Communication Styles

There are four basic communication styles: passive, aggressive, passive-aggressive and assertive. Learn what style you have as well as others on your team so you can understand your own and others’ tendencies when it comes to communication. Remember, no matter how clearly you communicate, it’s your responsibility to be understood.

There are also different preferred communication channels among people. While it might be tempting to make a generational assumption, such as thinking Millennial co-worker doesn’t like phone calls, be direct and ask about their preferred communication channels.

Communication Tools to Use

One way to help with transparency and communication is through using project tracking or productivity tools. Depending on how your company is structured will determine which platform is best suited for your business but below is a list of some options to consider:

  • Trello
  • Asana
  • Basecamp
  • Smartsheet
  • 15Five

Aside from project tracking, messaging options like Slack, Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Loom allows you to keep your team in the loop. Loom allows users to record and share video messages, helping with showing, not telling. This platform can be used for sharing standard operating procedures with employees, providing context before a meeting, or suggesting feedback to crews regarding site visits.

No matter what tools you decide to use, be clear about when and how each tool should be used. Make sure your team utilizes the tools correctly and consistently to ensure efficiency.

Jill Odom

Jill Odom is the senior content manager for NALP.