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Online workshop report: Communication within teams


This is the transcript of the online workshop held on Tuesday 24 April on the subject of communication within teams.

Stephanie Phillips Hi!

Annemarie Caracciolo Hi Stephanie - looks like we're ready to go.

Stephanie Phillips Okay - great!

Stephanie Phillips Expect to see some more names turning up in the next 5-10 mins.

Annemarie Caracciolo That's what I expected as well - just thought i'd be early!

Annemarie Caracciolo Welcome Paul.

Stephanie Phillips Hi Paul.

Paul Harrington Hi Stephanie and Annemarie.

Stephanie Phillips Just waiting for a few more people before we start.

Stephanie Phillips Paul, do you want to tell us a bit about you while we wait?

Stephanie Phillips Hi Qudos.

Stephanie Phillips Just waiting for a few more minutes...

Qudos Broadley Hi, okay.
Annemarie Caracciolo Qudos, do you want to tell us a bit about you as well.

Paul Harrington Thank you, I am a small training company, specialising in Estate Agency, Personal & staff Development areas, providing customised training to individuals and SME's.

Qudos Broadley Sure. I am a trainer working with team and management development.
Annemarie Caracciolo I think I will start in about 2 minutes with a question if that is alright with everyone.

Qudos Broadley Yes.

Paul Harrington Fine.

Stephanie Phillips Hi Eleanor. Just getting started with introductions.

Eleanor Clarke Hi, never taken part in one of these before although I've read transcripts!

Paul Harrington Same here.

Stephanie Phillips Hope you enjoy it - it's quite easy really!

Annemarie Caracciolo What kind of work do you do Eleanor?

Eleanor Clarke I work for a training provider - currently helping to write courses and deliver bits of IT training.

Annemarie Caracciolo Great - thanks for that.

Stephanie Phillips Okay, Annemarie, do you want to get started?

Annemarie Caracciolo I thought I'd start with a question - how do you define communication?

Qudos Broadley Effective transference of meaning and understanding.

Paul Harrington I would say that communication is the process of moving/supply information in various forms between 2 or more people or organisations.

Annemarie Caracciolo I would absolutely agree with that Qudos, and Paul as well.

Annemarie Caracciolo I think an important part of looking at communication is understanding that it very simply, breaks down into content and process.

Paul Harrington Yes.

Qudos Broadley Okay.

Eleanor Clarke What do you mean by process?

Annemarie Caracciolo And so much of the problems that we have with good communication is making sure that the content is understood.

Paul Harrington This is true, Annemarie.

Annemarie Caracciolo By process I mean the verbal or nonverbal signals that you give, so that content is the words, thoughts and feelings.

Annemarie Caracciolo Does anyone have a particular situation that would be a good example or a problem right now that you can share with us?

Qudos Broadley Sometimes when people get angry they're not very good at communicating.

Annemarie Caracciolo What do you mean by not very good at communicating?

Paul Harrington ...or when they have difficulty in understanding the perceptions of others.

Qudos Broadley They tend to let feelings get in the way of meanings.

Annemarie Caracciolo Qudos, do you mean that they let feelings cloud their perceptions?

Qudos Broadley Yes.

Annemarie Caracciolo Paul, I absolutely agree with you on not understanding others perspectives.

Annemarie Caracciolo Welcome Helen, if you want to read any of the earlier transcript, please click on the view earlier transcript line at the bottom of your page.

Annemarie Caracciolo What have you used to help you deal with problems of feelings or lack or perspective getting in the way?

Annemarie Caracciolo Also Helen if you don't mind introducing yourself--

Qudos Broadley I find it takes some time with teams to get all the issues out before they start to communicate well.

Annemarie Caracciolo Qudos, do you do any specific work on getting them to look at the way they are communicating?

Paul Harrington I would agree Qudos - especially when using "Emotional Intelligence".

Qudos Broadley Yes, ask how much listening and questioning is going on.

Helen Baxter Hello everyone. I'm sitting in today to see how the workshop is run as I am the editor of another site that will be running similar events. However I was a trainer for 2 years and am interested in this topic.

Eleanor Clarke I think it is crucial for people to explain that communicating is a two-way process. I wasn't sure that the earlier definitions brought this out explicitly.

Annemarie Caracciolo Great, well feel free to join in.

Qudos Broadley Hi Helen.

Helen Baxter Hi Broadley.

Paul Harrington Hi Helen.

Eleanor Clarke Hi Helen (this is getting like The Waltons).

Annemarie Caracciolo Eleanor, you're right I don't think we explained that enough.

Helen Baxter :)

Annemarie Caracciolo Just to go back to Paul's comment on using emotional intelligence, where have you found you have problems here?

Qudos Broadley I think people know it it's just getting them to do it, that's the problem.

Paul Harrington I believe that if we are using emotional intelligence (EI) then the communication process two way can take that much longer.

Annemarie Caracciolo I think that also we spend a lot of time thinking about what we are hearing rather than just taking in what we hear.

Qudos Broadley But longer can be good, can't it?

Annemarie Caracciolo What do you mean by longer?

Qudos Broadley Perhaps people underestimate the time it takes to communicate well.

Paul Harrington Yes it can Qudos, but I have found that using EI, then eventually the team/group inparticular achieve in a short space of time, given there understandings to each other.

Eleanor Clarke Annemarie, I agree totally with your comment about thinking about what we hear.

Annemarie Caracciolo I absolutely agree with that. In my book Smart things to know about Teams, I really break down this idea of communication being a two way street.

Helen Baxter People sometimes also concentrate on thinking about what they are about to say in return rather than actually listening would you agree? Listening skills are important to develop for understanding.

Qudos Broadley Yes I agree with all the above.

Paul Harrington Yes totally Helen - 2 ears and 1 mouth = twice as much listening than talking.

Annemarie Caracciolo Absolutely - also using techniques to get information from people, which means that you are actually listening.

Eleanor Clarke So how can we go about getting teams to behave this way?

Qudos Broadley They need to see it as a problem.

Annemarie Caracciolo It sounds like we all agree that listening is such a big part of communicating - but what about being sure that you have heard correctly - any suggestions on techniques?

Helen Baxter Tell them you will ask questions later! :)

Annemarie Caracciolo I agree broadly - but unfortunately teams don't usually realise it until they are in trouble.

Paul Harrington yes questions do work, but they only apply to what is being listened to - what the listener wants to hear. This can be over come if the team/group/individual is able to think more laterally.

Helen Baxter What techniques do you use for developing team dynamics - to get members to measure their success as a group rather than individuals ?

Annemarie Caracciolo Sorry everyone, something happened and I got disconnected.

Paul Harrington Hello again - I lost my connection, does this normally happen?

Stephanie Phillips Paul, Annemarie - it can happen occasionally - apologies.

Annemarie Caracciolo Hello - anyone still out there?

Helen Baxter Yes still here.

Paul Harrington Everyone else back yet?

Stephanie Phillips Hi Paul - everyone else is here.

Paul Harrington Annemarie, where were we?

Annemarie Caracciolo Phew - thought I was really losing it there!

Eleanor Clarke We've done a few simple things which have helped to get us thinking in terms of the team. For instance, a weekly team meeting - just half an hour, in which we briefly update each other on our key tasks for the week ahead. Also, when there's grotty jobs to be done (lots of photocopying or mailshots!) we all pitch in and do a bit.

Annemarie Caracciolo We were talking about techniques to get teams to communicate better.

Eleanor Clarke It's not rocket science, but it's a start.

Annemarie Caracciolo Paul I think you last said that if teams can think more laterally it is helpful.

Annemarie Caracciolo But what do you mean by more laterally?

Annemarie Caracciolo Definitely good stuff - it means that people are up to date and know where each other is - is that right?

Paul Harrington the team can only achieve the outcome/objective if they are aware of the size of the "jigsaw" and what part they have to play in in putting it together.

Helen Baxter Do you any of you use intranets/knowledge management systems for this, i.e. for keeping people up to date, or is it all face-to-face?

Paul Harrington The old saying "they have a bigger picture" is so true, but if the foot soldiers/team members are able to play their part to the full the must be given a bigger picture as well.

Annemarie Caracciolo I disconnected again - did anyone else?

Eleanor Clarke Seem to be OK at the mo'.

Stephanie Phillips No, I'm okay.

Helen Baxter I agree. It's easy for management to talk 'blue sky' without getting their teams to buy in to the vision.

Annemarie Caracciolo Anyways, do you mean that the team needs to understand what the big picture is for them in terms of overall goals for the organisation?

Paul Harrington If we take using an intranet as an example this can be very useful and have several advantages but some of the disadvantages can lead to more communication problems such as - takes longer, difficult for some and more often than not it can be slower.

Eleanor Clarke Paul, I agree 100% (or even more) about needing to know the bigger picture. Too often information is supposedly given on a "need to know" basis - but often more people need to know than are actually told!

Paul Harrington Ok for now.

Paul Harrington Thanks Eleanor.

Paul Harrington Thanks.

Annemarie Caracciolo One of the things we all spend more time doing is using our filters to process information and often that is a problem because we disgard info too quickly.

Annemarie Caracciolo I think that is particularly true now with the e-technology - how do you find that has affected teams working together and the impact on them?

Paul Harrington Yes, I would agree Annemarie, but we are only using our filters because we are not able to look at the bigger picture, because we don't have all the information.

Stephanie Phillips Annemarie - there's a whole issue with virtual teams, like the one I work in, but I guess that's another workshop session altogether!

Annemarie Caracciolo Eleanor do you think that it is possible to know all the time what people need to know - do you think that they should start asking more?

Paul Harrington I am a great believer in the team taking responsibility for their own and subsequent actions - we cannot blame them for what they do naturally, but we must understand why they do or make their decisions.

Helen Baxter Adults forget to ask questions don't they something which comes naturally to a child. Do you think it is the responsibility of the individual to find out what they need to know?

Annemarie Caracciolo That's definitely true Paul, I think when I'm talking about filters I mean the ones that we all automatically have - the ones that help us decide what we look at right away or not.

Annemarie Caracciolo...and those filters don't always get it right do they? I think that all too often in organisation we get afraid to ask questions.

Stephanie Phillips Annemarie - unfortunately we need to wind this session up soon - any final thoughts?

Annemarie Caracciolo I also think that our society trains children to 'stop' asking questions - it can get annoying and people pick up on that.

Paul Harrington yes I agree with you Annemarie, but if the team is cultured in such a way as to become a division of the organisation and have their own remits then the team benefits and the organisation does.

Eleanor Clarke Annemarie, you're right. Another important part of encouraging a team to communicate is to foster a feeling that asking questions is good.

Annemarie Caracciolo I also think that it is the responsiblity of the team to find out what they know and that means sitting down and talking about it at productive meetings - which we all know are sometimes impossible to conduct.

Annemarie Caracciolo Absolutely, so much work I have done with teams where they are afraid to find out some pretty basic information - but how does that all begin?

Paul Harrington yes this normally happens in an appraisal situation, were objectives and targets are set - if they are unrealistic, then the team become DE-MOTIVATED.

Paul Harrington but if the team are involved in setting their own objectives and targets then they are much more communicative and participative.

Annemarie Caracciolo Does anyone have any experience of working with an organisation where asking questions is encouraged - and how did they foster that?

Eleanor Clarke...which is a whole new ball game!

Paul Harrington This needs careful handling and must be demonstrated throughout the organisation.

Annemarie Caracciolo Definitely agree with that.

Stephanie Phillips All - this has been a really good session but we're running out of time! Annemarie, do you want to wind things up now?

Paul Harrington yes I do, I am presently doing some work with Easy Jet, and they supply to this culture.

Annemarie Caracciolo How about creating what I call a common language within the team - where they get to know what has to be done, and how they will do it so well that it becomes second nature.

Paul Harrington I too have to go, but I must say that I have enjoyed the session.

Annemarie Caracciolo Have you seen that develop in teams?

Paul Harrington Annemarie - nail on the head.

Annemarie Caracciolo Thanks everyone - I've really enjoyed your input and one more plug for the book - Smart Things to Know About Teams - thanks again for your input in the session.

Paul Harrington Thanks for facilitating, Annemarie.

Eleanor Clarke I work in a team where questioning is encouraged - and part of that was very much the manager encouraging it, partly at the team meetings and also on a one-to-one basis.

Stephanie Phillips Thanks Annemarie - maybe you could send TrainingZONE a review copy for us to look at?

Helen Baxter Thanks guys - I've really enjoyed the session. Some great points made.

Eleanor Clarke Thanks, bye, and good luck!

Stephanie Phillips Okay, think it's time to finish the session officially - happy for anyone to stay behind and chat afterwards.

Annemarie Caracciolo Paul - Easy Jet sound like they must be great to work with- hope there continues to be more of this around.

Stephanie Phillips Thanks to Annemarie for hosting today's session again.

Stephanie Phillips Hope to see you all at another session soon.

Annemarie Caracciolo I'll sign off now - thanks again everyone.


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