Anyone who has managed frontline teams knows that there are some challenging contradictions when shaping team dynamics. You want workers to be empowered to make decisions but not make things up as they go along. You want them to move fast, be creative, and think independently but stay connected to the rest of their team and the core of your business.
The best employee communication strategies ensure your people have the information they need to be inspired, stay connected, and make better decisions. These tactics let you build your team the way you want and manage employees in ways that work best for them.
The Importance of Communication for a Frontline Workforce
People are increasingly moving toward frontline work.
Currently, the frontline workforce accounts for 57% of the total US workforce, and that number is expected to rise to 60% by 2024.
A distributed workforce isn’t new; employment experts have been talking about the challenges of the mobile workforce for decades. However, the tools to effectively communicate with distributed teams have only recently entered the mainstream. Even now, less than half of frontline workers have effective mobile communication devices.
The lack of communication tools for frontline team is a big problem. Employees who are connected are more productive, motivated, and engaged. A recent study showed that adopting digital tools could lead to a 67% increase in productivity. That can translate to a 43% growth in revenue.
Effective internal employee communication strategies are essential to creating meaningful connections and effectively managing team dynamics. That means choosing the right approach and the right tools for the job.
How Employee Communication Strategies Create Success
In Technical Writing Essentials, Suzanne Last explores classic team-building models and strategies for creating better team dynamics. By taking a closer look, you can better understand which employee communication strategies will work for you.
The Tuckman Team Model
According to the Tuckman Team model, teams develop as they move through four stages:
The first and last ones, Forming and Performing, are pretty straightforward. But it’s the middle two that matter most.
Storming refers to the internal friction that happens as teams figure out dynamics. That friction is often caused by poor communication, conflicting goals, and different visions. As these conflicts are resolved, you move into the Norming stage, which will ultimately determine how your team performs. However, with a distributed team, these two vital stages of team-building are often disrupted. People don’t have time to come together or ways to identify where they are rowing in different directions. This leaves teams less cohesive, effective, and productive.
Communication tools that allow for the sharing of ideas, the easy distribution of goals, and a sense of unity across multiple worksites allow teams to go through all the vital stages of the Tuckman Team model.
The GRIP model is a very popular approach to team-building in sports, but it works for any kind of team. It’s built on four key components:
- Goals: Everyone must understand the goals and be committed to them.
- Roles: Everyone has to know what part they play in the overall mission.
- Interpersonal: Communication and trust must be present to solve problems and build morale.
- Process: There need to be solid processes for workflows, conflict resolution, and everything else.
Each of these components relies on effective communication strategies.
Mobile workforce management tools make ongoing communication between employees and business leaders possible. Keeping people informed and focused on specific objectives, clearly outlining roles, and making it easy to reach out whenever and wherever you need can help your distributed team successfully implement the GRIP model.
Another key benefit of communication technology designed for frontline teams is the centralization of scheduling and workflows. Having this vital information in the palm of your hand makes decisions less arbitrary and keeps employees connected to the bigger picture.
The Tuckman and GRIP models have driven countless teams to success. But what happens if it doesn’t work? That’s where Lencioni comes in.
According to business management expert Patrick Lencioni, there are five primary dysfunctions of a team:
- Lack of trust
- Fear of conflict
- Lack of commitment
- Avoidance of accountability
- Inattention to results
Imagine an employee on the floor of a warehouse or at a store far removed from corporate HQ. Imagine they are given a task with no context and little communication. They don’t know what happens before their part of the process or after. They don’t know who makes decisions or how that impacts them. All they care about is doing that one thing just enough to not get in trouble. There is no opportunity to build trust, no clear way to resolve conflict, and the employee may never see the ultimate result of their work.
Lack of communication often leads to challenging team dynamics. When employees can talk to other workers in other parts of the company, they have a better understanding of their roles and impact. They’re more committed, build stronger relationships, stay accountable, and they’re more result-driven.
Ultimately, what all of these models come down to is insight and connection. When frontline teams have insight into the goals of the entire company, they see themselves as part of something bigger. They know why they are doing what they’re doing. They have the resources to do it, and they have the technology needed to share ideas on how to improve.
Your goals in building team dynamics can’t revolve solely around improving productivity or looking at a number in a vacuum. Effective employee communication strategies are about making your distributed team feel supported and engaged so you can build something better together.
The Power of Employee Communication Tools
Now that you have a strategy. It’s time to execute.
The best employee communication tools for distributed teams have features that make team-building easier and more effective. Their benefits include:
- Putting a digital company directory at everyone’s fingertips
- Making the scheduling process clear and transparent
- Enabling communication between employees
- Enabling communication and messaging from management to everyone at every location
These tools help you put the best employee communication strategies into action and harness the potential of your distributed workforce.