As a team leader, you’re expected to be a great communicator — but of course, that’s easier said than done. Here are the top communication errors you might be guilty of without even knowing it (and how to fix those problems).

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As a team leader, being a good communicator should be one of your key traits. But sometimes, even great communicators make mistakes in certain situations and areas that they might be completely unaware of.

If a team member has recently brought a mistake in your communication methods to your attention (or perhaps this article sheds light on an error you might be making), don’t be afraid to correct yourself.

Yes, communication is very important, but it’s also a difficult skill to master — which is why we’re all still learning how to be the best communicators we can be for our teams, ourselves and our clients. If you want to improve your skills, here are a few common communication mishaps you should be aware of (and ultimately try to assess and fix).

1. Not being around

As a team leader, you may feel as though you’re spending all of your time with team members in meetings — but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re always around to support your employees in their day-to-day work.

To change the narrative and support your team’s success, you need to create a direct communication plan. 

Start by time-blocking. Think of time-blocking as your to-do list. It tells you what you’re going to do and when you’re going to do it. For example, Mondays and Wednesdays can be internal days when you take the time to reflect on business growth on the inside with your team members.

Use these days to have an all-hands-on-deck meeting. They don’t need to be every day or week but frequent enough that your members don’t feel disconnected.

Use informal sessions to have meaningful conversations surrounding the business with smaller groups of employees at least once every other month. These meetings should be more about getting feedback than delivering a message to your team members.

Spending more time in the business with those who make the team what it is will allow you to reflect as a leader. This is an opportunity to learn valuable lessons about yourself and the way you run your team.

2. Too much talking, not enough listening

On the other side of the spectrum, a lot of leaders associate communication and being present with sharing information. As a result, they plan meetings that have too much information, too many presentations and not enough of the Q&A section.

Instead of sharing information, your team members need more open communication and more meetings that promote team collaboration. By creating open dialogue with team members, you are encouraging their input and their ideas, which could make your business a whole lot better. 

Instead of leading a meeting, take the time to ask, “Does anyone have any questions?” Use that opportunity to really connect with and guide your team. 

3. Not customizing your communication

What do you know about your team members? Are they listeners or talkers? Are they optimists or realists? What’s their personality style? Do you know their DISC and EQ profiles?

The first step to connecting with your team is really understanding what they bring to the table. If you’re uncertain about their profiles, you may not know your team as well as you thought you did — which might be a cause for concern.

If you don’t know your team members and their personalities well enough, you are putting yourself at a significant disadvantage. You might not know how to customize your communication style to make sure you get your point across to each and every person and how to nurture your relationships with them. 

If you make an effort to dive deeper and learn more about your team, you’ll also learn how to help them succeed and grow. Eventually, your interactions with them will improve and your connections will strengthen.

4. Not articulating your expectations

Have you taken the time to make sure you’ve been articulating your expectations clearly? By this, I mean: Have you made time to sit down with your team, and discuss your business’s mission, vision and values? 

If not, your team is functioning without a strategy — which is bad news for you. If you’re not communicating with your team enough about strategy, how can you expect your employees to remain engaged in their work without knowing their purpose in the team and how they contribute to the bigger picture?

If you want to change this, sit down and talk to your team members about the overall strategy of the team. Inspire them and their work by explaining your mission, vision and values. This will allow them to know, without a doubt, what your expectations are. Show them how to model these expectations to succeed.

While these four communication errors that team leaders make are often unintentional, if you recognize a mistake you’ve made in this article, know that you can bounce back from it. 

At one point or another, all team leaders have been in your shoes, and if you take the time to improve, practice and implement these solutions, your team will be stronger and more successful in no time.

Kathleen Black is the CEO of Kathleen Black Coaching and Consulting in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada. Connect with her on Instagram at @kathleenblackcoaching or through her website ItTakesa.Team.

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