Improve team communication: 5 warning signs of poor communication + solutions

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Communication with and within your team doesn’t seem to flow smoothly … but you don’t know why or if you need to act. In this article, we’ll discuss the 5 warning signs that communication in your team is poor. You’ll also learn how you and your team communicate better so that you can complete your projects and tasks more effortlessly. In no time, you will improve team communication!

Test: Is Your Team Communication at Risk?

Before we get down to the nitty-gritty, take this test to see if you need to improve team communication. Simply answer the following 5 questions with “Yes” or “No”:

Ask yourself: In the last month …

  1. Has someone on your team misunderstood a piece of information?
  2. Has a team member missed an important deadline?
  3. Has a person on your team worked in isolation?
  4. Have you lost track of who is responsible for each task?
  5. Has a team member been conspicuously quiet, behaved negatively, or participated little?

If you answered “Yes” more than twice, we recommend you continue reading. Don’t let these warning signs turn into something worse.

Learn how to recognize the 5 warning signs of poor communication within your team and how to improve team communication. We show you ways to eliminate communication problems.

Here we go:

Warning Sign #1: Frequent Misunderstandings

Does your Team understand what you are communicating?

Today, there is more written communication than ever … e-mails, chats, messages, comments, etc. At the same time, we are spending more and more time in online meetings. Information exchange in these impersonal channels is often neither streamlined nor explicit. As a consequence, your team tends to overlook and misunderstand information and tasks more often.

Misunderstandings harm your team: Too little, too much, or scattered information can result in incorrect task execution and slow down your work.

  • Misunderstandings in e-mails and chats: On the one hand, you lack facial expressions, gestures, and intonation as clues to the meaning of how something is said. On the other hand, you can overlook information in a flood of e-mails and extensive chat histories and thus draw the wrong conclusions.
  • Misunderstandings in online meetings: In virtual meetings, the limited visibility of body language is also a frequent cause of misinterpretation. Connection problems and incomplete documentation of meetings can also lead to misunderstandings in the team.

Keep disruptive factors of the sender-receiver model in your written communication at bay. Phrase information briefly and clearly and give as little room for misinterpretation as possible. On top of that, stay away from ironic language.

Recognize the warning signs for potential misunderstandings within the team:

  • You and your team communicate via email and chats. That way important information about projects and tasks isn’t stored in a central location.
  • There are no shared meeting notes. The takeaways and to-dos from your online meetings aren’t accessible in a bundled form.
  • Your team complains about long searches for information. In some instances, they come across several document versions. Elsewhere, they miss detailed information.
  • You and your team haven’t established common communication rules.

Team misunderstandings suggest that you need to provide clear and concise information in an accessible way, to improve team communication and speed up teamwork.

Solution #1: Improve Team Communication with a Shared Information Hub

Information is your treasure. Bundle it in a joint overview.

You won’t be able to change the remote working world with its scattered online channels. But there is a simple way to avoid misunderstandings in emails and chats: use a shared information hub for your team.

It will help you …

  • to bundle information from e-mails, chats, etc.,
  • to augment information with further details,
  • to document comprehensive information without gaps,
  • to ultimately avoid misunderstandings.

If, for example, you’re using MeisterNote as your shared information hub, you can easily design a note as a communication manual. Collaboratively created communication rules help your team communicate consistently and preempt future misunderstandings.

MeisterNote is ideal if you want to create a shared information hub.

Always add graphs, images, videos, links, or other media to your written notes to make information even clearer, appealing, and easy to grasp.

Warning Sign #2: Missed Deadlines

Frequently missed deadlines? The reason can be ambiguous information.

Teams are used to meeting tight deadlines and KPIs and delivering projects and KPIs on time. But when several tasks have to be completed in parallel, meeting deadlines becomes a challenge. More than 20 percent of projects aren’t completed in the allocated time. The reason being, that often project information is neither communicated centrally nor clearly — sometimes not even shared with the project participants right from the start. Plus: with increasing pressure, communication in your team gets more chaotic and fragmented.

Missed deadlines harm your team: they lead to project delays and cause stress.

Recognize the warning signs for potential missed deadlines in your team:

  • You do share only a little or imprecise information with your team about responsibilities, deadlines, or tasks.
  • You don’t use centralized communication software for project or task management. Your team has no insights into who has already worked on which task and to what extent.
  • Teammates mention that they don’t know what’s expected of them or what’s going on in the company. They perceive a stressed and hectic work environment and fragmented communication within the team.

If an employee always turns in work late, that person may be struggling with time management. If your entire team regularly misses deadlines, it means you need to improve team communication, because the duties seem to be too unclear or non-binding.

Solution #2: Improve Team Communication by Providing Clear Briefings

Provide your team with a clear direction via explicit briefings.

Eliminate potential problems with missed deadlines before you even start: Create clear briefings for each task. Like this, your team knows exactly what is expected from them right from the beginning. It saves you from answering the same questions over and over.

The easiest way to create clear briefings online is to use a centralized documentation software such as MeisterNote. Its asynchronous communication offers you several advantages:

  1. Free yourself from one or more meetings.
  2. You ensure that everyone receives the same information.
  3. You ensure that everyone has all information at hand.

When you create your briefings in an online documentation tool, you provide your team with the necessary context and share all the important details in one place:

  • Project information. Concisely summarize all required information for each task and share more details and media, such as a link to an online note.
  • Responsibilities and deadlines. Define who is responsible for which subtask and due dates.

Then use the information in the briefing to create individual tasks for your team — for example, with MeisterTask. Link all tasks to the briefing and vice versa. Better safe than sorry. This way everything is crystal clear and everyone can immediately see in the briefings who is responsible for what.

Feeling productive? Set your team right away up with linked Meister Tasks.

Once ready, share the detailed briefing and tasks with your team and motivate them to get started. Don’t forget to mention the people in the online briefing, who can get started right away.

Once ready, share the detailed briefing and tasks with your team and motivate them to get started. Don’t forget to mention the people in the online briefing, who can get started right away.

Following this, you can simply track the work progress directly in the task management tool.

Warning Sign #3: Working in Isolation Instead of with Others

Do any team members suffer from a lack of information?

How often do team members come to you or similar managers asking for information they should have gotten from other team members? How often do you need to check your team’s status?

If you communicate in isolation and not transparently with your team,

  • your team members ask you more often for information and clarification, and
  • your team often blindly relies on you as the manager of everything.

If your team communicates in isolation and not transparently with you …

  • you often have to check your team’s status and ask for further details, and
  • you blindly rely on your team to complete all tasks on time and correctly.

Working in isolation harms you and your team:

  • You lose time. You have to solve problems that your team could solve on their own.
  • Your team loses time. Your team could do the work without outside help, but they don’t have that option — because they lack a transparent, centralized workspace.

Recognize the warning signs for working in isolation within a team:

  • You are the only one with the big picture, the one networked with the relevant stakeholders. Team members only work on their individual tasks.
  • You got to solve all the problems. Responsibilities aren’t split between team members.
  • You don’t communicate consistently. For remote or external employees, you use different channels than for the internal team.

Working in isolation within a team doesn’t serve anyone! You need to up your game and improve communication with your team. Likewise, your team must be able to easily exchange information with each other at any time, to avoid time-consuming and detoured communication.

Solution #3: Improve Team Communication with Transparency and Structure

Isn’t your information transparent? Streamline visibility with structured communication.

Stop just managing and chasing updates. Instead, network your team and let them interact with each other. Involve your entire team in project and task communication to get rid of isolated work and lack of information.

The easiest way to do so is to make team communication streamlined, transparent and structured. If you want your team to collaborate on tasks and projects centrally and thus efficiently, it’s best to get a team task management tool like MeisterTask. You’ll thereby switch

  • from blind trust and searching for information
  • to accessible information and manageable knowledge.

This is what you can achieve with it:

  1. You switch from working in isolation to teamwork. Everyone in the team gets their area of responsibility, which is visible and accessible to everyone.
  2. You and your team save time. You have a centralized overview of projects and tasks and need to ask questions less often.

You provide information as “self-service” based on MeisterTask’s Kanban format. This way, your team can see what’s going on without having to ask.

Warning Sign #4: Unclear Responsibilities

Unclear responsibilities? This can block your team’s workflow.
Unclear responsibilities have several negative impacts on your teamwork:

    • No one knows what the other is doing.


    • No one takes full responsibility.


    • Employee engagement decreases.



Recognize the warning signs for unclear responsibilities within the team:


    • There are tasks without an owner. Some jobs aren’t assigned to anybody.


    • No one can determine the cause of a problem. Team members only vaguely point fingers at each other. Their team goes around in circles.


    • There is no decision-making. No one on your team feels responsible.


    • Two people independently process the same task. Dedicated colleagues work on tasks, overlooking the fact that someone else is already working on them.


Unclear responsibilities within the team mean you need to improve team communication! When there is clear communication on who is in charge of what, everyone can take responsibility for their tasks and the team knows who to turn to in case of problems.

If you want your team to be more self-organized, improve the following three things: motivation, empowerment, and competencies.

Solution #4: Improve Team Communication with Explicit Role Descriptions

Define clear roles and responsibilities in your team with the RACI matrix.Do it like ThinkEngine: Use the popular RACI framework to define roles and responsibilities. This matrix is designed to ensure that all stakeholders are assigned a role at each step of a given process.
The acronym RACI stands for

    • Responsible


    • Accountable


    • Consulted and


    • Informed.


You can create a simple RACI matrix with a table in Google Sheets, for example. If you want to make your RACI role description look more professional, Creatley provides a good template.
No matter where you create them, you can embed the role descriptions in your team documentation, and these in turn in the individual tasks. This way, your team will always find all the information they need in one place. And you avoid being asked about responsibilities.

Embed your team’s RACI matrix into your team’s centralized documentation.
[/pro-tip]If everyone is responsible for an outcome, then everyone knows that things will get done. And when new employees join the team, the structure is already in place.[/pro-tip]

Warning Sign #5: Lack of Engagement

Is your team unmotivated? Then, you should be alert.

Have team members been conspicuously quiet, behaved negatively, or participated little? Perhaps it is because you don’t communicate much with your team and don’t thank them often enough. If you barely communicate with your team, it also rarely communicates with others.

The active engagement of your team might take a slump, when …

  • you communicate less with your team members,
  • you praise your team less, and
  • you show less appreciation to your team.

As a result, your team may feel unheard, devalued, or not understood. When members don’t feel that their efforts are being recognized, their motivation decreases. There is also a risk that they will turn away from the company or team.

A lack of engagement harms your team:

  • Your team members have a hard time getting excited about the work.
  • Your team gradually disengages mentally from work and does only what is necessary to make ends meet.

Recognize the warning signs of a lack of engagement in your team:

  • Lack of feedback. You give each other little or no (positive) feedback or appraisal in the team on what you are doing.
  • Team members just coasting along in their work. Colleagues put little effort into their work and communicate little. Your team hasn’t come up with any new ideas in a while.
  • Not a good mood in the team. You feel little motivation or even trouble brewing within the team, but you don’t know why.

A lack of engagement in the team indicates that you need to improve your communication! For example, if you and your team give each other more positive feedback, everyone will work more motivated and creatively.

Solution #5: Improve Team Communication by Encouraging Members

[caption id="attachment_30627" align="alignnone" width="2560"] Can your team freely communicate thoughts and opinions?

Create a safe space where your team feels motivated and heard. Communicate openly, appreciatively, and understandingly within your team. With this, you build psychological safety and a sense of trust between you and your team. This helps your teammates open up and share more thoughts and opinions.

Teams with higher employee engagement and lower active disengagement

  • are more motivated at work and perform better,
  • create better customer relationships and better customer loyalty through greater commitment,
  • and ultimately achieve 21 percent higher profitability.

How do you give feedback correctly? How do you communicate nonviolently? At Meister, we improve communication in our teams through workshops. We encourage you to do the same with your teams!

Improve Team Communication Now

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What are common warning signs that you need to improve team communication?

  1. Frequent misunderstandings
  2. Missed deadlines
  3. Working in isolation instead of with the team
  4. Unclear responsibilities
  5. Lack of engagement

What are solutions to improve team communication?

  1. Create an information hub
  2. Provide clear briefings
  3. Streamline your project communication and make it transparent
  4. Communicate explicit role descriptions
  5. Encourage your team to get involved

What tools can help to improve team communication?

  1. MeisterNote: Helps you to bundle your documentation to projects and tasks, to structure and neatly arrange them with a click … and to share them securely with your team worldwide.
  2. MeisterTask: Allows you to streamline your task management and share all relevant information and attachments per task with all team members in a centralized and secure way, instead of using individual e-mails or scattered file systems.