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When you’re thinking about company goals and initiatives, it can be easy to forget that an organization’s number one asset is its people. A strong team lays the foundation for success, and for your team to be as good as possible, you need to have strong communications.

The nine following principles help any team, big or small, work hard and achieve big goals:

Create a transparent chain of command.

Corporate structures exist for a reason. Everyone on the team needs to know to who they report. One person can’t be in charge of an entire team. Management tasks need to be delegated so the team can work more efficiently.

Relationships are key.

Even though professional relationships are supposed to be businesslike, it’s essential to make a personal connection with your team. As a leader, you need to understand what makes your team tick professionally and personally. This shows you care and establishes trust.  

Establish a strong onboarding program.

New employees need to be received warmly and quickly brought up to speed on your company, its culture, and the job expectations. Have a formal onboarding process administered by HR or some other executive. In addition, pair new employees with a mentor or colleague in the same job to help them learn the ropes and unspoken rules of the office. New employees don’t have a lot of time to learn and are likely to make mistakes in the beginning purely due to a lack of knowledge. The more time you spend nurturing them initially, the better they will perform when they’re on their own.

Consider a casual communications approach.

Some of the best-run companies are those with simple communication methods and policies. Formal memos and emails can be effective, but they can also be stuffy. Consider quick team huddles instead of one-on-one meetings. Treat employees with respect and professionalism, but don’t be afraid to be more casual.

Get a communication app.

Many organizations are now using an app as a primary channel for team communication. Everything is in one place and can be quickly reviewed by team members without hunting down emails. You can also invite people outside your company network when collaborating on specific projects. This gives you the benefits of instant messaging without giving out cell phone numbers and facilitates document and information sharing from different departments on one platform.

Check in with team members consistently, but don’t do so in a controlling manner.

You want to make sure everyone on the team is on the same page, but you don’t want to make your employees feel that they are being constantly watched and scrutinized. Meet with employees sparingly but consistently, and always have a clear plan, so you don’t waste time.

Respect boundaries.

It’s good to have a dedicated team that you know will answer your emails late at night or on the weekends, but don’t take advantage of their dedication and get in the way of their personal lives. As the business leader, you might work nights and weekends frequently, but give employees their time off so they can be fresh when they’re on the clock.

Offer compliments for exceptional work.

A little bit of recognition goes a long way toward employee satisfaction and retention rates. Of course, a team member doesn’t deserve a “gold star” just for doing their job, but when you see someone going above and beyond, be sure to thank them and recognize their efforts.

Don’t criticize; explain.

Every employee makes mistakes, some big and some small. Instead of telling them, they did a lousy job, explain precisely what they did wrong and what changes you need them to make immediately. Be firm, but don’t break the trust you have with a good employee by criticizing them for an honest mistake.