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  • Writer's pictureNonprofit Learning Lab

How to Foster A Culture of Open Communication in Nonprofit Remote Teams

Updated: Aug 29, 2023

This is a guest blog by Chatty Garrate.


Communication is a critical factor for any successful organization, but most especially for nonprofit ones. Without it, the team won't be able to work together effectively.


And while we're used to knowing how communication works in a corporate setting, how nonprofit teams communicate is somewhat different. Instead of focusing on the business and profits, they center their conversation on fulfilling their mission and having a social impact. This alone can be challenging, considering that people from nonprofit organizations usually come from different cultures. How difficult would it be in a remote setup?


Nonprofit organizations need to foster a culture of open communication with their remote teams to collaborate well and achieve their goals. And that's where this blog can help. We'll provide you with some tips to improve your communication strategy. Let's get started!


Establish A Safe and Welcoming Space

The first tip to foster a culture of open communication is by building a safe and welcoming space. Considering that each member may come from various cultures and may have a different gender, age, religion, or political belief, it's very crucial to be inclusive. You have to acknowledge and respect where they come from to create a sense of belonging with the remote team. Never make each and everyone different because you're a team working on the same goals. By having a welcoming atmosphere, you can encourage them to share their thoughts and feelings openly.


Encourage Feedback

Of course, open communication doesn't start without the management's green flag. It means that you should encourage feedback. There are many ways to do it. You can either ask your remote teams one by one or have them share their thoughts during your meetings. Have “Ask-Me-Anything (AMA)” sessions, for instance.


Additionally, you can hand out survey forms regularly to gauge how effective the management is. Doing these allows them to feel that they have the right to speak up about how they feel about everything in the organization without getting awkward. Usually, new members feel shy when everyone in the team can hear what they say. Hence, handout forms are a great way to ask for feedback.


But beyond forms and meetings, it's very important to have an open-door policy wherein everyone can just knock whenever they have concerns. Sometimes, there are problems that get neglected when they wait for your regular meetings to say something. If you keep your lines open, they can share their concerns in real-time and get them resolved quickly.


Proactively Listen to Feedback

Once you encourage feedback, it's your job to listen actively and empathetically. This is the most crucial part of open communication because you can only understand things once you start to really listen. And by listening, we mean taking everything into consideration and not neglecting a thing your team members share.


Besides understanding their perspective, you show your respect and appreciation for your team members sharing their thoughts and perspectives by simply listening. As a result, you build trust around them and also encourage your team to listen and seek feedback from one another.


Address Concerns Quickly

Open communication doesn't end up only listening to their feedback. You also have to address their concerns quickly in the best way possible. Take action once you've already gathered their feedback. And if your organization fails to do some things for your remote teams, take responsibility for that and be honest. If they see how transparent your organization is and how you handle feedback, they'll be happier working with you as you align your values as a nonprofit with your actions internally.


Develop Meaningful Relationships

It can be difficult to share your thoughts, especially when you don't know everyone on the team. You tend to be conscious about what you say and sometimes you end up not sharing it.


By developing meaningful relationships with your team, you can stay connected even when working remotely. You can do it in many ways.


First is by setting up a virtual cooler. This is a space where everyone can discuss anything under the sun outside work to create a strong bond. For instance, their love for music, animals, and other things.


Another way is by holding team-building events, which you can do virtually or in person. You can either set up game nights, movie days, meditation classes, or even a support group. All these efforts can bring you all together, making the culture of open communication comfortable for everyone.


Set Clear Communication Guidelines

Finally, communication guidelines. While this doesn't necessarily foster a culture of open communication, these streamline conversations. It helps remote teams know where to start the conversation about how they feel about how the organization works.


GIven this, the guidelines must then determine which platforms to use to communicate with your staff effectively. For instance, all regular and urgent conversations must be carried out in Slack, Skype, or Google Hangouts. Meanwhile, meetings and video conferences should be done in Zoom and Google Meet. As for minutes of the meetings, reminders, and updates, Gmail or Yahoo is your platform.


By setting clear communication guidelines, you can keep everyone on the same page and avoid miscommunication.


The Bottom Line

Open communication is essential for any team as it establishes trust, accountability, and a strong bond. By following our tips, you can easily solve problems that come from miscommunication, especially in the remote setup. You can be able to collaborate and carry out tasks effectively towards something bigger.


 

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