Teamwork and Communication

Teams don’t work successfully without communicating effectively.

What do I mean by communication? The ability to express oneself? Yes. And the ability to listen? Yes. Communication is about both.

Ronald Koeman, the Southampton manager, is so concerned about his young players cutting themselves off via headphones and social media that he holds special training sessions to make sure they at least talk to team-mates on the pitch.

Ronald Koeman grew up when communication was a must as technology had yet to emerge to support social isolation. He has become convinced that even basic communication on the field of play has been negatively affected by modern lifestyles. He now makes Southampton’s squad  take part in a weekly ‘life kinetics’ session. In these sessions multi-tasking is practised as the players carry out two tasks simultaneously, such as passing a football and catching a ball, whilst communicating with a team-mate. The key bit is the communication.

Communication is the oil that makes a team work, it is the thing that jells the team. Communication causes conflict, and yet is a key component of arbitration and peace. It is the cornerstone of leadership and it underpins culture and efficiency. The problem with good communication is it’s often rare as most of us focus entirely on our own perspective and this can be reinforced through our technical capability. Technology affords us the ability to communicate more widely but it also can ensure we lose the ability to become good at whole body communication and listening as we become more physically insular.

When talking with young people today the meaning of communication can often be totally misunderstood as a result of poor whole body listening. Often when addressing generation z youngsters I find that they focus solely on the words often losing the meaning of the communication. Sarcasm therefore doesn’t work as well. Humour is difficult as their whole body listening, where tonality and body language contribute to conversations, seems to have been replaced by a focus on the words alone as that is where technology has driven us.

Good communication makes great teams, and Ronald Koeman knows that. Perhaps it’s time for good communication to be taught in our classrooms; after all it is a key life skill!

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