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kcaexercises
The why and how of communication to
promote team working
It is clear that communication between people and organisations who make up the team around the
child or young person requires effort. It will not happen unless individuals work to overcome barriers
to communication. It is also important to understand not just how to communicate – the methods
you will use – but also why you are communicating – the types of communication that are needed to
promote positive team working.
Key types of communication include sharing information, analysing information, agreeing actions
and responsibilities, and giving and receiving feedback.
Sharing information about:
■■ Children and young people and their families
■■ Your own service, including any information about changes in personnel, structure, location, or
working practices
■■ Other services and resources available to meet the needs of the children and young people
■■ Theories and research
Analysing information in order to:
■■ Assess needs
■■ Make and contribute to professional judgments
■■ Make plans
■■ Review the work with the children and young people and their families
Agreeing actions and responsibilities
■■ Negotiating
■■ Contract setting
■■ Producing a plan
Giving and receiving feedback:
■■ Within your own organisation or work setting about your work with other agencies
■■ With individuals in other organisations or work settings
■■ As part of wider organisational feedback between the different agencies involved
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kcaexercises
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Questions for discussion
■■ What methods do you use, or might you use, to carry out each of these four types of communication?
■■ What do you think are the benefits and drawbacks of different methods of communicating for
each of the different types of communication?
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Ideas to consider
Sharing information
■■ Face to face discussion with an individual
•Can exchange and clarify information effectively
•May lead to inaccuracy, needs to be confirmed in writing to check accuracy
■■ Group discussion
•Everyone gets the same picture
•This may be distorted by a dominant view
•Important to have a written record of the discussion
■■ Telephone
•Can quickly answer questions
•May be misleading – no non-verbal clues, and no time to think
•Needs to be confirmed in writing
■■ Email
•Good for quick written interaction leaving a record
•Lacks the richness of face to face interaction
■■ Letters
•Provide a permanent record of the information shared
•May be more inclusive of children and young people and their families than other methods of
communicating although excluding those with literacy problems
■■ Formal reports
•Vital contribution to forming professional judgments
•Provide a permanent record for the child or young person and their family
■■ Leaflets and brochures
•Useful for sharing information about your own and other services
•Limited source of information, being impersonal and easy to ignore
■■ Websites
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kcaexercises
•Can be a rich source of information about services and resources
•Require IT skills
■■ Books and training materials
•Useful for sharing information about relevant theories and research
•May not be used because of time pressures
Analysing information
■■ Face to face discussion with an individual
•Analysis often enriched by discussion with individuals from other agencies
•May lead to misunderstanding, however, if lack of clarity about the different theories and
models in use to understand the needs of children and young people
■■ Group discussion
•Essential to reaching a shared analysis of the issues and needs
•May lead to misunderstanding or conflict if values not aligned
■■ Telephone
•In general telephone calls are more appropriate for sharing information than for analysis of
information
•Individuals who know each other’s underpinning theories and have aligned values may find
telephone calls can contribute to analysis
■■ Email
•Useful for passing on a record of the thinking process and getting a response from multiple
members of the multi-agency group or team
•Also useful for confirming decisions and plans
■■ Letters
•Can provide a formal record of interim thoughts and of decisions and plans
•May be a way of including service users in the process of analysis
■■ Formal reports
•A formal repost of some kind should be one outcome of the overall process of communication for analysis of information
•This provides a record of the decision making and planning process and forms the basis for
reviewing the service provided
Agreeing actions and responsibilities
■■ Face to face discussion with an individual
•May be useful to refine a plan and sort out the details of individual responsibilities
•Can cut across effective multi-agency working if two individuals make separate plans or misrepresent the role of their agency
■■ Group discussion
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•Probably the most effective method of reaching agreement on plans and roles and responsi-
bilities
•Becomes ineffective and can lead to conflict if information gathering and analysis have not
been adequate
■■ Telephone
•Telephone conversations can be useful for fine tuning and sorting out any awkward overlaps
between agencies that may emerge
•Agreements made by telephone can also sabotage the best laid plans and should be used with
discretion for this type of communication – the lack of thinking time and the absence of nonverbal communication can lead to hasty or ill-considered decisions
■■ Email
•Can be very useful for confirming plans and arrangements to multiple colleagues
•May lead to complications if plans begin to be renegotiated by email
■■ Letters
•Necessary as a formal record of agreements made between agencies
•More inclusive of service users than email alone
■■ Formal reports
•Vital permanent records of plans agreed and responsibilities shared
•May become a burden if the report prevents the multi-agency group or team from adapting
to changing needs in the service user, or if failure to implement plans leads to the report
becoming an empty shell recording only what had been intended but not relating to what
happened
Giving and receiving feedback
■■ Face to face discussion with an individual
•Often very effective as a method for communicating feedback
•May lead to misunderstanding, however, if lack of clarity about the different approaches to
feedback in different agencies
■■ Group discussion
•Can be effective, but likely to require careful management
•May lead to misunderstanding or conflict if values not aligned
■■ Telephone
•Can be useful for communicating positive feedback and appreciation
•Generally not appropriate for giving or receiving feedback about changes needed
■■ Email
•Useful for passing on positive feedback and thanks
•Can provide a useful record of issues or complaints, but less likely to produce learning and
change than more personal communication methods
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■■ Letters
•Necessary as a formal record of feedback between agencies
■■ Formal reports
•May be helpful, or for some multi-agency projects may be required, in evaluation
•Will be required if there is significant negative feedback between agencies
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Copyright © Kate Cairns Associates (unless otherwise credited)