How many times were you a part of situations that escalate because of bad communication? If you’re like most, perhaps one time too many. The lack of effective communication in the workplace is often the reason companies operate at less than optimal efficiency. In social settings miscommunication may lead to an argument, yet in business it has led to detrimental results. Production slows down when confusion is caused by a vague email response. This creates an adverse domino effect, impacts workflow, and missed deadlines.
Clear and concise communication is the foundation for success. Regular communication keeps everyone on the same page, heightens transparency, and inspires relevant employee feedback.
A large majority of executives give themselves a 6 out of 10, on the quality of their workplace communication. Yet most employees have a different view. In fact, few organizations do not complain about inconsistent or incomplete communication.
Causes of Poor Communication in the Workplace
Poor workplace communication causes a decrease in employee morale and creates an unfriendly atmosphere. The adverse working conditions render employees ineffective, inefficient and causes them to feel unappreciated. Dealing with the effects of poor communication may seem like the right approach, however it is more conducive to a healthy work environment to uncover the root causes of poor communication and address them first.
- Leaders with poor leadership skills lack good communication habits. Incompetent leaders fail to inspire and are often indecisive. They don’t provide essential answers, leaving employees confused and uncertain of what to do.
- Anytime a diverse group of people work together, inevitably someone’s personal life will infiltrate their workspace causing them to be distracted. Personal challenges may hinder an employee's ability to perform and communicate well on the job. To allow them time off to deal with difficult matters helps to protect the work environment.
- Bad oral or written communication obstructs organization efficiency. The workflow of any company is affected by unclear emails, misinformed presentations and documents full of errors.
Bad workplace communication causes several problems. Poor communication often leads to a high amount of call outs, poor customer service, a lack of focus and ineffective team collaboration. Innovation is also impacted by poor communication. The mishandling of projects resulting from poor communication, paralyzes the company’s ability to innovate and give back to the community.
What steps can you take to raise your quality level of your internal communications?
Five Strategies to Sound Workplace Communication
- Maintain an open-door policy: Although it may not be workable to umpire for an entire day, employees need a safe place to voice frustrations. Listen, without passing judgment or attacking their personality. The goal is to resolve the conflict before it escalates, not to antagonize the situation. Always maintain the strictest level of confidence.
- Know your audience: Everyone does not receive information the same. We all filter everything we hear or read through our expectations which are often based on prior experience. One member of your team may prefer project instructions in an email while another desires a short meeting. In either case, the challenge for management is to maintain employee commitment and enthusiasm with consistent communication, even during times of stress.
- Get to the point: No one appreciates the abuse of their time. Just like you, busy people prefer the short version. Although sometimes a little more background is necessary that is not always the case. Share the most pertinent information first, then open the floor to questions and other potential concerns.
- Master the art of Listening: People are thinking of their response instead of listening, which leads to them missing key information. One way to avoid that temptation is to form the habit of repeating the highlights of the conversation to affirm your comprehension. This technique not only improves communication, but each party leaves the conversation feeling valued and appreciated.
- Realize the message sent, is not always the message received: Keep in mind the message you intend to convey. While it is better to be concise and clear, structure your message with the proper tone. Negative situations arise from misconstrued information. An email or text message is not the best way to communicate sensitive or emotionally charged information.
Impact of Good Communication
The two critical elements of communication is to disseminate necessary information to employees to get things done and to build trust and commitment through building relationships. So communication is both receiving and sending messages. It is also more than just reading and writing. Therefore, the most important element to good communication is listening. However, some of the art of communication is lost in this world of technology today. Perhaps you are employed at a company that insists on the use of email or instant chat to communicate instead of face-to-face conversations. Even when your colleagues are only 10 to 20 feet away.
So as we focus on the purpose of good communication, keep in mind ways to improve communication at your workplace. Effective workplace communication is essential because it:
- Improves productivity by lowering employee turnover and absenteeism
- Increases company culture because of a higher level of employee job satisfaction
- Helps with diversity among your team as appreciation for each member expands
The successful interaction with others in the workplace is a key essential to your professional success. We all understand the need to make a good first impression, however we recommend focusing on building a good reputation, through consistent and effective communication strategies.
1. Kelly Riggs, “Effective Communication in The Workplace,” BUSINESS LOCKERROOM BLOG, June 2, 2016.
Pixentia is a full-service technology company dedicated to helping clients solve business problems, improve the capability of their people, and achieve better results.