Communication is a very important aspect to every relationship, both personal and professional. The problem that exists is that people do not understand the real meaning of communication. This lack of understanding leads to confusion and issues arising that could have been avoided if proper communication was utilized. Since this is not usually the case, relationships that were once great end up turning toxic because individuals do not possess the ability to communicate in an effective manner. Therefore, misinterpretations about what the other person meant produces negative feelings that are not even warranted. Resolution is definitely off the table due to both sides not possessing the skills to communicate with logic rather than emotions. This is why it is critical for effective communication to be a prerequisite and a constantly developed skill for all professionals in an organization.
An article from Harvard Business Review pointed to the fact that the silent killer of big companies is poor communication. Within the article, several companies are highlighted for the major PR and performance problems they had to endure due to horrible communication that occurred internally. What makes it even worse is that the communication issues were caused by executives and higher management. If leaders of big companies do not possess the ability to effectively communicate it is not hard to see why the organizations they are supposed to lead are in disarray.
When the leadership within an organization has a problem with communication it produces a work environment that is filled confusion. Confusion leads to chaos because lower level management and employees are not sure of the exact direction of the company. What occurs when this happens is that executives get angry because the goals and initiatives they have designated to be accomplished are not met. The proposed strategy was not effectively communicated and this leads to poor implementation.
Sears is currently dealing with a huge crisis due to failed communication coming from the top down. Trying to force a business model that has no chance at succeeding may be the cause of the current problems the company faces. The root of the problem though is that the leadership refuses to listen to logical reasons why they should abandon their chosen path to revitalize the company. Instead of listening to sound reasoning, the leadership chooses to demand that management and employees make the business model work. This unreasonable demand has led to the management fleeing the company and stores looking like they are days away from closing. This is a very recent example of how bad communication leads to the destruction of a company because it causes dysfunction from within.
One of the reasons why communications break down is because of internal communication channels, flows, and processes within an organization have become too complicated — making a message different from what was initially said when stated.
As communication flows from the top down and across different departments, people start to forget key points that were initially made. and this leads to planning going in a completely different direction than what was originally intended. This is when executive leadership becomes angry with their managers, which in turn makes managers take their frustration out on employees. Employees then direct their anger at customers and angry customers cease being customers because they were mistreated due to no fault of their own. This leads to a negative perception being cast upon the company, which severely limits its ability to implement effective internal damage control measures because external problems have already occurred.
If effective communication is not a current requirement within all organizations then it should be mandated officially as we see more examples of corporate failure due to poor communication. Not taking notice of this fact means that leaders are not truly interested in ensuring they implement all the best measures that will help their organizations perform at the highest level possible. It does not matter how great the company’s product is – terrible communication can lead to multiple issues occurring taking away from the fact that a great product is being produced. In-fighting and confusion lead to the organizational performance being affected, which spreads to the customers. Once customers are also affected due to poor communication, the problem has reached a point of no return.
The best way for a company to safeguard against bad communication from affecting its performance is to implement practices that promote effective communication. Doing so will ensure that everyone in the business understands the strategies, tactics and intended plan of action for any given business goal or target. Here we shall discuss some policies every organization should implement to promote better communication.
1) Allow for Open Communication
When employees and managers are afraid to speak their minds because they do not want to face a backlash from the executive leadership, this creates an unproductive work environment. They could very well have real solutions to problems that they see on a daily basis which affects organizational performance, but keep this information to themselves because they do not want to challenge the authority of their superiors.
Open conversations, which include constructive criticism, should be promoted because they help to create a more connected workplace. Trust is produced when everyone knows that they can openly voice their concerns which help lead to the improvement of the organization as a whole. The executive leadership has to understand that they are working on the company and not within the company, thus missing out on the insights that those working within the company are privy to. Those who work within the company know what goes on on a daily basis, so they are better placed to assess how different procedures can be improved to increase efficiency. This inside information will only be available if open communication is implemented so that employees are encouraged to speak their minds.
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2) Make Planning Inclusive
Closed door meetings give off the impression that what is being discussed is information that should be withheld from lower level management and employees. This makes them feel as if their input is not valued because decisions are being made on their behalf without their advice and concerns being given a fair hearing. Their frustration of constantly being left out of important decisions being made leads to them intentionally underperforming because they feel as if they are not a valued member of the company — just a replaceable commodity instead.
When employees are included within meetings it creates an environment where they feel they are valued. Employees who feel they are valued tend to work harder and are committed to the vision of the company because they feel they play an active role in its growth. Executives will also learn the ideas that employees have that could lead to improved internal and external performance. Practicing inclusion also leads to identifying future leaders who could help the company succeed well into the future.
3) Focus on Result-Driven Communication in Meetings
There are too many leaders wasting valuable time conducting meetings about issues that have no impact on the growth and success of the company. If meetings are not being held for the sole purpose of improving employee performance and implementing strategies to be executed, the talking points of the meeting can be communicated via email. Meetings with result-driven communication are the only meetings in which the gathering of management and employees should be conducted. This reinforces the idea that a meeting is being held in order to discuss and implement ways to improve results, rather than to just waste time talking about something that does not have an impact on company performance. This helps employees come into the meeting with a focused mindset, rather than tuning out what is being said.
Effective communication fosters collaboration and teamwork, which in turn improves productivity. Managers and employees are focused on effectively working together because they know each other’s success depends on collective cooperation in order to accomplish the goals which have been set. This helps to eliminate petty issues constantly being created, which seem to always lead to internal conflict. By implementing great systems, policies and a culture of the effective internal organization, effective conflict resolution is produced. This way, the organization’s efforts are focused on improving products, services, and customer relationships.
Successful organizational communication produces the following results:
- Increased market valuation.
- Increased shareholder value.
- Greater connection and commitment from employees.
- A more robust and inclusive corporate culture.
- Proactive involvement that drives corporate change and growth
The communication that takes place within an organization is highly important to its success. The interaction that occurs internally has an effect on what is communicated to those outside of the organization. Therefore, effective communication needs to be a consistent practice that is upheld if an organization wants continued growth and success to occur. Choosing to ignore the communication that occurs within an organization will without a doubt lead to that company dealing with the crisis in its near future.
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