How to Avoid Common Communication Failures in Business

Communication is a challenging but crucial component to any business, large or small. What appears to be a seemingly straightforward thing we do every day, can get quite complicated. Company communication problems affect almost every aspect of a business and lead to hours of lost productivity, unhappy employees, upset customers and more. In this post, we’ll run through 3 common internal communication failures in business and how to fix them.

1. Communication Overload

We live in a world of constant communication with seemingly endless ways to keep in touch. The average worker receives 122 emails each day, of which only 38% contain important, relevant information, not to mention all of the group messages, calls and intranet postings to keep track of. As you could imagine, this onslaught of information leads employees to simply tune out the noise and just focus on the pressing deliverables. The problem is, some of those emails and messages are critical for them to know, but now they’ve totally disengaged.

Solution: Establish an internal communication strategy that streamlines information sharing. Target messages so they only go to relevant employees. Take advantage of today’s various communication modes and set protocols for what mode to use and when. For example, choose an attention-grabbing method like Broadcasts to alert employees of important, timely information. For regularly occurring updates like meeting notes, use a different method.

Being strategic in how you share information signals to employees when they need to tune back in and read the information. An additional note is to consider your audience. At many organizations, not every employee is a desk worker. Many are out in the field, working with customers, such as field service technicians, utility linemen, construction workers and hotel engineers. These deskless workers don’t use email, so if you are sharing updates via email, they aren’t going to be read.

2. Lack of Listening

Not listening is a common culprit of company communication problems. Both in personal and professional life, there’s a tendency for us to think up a response and sit in wait until we get a chance to cut in, rather than actively listening to what the person is saying. This can lead to unnecessary conflict and a lack of alignment.

Solution: From a cultural level, emphasize the importance of active listening and even hold a workshop on it. By encouraging employees to make a conscious effort to hear not only the words another person is saying but, more importantly, the complete message being communicated, you can avert many of the disagreements and dropped balls that stem from this listening issue. A well-aligned team that listens to each other can go a long way in preventing communication failures in business.

3. Departmental Silos

Silo mentality occurs when several departments or groups within an organization do not want to share information or knowledge with other groups or departments. The resulting lack of cross-departmental communication negatively impacts workflow as information is not passing freely across the organization. This cascades out, with departments working off inaccurate information and teams unable to efficiently solve problems.

Solution: Eradicating a siloed culture starts with the leadership team. Leaders can do this by instilling across all employees a unified vision for the company where everyone contributes to a common goal. Teams should be encouraged to work cross-functionally and use each other’s unique strengths to solve problems. Having different teams on a common communication platform helps a lot with this cause. Coworkers in different departments and regions are just an instant message away, making information sharing quick and easy.

Interested in more tips for avoiding communication failures in business?

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