Communication in the workplace is more than just an essential skill—it is an integral part of any organization’s success in the business landscape.
Being able to communicate at work doesn’t also just refer to managing conflicts, sharing information, or cascading directives.
It is a significant factor in fostering innovation, boosting employee engagement, strengthening client relationships, and increasing profitability and team effectiveness. It is through communication that strategies are actualized and programs are properly executed.
However, even if most organizations understand the importance of communication, they still run into problems between teams. How does this happen, and why?
In this article, we’ll explore why good communication is so beneficial in the workplace, the common problems most teams face, and how to address them.
Why Communication Matters
It’s no surprise that strong communication strengthens teams and boosts productivity at work.
Employers who invest in maintaining effective and engaging communication lines with their teams find that not only do they build employee trust, but they also boost morale, strengthen team effectiveness, and increase output.
On the flip side, poor communication can lead to confused, demotivated, and even disgruntled team members. When employees feel that they can’t speak their mind, overall dissatisfaction and high employee attrition will likely eventually occur.
Here are the main benefits of establishing good communication in the workplace:
Better Conflict Management
Communication is a key tool in conflict mitigation and management. Most tension arises from misunderstandings, unclear or unaligned work goals, or unmet emotional needs.
Being able to properly communicate between teams is essential in preventing most of these from happening. It also aids in managing these conflicts when they do occur by tempering the situation before it gets out of hand.
Increased Employee Engagement
Communicating is not just about talking to people, it is about connecting with them.
Good communication allows employees to feel engaged with and heard. This in turn leads them to be more invested in their work while being aligned with the company’s goals.
A More Innovative Workforce
Innovation cannot thrive in an environment where employees feel they are unable to share their out-of-the-box ideas and plans.
When you nurture strong and open communication in the workplace, you give employees the go-signal to be creative and innovative. The company also benefits from potentially new and improved ways of working.
Top 5 Communication Problems and How to Address Them
Many businesses invest in strong communications teams, campaigns, and channels. However, even these investments aren’t always enough and problems can still occur.
This is normal for any organization. The key is knowing how to recognize these problems and how to either prevent or handle them when they arise.
Here are the top 5 communication problems most workplaces face and tips on how to address them.
Failure to Listen
Advocating for stronger communication is common in most workplaces. However, not all of those workplaces stress the importance of listening too. What good is communicating if teams aren’t listening and understanding one another?
Passive listening refers to hearing what someone is saying but without absorbing or understanding. This leads to frustration on both ends.
What to do: Whenever you discuss communications, emphasize the importance of active listening.
Explain how the lack of attention prevents people from learning differing viewpoints. Suggest to instead actively listen to people when they speak while listeners keep their contributions relevant or brief.
You can set up some exercises to try it and include important tips, like maintaining eye contact and asking smart questions. Most of all, be sure that leaders set a good example as active listeners themselves.
Communication can easily be damaged by egos and attitudes. Sometimes one member of the team wants to take control and doesn’t allow other members to speak their minds.
One associate may refuse to lose an argument and accept another point of view. These types of ego barriers make it difficult to communicate effectively, resulting in misunderstandings, conflict, and tension.
What to do: The team manager or company leader must take the reins here and ensure that all employees have an equally heard voice.
Keep teams focused on the tasks at hand and remind everyone that the ego has no place on the team. True collaboration can only exist if everyone can have his or her say.
With such diverse teams and organizations, the workplace has become a wonderful melting pot of different generations, specialties, and even cultures.
While the diversity in itself is a strength, sometimes those from similar cultural backgrounds tend to gravitate towards one another. This can make it difficult for managers to address the unit as one cohesive team.
Additionally, people from differing cultures might have a harder time communicating with one another simply because they grew up doing things differently. This can lead to frustration and a likelihood for conflict.
What to do: Try to mix people with different cultural backgrounds together. Break up cliques and let everyone work with those who are different from them.
By creating opportunities for collaboration, you give employees more opportunities to find ways to communicate properly.
Additionally, you can create written communications like newsletters, emails, and more that promote diversity in the workplace to encourage employees to learn more about one another and keep an open mind.
Poor Communication Channels and Content
Many companies use different communication channels and tools to share information such as social media platforms, corporate newsletters, email blasts, and more.
However, if these communication avenues are poorly written or sloppily assembled, they will do more harm than good.
What to do: Make sure to utilize effective messaging by employing a good writer for the task. Never underestimate the power of a good editor as well, and be sure all copy is proofread before it gets sent out.
Additionally, while maintaining a business tone is good, try to keep corporate jargon at a minimum. The key to effective messaging is making sure your message is understood, and simpler terms make that easier to accomplish.
Issues with hierarchy and authority are also common in the workplace.
Team members sometimes avoid approaching their managers or feel that it is not their place to discuss their concerns directly. This can lead to issues quietly stewing inside without being given a chance to be aired.
What to do: Foster a strong open-door communication policy. Let your staff know that are always free to approach their leaders. Assure them that what they share will be confidential and that they are invited to always speak their minds.
You can also let them know that they can email or write a letter if they prefer not to talk to leadership face-to-face. At the end of the day, what’s important is that they know they can always reach their managers when they need to.
Mitigating Communications Problems Leads to Stronger Teams
Effective communication isn’t just about being able to convey information and ideas. It is about connecting with your employees and making sure they truly connect with each other.
If you invest in good communication through efficient channels and messaging, you will definitely see a higher potential in employee relationships, engagement, and overall morale. This will lead to better sales, stronger client relationships, and a more invested and innovative workforce.