Poor workplace communication can disrupt productivity and inhibit engagement. Inefficient communication is rough enough on a business during a normal day. When you’re undergoing change, poor workplace communication is all but guaranteed to disrupt the transition.
According to Expert Market:
- 28% of employees cite poor communication as the reason for not being able to deliver work on time.
- Organizations with connected employees show productivity increases of 20-25%.
- Miscommunication costs companies with 100 employees an average of $420,000 per year.
Luckily, communication breakdowns can be fixed. Here are 7 strategies that’ll help you do it:
Identify the Root Cause of Poor Workplace Communication
As with any problem solving exercise, the first step should always be to identify what the issue is. This may require some investigative work on whoever gets assigned this task, whether you or a change management consultant.
Talk to your department heads involved in the change process and gather their input. They should already be on board with change. If they’re not, ask for their input to figure out where the problems are and what solutions they can suggest.
If they are on board with the change, ask where they believe communication breakdowns are within their teams. How can they be resolved?
Once you identify the symptoms of poor workplace communication, you can develop a treatment plan.
Listen and Repeat
The old adage “you have two ears and one mouth for a reason” rings true. Managers often fail to listen to their employees in today’s business world. Listen to the concerns of your employees. Repeat what you believe they’re saying back to them, and ask for clarification if necessary. Lastly, always keep an open mind.
You should take the same approach when interacting with clients. Unlike your co-workers, clients may not understand business jargon that’s commonplace in your workspace. Listen to their needs, repeat what you believe they’re saying, and then explain how you can tailor your services to meet those needs.
Go Beyond “Yes” and “No”
Encourage interactive communication by asking open-ended questions. Getting a simple “yes” or “no” inhibits your potential to get genuine feedback. When in doubt, you can always ask why they are saying yes or no to a particular question.
Here are a few examples of how to turn a closed question into an open-ended one:
Closed: Do you like the plan for the systems upgrade?
Open: What about the systems upgrade plan do you like? What don’t you like? Why?
Closed: Are you open to changing our processes?
Open: How should we change our processes?
Open: What do you believe will make our processes more efficient? Why?
Find a Communication Platform
Whether you’re in the office, fully remote, or adapting the hybrid model, finding the right communication platform is vital. This platform should:
- Create an environment that’s easy for teams to communicate and follow up.
- Make staying on track easier
- Provide space for idea sharing
- Be an encouraging space where people are comfortable being their professional selves.
Connect Across All Channels and Departments
Everyone has different communication styles. Sometimes it takes five-to-seven times to hear a message before we fully comprehend it.
Communicate through multiple channels, including email, your internal communication platform, newsletters, video posts, during meetings, and more. The more you communicate a consistent message, the easier it will be for your employees to get it.
Keep the Lines of Communication Open
Your change management plan can be almost foolproof, but if your workplace has poor communication, it won’t matter. Communicate across all departments and channels. One or two isn’t enough.
Open communication needs to be incorporated into your company’s culture. Your employees should feel comfortable speaking up if they believe a process can be improved or if something isn’t working as it should. They may have the solution, or at least the foundation of one. If they’re afraid or feel like they won’t be heard, you can miss hearing a fantastic idea.
Invest in Communications Training
Workplace communication isn’t always straightforward and clear. Employees aren’t going to develop better communication skills instantaneously. Sometimes it says time and training, and that training should be encouraged. When your employees become better at communicating more openly and effectively, they’ll be more inspired to do so.
No matter what change you’re undergoing, improved workplace communication can make your transitions smoother and create a more engaging, productive environment.