Good communication is fundamental to any business. Every function, be it marketing, sales, hiring, and other important business functions rely on the ability of the management to enhance information exchange, collaboration and making decisions. However, as many businesses have experienced, it is usually not as smooth as it looks like. When communication breaks down, the ultimate result could be missed opportunities, strained relationships, poor morale and lost profits. Below are some of the most common points of failure in communication and how to handle them.
Employees and employers or management can communicate through phone calls, chat services, text messages and social networks. However, email remains to be the leading mode of communication between parties in the organization. According to Phil Simon who is a business consultant and the author of “Message Not Received,” an average person could receive about 120 to 150 emails per day. With the number too high, employees can quickly become overwhelmed by the amount of information that requires their attention, processing and covering the whole industry jargon. When people send jargon emails, which the receiver does not understand, receiver ends up making bad decisions from faulty understanding.
Loss of control over external situations
When there is something wrong with the company, a manager or leader owes it to the employees to explain the situation to them before they receive information through rumors or sources outside the company. According to Jennifer Connelly, who is the CEO of JCPR, some businesses make the mistakes of allowing external sources be the source of information for what happens inside the organization instead of becoming the source of the news for them. Most business managers prefer a wait and see approach. This is a huge mistake that opens another door to misinformation, rumors and ultimately harms the brand.
This occurs when a single department, people with different roles in a department, or the executive team, focuses on their objectives and fail to include the views of other employees or departments. Communication silos are as a result of failure to collaborate. Failure to collaborate with different departments and employees foregoes fresh perspectives and the “big picture” of the organization. While the problem is thought to happen in big companies, it can happen to startups too.
Overall lack of communication
According to an About.com survey carried out in 2014, the top three reasons why employees are dissatisfied are communication-related. For instance, lack of direction for management contributes about 38 percent, poor communication in overall contributes 14 percent and constant changes that are not well communicated contributes to 12 percent. This shows there are serious issues in the way leaders are circulating information about their company. For instance, you may find that messages are sent whether or not companies choose to communicate. Lack of communication is still a vice too. When situations like these hit a company, employee engagement takes the serious hit when the leaders are not checking in with their staff members. Most of these leaders operate under assumptions that employees know what is going on, or they will figure it out somehow. As small businesses do not have a separate human resource management department, employee communication suffers, and engagement tends to fall as not a priority.
Repairing broken communication
Limit internal emails — The remedy for email overload is to limit internal emails. While it remains to be the best way of communication, employees need to be encouraged to keep the number of the internal inbox to the minimum. The best way is to ensure “urgent” internal emails and those that run on for several messages are avoided at all cost. If a message is urgent, it’s better to use a phone call than an email.
Embrace alternate communication methods — every company has various forms of communication. They may range from the phone, email, chat messaging, text messaging, video chat and fax among others. It is important for a company to integrate them into the daily routine and embrace them as the information tools. Other forms of communication such as notifications, company updates, built-in chat functions and social networks can improve the internal communication.
Encourage frequent communication — Apart from having a variety of communication methods, it is important to lead by example and encourage employees to communicate both vertical and horizontal. Executives must create a culture of open dialogue with teams.
Marketing Communication — Marketing dashboards can track campaigns against sales amounts or identify leads that help employees decide where campaigns are working well. When teams meet to discuss the performance of the next strategy for the business, they use analysis from the dashboard to justify the next course of action. Using the embedded communication tools, the teams can discuss the results directly on the dashboard that makes collaboration and communication more effective.
Image credit: CC by Alan Levine