We’ve previously discussed how vital communication is within an organisation and how poor communication on the part of managers and other senior staff can be the major cause of low staff morale.
There are other negative effects of poor communication which can have serious consequences to your business.
One of the most potentially damaging is the fact that inadequate communication can reduce staff productivity.
Staff productivity is directly linked to overall profits so putting in the time to ensure it does not drop can be well worth the effort.
Examples of poor communication at work
In our previous example we mentioned how important it was that staff of all levels felt that they were being listened to and that they were kept in the loop about wider company issues.
This is one example where many companies can improve their communication, but there are many other possibilities:
Vague instructions and deadlines
If deadlines are vague (“Just get it to me ASAP!”) or non-existent, this creates a communication problem between manager and employee and can potentially damage the working relationship, as well as impacting on productivity.
For example, if a manager tells her employee she needs a report by Monday, the employee may assume that she has the whole day on Monday to work on in when in fact, the manager wanted it by Monday morning. If this report is needed for an important meeting or other time-sensitive event, the entire working week may be affected.
It’s important to give clear deadlines when assigning work and always a good idea to check in ahead of schedule to make sure there are no issues that may prevent the deadline from being met.
When employees are not given clear instructions, they will waste time trying to figure out what they are supposed to be doing. A survey conducted by HR magazine revealed that participants wasted an estimated 40 minutes of time every day due to unclear instructions.
If projects are not completed within the assigned timeframe, either due to unclear deadlines or other reasons, this can also be costly. Poor communication is cited as the reason behind overdue projects in 28% of cases.
Problems with email
Email can make communicating so quick and easy that it’s easy to dismiss.
You may assume that a colleague has read your email if you don’t hear from them but it may have been accidentally deleted or simply drifted to the bottom of their inbox.
If your email includes important information or actions, always ask for a quick reply so you know it’s been received.
Emails are also a constant source of interruption in an employee’s day and this huge distraction can really eat into productivity. It’s common in an office setting for several emails to be sent back and forth, when in many cases it would have been a lot quicker to simply pick up the phone and have a conversation.
Giving important information in an informal setting
It’s all too easy to grab a colleague in the hallway when they’re on their way out of the door or into a meeting but information given in these instances is quickly forgotten.
If you need to relay important information, it’s best to schedule a meeting or make a phone call.
If you do engage in hallway conversations, make sure to follow up later to check you were understood and that the person you were talking to hasn’t completely forgotten your encounter.
When meetings are arranged, it’s important to have a proper agenda to ensure that all items are covered and that time is not wasted. At the end of each meeting, every attendee should have a plan and be clear on what their next course of action is.
An Australian study of 5,000 executives found that 50% did not listen effectively to others in meetings and 48% left the meeting without a plan of what to do next.
Good managers use excellent communication and listening skills to motivate their employees and inspire maximum productivity.
This is why at LiveseySolar, we aim to improve communication skills through all aspects of our training.