Any time there is a lack of communication in the workplace, it has the potential to negatively impact how employees feel at work. Employees who work in an environment with poor communication often feel less engaged and may experience low productivity. In 2020, Expert Market reported that 28 percent of employees pointed to poor communication as the reason for not getting their work done on time.
The effects of flawed communication can also be seen in employee morale, turnover rate, and even company costs. SHRM reported that companies can lose up to $62.4 million per year by miscommunicating with employees.
Why does lack of communication happen?
Lack of communication in the workplace is costly, but it’s also preventable. Marissa Goldberg, founder of Remote Work Prep, knows this all too well. Her company trains businesses in implementing virtual best practices in several key areas, including communication. In her hands-on experience, Goldberg has found that lack of communication can happen for many reasons: “The company doesn't prioritize it, the employees aren't trained in effective communication, or there is a lack of understanding in the value of good communication.”
Strategies leaders can use to overcome lack of communication
Whether your company has committed one of these communication blunders or all three, you can overcome them by following these specific strategies.
1. Work on yourself first
You may be tempted to point the finger at your team when communication fails, but don’t. Goldberg advises you resolve your own communication issues first. “I think all managers should go through therapy to know how their life circumstances have influenced how they communicate. For example, due to how I grew up, I took a conflict-avoidance approach to communication. It's important to be aware of this because I can call myself out when I'm avoiding a necessary conversation. Your issues are either going to fall on your team members or your therapist. It's your choice.”
If therapy is not an immediate option, consider doing a self-assessment, such as this communication style activity offered by Vantage Point, a Vancouver-based leadership solutions company. You can also work with a coach to interpret your assessment findings and communicate better with your team.
2. Create a culture of trust
The moment your employees avoid communicating with you, you have a communication problem on your hands. Remedy this by consistently asking for feedback, thanking your team for sharing their thoughts, and taking accountability for miscommunication. Also, never retaliate against employees for expressing a difference of opinion. Goldberg reinforces this by saying, “It doesn't matter how good you are at communicating tasks and asking for feedback if the rest of your team doesn't feel safe disagreeing with you, or bringing up potential issues.”
To ensure that you’re prepared to respond effectively to challenging feedback, review these tips:
Practice active listening and avoid interrupting the speaker
Demonstrate positive tone and body language, even during virtual interactions
Encourage follow-up—let the employee know when they can expect an update
3. Listen and learn
Although you may be the leader, you are not always the expert. You can learn a lot from your team, particularly when it comes to how they communicate best. “What is your primary communication style?,” Goldberg asks. “What are your team member's communication styles? When choosing a method of communication, remember that you are communicating with others, not yourself. What works best for you might not work best for the rest of the team.”
4. Communicate more than you think is necessary
At some point, you may wonder if you're communicating too much. While it is important to give your team members space, it’s also important to go the extra mile in improving communication. “Communicating more than you think is necessary means using succinct and basic language, communicating in more than one method, saying what you're trying to get across in multiple ways, and asking questions to see if your message is coming across correctly,” Goldberg says. She adds, “This is especially important in remote work.”
Goldberg also suggests giving your team members ample opportunities to communicate. You may think that asking for feedback during the weekly meeting is enough, but building in additional opportunities (such as monthly one-on-one’s) may prove to be more beneficial. “Everyone is human, and they need more than one opportunity to make sure the most important items are listened to and internalized.”
5. Audit your team’s communication needs regularly
“Make it a point to sync with your team on a recurring basis on what is working and what is not,” Goldberg says. “Teams constantly grow and change; your approach to communication should match this rhythm.”
You can also evaluate your team’s specific communication needs by:
Surveying your employees
Hiring a business coach or consultant
Hosting a lunch and learn based on team communication
About our source
Marissa Goldberg is the founder of Remote Work Prep, a company she started after realizing how many companies were doing remote work wrong. What started as a hobby grew into a successful business that trains companies in improving communication, onboarding, tools and processes, and manager training. Follow Marissa on Twitter!