Workplace communication is essential to teamwork. Not only does it build and maintain relationships, but workplace communication also facilitates innovation. Employees who feel comfortable about communicating tend to have ideas accepted at an exceptional rate. Without workplace communication, there will be several problems.
Problem One: Lack of Standards
When communication problems in the workplace lower standards, it's usually because you lack consistency on how and when employees communicate. It's a good idea to establish a communication policy to standardize the methods used for communicating with both colleagues and customers. Avoid relying too heavily on one type of communication. For example, using only verbal communication makes tracking conversations and information difficult.
Problem Two: Communication Barriers
Differences in background or experience cause barriers between some employees. Without some common ground, employees may find relating to or understand what other staff members are talking about difficult. Cultural differences may also cause difficulties in non-verbal communications, causing mixed messages.
Problem Three: Mixing Work and Personal Communications
Some employees tend to mix personal lives into the workplace communications. Personal communications detract from the professionalism in the office, which sometimes leads to gossip in the workplace, leading to decreased morale or even accusations of harassment.
Problem Four: Misinterpretations and Assumptions
Communication is open to interpretation and is sometimes interpreted incorrectly. People often make assumptions based on the information they hear or read, whether or not they hear or read it correctly. Nonverbal cues also lead people to make assumptions that can impede communication. For example, an employee who avoids eye contact may cause others to assume she is hiding something when she may simply feel inferior or shy.
Problem Five: Poor Listening Skills
Sharing information is only part of the communication process. Strong listening skills are essential to effectively communicating and understanding the message being shared. Employees who fail to listen or who don't know how to actively listen to their colleagues are likely to miss information or not know what is going on.
Problem Six: Lack of Factual Communication
Factually-based communication is essential to effective communication in the workplace. If employees communicate false information or share information they aren't sure about, they are likely to cause delays in task completion. Managers who share false information or share information without verifying it first are likely to upset the employees.
Problem Seven: Failure to Disperse Communications
Dispersing workplace communications often relies on a chain of employees sharing the information with others. In some cases, the relay of information is interrupted, leaving certain employees out of the loop. The breakdown in communication may lead to wasted time, missed meetings, duplication of work, or other disruptions of the workflow.
Problem Eight: Privacy Concerns
Very little communication is actually private, especially in a workplace environment. Verbal communication is easily overheard by others in the office. Email messages and instant messaging on the computer are susceptible to hacking. Other employees may read over your shoulder and see confidential communications. Leaked confidential information creates a liability issue and may hurt business.
Problem Nine: Negative Attitudes
Negative attitudes interfere with the communication process in the workplace. In some cases, two employees may dislike one another or distrust each other, creating a wall between the two when they try to communicate. Other employees simply take an indifferent attitude toward work in general, causing them to not care about what is said during normal workplace communication.
Problem Ten: Lack of Follow Through
Once information is dispersed in the office environment, specific actions take place based on the communications. For example, after a meeting to discuss the direction of a project, the attendees likely need to complete tasks based on what you discussed in the meeting. If the communication doesn't leave employees with a clear sense of how to follow through with actions, you are likely to see a breakdown and unfinished work.
Based in the Midwest, Shelley Frost has been writing parenting and education articles since 2007. Her experience comes from teaching, tutoring and managing educational after school programs. Frost worked in insurance and software testing before becoming a writer. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education with a reading endorsement.