How Does Poor Communication Affect an Organization?

by Neil Kokemuller; Updated September 26, 2017

Poor communication limits a company's ability to optimize performance. Specific negative effects of communication problems include a culture of distrust, limited employee engagement, uncertainty and ineffective customer interaction.

Culture of Distrust

Trust is essential to the success of high-performing work teams and organizations, according to the American Management Association. Ineffective communication prohibits trust building and may even contribute to a culture of distrust. When management doesn't communicate goals and important events with workers, employees naturally begin to think key information is being withheld. An "us versus them" mentality often emerges. Additionally, poor intra-team and inter-team communication gets in the way of trusting cross-organization relationships.

Warnings

  • Poor communication often stems from broader organizational culture issues that start at the top levels of the company, according to the AMA.

Limited Employee Engagement

Employees desire to work in a place where they can share input and build relationships with coworkers and colleagues. Poor communication limits the closeness of relationships and employee engagement. Limited engagement contributes to lack of organizational commitment, poor morale and eventually, turnover. Employees rely on their managers to offer direction, feedback and positive reinforcement. When these things lack or are poorly implemented, the barrier between management and workers is greater.

Uncertainty and Confusion

Top-down communication is necessary to get all departments, leaders and front-line workers on the same page. With no direction, the role of departments and individual workers is uncertain. When employees don't know what to work on or prioritize each day, inefficiency and a lack of productivity are likely. In some cases, confusion results because of mixed messages. Top-level managers may provide one directional message today, but deliver a completely different vision a few months later. Another scenario is top managers and front line managers presenting differing perspectives on the goals and task directions for specific workers. Chaos ensues when many employees perform uncoordinated and misdirected tasks.

Ineffective Customer Interaction

Poor communication with customers can result from the poor internal communication as well as poor coaching of front-line workers. Regardless of the direct causes, poor communication between employees and customers limits a company's ability to build a loyal customer base, according to HotelExecutive.com. The problems are magnified when an organization doesn't solicit customer feedback to identify what is missing in the communication process or customer experience.

About the Author

Neil Kokemuller has been an active business, finance and education writer and content media website developer since 2007. He has been a college marketing professor since 2004. Kokemuller has additional professional experience in marketing, retail and small business. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Iowa State University.