Organizational Barriers to Communication

by Eryn Travis ; Updated September 26, 2017
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The success or failure of an organization often depends on its ability to communicate with its members, according to The Communications Department at California State University. New technologies, mixed with culturally diverse audiences, have increased the importance of organizational communications, but have also made the field more complex. Understanding some of the common barriers can improve an organization's ability to communicate.

Flawed Structure

Audiences need structure to understand a message, and many communications are doomed because they lack the proper organization, according to Lee Hopkins, who has written more than 130 articles on business communication. Structure is critical, because without an introduction, body and close, audiences will have a difficult time retaining, recalling and processing the information. These rules apply to any communication, ranging from emails to public presentations, and to audiences of any size.

Assumptions

Two common communication assumptions spell disaster for the success of an organizational communication. One is presuming that all members of the organization have the same knowledge base as the message sender. The other is thinking that information will spread accurately and effectively on its own after only one or two members receive it. The Free Management Library, an online guide of leadership articles, recommends that management proactively, thoughtfully and strategically communicate with its members. Specific recommendations from The Free Management Library include establishing regular meetings between employees and leaders as well as between different departments. Other tips include giving employees written copies of job descriptions, employee handbooks and other critical company materials.

Overdependence on Technology

Too much dependence on new technologies such as texting, Twitter or other social media websites may mean that not all members of the organization are literally getting the message. For example, a snazzy blog will not be as useful to members who have to complete a task without Internet access. Jim Shaffer, author of "The Leadership Solution, " recommends that those responsible for organizational communications review their plans to ensure they are using methods that deliver information that customers and employees need, instead of relying on formats that are trendy or attractive.

Too Much Information

Another common misstep is believing that adding detail after detail to a communication will make it more persuasive when, in fact, too much information can turn an audience off. Simplicity is key for creating organizational communications that remain with an audience. No matter how much you love a product, understand an idea or have experience with an industry, stick to two or three main points, instead of talking or writing about everything you know, to get your message across.

Forgetting About Nonverbals

Those responsible for organizational communications must be mindful of nonverbal signals which can either enhance a prepared message or completely detract from or distort its meaning. In Western culture, eye contact, proper posture and clothes appropriate to the situation display that the message sender is interested, respectful, sincere and credible, according to mindtools.com.

About the Author

Eryn Travis has over 15 years of freelance-writing experience. She has written for "Aviation News Today" and was the managing producer and host for the cable TV news show of the same name. She has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of Maryland and is finishing up a master's degree in communication studies from West Chester University.

Photo Credits

  • business colleagues preparing for business meeting image by Vladimir Melnik from Fotolia.com