Last post we talked about the cost of poor communication. We saw that miscommunication can very easily lead to low efficiency, tension and can certainly dis-engage staff (and you!). But how do we actually help everyone to communicate more effectively, and thus create a workplace that is engaged and productive?

It is not necessarily an easy thing to do, but it is certainly achievable. As with many things, first must come a recognition that there is some sort of issue, or a recognition that poor communication is actually worth getting concerned about as it is costing you money!

There are a number of underlying issues that can lead to poor communication. It is no good telling people to communicate better. That will not solve anything, or at best will result in short term gains. Instead, the root cause of the communication issue must be addressed. The root cause could be any number of factors and of course depends on the people involved and the organisational culture. Below are a few underlying issues that could be causing communication issues in your workplace.

Underlying Issues that result in poor communication and low productivity

– People do not feel safe to ask questions, or to disagree with an idea

– lack of understanding of the bigger picture

– Lack of understanding of differing communication styles

– lack of skill in asking good questions

– Lack of clarity of everyone’s roles and responsibilities – when no one knows who does what, tension arises. I have heard it said so often…”I have no idea what Joe does…he certainly doesn’t seem to do much” or “They are so bad at their job, I bet anyone could do it better”. This kind of talk is destructive to a workplace and is generally no where near the truth

– The job was given to the wrong person, or given in the wrong way

The right solution to resolve the above issues will vary depending on the specific workplace setting, but here are a few ideas worth considering…

– Let people know that you actually encourage people to ask questions to clarify or to challenge, and make sure you model this yourself

Learn about yourself and your staff. Understand who they are, what motivates them and how they like to communicate

– Regularly update your staff about how the business is progressing and your vision for the future. Understanding how a small piece the puzzle fits into the bigger picture can be really motivating, especially when it comes to mundane work

– Spend time learning about the skills and competencies of your staff, and what they need to help the business grow. A competency framework can really help with this, and we will look at this in more depth in a future post. A competency framework can help you to have the right people doing the right jobs, according to their skills and competencies. When people are using their talents (even to a small degree), they are more likely to enjoy their job, resulting in higher levels of engagement

– Delegation, Coaching, Supporting or being Directive, are all different styles that can be used when giving a task to someone. Know the difference, and use to appropriately, and you will see the positive impact on your staff

Review roles and responsibilities, and ensure everyone has clarity around who does what and how to communicate between roles.

We will consider some of the above solutions in more depth in future blog posts.