What is communication breakdown?
Communication breakdown happens when two sides fail to exchange communication efficiently – as simple as that. It usually occurs in the workplace, where many people try to get their message (or demands) across to other teams or to the leadership. The definition of a communication breakdown might be simple, but the issue is way more complex - and if not addressed on time, it can easily become the silent killer of your organization.
What causes communication breakdown at the workplace?
Hold on a sec! We know you’re here to read about solutions, but before you scroll down to that part, make sure you read through this one. In case you recognize any of the following causes happening in your organization, it will come handier to react now than having to fix an entire communication breakdown.
One-way communication flows
On the one hand you have a management team who feels Internal Communications are working smoothly because their top-down message gets through, and on the other a dissatisfied group who feel they have no real channel to talk back. Things can get confusing and people aren’t able to engage with the management and discuss their opinions – in other words, it's hard to get their voice heard. One-way communication flows leave no space for a dialog between employees and the leadership, and as result employees can feel like their demands aren’t heard.
Using the wrong channels to foster communication
Email is often where fingers are pointed any time the topic of communication breakdown comes up, and for good reason: it creates information silos. Chat is great for rapid communication, but it won’t make your message cut through the noise. Streaming the right message through the wrong channel prevents information from being exchanged efficiently.
What are the effects of a communication breakdown in an organization?
A communication breakdown can have disastrous consequences. Let’s start with the bottom line – the business impacts can include everything:
- Increased employee turnover
- Poor customer service
- Failed project delivery
Where could this story end? At the very least, it could be a sad tale of poor production performance and a terminally unhappy workforce.
So, how to prevent communication breakdown in the workplace?
Effective Internal Comms is critical if a company wants to get the best from its people, boost productivity, and provide sterling service to customers. On the other hand, poor information flows have been the downfall of many big-name organizations, so how do we measure effectiveness and make the best use of employees' valuable insights and opinions? Effective Internal Communications is critical if a company wants to get the best from its people, and we have prepared a few solutions to communication breakdown on how to get things working smoothly.
Solution 1: Start listening to your people
Your people will always have hugely valuable insights into how things really work at the grass-roots level, gleaned from their experience. With no clear path or process to communicate these insights to the management, this valuable knowledge is at risk of being wasted. Effective Internal Communication is critical if a company wants to get the best from its people, boost productivity, and provide sterling service to customers.
Solution 2: Provide a two-way communication stream
Communication should be a two way street. If you start listening to what your people have to say, you’ll need to make sure to maintain that flow. It’s also important to remember that Internal Communications should be about much more than just pushing out management directives and corporate news to the rest of the organization. Top-down communication systems are great for these types of activities, but they’re a one-way street. Bottom-up communication systems give employees channels to voice their opinions about important issues and provide valuable feedback and insights.
When employees feel connected and up to date with what’s going on in the company, they’re more productive. Your employees are the biggest brand champions you have, so it makes sense to think carefully about how you communicate with them.
Solution 3: Start measuring Internal Comms
Poor information flows have been the downfall of many big-name organizations, so how do we measure effectiveness and make the best use of employees' valuable insights and opinions?
As soon as you mention “Internal Comms”, the first question you need to ask is, “How do I measure it?” There are endless different metrics you can use to determine how well your Internal Communications are working. If you have social tools for communicating, for example, you can measure so-called “busy metrics” like the number of posts, likes, and replies. Or you can conduct regular employee surveys to gather data on engagement rates. Whichever methods you choose, the key is to measure what matters to your organization and see where things could fall short.
Solution 4: Implement the right tools to help you avoid a communication breakdown
So you started listening to your people (great!), but in case you haven't heard that already: 90% of employees agree that digital-communication tools are needed. An organization-wide digital communication tool acts as a centralized hub for communication and collaboration for employees to receive relevant information and keep up with important updates. A tool like Happeo fosters a two-way communication flow by providing Pages with static information, Channels for dynamic content, and a holistic Slack integration to instant messaging possible. Happeo is powered by Google Workspace, which means it fully integrates with all of Google’s apps, making collaboration easy.