While communication should be a priority for any organization, there are particular issues and challenges both managers and staff members need to overcome in order to make sure that lines of communication remain open and effective.
Tools such as newsletters, corporate desktop wallpaper software, and others can be used to improve communication in the workplace, but it is vital to pinpoint overall communication problems in order to resolve issues that are an impediment to good internal communications.
Communication issues in the workplace
Work has communication issues for many organizations. Here are some of the top communication problems being faced by people in the workplace today:
1. Ego and attitude
Often, teamwork is deterred due to one member’s attitude and ego. One worker may want to take over discussions and prevent other members from speaking their minds. Another might refuse to lose an argument and accept that another person might be right. Many times, these people will refuse to accept that they are part of the problem. Egos and attitudes within the team can then lead to resentment, misunderstandings and friction.
The role of the manager is, therefore, important in making sure that the team focuses on the work and issues at hand. Teamwork and true collaboration will only occur if resolutions reflect the needs of everyone in the group.
Solution: Ensure that your staff are properly trained and understand the role that they have to play in the team to understand their contribution to shared successes. You may need to deliver specific, targeted training on interpersonal relationships, dealing with conflict and other “soft skills” if you identify this as one of the main communication issues in team work in your company.
2. Passive listening
Passive listening is simply hearing what the other person has to say without truly understanding it or empathizing. Often, you will see someone talking, replying and interrupting other people instead of truly listening to what others have to say. When people fail to listen, they are unable to truly comprehend the message which is being relayed. This then leads to misunderstandings and friction which could then deter the workforce from being creative and productive.
Before beginning a chat or interaction, make sure to stress the importance of active listening. Tell your staff members how inattention and passive listening can prevent them from learning about the different points of view and ideas that are present in the workplace. Role model and set a good example by being an active listener yourself.
Solution: If you want to know how to solve communication problems in a team, you can start by facilitating meaningful two-way dialogues and discussions where the rules of engagement are clearly set out so that people have the chance to both listen and be heard.
3. Cultural differences
Today’s workplace has become more diverse, especially if your organization deals with international clients or has employees abroad. Although there is diversity in the workplace, people still tend to be more persuaded by people from their same culture or backgrounds, therefore, managers face the challenges of communicating with everyone as one cohesive team, while managing the dynamics involved in cliques and groups.
Try to mix people of different backgrounds together. Break up small groups and try to have diverse people collaborate on brainstorming activities and projects. Also, communication tools such as corporate desktop wallpaper software, newsletters and email can potentially decrease the impact of cultural differences. This is because communication is written and is free from accents and impulsive biases, and is therefore more thought out.
Solution: Cultural awareness training can help large organizations with employees from a variety of backgrounds better understand one another so that there are less misunderstandings and team communication problems.
4. Poorly written communication
One of the most common communication issues within a company is unclear and poorly written information. You may opt for different communication tools to get your point across such as corporate desktop wallpaper software, newsletters, and memos; however, if your materials are poorly written, your messages might cause confusion and frustration amongst your staff members.
Solution: Make sure to always proofread your copy before sending it. You may also opt to ask a colleague to look through your work to help pinpoint any mistakes or typos. Ensure that you use plain and concise language, free from jargon.
5. Lack of interest or motivation
When people are not interested in what is being discussed, or they lack the motivation to work hard, they are more likely to disregard or ignore your messages. While this means that you certainly need to take a look at your internal communications, using tools such as corporate desktop wallpaper software, the intranet, and others can help you reach your staff members so that they feel more motivated and engaged in their work and in the organization.
Solution: Look at delivering your internal communications, using tools such as corporate desktop wallpaper software, the intranet, and other more engaging methods that can help you reach your employees in a way that makes them feel more motivated and engaged in their work and in the organization.
6. Information overload
The modern workplace has people receiving more information than ever before, often from competing sources. Whether its dozens of emails per day, instant messages, Teams conversations, corporate social media or intranet content, employees may have more information sent to them than they can actually keep up with. This means that important communications can get lost in all the “noise”.
Solution: Invest in specialist communications software, such as DeskAlerts, to bypass these cluttered channels and send information to employees in a way that cannot be skipped or ignored such as by pop-up alerts or mobile phone notifications.
7. Not communicating with staff at the right time
Many companies with internal communications problems have them because communicating with employees can often be overlooked or seen as being less important than external communications. This can be a costly mistake to make: not keeping your employees properly informed can lead to a myriad of other problems, including affecting your corporate reputation and leading to confusion with your customers and stakeholders.
When employees find out about important information from external sources (the media, social media etc.) it can lead to confusion or resentment. Similarly if you’re not telling people about important information and the “rumor mill” is in overdrive, misinformation and gossip will spread and false information will take hold and you will lose control of the message.
Solution: Always keep employees informed when you have a major announcement to make or have to react to bad news. If possible, tell them before you tell an external audience. Where possible, schedule announcements to employees in advance so you know that they will definitely go at a set date and time.
The above tips will help your employees to build healthy and productive working relationships both with each other, other teams in the organization, and with management. By improving internal communication by adopting best practice techniques and using a variety of internal communication channels, you can watch them excel as they work for a company that values them, listens to them and respects them.
Frequently Asked Questions
What causes communication problems in the workplace?
Communication barriers – which encompasses any obstacle to sharing and receiving information – are the main source of communication problems in the workforce. This can include lack of interaction between colleagues, people working different schedules, different communication preferences, the inability to locate information, language barriers and overuse of jargon.
How to fix communication issues at work?
Communication issues at work can be solved by performing an analysis and then adapting communications strategies and methods targeted at addressing the identified issues.
What are the consequences of poor communication in the workplace?
The list of communication issues at work and their consequences include:
- Mistakes being made
- Lack of direction
- Poor morale
- Poor customer service
- Lower employee engagement
- High staff turnover
- Poor workplace health and safety
- Lower productivity
- Potential for legal problems
- Potential for regulatory issues
- Tarnished corporate reputation
How can poor communication in the workplace be improved?
Poor communication in the workplace can be improved by identifying strengths and weaknesses and implementing communication strategies that incorporate the use of modern tools.
This article was originally posted in 2017 and has been updated in 2022.