When communication breakdown occurs, organizational performance will suffer.
Poor communication is one of the top reasons why organizations fail or don't realize their potential. And while most organizations have more communication tools than ever before the question remains, "Why are we having such a hard time communicating?"
Good communication practices help people at all levels in the organization improve their understanding of, and response to, the organization's and each other's needs. It helps people make effective decisions that are aligned with the organizations' goals and objectives. And, it can motivate performance by linking individual and team efforts with the bigger picture and by recognizing desired behaviours and effort throughout the organization.
When employees are poorly informed or communication is neglected, people become cynical and lose their trust and respect for the organization and its leaders. As a result, they may consciously or subconsciously undermine the success of the organization. At best, they will simply be hindered from reaching their potential or performing in the best interests of the organization.
"There was a communication break-down."
"The problem was due to a mix up in communication."
"One hand just didn't know what the other hand was doing."
"It was a case of poor communication."
How often have you heard managers speak with frustration about good initiatives in their organizations that failed because employees were cynical and skeptical of the intentions or the potential for results? Organizations will say employees are their greatest resource, but often employees are bitter and demoralized one of the outcomes of poor communication.
Poor top-down communication can result in employees failing to understand organizational expectations, initiatives, or directions, which will result in a communication vacuum. Any time there is a gap in communications, it's likely it will be filled with speculation and rumor, which can only hurt the bottom line.
Poor bottom-up communication deprives business leaders of information about customers, the impact of their policies and programs, the effectiveness of their systems, as well as the opportunity to learn about simple changes that might improve performance.
Sandra Thornton has spent more than 10 years researching, teaching, and implementing internal communications strategies and programs. Contact her for more information or to seek help with your internal communications strategies.
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"The ultimate result of communication in your organization - good or bad - is on the bottom line. Communicators can help organizations improve their effectiveness."
Sandra was honored with an appointment to the College of Fellows of the Canadian Public Relations Society (CPRS) in January 2011.