Interview Skills

Ineffective Communication at Workplace

“The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”  George Bernard Shaw

My manager once sent me an email asking for a report ASAP. I sent her the report after a good 4 hours as that was the soonest possible for me. She was furious that why I did not send her the report immediately. I replied because you didn’t say immediately, you said as soon as possible and I sent when it was possible for me.

This teaches us that most of the time we leave our communication messages vague and ambiguous leaving a risk of being misinterpreted or misunderstood by others, our colleagues, team members and higher ups.

Communication is a defining feature of organizations; how employees construct and exchange messages to enable goal-oriented activity and cope with uncertainty. It influences organizational structures, interpersonal relationships, power and control and leadership.

Communication is at the heart of everything we do at work. No one is autonomous in the workplace. Everything we do is connected, and that connection is facilitated by communication.

Poor communication costs you, both professionally and personally. One source estimates employee misunderstandings cost organizations $37 billion per year. “Misunderstandings” are defined as: actions or errors of omission by employees who were misinformed (or misunderstood) company policies, business processes, job functions or a combination of all three. Additionally, communication barriers resulting in productivity losses had a cumulative cost of $26,041 per year per worker. According to one survey of large business poor workplace communication, led to losses of $62.4 million. Obviously most businesses aren’t that large, but the effects of poor employee communication still lead to the same end: measurable financial cost.

We send half-baked information and then fret and even wonder at the low comprehension levels of others. Communication is only effective when the receiver understands the message conveyed just as the sender wanted to. The receiver can confirm this by paraphrasing and clarifying to tie any loose ends.

Managers’ poor communication skills create business problems such as team communication issues and people problems, not to mention losing the trust of coworkers, the cooperation of team members and sometimes even receiving contempt from colleagues and subordinates.

Ineffective communication skills on the part of managers/bosses can have very serious ramifications. A few of them are:

Ineffective Communication at Workplace
  • 1. Inability to manage workplace conflict

    Poorly worded messages lacking clarity coupled with inappropriate tone of voice and body language is a potential fodder for workplace conflict. In fact, 90% of the conflicts at workplace occur due to inappropriate tone of voice.

  • 2. Workplace relationships

    Emotional intelligence and Communication forms the base of workplace relationships. As mentioned in Stephen Covey’s book, “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” an everyday dose of small hi, smile or acknowledgement of the other person goes a long way in forming the foundation of a healthy workplace relationship between employees.

    Relations between a manager and his team members can become rocky due to poor communication and a lack or misinterpretation of facts. It doesn’t take time when moles become mountains and mistakes become disasters due to emotions and overreactions.

  • 3. Grapevine/Speculations

    Poor communication on the part of the manager/leader leaves a gaping hole that employees will attempt to fill with speculation. And it typically goes something like this:

    “Why haven’t I received any positive feedback for three months?”

    “I must not be doing a good job.”

    “Why is the executive team bringing business consultants into the office?”

    “They must be considering layoffs.”

  • 4. Decreased Productivity

    - If the manager is not able to relate team/department/organization goals to the duties and tasks performed by his team members then the team’s morale may take a hit leading to decreased productivity.

  • 5. Mistakes

    If a manager has poor communication skills, chances are that the employees/team members will misunderstand their expected duties. Likewise, if employees lack good communication, they are less likely to ask for needed clarification or assistance. Poor communication leads to misunderstandings, which often leads to mistakes being made on the job.

  • 6. Ineffective or poor client handling

    Managers’ poor communication skills can very well seep out in their inefficiency in handling clients, answering queries and convincing them. Maybe they don’t receive the product as promised or they have a complaint that keeps getting pushed from department to department without being addressed.

Effective communication is pivotal in increasing productivity and efficiency because it directly influences the behavior of the team members and the way they perform. Efficient communication which includes clear instructions, fast message delivery, and proper explanation, is the key factor to solid cooperation between managers and employees. It plays an eminent role in getting things done which ultimately increases the department’s productivity.

For one thing, better communication cuts down on mistakes or gaps in the first place. And when they do arise, clear communication helps them get solved in an efficient and effective manner.

The best way to increase productivity is to have a happy workforce, and communication is the key to achieving that.

16 January 2018 Posted by: Sunita P (Sr Trainer)