What causes poor communication in the workplace and how can this be improved?

We all know that poor workplace communication can be extremely damaging to productivity and overall employee satisfaction.

It can even lead to a higher rate of staff turnover, but what causes poor communication, and how can it be improved to benefit everybody? We explore this challenging issue below. 

Lack of psychological safety

You may not think about this often, but employees feeling unsafe at work can have a huge impact on how they communicate. If a team member doesn’t feel like their voice is being heard, that they are disregarded, or that their thoughts are unwelcome, they won’t be quick to communicate. A fear of speaking up can create a communication void between team members, and between teams and their leadership figures. 

Low employee engagement

Disengaged employees are also unlikely to speak up and bring more to the table. If they are simply clocking in and clocking out, without feeling like they care about their work, they are often likely to find a new role rather than communicate their problems with leaders. 

A lack of engagement can be a driving factor in employees not communicating the problems, needs or concerns they may have. Conversely, low engagement can also be caused by employees not feeling they have been openly communicated with – creating a difficult-to-break cycle. 

Shifting to remote work

While remote working is sometimes essential, it has now become the norm for many. There are so many benefits to this, but one of the drawbacks is how it has created a barrier to easy communication. Employees need to be more intentional about communicating, rather than simply conversing in person – say, at the coffee machine or in the corridor. Without these chance office encounters, the amount of communication is reduced overall.

Intentional exclusion

Sometimes, it is vital to check whether poor communication is a deliberate choice by some team members. It can be used to exclude certain staff, so be vigilant to see whether one particular staff member is being left out. Regardless of the cause, how can you improve your communication at work?

Don’t be afraid to over-communicate

Improving communication skills in the workplace can begin by not being afraid to communicate “too much”. Set up regular meetings to ensure that all employees are being listened to. Every employee will have their own way of communicating and understanding this will help you to better keep the lines of communication open. 

Don’t disappear

If you are wondering “how to improve my communication skills at work?” when you are remote or hybrid, there are plenty of ways to remain visible with your colleagues. Platforms like internal messaging systems, email, Slack, video calls or conference calls might all be useful when you can’t be in person. Holding meetings isn’t always essential for a quick update, but might be for larger announcements and discussions. 

Be careful with tone

We all like to be a little informal with our colleagues, but be aware of when joking and sarcasm could become toxic and bullying. Because not everyone has the same way of communicating, an ironic tone might discourage communication rather than encourage it. 

If you want to know more about how to improve business communication skills, then get in touch with Shooksvensen to see how we could support you. Our programme, Rewired to Communicate, is specifically designed to support leaders and colleagues in communicating more effectively in the workplace.

Leadership Development

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