Misunderstood communication issues will derail your business strategies

September 22, 2011

In every industry I have worked in, Communication seems to be the common denominator, of dysfunctionality. We write books about, train our leaders on it and spend countless hours using technology today to attempt to convey our thoughts. Sadly though, the form outweighs the substance.

When I am involved in a consulting project involving the people of an organization, the number one issue that surfaces is the confusion, misinterpretation and anxiety surrounding communication.

Leaders are typically notorious in believing they are master communicators. In almost every situation, a leader confronted with this problem will almost always pause, and then confidently state that they have been crystal clear.  There is no intent to mislead, the leader is truly confident that the message they communicated was clear, understood and enthusiastically embraced by the recipient. Even if a message was communicated, sometimes staff members are reluctant to follow-up with questions for fear of being perceived as slow, less than bright and inattentive.

Many employees do their best interpreting what they hear and then attempt to execute to the best of their ability. Unfortunately, they later discover what they thought they heard as expectations from the boss were actually something radically different. Additionally, because leaders are so consumed with  the challenges of the days economics , their communications could take the form of curt emails, text that are left up to interpretation or worse yet no communication, which leaves staff members to  create what they think is the right direction. Most leaders also speak quickly and assume their audience is keeping pace.

To avoid these issues, be conscience of your style of communication. In today’s technology world, relying on email, text, twitter or voice mail to communicate important direction, solicit ideas or to set tactical or strategic initiatives could leave the recipients wondering for an answer.

Seek a response back from the employees to assure they heard and understand what was said. Follow up in shorter cycles to make sure the direction taken by the employees matches the actual expectation of execution by the leader. Ask for feedback from employees on what will help them better comprehend     

Lastly, be aware there is a probability that a communication issue exist within your organization even though no one has had the courage to bring it to your attention. If you are aware, communications will become more effective.        


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