Types Of Miscommunication Kill Your Team’s Productivity
Ask couples what the secret of a happy marriage is and in most cases you will get the same answer: good communication. This is true for any kind of relationship, be it at school or at work. Proper communication is crucial to the success of a team.
While good communication can do a lot of good, bad communication can do just as much damage. Poor communication can strain or even end relationships and throw a well-functioning organization into disarray.
With this in mind, it is not surprising that poor communication in the workplace can lead to reduced productivity. Here are pointers to misunderstandings in your team and some ideas on how to fix them.
1. Poor use of words
Written communication is just as important as verbal communication. Poorly worded project specifications can confuse team members, leading to errors, needed clarifications and even unhelpful arguments.
At a time when many employees work from home because of Covidien-19, clear, concise writing is more important than ever. Teams that once relied on verbal communication now use email and instant messaging to ask questions and provide feedback.
Brush up on your grammar skills before criticizing others. Do some exercises to help you write more clearly.
2. The time zone confusion
Many remote teams face another communication challenge: dealing with different time zones. Should this meeting take place at 10am CST or 10am EDT? What is 10 a.m. Central California time (hint: subtract two hours)?
It’s easy to get the acronyms mixed up. Encourage staff to include time zones in any meeting they schedule. If the problem persists, ask them to print out the chart and post it on the wall.
When it comes to general communication needs, establish a company-wide baseline time. This will ensure that each team member can contact someone in a different time zone at least once a day.
3. Unclear expectations
Whenever you give your team responsibility for a task, you need to set clear expectations. Without them, the end product may not be what you envisioned.
The most important expectations relate to the purpose of the project. If you ask a team member to develop a job description for you, he or she needs to know: Will you publish it directly on the job board? If so, this is where the editorial perspective comes in. However, if you are only considering development opportunities, a brief description may be sufficient.
The second most important expectation is success metrics. If you ask your social media team to create engaging content, how will you measure that? Likes? Conversions? Be specific or you may be disappointed.
4. Finger pointing
No one likes to play the blame game. Even a little “he said, she said” can cause tension in a strong team. To help everyone work well together, don’t point fingers.
Teach accountability to your staff. Everyone is responsible for the consequences of their actions. If they make a mistake, they should admit it. If they score a victory, it is also an acknowledgement for them.
As a leader, it is important to forgive mistakes. Create a culture where everyone feels comfortable admitting their shortcomings.
5. Complete silence
Lack of communication is miscommunication. Not discussing your team’s problems, no matter how ugly or frustrating, is a recipe for business failure.
When in doubt, talk about it. If it’s not clear that the customer’s problem has been solved, don’t let it be. Ask it out loud.
This is especially important when it comes to ethical issues. If someone is not following your guidelines on wearing a mask, don’t turn a blind eye just because the HR manager is not in the room. Silence will only cause the bad behavior to continue.
Every extreme has its equally dangerous counterpart. Even if it is not so obvious, over-communication can be just as damaging as a lack of communication. Nothing kills productivity more than micromanagement.
These two extremes often co-exist in communication. Your team is more likely to be silent when micromanaging because it is an opportunity to work without constant supervision. Don’t be too pushy and you will get better results