I am really battling with how the word communication can be blamed for almost every business decision!
From our direct experience with the data we see from our Business Intelligence tool – EmployeeLife, companies both large and small, geographically spread or with one centralised office; communication is nearly always the number one outlier.
How many times have you heard it in the office?
“I wasn’t aware of that!… Who is that and when did they start?… Nobody told us about those expectations!… When was that strategy announced?”
The ironic thing is we live in the most technologically advanced age ever. We have mobile devices, we have access to chat rooms, internal communication tools. We are more connected through
social media; we have FaceTime / Skype all at our fingertips.
So why can’t we communicate effectively with each other? Monkeys do it pretty well with no technology…
I love Led Zeppelin – take a minute to sing these lyrics in your head:
“Communication breakdown – it’s always the same. Having a nervous breakdown… drives me insane!”
This is how the majority of employees feel – the disconnect between employees and the organisation they work in and we have the data to prove it.
So in a technologically advanced time is the technology we love to spruik the problem? The fact that we rely on technology for communication may actually be the problem!
Think about it:
- How many times have you read an email where the wrong punctuation mark has changed the context of the message?
- Most of us rely on spell check and you can get in serious trouble if you aren’t careful!
- Tone and empathy are missed in emails – often provoking the reader and making a simple message more complex or misconstrued.
Technology can isolate people – let’s step back in time for a moment.
Before the telephone you went round to your mates or family to talk as there was no other option….introduce the telephone and sure you talk more but because you talk you probably won’t see each other as much.
Now fast forward and bring on the email. Now you don’t even talk directly, let alone meet – you just text and write… isolating right?!
I was riding the train home last week and saw a couple sit down – both staring at the little rectangular piece of plastic and smart electronics in their respective hands. Throughout the whole journey, not one word was said in 30 minutes between them…not one word or interaction! No wonder divorce rates are rising!
In this age we may be connected like never before but do we connect at an individual level?
In business, we have to be conscious of communication at the individual level but the average organisation has many forms of communication with different generations – some tech-savvy, some not… so how does a business communicate effectively?
I feel we may have gone too far with Information overload. There is too much information across different methods of communication…as an employee which one do you use?
Let’s all take a step back and if there is a communication problem at work (or at home) let’s simplify things!
Here are some simple questions to ask:
- What is the best way to communicate with you?
- Have I given you enough information so you can get the job done?
- Do you understand where we are going and why we are doing this?
- Is there anything else you need from me?
Ask these questions – if you don’t, the communication breakdown….it drives us insane…
Thanks, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant for the inspiration!
Stephen Cushion – General Manager; Consulting