As a leader, you’re familiar with the importance of communication within your organization. Regardless of your company’s mission, communication is probably a critical area of focus. It can be the biggest enabler or the biggest stumbling block for your team.
You and your employees are most likely in some type of communication for the majority of the workday. It might be spoken, written, or only body language, but you’re doing it – giving and receiving information.
Nobel Prize winner George Bernard Shaw said,
“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”
Yes, we communicate all of the time, but are we doing a good job? Is it effective? Is the message being received as intended?
When we fail at getting the message across, a communication gap has occurred. Imagine a baseball game. The pitcher has thrown the pitch, but the catcher didn’t catch it. It could have been either player’s fault, but it sure isn’t going to help the game. It happens to all of us.
So what’s really at stake? Do miscommunications have a direct impact on our success? Absolutely. Think about the potential consequences if communication fails. Work isn’t done, or it’s done wrong. Sometimes it’s done in duplicate, resulting in wasted time and resources. We can fail our clients or our team, impacting the image and credibility of ourselves and our organization. It can hurt morale and deteriorate the culture of the organization. All of this can have a real impact on a team’s bottom-line results.
If we agree that this is an important topic, and we agree that there’s room for improvement in most of our organizations, what can we do to eliminate or minimize our communication gaps?
Slow down! We are in such a hurry in the workplace these days that we don’t take the time to communicate well. I’m all for concise communication, but we’ve become so brief and rushed that we’re creating more gaps than ever. This is true in our spoken communication and definitely true in our business writing. I can think of endless email examples.
Think of complete communication as an investment that will give you a return. If you take just a little longer to communicate, you might get it right the first time. We all know how much time it can take to undo a miscommunication. Doing it right the first time is actually the shorter (and smarter) path.
It never hurts to evaluate now and then. On a scale of 1-5, how effective are you and you team in workplace communication? Where are the gaps, and how can you bridge them?
Angela Gallogly, ATC Vice President of USA Operations