There is nothing that is more important in any workplace than clear, open communication. But the more people who are involved in any project, the more chance there is that things will be misinterpreted and misunderstood. As a manager, your job is to break down the barriers to communication within your team, so that less time is wasted on clarification and productivity soars.
But this isn’t always the easiest thing to do. There are common barriers that crop up again and again, causing problems in your team despite your best intentions. Take a look at some of the common barriers to team communication and how to overcome them:
Physical separation and lack of contact among team members — When team members work remotely or even in different parts of the building, communication errors increase exponentially. Of course it isn’t always possible to have everyone working in the same location. To overcome this barrier, encourage awareness of the misinterpretation possibility of written words to avoid a lack of clarity. Additionally, insist that everyone makes follow-up requirements crystal clear. By clearly outlining what is expected, you’ll spend less time dealing with misunderstandings.
Differences in perspective — This is a communication problem that plagues almost every organization; when you have people with different backgrounds and ideas, they view the same issues in different manners. To overcome this barrier, you need to head it off before it begins. Outline clear plans and step-by-step expectations of what is required and what each person’s responsibility is.
A lack of trust — Sometimes the issue at the heart of your team’s communication problems is a fundamental lack of trust. When your employees don’t trust one another, they’re less likely to communicate and share on a completely transparent level. To eliminate this problem, focus on team-building activities. Whether it’s an after-work happy hour or a weekend retreat, by building a closer team you’ll improve overall communication.
Distractions — Believe it or not, one of the main reasons for miscommunication is the presence of distractions. Whether it’s the presence of loud noises, other employees, or just about anything else, as distractions increase, so does a lack of clarity. To eliminate this communication barrier, do everything possible to eliminate distractions from the workplace.
Information overload — It may seem counterintuitive, but sometimes too much information can lead to a lack of clarity. There is a limit to how much a person’s brain can handle at any one time and if you’re overexplaining or bombarding an employee with too much at once, you risk the possibility that he or she may not retain the proper amount of information. To prevent this problem, pare your instructions down to the bare essentials, ensuring that there is no misunderstanding.