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Communication breakdown at work

Communication Breakdown at Work? 4 Solutions

Communication breakdown at work is one common element that comes up in almost every employee needs assessment or attitude survey. This is a source of frustration to managers who believe they communicate well. Here are four steps to help you repair communication breakdown at work.

1. Find out what the problem really is. Three people complaining about communication might all mean different things. Perhaps one means he doesn’t understand the procedures manual; another wants to hear more from management about how the system works; yet another never receives feedback from his supervisor on his performance—and there could be many more. You can’t take effective action until you know where the gap is.

Action step: Ask your own people if they feel a lack of communication, and if so, what they specifically mean.

2. Your communication system could be well designed, but still leave a gap. That’s because the problem is not the system, but the communication skills of the people using the system. For example, maybe you have a communication chain for reporting safety problems. But if even one person along the line misunderstands the message he receives, or doesn’t make his own message clear to the next person — safety is at risk because the system breaks down.

Action step: Review your actual communication chain activity to find potential weak spots.

3. Communication skills are not programmed into our DNA. There are many skills involved in workplace communication: writing, reading, speaking, listening, actions and behaviour, body language, tone of voice, persuasion, understanding. The way these skills are used is different in different workplaces —but they are essential to productivity. Communication skills need to become second nature to everyone through training, and this will raise both productivity and morale. Everybody wins.

Action step: Institute communication training programs based on specific needs.

4. When you ask people to change the way they do things, or to learn new skills, you have a much better chance of success if you help them understand WHY the change or new skills are necessary. Particularly, if they can see the value to themselves, they will take a much more positive view of the training.

Action step: Illustrate first the WHY, then train on the HOW.

These steps can be crucial to your business or department’s success, because while there is a communication gap, people and organizations can never reach their full potential.

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