Good communication is an essential factor in workforce management. But giving clear instructions and building relationships with staff doesn’t always come easy.

Getting communications consistently wrong could put staff under unnecessary pressure and demotivate them. It could also cost your business customers and money in the process. At a time where remote working has become the norm, great communication is more important than ever.

Here, we look at the top 5 reasons why miscommunications occur and how to avoid them.

1. Poor listening

One of the first things that managers at any level should be taught is how to listen. If you don’t listen to what is being said, it’s difficult to communicate effectively in return.

Active listening is the process of concentrating completely on what someone is saying and understanding what they mean. It’s an often overlooked skill, but it can make a huge difference.

In busy offices, managers and staff can become distracted. If it’s not the phone ringing, endless emails coming in or noise from other people, it’s being preoccupied with the meetings on the horizon. Listening involves removing distractions and concentrating fully – not just on what someone is saying but how they are saying it.

2. Not enough time

Rushed communication is just as bad as no communication at all. We can all be incredibly busy and it can have a major impact on communication at important times.

Customer service teams that aren’t manned properly, for example, tend to be looking forward to that next call rather than concentrating on what is in front of them. This leads to hurried communication with the customer and a desire, however unconscious, to get a call over as quickly as possible. It means staff aren’t focusing on the problem and customer needs are left unmet.

The same can happen in meetings where concerns aren’t listened to or important factors are left unsaid because there isn’t enough time to cover them properly. With any communication, make sure that you make time to formulate what you want to say, where you want to say it and how.

3. Not reading between the lines

Listening and understanding are not necessarily the same thing. Someone who says that they are bored at work and not being challenged probably needs something else to motivate them. Another person may think they are overworked and underpaid which could mean that they are under stress and likely to lose motivation if the situation is not resolved.

People don’t always say what they mean and it’s up to managers to untangle everything and get to the root cause of an issue. That means not simply thinking you know the answer, but asking relevant questions to dig a little deeper.

4. Assuming understanding

It might seem perfectly simple to you when you communicate a set of instructions to an employee or team, but you can’t afford to take that for granted.

People can sometimes agree to things without really understanding. It’s important to step back and get some feedback, so you can be sure they understand what they’re doing. Don’t always assume understanding and use follow-up questions to make sure everyone is on the same page.

Being vague or over explaining

Managers can sometimes be too vague – not giving their employees enough details so that they can implement a particular plan or initiative effectively. At the other end of this spectrum is over-explaining, where too many facts are presented. Essentially, this overburdens people with too much information.

Try to keep your communications succinct and to the point, looking at it from the recipient’s point of view and cater for what they are looking for.
Avoiding miscommunication is not always possible. Taking a little more care, listening properly and asking follow-up questions can all make a big difference.

Okappy Portal+ is here to help bridge communications, not only between people within the company but, between your company and it’s subcontractors and external parties. See how Okappy can work for your business, schedule a demo today.

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