Communication is the biggest part of building a culture and running a business – unless of course, your business is built and staffed entirely by robots. Communication can also be the biggest problem an organization has. The causes of bad communication failures are MANY. However, knowing what the causes are can help you communicate much more effectively.
It ranges from:
- Ego. Attitudes towards others on the team, be it regarding gender, ethnicity, education, religion, childhood issues they are harboring, etc. Bottom line is that ego issues are one of the biggest challenges I see amongst leaders that have bad communication. They either cannot or choose not to communicate effectively. Ego presents some rather tough challenges to get through unless the individual recognizes their issues and seeks professional coaching or spends large amounts of time with teenagers (as they are fantastic at stripping away your feelings and frustrating the hell out of you!)
- Culture clash. This could be different multinational cultures from across the globe clashing when two organizations are brought together through an acquisition or merger or when different departments within the same company are brought together. Reconciling a culture clash takes a leader with patience, values, purpose, vision, a plan and the ability to help the team members understand how they are interdependent upon each other.
- Ignorance. It may not be their fault. They may be born that way. Your job as the leader is to figure out if they can be saved or if they need a generous severance package.
- Politics. Gaming at the office is a skill all leaders need to understand in order to recognize the players, the arena, and the scoreboard. I am NOT saying you need to play politics… You just need to recognize what the players are up to and understand their motivations. With understanding, you will see a clearer path to the strategy behind a seemingly insensible approach.
- Power and Hierarchy. Despite our best efforts to create organizations without titles that some take too seriously, it still exists. Communications and cultural harmony find it difficult to flourish when a leader needs to have their butt kissed to feel important
- Distance and Time Zones. Operating a business across time zones and continents poses a unique problem. A problem that can be solved with values fit, technology, patience, and understanding. The leader though must foster an environment where understanding and tolerance is the norm… It helps to get people face-to-face occasionally so that they can bond only the way in-person interaction nurtures.
- Preconceived judgments. Judging people without all the information and a concerted effort to understand, is dangerous and often proves us wrong. Walking in someone else’s shoes may be an old saying, however, it is as powerful today as the day it was first uttered.
So keep an eye out for these causes of bad communication, so it doesn’t happen in your organization.
Robert Murray is a Vancouver, BC based Business Strategy Consultant, partner at Incrementa Consulting Inc., #1 Best Selling Author, and International Keynote Speaker. For further advice, insight and inspiration on how to unlock your inner leader, follow Robert on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.
The audio version of Bob’s #1 best seller It’s Already Inside is now available on Audible.
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