5 Most Common Communication Problems in the Workplace 

Poor communication can often lead to workplace dilemmas. Not only it can lower an employee's morale, it can even cost you financially. If there is inadequate healthy communication culture in the workplace, your employees may feel demotivated, undervalued, and farfetched to go the extra mile in their job. 

You must identify and overcome communication issues before it gets out of hand. The faster you can resolve them, the quicker you are to avoid any misunderstandings or issues that may fall between the cracks. 

However, if you don't know where and when to start, this could become more like an uphill battle. Don't fret; we're here to help. 

We've listed the five most common issues in the workplace and how you can combat them. So, gear up and let's begin. 

1. Roadblocks in the Communication 

There are several roadblocks to workplace communication, and each boils down to hurdles in obtaining and decimating information. Thus, communication problems are, but are not limited to: 

  • Team members who work in different time zones and schedules

  • Team members have uncertainties about where to look for information 

  • Remote team members do not have adequate in-person interaction

  • Different team members who rely on different communication platforms 

  • Language differences or workplace jargon

Communication roadblocks became more apparent when organisations shifted to remote work due to the pandemic. Unfortunately, these barriers aren't going away because more than half of employees prefer working remotely post-pandemic. 

However, companies have a workaround to these dilemmas head-on to ensure the entire workforce can communicate effectively regardless of work location.  

Ways to overcome: 

Having a video conferencing system can help employees communicate with each other face-to-face and remotely. Now, this can be tricky as employees may experience video conferencing fatigue, considering they have to communicate while working on different shifts. Hence, you need to provide a method for nonsynchronous interaction. 

For example, let your employees record and share videos for their task updates. You could also document FAQ answers and share them in your company's knowledge base section. Another thing is addressing company jargon confusion by creating a glossary of terms commonly used in the organisation. 

2. Assumptions 

When employees assume that their colleagues can do a project or solve a problem just as how they would do it, this is where the misunderstanding starts. More so, when there is an assumption in the workplace, it's a sign of poor employee management to the full extent. Confusion dominates, and work falls short. 

Ways to overcome: 

Demonstrate proper and clear communication to ensure misunderstandings and assumptions don't run collaborative efforts off the rails. For example, during team meetings with action items, ensure everyone knows and understands their responsibilities before leaving. 

Always ask questions to instigate clarification. Highlight the importance of proper communication and schedule regular updates.

Photo by: Gustavo Fring | Pexels

3. Inadequate Feedback 

Never let your employees feel like they're constantly in the dark about how they're doing work-wise. Don't let them wait for too long for their annual performance review to get feedback. They're likely to feel frustrated if there are infrequent or no evaluations. Not to mention, this may cause them to miss the mark. 

Note that inadequate feedback may lead to an increased turnover rate in your company. And this can cost you an arm and a leg as it can take 6-9 months to bring employees up to the same level to replace them. 

Ways to overcome:

Make sure you do regular meetings and share direct reports and feedback on time. Ensure to share both negative and positive assessments. Employers with poor communication skills usually fail to recognise and compliment employees doing their best yet are the first to find fault when they don't.

When sharing feedback, make sure it's constructive—be specific about what needs improvement. Avoid criticising things that are out of your employees' control. Moreover, it's best to start a two-way conversation with them and give them the chance to collaborate.

4. Insufficient Psychological Security 

Not all employees are comfortable enough to voice out their concerns or share ideas openly. According to a series of interviews with over 200 tech workers, half of the employees prefer not to disclose information that may benefit their workplace.

The results of the interviews stated that the common reason for holding back information was because it felt rushed and personal, while the benefits of disclosing data were obscure. To make your employees feel comfortable sharing ideas, you must establish psychological safety, which means that employees can openly contribute ideas without the risk of fallout. 

Ways to overcome:

Improve psychological safety by showing your employees there are no repercussions to putting heads together. For this to work out, it requires full support. 

You can promote psychological security in the workplace in numerous ways. For instance, encourage your team members to chat to know one another better for a few minutes. Doing so helps build trust so that employees feel comfortable communicating

You can also explain the benefits of sharing ideas by posting about your experiences in your team communication channel. It encourages them to share feedback and add insights in the comments. 

5. Hoarding of Information 

Some people are "gatekeepers of information" in the company. They tend to keep back information intentionally and don't share it with other colleagues, often done for personal gain or to get work credit. 

Numerous complicated reasons trigger people to hoard information. However, regardless of motive, it still boils down to communication problems and loss of workplace productivity

Ways to overcome:

One of the most effective strategies to overcome this is to make it easy for employees to share what they know. You can allow staff to share knowledge or create templates to fill out. Ensure the format is easy to understand and makes sense (e.g. written document or video).

Key Takeaway 

Solid communication is not a piece of cake. Building genuine workplace relationships indeed takes time, transparency, and effort. However, it's all worth it in the end. Good communication makes employees feel more open and comfortable engaging with coworkers on knowledge and ideas—a win-win situation for employees and your business. 

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