One of the single biggest barriers to effective communication ... your office!
Ask most leaders what stands in the way of getting the results they want, they will invariably include something along the lines of, "We need better communication." There are so many barriers to effective communication and a myriad of workplace troubles can be attributed to poor communication:
I'm sure you've had the frustration of things not being done correctly because someone didn't 'get the memo'! Or misinterpreted what the information provided to them. One of the barriers to effective communication, over which you have total control is personal contact!
In today's era of electronic communication, people frequently use email, text, and instant messaging as a substitute for face-to-face contact.
You wouldn't try to close a deal with a major customer via email. Yet, people have been known to attempt to handle sensitive or delicate issues, (for example, make significant organizational changes), by sending out an email. Then they wonder why their people are angry, and frustrated and the organization is in chaos.
You can't lead if you don't know your people. You need to know their hopes, beliefs, personality and how they react to decisions that impact them. Most communication barriers in organizations are stripped away when you know your people. When you have taken the time to build rapport and trust. With this in mind, you build real rapport and trust when people can see your face.
Much of our communication cues comes from facial expressions and tone of voice. Electronic mediums just don't convey these.
Despite this, some still prefer to send an email, or an instant message, to people who are only a few steps away.
In today's cut down organizations, leaders are exceptionally busy with heavy workloads. Nonetheless, please don't use that as an excuse. It is critical to remember that you are in a leadership position, and part of your moral imperative is to bring out the best in your people.
The most important thing you can do
is to be accessible,
regularly meet with,
and talk to your people.
Get off your computer, and walk down the hallway. Connect with, and be a part of your team. Then when it comes time to make substantial changes, or implement a new idea, people will be willing to go with you. This is because you have built trust. It becomes payback time... in the nicest possible way.
There is a place for all communication channels, electronic and real-life contact. Recognize that electronic should support, not replace face-to-face communication.
When you choose your communication medium wisely, you give yourself the best shot at improving the performance, and engagement, of your people.
To sum up, when you take the time to get up and talk to your people, you'll eliminate one of the biggest barriers to effective communication.
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