In addition to forcing the entire world into distributed work before many of us were ready, the coronavirus pandemic taught us an unexpected lesson. As everyone struggled with the challenges of working from home, it became increasingly clear that many businesses simply had no idea how to communicate — not digitally, at least. This was not immediately evident within a traditional workplace.
The capacity to host in-person meetings in an environment where everyone was physically there masked this fact for years. Certainly, people still found themselves frustrated by ineffective communication. By pointless meetings, confusing email chains, and disconnected leadership.
It was only once the world began working remotely that the cracks really began to show. That was the point at which face-to-face communication could no longer be used as a crutch. Isolated and separated from the workplace, employees no longer had access to the tools they needed for their work.
And yet in most cases, the organization simply keeps chugging along, with leadership blissfully unaware that the left hand has no idea what the right is doing. If you’re here, it’s likely because you suspect your business is in precisely this scenario. Let’s go over how you can tell — and more importantly, what you can do about it.
The Red Flags of Failing Communication
Communication problems within an organization are often obvious to everyone expect for leadership. As such, your first step should be to simply ask your employees if they have any comments or concerns. They’re in the best position to inform you if something isn’t working as it should (or at all).
That said, there are certain symptoms you should look for, as well.
- Communication silos abound. People from different teams and departments rarely, if ever, communicate with each other. Adversarial cliques form within the workplace, and people working in different parts of the organization are constantly side-eyeing each other. Interdepartmental communication is an uphill battle.
- Double the effort, half the returns. Version control is an absolute nightmare. You’re constantly seeing multiple copies of the same work, done by different people. Important edits are lost in the chaos.
- What was I supposed to do again? Uncertainty about deadlines. Confusion about roles and responsibilities. Lack of insight into the scope of multiple projects. People are confused; no one knows what to do or who to even ask.
- Emails. Emails everywhere. Even looking at your inbox is overwhelming. Multiple email threads with multiple people working on multiple projects. Something is almost guaranteed to get lost in the sea of noise.
- No time in the present. Nobody’s schedule seems to align. Some employees are overloaded and overwhelmed with work, while others constantly turn in projects well past their projected due date. This could be an issue of calendar management, or it could be a symptom of something deeper.
- A matter of tone. Domineering, aggressive, or passive-aggressive language abounds. Workplace communiques come with an undercurrent of hostility. No one ever seems to have anything positive to say.
- Out of the loop. Your business lacks a process for onboarding seasonal workers and volunteers. More often than not, they’re left to their own devices. Made to feel like outsiders in the workplace.
The Cultural Consequences of a Communication Breakdown
Whatever the cause of your communication bottleneck, the end results will ultimately be the same. A mounting sense of confusion as critical messages are lost in translation. An ever-growing gulf between staff and leadership.
Some people might attempt to course-correct via platforms such as Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp. Unfortunately, this is likely to only make the problem worse. Message fatigue is a very real thing — employees can end up feeling as though they’re being pulled in multiple directions, making it increasingly difficult for them to focus.
Others might attempt to fix the problem by over-communicating. Endless, productivity-draining meetings, an influx of emails, messages about every little thing, no matter how irrelevant. Once again, this will only end up making things worse.
Ultimately, in spite of everyone’s best efforts, morale will decline. Productivity will spiral into the toilet. Eventually, you’ll be left with an environment in which collaboration is nigh-impossible.
Better Culture Begins With Solidarity
If you’re to break down communication barriers and preserve your business’s culture in a world of distributed work, the first step is to bring everyone together on a single platform.
Here’s where Unio comes in. Intuitive, robust, and reliable, Unio helps you keep everyone informed and connected with voice, video, text, file sharing, and an engaging, integrated newsfeed. Better yet, it’s backed by BlackBerry’s peerless end-to-end encryption, meaning everything stays secure, as well.
Poor communication can kill your business’s culture. Don’t let it. Let Unio help you shatter silos, cut down on unnecessary messaging apps, and bring all your communication under a single umbrella.