Workplace Communication Twists and Turns create Turmoil

You may remember playing the game Grapevine when you were a kid. We sat in a circle passing a message from one person to the next only to laugh heartily at the end when what was said was nothing close to the original. Yesterday, I was reminded of the game because texting brought it into real life for me.My husband and I were dropping off the kids with a friend for a birthday party dinner, and I simply texted her “We are here.” Unfortunately, what I didn’t know is that my “smart” phone somehow changed it to “We ate here.” She proceeded to call her husband to let him know our plans had changed. He turns his kids around and begins to head back our way in anticipation of the new plans. Soon enough we reconnected and remedied the disconnect.

What may be a funny misunderstanding in this situation would be more frustrating in business—where managers and frontline employees must absolutely rely on one another to deliver and receive details correctly. Workplace communication is crucial to a team.

“Without communication and the team effort it permits, the successful completion of any important project can be jeopardized.” Applied Statistics for Business and Economics, Allen Webster

The importance of good communication is a core fundamental of better management. Everything a manager does involves a level of communication because they receive higher level direction and must be able to translate it to day-to-day actions.  Communication is the bridge between team members creating synergy within the team. When done correctly this is how we achieve organizational goals more rapidly and on target.

What are not always talked about are the ramifications of poor communication. Well, in a nutshell it directly affects task implementation in the following 3 ways:

  1. Lowers Morale – If you don’t “understand the task” it can be a main point of on-the-job frustration.
  2. Promotes Mistakes – When communication is poor it is harder to “perform the task” effectively.
  3. Jeopardizes Productivity – Employees cannot “accomplish the task” to expectation when the above two issues exist.

Knowing the issues may be half the battle but in this case there is more to it. Think about all the noise that can interfere with any of your communication efforts such as, differences in learning, listening/hearing, culture, and general audience diversity—not to mention—information overload, multi-tasking, and working memory. All of these distort the information received in some way. Let’s take a closer look at the learn piece to make a clearer point.

How We Learn William Glasser

10% of what we READ

20% of what we HEAR

30% of what we SEE

50% of what we SEE and HEAR

70% of what is DISCUSSED with OTHERS


95% of what we TEACH TO SOMEONE ELSE

So what do we do about communication now? Here’s a start. Your workplace communication needs to meet the following four criteria to be deemed “100% successful” with anyone.

  • Simple
  • Visual
  • Action-Oriented
  • Quick and Easy to Remember

By following these communication criteria your message will cut through the clutter, become memorable, and even more so, become actionable. Now to refine these efforts further, communicate using both verbal and non-verbal behaviors. Hold a pre-shift huddle, do one-on-ones for harder tasks, and have it written down so everyone can refer back.

Now we’re talking good communication. You and your team will find yourselves motivated by the growing accomplishments bringing your morale and productivity to all time highs. Sounds like a great place to be.

By Shiloh Kelly, Vice President of Marketing, Red Book Solutions


One response to “Workplace Communication Twists and Turns create Turmoil

  1. Pingback: Fuel Your Performer, Don’t Use Them to Empty | Better Managers Blog

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