Why Effective Workplace Communication is So Crucial

Liz King

Assumption is the mother of all failures. A great deal of people would rather presume and assume what another individual is thinking, as opposed to asking the individual directly. Communication can alleviate assumptions and provide clarity on direction. Marriages fail because of lack of communication. Employees get frustrated with one another and/or management due to lack of communication. Then there is the office gossip and water cooler groups that spread rumors and embellished stories in various departments. Communication is critical to being successful in the workplace, personal relationships, and life in general.

In a work setting, establishing good communication can mean the difference between a mediocre or outstanding fiscal year. Employees want to feel like they are contributing to an organization’s growth and prosperity. Employees want to be acknowledged and shown gratitude for their hard work. A bonus or promotion is not always an option, but a kudos or, “Nice job on that project” can go a long way. It is a confidence booster to an employee who may be questioning his/her abilities. Lastly, the acknowledgement demonstrates that someone is watching and taking note of that employee’s efforts to be productive.

Mangers are often pulled in various directions and sometimes lose sight of the individual members of their teams. It happens; no one is perfect. However, managers need to find the time to have one on one’s and discuss areas of concern. Managers need to have team building events at least once a month, to give their teams some down time and get to know them on a personal level. Employees appreciate a manager who takes interest in them, in more than just a business capacity. I am not stating that a manager must attend a ballet recital or sweet sixteen party, but the manager could ask his/her employee how those events turned out. The display of interest will help in building rapport with the employees. Overall morale will start to improve, and then positive feedback will start to spread throughout the organization. Employees work twice as hard when they respect their managers out of admiration, instead of fear.

Communication is especially critical when being assigned tasks and projects. Some managers are ambiguous when delegating responsibilities, and this is unnerving to some employees. If there is not an open line of communication, the employee will feel uncomfortable asking for clarity. A great deal of employees do not ask questions because 1. He/She does not want to appear stupid in front of the manager. 2. He/She does not know what questions to ask. 3. He/She fears being reprimanded. Having established communication lines can assuage the concerns mentioned. Employees that are comfortable with talking to their managers have no qualms about asking questions, when unsure of how to proceed. They want to make certain they are giving the task/project 110%, because they genuinely aim to please their manager. Poor communication lines can hinder process improvement and productivity.

In my opinion, communication can either be proactive or reactive. I recommend proactive because this approach will put a manager, partner, or individual in front of the problem, instead of behind the problem. Keeping abreast of situations, by talking with your teams and leads, is essential to be an effective leader. Employees are more likely to tell you when a fire is about to start, as opposed to waiting until the fire is full blaze. Managers that choose the reactive approach are not as successful as they like to imagine that they are. Employees hold back on communicating with them, from fear of being scolded, or reprimanded in front of the team. Some managers will patronize and speak in a condescending manner to employees and that is unprofessional and simply an abuse of power. There are alternative ways to express displeasure with an employee while still allowing the employee to maintain his/her dignity. To not put yourself or team into an uncomfortable situation, always having healthy communication is the solution.