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Three Common Workplace Communication Issues and How to Address Them

Communication issues are seen as the scourge of the modern workplace, and for good reason. A new study estimates that poor communication in the workplace leads to a $1.2 trillion annual loss among U.S. businesses - about $12,506 per employee. Of course, the more communication-heavy an employee’s role is, the more pronounced the losses will be.

Collaborative environments lead to increased morale, productivity, and motivation. Employees involved in cross-team collaboration tend to have easy access to all the information they need to get their work done, and teams are aligned in their goals. 

However, just the act of getting employees to speak to one another more frequently does not in and of itself equal an effectively collaborative environment. A truly efficient team knows when to, and when not to, collaborate.

The two types of poor workplace communication

Poor workplace communication tends to come in one of two forms - though some companies suffer from both. The most classic example involves disconnected, siloed teams; ones where each team knows so little about all the other teams in the company, they might as well be on separate planets.

Siloed teams are often working with incomplete information, or are confused about goals or KPIs. Procedures and processes fall by the wayside, conventions are overlooked, and goals are missed. 

The most well-known example of siloed teams is when marketing, customer service, and sales are all completely separate. How can marketing send qualified leads to sales if they don’t have conversions data? How can customer service assist with post-purchase issues if they don’t have access to sales communications? 

This workplace communication issue is exactly what a revenue operations strategy seeks to remedy.

On the flip-side, there’s companies that attempt to facilitate collaboration, but do so in an ineffective way. Have you ever heard someone complain that they were in a meeting that “could have been an email”? That’s an example of how collaborative efforts can end up making employees less productive.

Information should be shared between teams regularly and systematically. Time is wasted when meetings are sporadic, unstructured, and too frequent.

Let’s get into some of the most common communication issues teams experience, and how to address them. 

Issue 1: Missing Information

Workers can’t function in an information vacuum. They need data from other departments to complete their work, whether that’s in the form of client direction, customer feedback, conversions data, or budgetary reports.

When an employee is missing crucial info, they will likely need to waste time searching through old emails or waiting for a response from someone in another department. It’s estimated that the average knowledge worker spends 2.5 hours a day searching for information. That really adds up over time!

Then, there are times when employees don’t even know they’re missing information. If they believe they have all they need, they’ll end up putting out poor quality work that misses the mark. More time will then need to be wasted fixing what’s already been done.

The best way to address this issue is to ensure each employee knows where to go (or who to go to) for information, and create open, consistent lines of communication everyone can follow. Pick a singular communication tool for everyone to use, whether that’s an instant-messaging service like Slack, a collaborative project management tool like ClickUp, or whatever is best suited to your company.

Implement communication training that clearly defines each employee’s role, and get everyone on the same page with the communication tool you choose.

Issue 2: Misaligned Expectations

When you roll out a new project, how is every team member informed of their responsibilities? Before beginning a project, is every relevant team member informed of project goals, and the metrics you’re using to measure the quality of the work?

If you’ve noticed missed deadlines, misunderstandings among team members, and a general feeling of disorganization throughout the course of projects, misaligned expectations are a likely culprit.

Before a new project begins, it’s a good idea to have a meeting outlining:

  • The purpose of the project
  • The roles of each team as a whole, and each individual team member
  • A step-by-step overview of how the project should be completed
  • The goals of the project
  • The metrics you will use to measure goal completion
  • The timeline of the project, with clear deadlines

Project goals should be SMART - Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Every employee should know what success looks like, and how their work is being evaluated.

Issue 3: Too Many Meetings

Conventional wisdom dictates that the more employees collaborate, the better. However, this assumption sometimes falls flat. Time is wasted when more people get involved in a project than is necessary, and lots of extra time is invested in meetings that don’t accomplish much. 

This goes back to the clarity of goals, expectations, and roles. We need to be sure employees are asking the right people the right questions. When roles are ill-defined and data is scattered, hours are sunk into simply figuring out what everyone is supposed to be doing.

At the beginning of a project, plan to hold regular check-in meetings at specific intervals related to the project timeline. Make sure everyone has access to a single source of truth, such as an integrated CRM with all behavioral and conversions data. 

Of course, inevitably some questions will arise. This is why you’ll also need to make it clear that all information does not need to be dispelled through face-to-face meetings. An excellent way to prevent sporadic, unproductive meetings from popping up constantly among employees is to define company-wide asynchronous communication channels that everyone can use. 

The bottom line

Workplace communication issues are best treated when nipped in the bud. Address the root of siloed teams through structured and timely alignment meetings, and by clearly defining expectations for each employee from the get-go.

A revenue operations strategy aligns your go-to-market teams and facilitates data-driven decisions. RevOps is designed to increase productivity through systematic team alignment. Download our free eBook to learn more about how to implement this innovative strategy and achieve your goals.


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