Communication Team

How do you know whether your team is suffering from communication issues ? Find out 5 signals !

Lack of communication isn’t just dangerous when it comes to the spread of the coronavirus. It can be disastrous for any type of relationship, and it can have real impacts — for example, your team’s performance may be one of the first casualties when it comes to work.

The key is to be aware of the signs of weak communication so you can take action. These are five signals that there’s a lack of communication inside your business.

1. The strategy cascade is broken.

We’ve all been there at some point: As you attempt to juggle your work and home responsibilities while handling unforeseen emergencies like the current COVID-19 pandemic, it’s easy for your purpose to take a back seat. But everyone within your organization, from the top to the bottom, must know the “why” behind your team’s work so they can take action and not execute tasks thoughtlessly.

Unfortunately, research from Interact found that just one in three frontline workers has high levels of strategic understanding. Because of this, leaders have “tried to bridge the gap between strategy formulation and day-to-day implementation” through the strategy cascade. These are “tools like business strategy presentations, FAQ documents, and even dialogue training.” But they aren’t effective if leaders aren’t cascading messages.

You can change that, however, by communicating your strategy more effectively. Keep the message simple, but also offer a deeper meaning regarding why your organization exists, as well as how each employee plays an integral part. Clearly define your company’s strategy by aligning it with its core values, mission statement, and vision.

2. Unresolved conflict simmers.

“People working together on teams will have conflict,” Janet Zaretsky of Zenith Business previously told Forbes. “However, if they don’t seem to be working it through and are holding on to resentments, it will lead to a failure to perform.”

What red flags should you look out for? Zaretsky says you should be alert to “missing deadlines, gossiping, forming of cliques, complaining, and sub-par work products.” But I would also add that scheduling conflicts, duplicate work, unnecessary meetings, and blaming colleagues should be on your radar.

As for how to resolve conflicts, she suggests “leaders need to be watching for early warning signs and intervening as necessary.” For example, if your team is missing deadlines or has earned a reputation for arriving late, you need to sit down with your teammates to help them solve their time management problems.

3. One-sided conversations abound.

Have you ever attended a meeting where only one person talks and ideas are constantly being shot down? Have you emailed or called a colleague and never gotten a response? These types of one-sided conversations are obvious signs that there’s a communication breakdown. As a result, team members don’t have an opportunity to share their feedback or voice their concerns. They’re left to their own devices.

In small doses, this probably occurs in every organization. If it becomes too common, it could result in a number of issues, like having team members with misaligned goals or priorities, tasks that don’t belong to anyone, or a drop in creativity. Eventually, you’ll have a disengaged team that displays a lack of trust, respect, and responsibility. That’s not just going to negatively impact performance; it may also result in high turnover.

4. Information is limited.

When it comes to transparency, you have to walk a fine line. Let’s say your business had a rough quarter. Before rumors begin to swirl that you’re downsizing, be open and honest with your team members. Explain the situation, and even solicit feedback from them on ways to right the ship without having to let people go.

Overall, promoting transparency is a guaranteed way to establish trust, strengthen innovation, boost morale, establish realistic goals, and flatten hierarchies. You can achieve this by providing your team with information, making face-to-face interactions a priority, encouraging employees to take ownership, and sharing news, both good and bad.

5. Groupthink is emerging, even in unexpected places.

Groupthink, according to Avery Blank, “is when people make decisions in a way that conforms with others, either because individuals want a certain outcome (i.e., have an agenda) or because they value harmony.” While groupthink can be found anywhere, it can have far-reaching consequences. This, in turn, can lead to poor decision-making.

How can you avoid groupthink? Blank offers three simple ways to achieve this. The first is to play devil’s advocate, asking lots of questions to make others think. The second is to question typical outcomes to push your teammates out of their comfort zone to explore new possibilities. The third is to challenge your own thoughts so you’ll become more self-confident. When you’re more confident, you’ll be more comfortable expressing your opinions to others and going against the grain.

If you’ve noticed that your team doesn’t understand its purpose or grapples with unresolved issues, there’s likely more going on below the surface. If people are having one-sided conversations, suffering from a lack of transparency, or fighting groupthink, miscommunication is prevalent. Knowing this, you can take action before it destroys your team’s performance.

John Hall, April, 28th, 2020 on LinkedIn
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