One of the single biggest barriers to effective communication ... your office!
Ask most leaders what stands in the way of greater effectiveness in their businesses, and they will invariably include "We need better communication."
A myriad of workplace troubles - interpersonal conflict, low productivity, high turnover, low quality and/or service, low morale - can all be attributed to poor communication.
But let's focus on one of the barriers to effective communication over which you have total control ... Personal contact!
In today's era of electronic communication, far too many people are using email, text and instant messaging as a substitute for face-to-face contact. You wouldn't try to close a deal with an important customer via email, yet leaders have been known to attempt to, handle sensitive or delicate issues, for example make major organizational changes, by sending out an email. Then wonder why their people are angry and frustrated and their organization is in chaos.
Are you guilty of using technology to deliver messages you are uncomfortable with presenting face-to-face?
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So many people use the electronic medium to deliver tough messages, hoping it will shelter them from the fall-out of people's emotions. Understand it may shelter you for a short-time, but eventually the proverbial ****! will hit the fan!
Most communication barriers in organizations are stripped away when we know well the character, needs, and consequent reactions of the people who are impacted by our decisions.
Regular face-to-face contact builds rapport and trust.
Yet, even though people know this, they still prefer to send an email, or an instant message, to people who are only a few steps away.
In today's cut down organizations, leaders are exceptionally busy with heavy workloads. But, please don't use that as an excuse. It is critical to remember that you are in a leadership position to bring out the best in the people you work with.
Get off your computer, and walk down the hallway, and really connect with, and be a part of, your team. Then when it comes time to make large changes, or to implement a new idea, people will be willing to come with you, because you have built a level of trust. It becomes payback time... in the nicest possible way.
There is a place for all communication channels, electronic and real-life contact, recognize that electronic should only support, not replace face-to-face communication. When the communication medium is wisely chosen, you give yourself the best shot at improving the performance, and feeling of engagement, of your people. Take the time to get up and talk to them and only choose electronic when it really is the best - not the easiest way to communicate.
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