Communication Challenges

Communication in the best of circumstances is difficult, but there are also situations which make it even harder to ensure that the message sent is the message received. In these instance additional effort needs to take place to minimize the barriers to clear communication. Some of the problems include environmental issues and others include problems in perception. Here are some suggestions that will lead to increased productivity.

Environmental issues:

There are numerous environmental issues that make communication difficult. With more people working remotely logistics often cause issues with communication. Working remotely has many perks for individuals, but also some challenges in helping the person feel connected to the workplace. With video conferencing and skype there are ways to communicate face-to-face, which not only feels more personal, but also gives you the benefit of nonverbal communication. It is important to connect regularly with your remote workers and is helpful to have a regularly scheduled meeting. With international workers there are also challenges with time zones as well as cultural differences, but your additional effort to connect and understand each other will result in clearer communication. Whenever possible it will be helpful to bring your employees face-to-face at least once a quarter.

Another challenge is the level of noise in your facility. Many manufacturing facilities have high levels of noise which require ear protection further complicating communication. While touring two local plants within one organization, even the noise level varied between the two facilities. In these instances, a good deal of communication needs to take place visually. Another facility has such a level of noise that people do not understand one another standing side-by-side and screaming at one another. Motorola advertises equipment which minimizes background noise and makes clearer communication possible.

Perceptual Barriers:

You know what they say about assuming!!! People often assume that their message has gone through as planned or people have communicated something because they hold a certain position on a team. The organizational chart is good for understanding who holds a particular position but does little to tell what communication is taking place. In these instances, it is imperative that communication is driven from the top and people are held accountable for making sure information is cascaded through the organization. One way to ensure that communication takes place is to spend a few minutes at the end of a meeting discussing what has been agreed upon and how the communication is to move forward. This is an excellent opportunity to minimize miscommunication by clearing up false perceptions before your people need to go back and clear up issues that have arisen. It is also helpful if hold people accountable by putting communication in their review and tying it to their compensation. Poor communication costs your organization millions of dollars a year, so it is important to put as many safe guards in place as possible.

Another opportunity to clear up false perceptions is to ask the person if they understand the assignment and in some instances ask them to reiterate what you had said so you can clear up any misperceptions to reduce the stress and problems that can happen. On a project management team communication is of utmost importance because the timing of a project can be thrown off when someone misunderstands a requirement causing issues for the client as well as throwing off others on the schedule. In many instances it is helpful to use multiple communication modalities because people take in information differently. Some assimilate information through hearing, some visually, and some kinesthetically. By reinforcing communication in many ways you can minimize the number of issues that arise and enjoy reduced stress, improved productivity, and increased profitability.

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