In any business, efficient communication internally is a key factor of success and employee morale. When employees are able to understand each other, they’re able to work better together and therefore create a better experience for the customers as well. A strong communication flow allows a message to go from top to bottom, laterally, and even diagonally across departments. However, having an effective communication flow is easier said than done.
Typically messages from a CEO become distorted, leaving them indistinguishable from the original as they pass through an organisation. Part of this is due to the sheer number of people the message must travel through. The same problem is evident when a message must navigate a confusing organisational structure. Each recipient must receive, decode and understand the message before it’s then encoded and transmitted to the next person, resulting in fast confusion. However, the number of people in a communication flow is just one reason communication can be disrupted:
People can only process so much information, and it’s possible that amount is getting smaller in today’s age of social media. According to a Deloitte study, people check their devices 47 times on average across all age groups, with the number significantly higher among younger people. In order to avoid overloading colleagues with information, minimise the number of communication channels you use while keeping your message clear and concise.
Tribalism occurs when similar personalities, traits, and loyalty cause people to support the interests of a group rather than the business as a whole. Although tribalism can be beneficial within an organisation, it can also be destructive to the flow of communication as people begin to mislead, undermine or refuse to communicate with other tribes.
Poor retention of information can occur for a number of reasons, including lack of motivation, an inability to understand and too much mental stress.. Making sure employees feel recognised, are paid well and not overworked are a few ways to improve retention.
One of the strongest disruptors of communication is noise. Sarcasm, biases, jargon, and talking speed are all common forms of noise. Too much noise in a message can result in wrong perceptions and ultimately the breakdown of a communication flow. It’s up to both the sender and receiver to eliminate noise, making it one of the more painful types of disruption.