Evan Hackel

By Evan Hackel

The High Cost of Bad Communication

The High Cost of Bad Communication 150 150 Evan Hackel

To really understand the importance of communication in a company, it’s helpful to look at what it costs an organization that suffers from bad communication . . .

  • Inability to execute – People become stalled and don’t believe that they are able to get important things done. On the surface it might look like you are dealing with a morale issue – people not believing in themselves – but if you look deeper, bad communication is at least part of the cause. When people do not understand why they are being asked to do something, they fail to act. They do just enough to get by. Because they are not motivated to achieve anything significant for themselves or for the organization, they become complacent. Growth and improvement stall.
  • Ineffective, repetitive communication – If you are an executive in an organization where bad communication patterns have become ingrained, you have become frustrated by the repeated, extra and pointless work that it takes to get even simple things done. It seems that you need to communicate to people constantly and repeatedly, just to keep them in the know. They’re not visiting your intranet/extranet, they don’t read the emails you send and if they do, the information they contain isn’t absorbed. So you do what you have to do – you spend countless hours calling and talking to them to make sure they have the information they need to work, be successful, and ultimately to help ensure the company is successful. All those extra man-hours you are investing to get people up to speed take you away from the higher-level tasks that you should be performing as an executive. You have to waste other people’s time too, because you have to intrude on the time they should be allocating to more important activities.
  • Inefficiencies and high operating expenses – According to “The High Cost of Poor Communication,” a report from the 360 Solutions consulting organization, poor communication patterns are costly as well as frustrating. In a company with 100 employees where inefficient communication patterns have taken hold, company leadership has to invest an average of 17 hours each week striving just to clarify communication. That translates to an annual cost to the company of $528,443. According to the study, some of the most costly forms of bad communication include closed-minded leaders who cut off feedback, interruptions, a preponderance of negative body language, and downright anger.

Communication Best Practices

One of the best things you can do for your organization (besides hiring a communication professional) is to make sure everyone from the top down understands the importance of good communication practices in your organization. Here are some of the best practices to keep in mind.

Strive to know your audience . . .

Knowing what makes your audience tick is incredibly important to ensuring that your communications are read and absorbed. Put yourself in the shoes of the people with whom you are communicating. Strive to understand why they will or should care about the project or initiative you are addressing. In short, what’s in it for them? Once you truly understand your audience, you can more effectively target your communications.

Build engagement through participation . . .

We often hear people say, “If we did everything by committee, we’d never get anything done.” There is some truth to that saying. However, I think people should think about it this way: “If we did everything by committee, we might not implement everything we thought we should, but that’s because we determined that it wasn’t worth doing. And what we did implement helped us move toward our shared vision and do things right the first time.”

Genuine participation in important projects and processes is a key to success. Getting people to participate in projects (especially those that affect them directly) can help improve their level of engagement within any organization. Here are some steps you can take to encourage participation . . .

  • Convert people into stakeholders – Talk to them, ask them how they would address problems, listen to them, and strive to understand the issue from their perspective. Remember that the more involved they are in a project, the more they will buy-in and work for its success. Really listen to them and be sure to consider their ideas when making decisions and planning processes.
  • Use committed task forces – Create steering committees of thought leaders within your organization to get input and insight and buy-in. Encourage people to ask, “How does this initiative help us get closer to achieving our organization’s goals?” and, “How does it align to our mission, vision, and values?”
  • Let staff members participate in the communications process – Encourage them to contribute articles and other resources, let them invite feedback on the information they have provided, share information, conduct polls, and to be proactive in communications within your organization.