What are the causes of communication breakdown in business?

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Communication is essential to the success of any business. A lack of clear communication can end up being prejudicial on all levels of your organization. Aproximately, one-third of all failed or delayed projects are a result of a breakdown in communication. 

Being able to identify the most common breakdowns in communication can help us to prevent future communication breakdowns. With that in mind, the following are some of the most common communication breakdowns in business.

Not having a communication plan

Every business should have a communication plan in place. This plan should inform employees, managers, and stakeholders, how, where, and when they should communicate. Without such a plan, it can be hard to know what the correct process for communicating is.

A hierarchical organization

A structure too vertical or complex makes information flow difficult; some information might get lost and other must get distorted. Sometimes, you have different offices in different geographical places and that makes collaboration and communication even more complicated.

Unopened line of communication with the management

If your employees cannot communicate easily with management, then it is going to be difficult for management to keep track of what their employees are doing and what kind of progress they are making and what they required. They need to communicate with each other efficiently in order to ask questions, address issues, or to stay up to date. A lack of communication lines between employees and management will make the employees less productive and they might even feel less valued since there is no way for them to have their issues addressed. 

Sending irrelevant information

If managers are constantly sending messages to their employees and those messages are irrelevant for their duties, then employees are going to begin ignoring those messages. This can be a real problem, particularly if an urgent message get ignored because the recipients assume that might be irrelevant.

No platform for workplace communication

Companies should use a secure communication platform to communicate with their employees. If you do not have that, team members will find ways to communicate with each other, but this might lead to employees using modes of communication that may not be secure. For example, they may send emails to each other containing sensitive information situation that will put at risk sensitive data and will makes it more difficult to track productivity.

There are plenty of software solutions to communicate directly with your employees and to share relevant information. Such platforms not only promote secure and easy communication, but they make it easier for employees to work together and for managers to track the progress of their tasks.

Incorrect ways of communication

Different interactions require different modes of communication. The topic and urgency of the message will define the right way of communication. For example, if you have an urgent message for your employees, mailing out letters to their individual addresses is not the right way to address this issue. Calling them directly might be an effective way to ensure that they receive the urgent message.

Managers keep employees out of the loop

Making sure employees are able to communicate with managers is fundamental to keep efficient communication channels, but it is also important to ensure that managers use these channels to communicate with their employees. One of the issues that many companies have is that their managers assume that employees do not need to know everything. However, keeping employees informed about, what the organization’s goals are, how the projects are doing, and how the company is doing, makes them feel that they are actually an important part of the business and have a stake in how it does. Consequently, they become more involved, more productive, and more emotionally invested in the success of your company.

Stressful work environment

The stressful work environment can strain communication between employees in the workplace. An example of this is when employees are feeling overloaded, and the company does not have enough staff. A stressful work environment can make it hard for employees to communicate effectively. If they are overwhelmed with work, they may forget to send important messages to their managers or coworkers, and that will affect negatively communication.

Also, if employees are afraid of sharing their views or if the work environment is way too competitive, they may keep back information from coworkers that could help them do their job more effectively.

How to solve communication breakdown

The first step to avoid and solve communication breakdown is being aware about what the problems are. The following steps can help you to understand and deal with communication issues.

Pay attention to how people communicate

Make an effort to understand your workers communication style. This point might seem obvious, but it takes conscious effort. For managers is essential to understand how each member of their team communicates. They also should know the best to present information and feedback in order for an individual or a team. Taking the time to understand what makes a person tick will make your interactions with them more effective.

Provide the right tools

According to the Economist report, 63% of respondents believe communication could be improved by using a wider range of tools. Different people have different communication styles and they need certain tools communicate more effectively. In some cases, people need to be able to choose the tool that allows them to share their ideas and feedback effectively,

Many workplace communication tools revolve around the written word. This is the optimal method for certain instances; however, there are also times when images or videos can be more effective. 

Provide the resources

Just like any skill, communicating can get easier with practice. There are many trainings designed to help employees communicate with their colleagues, regardless of differing communication styles. For instance, some team members might need to overcome their fear of public speaking while other need to improve the way they collaborate effectively within a team or how to provide feedback concisely

In addition to the tools, mentioned above, entrepreneurs should be able to provide training so people across generations can understand the best way to use them.

Be transparent

Always be transparent about your business goals and progress towards those goals. By doing that, you can keep everyone on the same page so they can know how their individual contributions influences the larger company vision. General meetings can be effective to share views and goals while 1:1 meetings can provide an ideal setting for managers to talk with their workers about specific issues and to understand their communication styles and the way they would like to receive feedback and instructions. In addition, managers can coach supervisors on how to better communicate with team members.

Be willing to learn and improve

Some people feel comfortable just speaking out during a meeting to express an opinion, others might prefer taking their time to formulate an idea and communicate it in a written form. If you are a manager, learning about everyone’s preferences might be helpful to improve communication within the organization.

Empower your team to communicate constantly

Providing a solution for real-time employee communication means that employees can get the answers they need to do a good job in a timely manner and companies can ensure that all internal business communication data is owned and stored by the company.

Focus on solutions 

When there is a total breakdown in communication, the natural reaction is to panic. Most people start blaming each other group or team, which make the problem even bigger. Clearly, this is the wrong approach. The main thing is to focus on a solution to move on from the communication breakdown. How hard is that? It could be as simple as extending tasks timelines, changing the way communicate and interact with the team. You will need to get feedback from all parties involved to achieve this.

Ask questions 

Making assumptions is a recipe for disaster. If you have any doubt or you do not understand it, take the initiative to ask questions. If there is already a communication breakdown, do not hesitate to ask questions. When you get to any point where you are unclear about anything, ask questions.


In conclusion, we can always recover from a communication breakdown in order to be able to communicate better. A good way to achieve this is by paying attention to your team to see how they communicate and interpret information. This would help you reduce the incidence of communication breakdown. Take the time to check and analysis how those around you communicate, make your goals clear and give employees the tools and trainings they need to communicate across styles. 

It is important to remember all sides of a communication breakdown, those who communicated and those who were communicated to. (clients or staff). Whoever is involved, it’s costly to let the breakdown to continue, especially once it has been identified.

Maintaining a high level of accurate communication is imperative. With project managers spending nearly 70-80% of their time communicating, getting this part right will improve results and you will see that in all your projects.

DataScope is a platform which allows various industries to streamline, organize and evaluate the work of their field staffs thanks to online forms which provide real time indicators 100% adaptable to any field.

Photo taken from Pixabay.

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Sandra Melo

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