Communication is critical to team and organization effectiveness. Communication is the lifeblood of trust, cooperation, and teamwork.
But communications is a complex topic with many interconnected elements. Communication breakdowns are a major problem that prevents many leadership teams from being highly effective and leading their organizations to peak performance.
Many breakdowns in leadership communications can be traced to one or more of these common causes:
The team isn’t united in strategic priorities – a team of horses pulling a heavy wagon in different directions can only end in disaster. If leaders are working in their individual silos and don’t have a common focus they’ll work at cross-purposes. Growing friction provides the heat to push the team further apart.
Sending conflicting messages – in one company, head office became known as Puzzle Palace. People in the branches and field offices heard one VP after another come to town delivering different messages. Cost, quality, innovation, safety, production, and customer service were given widely differing levels of emphasis and importance.
Behaviors don’t model the desired culture or values – the most effective communication is face-to-face. But the most believable communication is behavior. People in today’s workplaces have highly sensitive “BS meters” and are quick to spot and label a leader as phony or the real deal.
Little personal feedback on leadership behaviors – we judge ourselves by our intentions. No one else can read our thoughts so they can only judge us by our actions. Less effective leaders don’t have effective tools and channels that provide ways for their team members and others to give them honest feedback.
Not safe to discuss moose-on-the-table – touchy or politically sensitive topics are often avoided. Everyone knows there’s a big critter (moose, elephant, 800 pound gorilla) in the room but everyone’s pretending it’s not there.
How’s your team communication? Which one or two of these factors might be derailing your team? How do you know? Compounding the problem is that less effective leaders often think their teams don’t have these problems. They don’t know what they don’t know.