5 Myths About Workplace Communication

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5 Myths About Workplace Communication

Employers constantly find themselves battling communication issues between employees and managers in the workplace. These issues commonly stem from not understanding the basics of good communication, mistaking frequency for quality, and making inaccurate assumptions about how much information others want and need to know. Here are 5 myths about workplace communication that your organization should consider "debunking" to improve communication.

1. If your employees are talking to you frequently, you have good communication.

Regular one-on-one "catch up" meetings between your employees and supervisors do not guarantee that quality communication is taking place. Despite these meetings, misunderstandings and communication breakdowns can still happen. Frequency of communication, while important, has little to do with how effective the communication between your supervisors and employees actually is. Focus instead of what is actually being discussed in those meetings and how it's being said.

2. Line employees are the main reason that communication suffers in the workplace.

Sometimes...but not usually. Effective communication is important at all levels of the organization, but is most important and more commonly expected at the manager level. After all, managers spend the majority of their time communicating with all levels of the organization, including other departments, employees, managers, and leaders. Their job is to make sure people have the information they need to do their jobs well and that they have the information necessary to manage their departments and employees. This involves sharing lots of information and asking lots of questions. As a result, when there is a communication problem, it usually falls on the manager.

3. An open-door policy is enough to encourage employees to share their concerns and ideas.

If you think that your organization's open-door policy is enough to encourage employees' sharing of opinions, ideas, and concerns, you're probably placing too much faith in your policy. Simply saying that your organization has an open-door policy does not necessarily ensure that employees will actually take advantage of this policy and voice their concerns to management. You will probably need to make more proactive attempts to gather employees' ideas and encourage their input if you value two-way communication with your staff.

4. Employees aren't interested in, privy to, or already know information.

This may be true for some of your employees, but not of all of them. Many employees desire more information about the organization and what it's trying to achieve, and your organization has a responsibility to share it with them. When employees are treated as partners in the business and given access to sensitive information, they are more likely to engage in their work and create greater value for your business. Additionally, never assume that employees already know something that is important for them to do their job. A good deal of communication problems result from assuming that people already know information they actually don't know.

5. Information is the foundation of good workplace communication.

Information is important, but trust and communication skills are the true foundations of good communication in the workplace, and both need to be developed over time. Trust is also one of the major reasons communication fails in the workplace. When departments don't trust other departments, employees don't trust their managers, and leaders don't trust employees, information gets withheld, decisions are made without consulting others, conflicts emerge, and everyone starts choosing their words less wisely and thoughtfully. Similarly, communication skills need to be built and fostered among all levels of your employees, and especially your managers, through training, coaching, and practice.

Communication issues affect every organization, but "debunking" common myths and assumptions about communication can be a good first step to improve communication in your organization and especially between your managers and employees.

Additional Resources

Supervisory Series
In this series, participants will gain an understanding of how to communicate effectively with others in the workplace, in addition to dealing with everyday challenges of being a supervisor, resolving workplace conflict, and managing performance and coaching. This series is offered in AM sessions and PM sessions and begins February 7th.

Communication & Interpersonal Skills TrainingERC specializes in communication, interpersonal, and soft-skills training for all levels of the organization. Click here to view the many training courses we offer. These courses can also be customized to meet the needs of your organization.  For more information, please contact ckutsko@yourerc.com.

Communication Skills Training