5 Destructive Internal Communication Challenges That Kill Your Projects
And How to Fix Them
Communication is the most powerful thing in the world. It can start and end wars. It can change lives. It can deliver you stellar results during your next project. If your projects look more like disasters by the time all is said and done, communication likely has a lot to do with it.
Internal communications are the foundation of every project. If you’re using outdated communication methods or falling into bad habits, this can have lingering effects. By reshaping the way you communicate, you can likely boost productivity and see better outcomes across every project you complete.
1. Communication is too Slow
If a team member runs across something they need help with, something they don’t understand, or approval to do something before they proceed, what do they do? If they wait until the next day or the next time they meet up with the right person, this is making the process go a lot slower than it needs to. Lags and delays affect the entire team. A combination of workflow automation and better communication will solve that problem.
If you don’t use instant messaging or an update stream of some kind, you’re missing opportunities to collaborate in real time. Quick answers, quick suggestions, and quick approval will drastically boost the speed in which the team can complete a project. Group texting apps work wonders for facilitating this speedy communication. An update stream is a great way for important information to be posted in a visible area of the project where they won't be missed. There are plenty of apps you can use for typed communication, or even quick video conference calls in the event that multiple people need to show or demonstrate something to other members of the group.
2. Detail and Emphasis Are Being Lost
In a long list of objectives and requests, some of the smaller details get buried beneath the big picture. You’re likely dealing with an overwhelming amount of specifications and nuanced information, and if people aren’t receiving that information in small pieces, a lot of it is bound to get lost. Figuring out how to communicate the small stuff and the big stuff at the same time can be a challenge.
This can be fixed by providing a text document to accompany talking points. They can be used for reference during and after a meeting. Creating thought maps, as well as lists of what needs to be done, each with its own sub-list of everything that is required to accomplish the larger goal, will make sure nothing gets lost or forgotten. Even if people are only focused on the lists they are immediately responsible for, they’ll be less likely to overlook those crucial small details that make the big picture possible.
3. Nobody is Using Their Listening Skills
Listening and talking are of equal importance. In an environment where there’s a lot to cover and a short amount of time to do it, people are likely waiting to talk rather than fully listening. Any meeting with a strict sense of urgency or anxiety is almost less productive than skipping the meeting altogether. When listening is important, schedule a little more time and change the structure of your meetings
Make sure you’re planning enough time for a meeting. Create an itinerary where everyone will have an opportunity to talk, so they won’t be focused on getting their chance and missing the information being presented to them. Encourage note taking or appoint a group note taker who can provide a summary of what was discussed and important bits of information that were major takeaways from the meeting.
4. Ideas Aren’t Being Presented Thoroughly
There are three ways to learn: through visuals, through audio, and through hands-on experience. If you feel as though your team members aren’t really “getting it”, a breakdown is happening somewhere in the way the information is being communicated to them. Try presenting the information in different ways.
Sometimes, a presentation that includes video elements can help get the point across. If no one around your office knows how to compile informative videos, you can hire someone to do it for you. These videos are more engaging than lectures, making viewers more likely to retain the information being presented to them. When you have something complicated to communicate, this engagement will likely improve its reception.
5. Only Using One Communication Style
The generations communicate differently. Older team members will prefer subtlety and formality, where millennial employees like blunt, direct, informal types of communication. In order to communicate effectively, you need to accommodate these styles. Some people carry slight generational biases that lead them to communicate with members of other generations the wrong way, and this can also lead to communicational blunders.
In order for the workplace to remain productive and keep communication flowing, these differences need to be respected. Inadvertently talking down to coworkers or making harmful assumptions makes it difficult to work together to achieve a common goal – the successful completion of your big project.
Above all else, be sure to communicate about communication. You don’t want to find out after it’s too late that someone feels as though their input was disregarded – you never know who your next big innovator is going to be.
About the author:
Audrey Robinson is a Project and Communication Manager, currently supporting online data libraries like Datastical and BizDb. Having to work within numerous team and with many different people has taught Audrey about the importance of collaboration and communication – lessons which she now shares with other experts. Feel free to reach out to her at @AudreyyRobinson.