There are big challenges when leaders are tasked with disseminating the organisation’s strategic objectives down the line and turning it into actions at the grass roots level.
Some common communication challenges in hierarchical organisations include;
- Misrepresentation of information or messages, often due to poor communication skills;
- Information delay due to various touch points due to there often being several layers within the organisation to contend with;
- Downward communication is more valued than upward communication, common in large organisations;
- Gatekeepers slow down the flow of information;
- Information overload – excessive electronic communication rather than real time discussion;
- Cultural and generational barriers;
- Lack of listening from management; and
- Isolation and silos between departments.
These are just some of the common challenges that get in the way of clearly communicating organisational objectives.
In order to get better results when communicating within an organisation and avoid these types of challenges organisations need to improve their communication flow. This is done by improving upward and downward communication as well as lateral communication.
Suggestions to improve upward and downward communication:
- Create the opportunity for face to face discussion, avoid wherever possible endless emails, often a 5-minute discussion can eliminate 20 emails back and forth;
- Show leadership by walking around and being seen across the business, responding and engaging with frontline staff;
- Open door policy, encourage your teams to clarify and ask questions in real time; and
- Create alternative communication channels, provide options to escalate challenges or problems.
Improving lateral communication:
- Keep the overall purpose and key objectives front of mind;
- Be responsive to the needs of different learning styles;
- Establish regular meetings with departmental managers to collaborate and share ideas/ challenges; and
- Departmental managers could present to different areas of the business to showcase what they are doing and how the different departments could benefit.
The other essential element to consider is how you and your teams are communicating with each other.
Here are Future Institute’s 5 levels of communication from least effective to highly effective, ask yourself where you sit on the scale of 1-5? What can you do to improve?
- Telling – one-way communication – This is our purpose, we must do it, get on board or get out. (this can be classified as a Crisis Management approach).
- Selling – Persuasive style, we are the best, you should buy in to our purpose!! (if you are using this level you are treating employees like clients).
- Testing – Interactive communication approach, here are some possible directions of where we are headed, what don’t you like, what do you like? (Test opinion with a key person/s and apply the feedback and re-define).
- Consultative – Inclusive style, asking your team for input on a direction or objective, seek ways to improve? (this approach is including your employees as consultants)
- Co-create – Collaborative style, let’s work as a team to create our new purpose. (The team working as one to create what they want).
Levels 4 and 5 consultative and co-create are at the dream state, if you and your teams are communicating at this level you will more than likely already have exceptional two way and lateral communication in your business. Chances are though that there is room for improvement.
Are you doing enough to encourage effective communication both upward, downward and laterally? Is there room to improve the level in which you communicate as an organisation?
If you would like more information on communication flow and effective communication training, get in touch by calling or emailing us.