Individuals within organisations, irrespective of size or sphere, struggle with the issues resulting from breakdown in communications. This disease is not restricted to particular departments or grades but one which pervades all organisations at all levels and in all areas. Marketing departments struggle to work well with IT as the creative clashes with the technical. Sales and product development teams reach impasses due to differing objectives. Waitressing staff struggle with their relationship with the kitchen as they are blamed for ruining edible works of art. Law practice managers are abundantly aware that they are not lawyers and will never be treated the same. Damaging clashes of personalities on boards cause a crisis regarding company direction.
A few keys:
- Ensure you ask those on the ‘front line’ about their perceptions regarding communications breakdown.
- Seek to understand where and why interdepartmental conflicts arise.
- Consider how to help your people deal with conflict well and how you can engender a culture where a challenging the status quo is encouraged.
- Do not view Internal/Organisational Communications as an HR responsibility but rather consider how the skills of assertiveness, conflict resolution, and mediation can permeate throughout.
These struggles arise from many things such as: misunderstanding and differences in perspectives between teams and departments; lack of information to enable individuals to do their job effectively; significant changes happening around people which they have had no involvement with and feel threatened by, and an inability to work well with certain members of their team due to clashes in personality and values.
Organisations will often say that breakdown in communications internally is a major issue. However, although they automatically invest in marketing and communications externally, they will rarely invest in it internally. Often it is seen as a soft immeasurable area and yet when asked about the effect these conflicts have it is abundantly clear that the result is almost always a loss in productivity. http://business.uni.edu/buscomm/Interpersonal/ConflictPrevention.htm, http://www.ehow.com/info_8380825_poor-communication-affect-organization.html
This is not an Employee Communications issue; not an issue that should or actually can be sorted out by Human Resources. The development of healthy Internal/Organisational Communications is an organisation-wide responsibility. When viewed as an Employee Communications area it is easy to lay the blame for its ineffectiveness there and to walk away from it, viewing it as someone else’s responsibility.
Organisational Communications are like the neural network of organisational life. The neural network has to reach everywhere in the organism, unhindered. If it is cut off or damaged, in some areas, it is possible for the 'head' not to know it has lost an 'arm'. It is not hard to see the potential of applying this analogy to large institutions.