Avoiding a communication breakdown
Ever have a conversation with a customer where they mention something you have no knowledge of, but say it in a tone that makes you think you’re supposed to know — or even worse, that they think you already know?
Maybe it’s a passing mention of a parts order they canceled last minute, or advice your business provided on something they recently purchased. You hear what they’re saying, but you have no recollection of it ever being discussed before.
If it’s happened to you, you’re well aware of how perplexing it can be. Whether intentional or not, someone has kept you out of the loop.
Internal communication breakdowns like these can be crippling to a business. Once information starts slipping through the cracks, it’s only a matter of time before something major eventually falls.
Your company will never reach maximum efficiency unless all of its employees are on the same page.
To stabilize your internal communication, you must encourage employees to be vocal and create sustainable communication platforms in your business. Building a strong communication structure in your operation isn’t a weekend chore — it is a 365-day a year task.
“Communication is one of the most misunderstood aspects of business,” says Kyle Treadway, president at Kenworth Sales Company. “I think we all grossly underestimate how important it is.”
Communication works best when people are comfortable. Assembling a staff that’s at ease working together can help strengthen communication channels throughout your business.
“Staff members that are comfortable working together will get more work done,” says Dick Witcher, CEO at Minuteman Trucks.
Most individuals are shy or reserved when interacting with new people — and this is just as true in your business as it is anywhere. New employees who aren’t introduced to your entire staff may not feel confident when interacting with associates in other departments, and that nervousness can stifle and reduce their willingness to communicate, says John Bzeta, president at Fleet Brake.
“When people don’t feel like they are part of a team they don’t work as well,” he says. And once an employee starts internalizing questions and information, everyone suffers.
“If people don’t talk it can get bad fast,” Bzeta says. “[Silence] can cause misunderstandings, angst, mismanagement — it creates a huge disconnect in your staff.”