I recently read this article in HCA Magazine, “This toxic communication trait is forcing your people to quit,” and I was compelled to share it.

This paragraph sums up the entire article for those with the mindset of TL/DR.

Research about ineffective internal communication reveals that 52% of employees felt higher stress levels in the workplace; 44% of employees failed to complete their projects, and 31% of employees missed their performance goals. These are shockingly high percentages. If you’re facing these issues, along with the many others caused by ineffective internal communications at your company, then it’s time to change things. You might be the founder, but without high-quality employees, your ideas and projects won’t have any chance of becoming a reality.”

As I have written, most organizations do a reasonable job communicating their value outside their organization, but are sub-par at communicating internally. This costs the US economy billions of dollars annually due to mishandled projects, ineffective alignment of teams to goals, lack of understanding of purpose and direction, and competing priorities that turn into turf wars.

This leads to frustrated employees who do not feel listened to, understood, or valued. They do not know how their personal goals align with the company’s goals, and feel that both management and leadership create chaos within the organization. All of this leads to higher levels of stress, frustration, disengagement, and eventually, good employees looking elsewhere for employment.

Again, I state: All of this is costing the economy billions.

However, it does not have to be this way.

Internal communication is far more than just spreading a message once and assuming it is heard, understood, internalized, and can be recalled and acted upon at a moment’s notice.

Studies show that to be fully aware of messaging and content requires being exposed to it seven times. Now, I am not saying that you must stand in front of someone and repeat the message seven times in a row – far from it.

However, what I am saying is that different people absorb information differently. Because of that, they may not be receptive to listening to what you have to say, utilizing the medium you are using the first time. Some of us learn through reading, some by listening, and some by doing.

All of us take time to process information, understand what it means to us, internalize it, and then make sure that it jibes with our sense of reality before we are truly willing to accept it.

For instance, companies may say that “employee satisfaction is our number one priority” until they are blue in the face. However, if the actions of managers and leaders contradict that, most people will never believe it, no matter how big a font you use to write it on the wall. Words and actions must be consistent.

Not only that, but initiatives need to be discussed so that people can question and understand and embrace them.

This requires a culture shift.

There needs to be an open culture where people can discuss all aspects of the company, knowing that their jobs are not threatened by speaking out, or made to feel less than for having a contrary opinion.

Also, managers and leaders need to be the last people to talk. They need to listen to all opinions, understand points of view, and THEN give their views as to why the company is going in one direction and not another.

Acknowledging the thoughts and ideas of the people in the room is vital to get buy-in and understanding. Leaders do not have to agree with every viewpoint or necessarily adopt them. Still, they need to articulate why the company is doing what it is doing, and how this will enable a more successful outcome for everyone, in order to get people to actively listen and engage.

Nothing I am saying is easy. None of this comes without challenges because it requires change, and change is hard. However, the cost of not changing could be the difference between the company surviving and thriving – or not.

Ben Baker is the CEO of Your Brand Marketing. A strategic communication firm designed to enable you to align your internal teams with change management initiatives and other issues, allowing you all to move forward profitably together. 


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