69% of Managers Fail to Organize Communication with Their Employees: Here’s How to Fix It

“The art of communication is the language of leadership.”

James Humes

No matter how you slice it, Humes’ quote perfectly describes a crucial attribute of any successful leader. The definition of leadership itself presupposes an individual’s ability to effectively communicate with different groups of people, including employees, customers, investors, and stakeholders. Moreover, leaders need to clearly explain their company’s vision and objectives, motivate people and direct them towards goals.

However, recent studies show that today’s leaders lack soft skills and, in fact, find communication to be the toughest part of their job responsibilities. Moreover, leaders often experience difficulty in finding the right tools to support their communication efforts, have little or no data available to provide better feedback, and struggle in an established non-communicative culture. So, what’s the likelihood of growing a successful business under such conditions, and is there any way to fix it?

Let’s figure it out.

The latest data on the scope of the leadership communication catastrophe

Employees may experience stress leading up to performance reviews, feel anxious about yet another meeting with higher-ups, or need to explain personal circumstances to their employer. These worries are not one-sided – leaders often feel uncomfortable, as well.

The fear of lacking support, hurting employees’ feelings or facing discontent after the announcement of some news only adds tensions to the situation and increases pressure on leaders. This doesn’t contribute to the development of emotional intelligence at all.

One report by Interact shows disturbing figures which indicate the challenges on a number of communication fronts that leaders face in the workplace.

The most shocking finding was that 69% of leaders believe that it’s something wrong with their role that makes them uncomfortable communicating with their employees.

Such a poor level of emotional intelligence among leaders gets in the way of creating genuine connections with their direct reports, results in even more dissatisfied responses from employees.

As you can see from the employees’ perspective, communication challenges in the workplace are more even disappointing. Moreover, 91% of respondents say that leaders’ inability to use soft skills in a way that streamlines communication can drag businesses down.

According to Forbes Advisor, for over 40% of workers, poor communication reduces trust both in leadership and in their team.

A University of Missouri study found that how leaders communicate with employees establishes the foundation for a workplace culture that is rooted in respect. “Leader communication drives respectful culture and behavior that translates into positive employee outcomes,” noted Justin F. Willett, program director at the Novak Leadership Institute and lead author of the study.

Looking at these statistics, it is clear that there is room for improvement when it comes to workplace communication. So how do these figures translate into overall workplace efficiency?

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How leaders’ poor communication skills affect the workplace

Since communication is at the heart of running the majority of business operations, its clarity, consistency, relevance, and timeliness affect the life of any organization.

What happens when there is a lack of communication in leadership?

  • Ineffective communication leads to workplace failures

Misunderstandings, failure to keep in touch with what’s going on and provide support via on-demand feedback…these are just a few examples of how leaders’ communication challenges can affect organizational processes. When employees constantly struggle to do their job because of unclear direction, a stressful environment, negativity and “the absence” of a manager, it’s no surprise that constant failures occur, which can, in turn, translate into financial losses, customer attrition, business disruptions, and more.

  • Poor management leads to employees leaving their jobs

Who would want to work at a dysfunctional company? Would you enjoy working in a constantly stressful environment? Probably not. Would you feel unappreciated if your manager didn’t care about your contributions or didn’t provide support when you faced difficulties? It’s highly likely, yes. And this is the answer to why companies with poor leadership practices see high employee turnover. Yes, people do leave bad managers, not their jobs.

  • Poor communication leads to employees missing deadlines or failing to complete projects

Leaders should operate as guides. Whether it’s about providing directions, giving updates, delivering on-demand feedback, setting new goals or transmitting a company’s vision, employees need to know what exactly is expected from them. However, when poor communication enters the picture, employees’ productivity is in serious trouble. Poor productivity accounts for missed deadlines, increased mistakes, and failures in project completion.

  • Poor communication results in low morale  

Leaders with poor communication skills create an environment where low morale is considered to be the norm. In such a case, the workplace quickly turns into a place where gossip, stress, employee dissatisfaction, conflicts, a low quality of work, increased rates of absenteeism, disruptive behaviors, and safety incidents happen all the time. It’s unlikely that any company would thrive under such conditions.

  • Poor communication hinders innovation

“Every meaningful element of human progress has happened only because humans have shared ideas with each other and then collaborated to turn those ideas into reality,” said Chris Anderson, the curator of TED Talk. Leaders who haven’t heard about the art of listening, who don’t know that out-of-the-box ideas can come from anyone, and who don’t support open communication among teams and each and every employee miss out on innovation.

Companies fall short not because their leaders know little about business. Rather, the reason is that they don’t know how to supercharge, via effective communication, their main asset: their people.

A social learning platform as a means to defeat communication challenges

With smart, modern tools that facilitate numerous operational processes and streamline workflows, there’s also a way to help leaders solve communication challenges.

Here are four features that a social learning platform can offer to help leaders tackle communication issues in the workplace:

  • Just-in-time training tools

The best way to improve communication skills is to train them.

What does this mean for effective leadership development? Leaders need to receive personalized, just-in-time soft skills training that would cover not only ways to better deliver feedback and support, give directions, offer timely recognition, and transmit the company’s objectives and vision but also develop the understanding of what communication tools to choose at what time. In other words, leaders should know what is more appropriate in specific situations whether it’s a simple message, a video call or a face-to-face conversation.

  • A universal Learning & Communication hub for teams

On average, it takes 74 minutes for an individual in the office to contact their colleagues. That’s a long time! In order to optimize workflows, it’s crucial to streamline the flow of communication and foster informal, organic collaboration.

A user-friendly social learning platform that utilizes a variety of collaboration tools like discussion boards, direct and group messaging, communities, easy content- and idea-sharing options, etc. promotes a sense of connectedness, improves teamwork and drives innovation. While easily getting in sync with one another, not only can leaders provide real-time support on specific issues, but colleagues could also be experts in the subject matter.

  • Live performance and learning data for timely support and feedback

A social learning platform with robust analytics can help leaders track employees’ progress in real time and ensure they get timely support when encountering difficulties. When leaders are connected to their teams and keep up with changes in their performance, it becomes much easier for them to create talent development plans and provide constructive feedback.  

Such automatic tracking with smart notifications and reports saves a lot of time and effort, letting leaders have all important updates at their fingertips and address workplace challenges right away. Not only do they have employees’ performance data but also learning data from a learning platform that can uncover a lot of useful information about their learning preferences. This data greatly assists managers in developing their people.

  • A seamless connection with the distributed workforce

Collaboration tools built in your learning platform can solve the challenge of remote workers feeling a sense of disconnection with their colleagues. By having at their disposal real-time performance reports and immediate access to the distributed teams, leaders can offer timely help. Moreover, remote employees have 24/7 support from other colleagues, since a one-stop Learning & Communication hub allows employees to get access to all necessary information without needing to be present in the office.  

Leaders who know how to develop and implement efficient communication channels drive innovation through engaged, high-performing teams and a team-wide focus on growth. Social learning technology is becoming a must for managers to grow their teams who, in turn, drive business growth.

Want to build a sense of connectedness and streamline communication across your company in 2024? Request your free demo to see how Rallyware’s platform can help improve your employees’ productivity through efficient communications and performance-based learning!