Photo of a Business Meeting

Jeremy Pollack, Ph.D. is a conflict resolution specialist and founder of Pollack Peacebuilding and Peaceful Leaders Academy. He is also Chairman of the Board of the Peaceful Leadership Institute, the President of the Florida chapter of the Association for Conflict Resolution, and Chair of the Workplace Peace Committee of Division 48 (Division of Peace Psychology) of the American Psychological Association. His credentials include being a Certified Organizational Development Coach (CODC™), a Certified Clinical Trauma Specialist-Individual (CCTS-I™), and an Associate Certified Coach (ACC) under the International Coaching Federation. Jeremy is an Adjunct Professor of Psychology at Arizona College, and still actively participates in coaching and training sessions offered by his companies. He lives in Miami with his wife, Jenny, and their labradoodle, Denver.

One of the most essential keys to successful leadership is excellent communication. If you’re in a leadership position, you need the ability to communicate with individuals one-on-one, as well as to be able to share information with diverse groups of people that may be in either small or large groups.

Therefore, the role of communication in leadership cannot be emphasized enough, as it contributes to a streamlined, healthy, and productive work environment. Join us as we dive deep into the consequences of poor communication in the workplace, as well as the benefits that can arise when it is given the priority it deserves.

Problems Caused by Poor Communication

Poor communication in the workplace can create a domino effect of negativity. Employees feel that their supervisors do not listen to them. Therefore, they feel like leaders in the organization are unwilling to help them resolve conflicts with their peers, and poor working relationships become the norm.

This leads to poor morale, low productivity, burnout, and high employee turnover. Customers sense that the employees are not enthusiastic about the organization, and the reputation of your business suffers as a result.

Increased Tension & Resentment

When team members do not feel like they can approach their managers about various work issues, tension and resentment can build. Employees can also feel like their supervisors are cold or uncaring and do not care about helping their teams do the best job possible. As resentment and tension increase, the entire office can become an unhealthy place to work.

Team members might start dreading going to work every day, as they don’t want to experience the negative energy that affects their moods and productivity. Their families can feel the effects as well because employees come home irritated and short-tempered.

Decreased Productivity

Unanswered questions and ignored emails, and a general lack of communication between a team and a supervisor often affect the workplace’s productivity level. If employees are unclear about their assignments or projects, their work can be incomplete or not as thorough as it could be.

Team members might also put projects on hold until they get responses, then rush to finish and deliver sloppy results. A decrease in productivity eventually affects the business’s bottom line, because the product(s) or services take a hit.

This can result in questions from the business owners, clients, affiliates, and partners that can be challenging for the manager to answer without placing blame on innocent parties.

High Turnover Rates

As team members’ frustration increases with leaders who have poor communication skills, they can reach their limits and quit. Other employees may follow suit because they are also frustrated and do not want to work in an increasingly toxic environment without their favorite coworkers.

High turnover rates are never a good thing, since they indicate ongoing problems in the workplace. Potential hirees typically have questions about why the company struggles to keep positions filled, which can result in uncomfortable interviews. Such hirees might decide to look elsewhere, or stay with the job a few days, then quit.

Either way, it does nothing good for the company. What it does do is affect productivity, because people are constantly getting trained and quitting. This cycle can affect revenue streams as a result.

Company Reputation Issues

Tense work environments, productivity and revenue issues, and high turnover rates add up to one thing: a bad reputation. The best companies with communicative leaders enjoy excellent reputations because they are increasingly known as wonderful places to work with high productivity rates.

Conversely, a poor reputation can take years to undo, in part because it dissuades people from applying. It can also make partners, affiliates, and clients disinterested in continuing to work with the company.

Photo of a Business Meeting

Benefits of Good Leadership Communication in the Workplace

When business leaders communicate effectively with their employees, their employees can work more efficiently. Conflict management is also easier because employees feel comfortable talking to each other and to their supervisors about work-related problems.

Therefore, because there are fewer conflicts, it is easier to resolve the unforeseeable and unpreventable conflicts when they arise. At a workplace where they feel comfortable and valued, employees take pride in their work.

They feel invested in their jobs, so management is not constantly trying to recruit new employees to replace the ones who quit. Therefore, the organization gets a reputation for producing quality work.

Productivity Increases

Miscommunication does nothing for a business’s bottom line. It can leave employees confused, which often affects the quality of the work and deadlines.

If team members feel like they cannot ask their manager or supervisor questions, the chances of poor quality or past-deadline work increase. By maintaining clear communication lines and ensuring work assignment instructions are detailed, employees provide quality results on time that boost the company’s reputation and increase revenue.

Conflict is Limited

When employees enjoy good communication with their managers, conflicts are less likely. Team members are typically not as frustrated about their assignments or projects, which puts them in better moods.

Feeling irritated or agitated about work and related miscommunication issues can result in snappish responses and even outbursts. While no workplace is conflict-free, maintaining good communication among the team helps everyone focus on what’s most important: their latest assignments.

If a conflict does arise, team members feel comfortable approaching the manager about it and resolving the issue in a timely manner.

Employees Feel Appreciated

When employees feel like their superiors appreciate the work they do, problems with “disgruntled team members” are usually lower. Respect and appreciation go a long way, and good communication is among the strategies that ensure employees feel both.

If they know they can come to their supervisors with problems minus annoyed or judgemental reactions, there are fewer problems with productivity, conflict, and high turnover rates. Any business with a high turnover rate is always suspicious of potential hires because they wonder what is wrong that the company cannot retain team members.

Mistakes are Prevented

Without clear workplace communication, such as detailed assignments and project instructions, team members can make easily preventable mistakes. Such mistakes delay assignments and project completion, which affects productivity and does not help the workplace’s reputation in terms of efficiency.

Whether you are writing instructions in an email, discussing expectations for an upcoming project in a meeting, or doing anything else where clear employee-manager communication is necessary, remember to take your time. It also helps to let everyone know that you are always available to answer questions and explain anything they find unclear.

Employees are Kept Informed

Effective communication ensures employees stay informed and aware of the latest projects and other happenings. If employees are not sure what is happening on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, they can make mistakes or simply fail to complete various assignments and projects.

Rather than berating employees for these issues, keep them updated on company news as often as possible. A daily morning meeting might be in order, or a mid-week conference where everyone discusses what they are working on and the progress they’ve made.

You might want to experiment with different update options to determine what’s best for your workplace. To that end, ask employees for their feedback, as they might have ideas that streamline office communications further.

New Talent is Attracted

The role of communication in leadership is key to attracting new talent. Prospective employees want to know potential jobs are worth it, especially if they are thinking of leaving their current workplaces. A reputation for clear communication encourages prospect enthusiasm because it indicates a functional, healthy work environment.

It also reduces the turnover rate, an advantage that attracts new employees as well. High turnover rates are generally off-putting to potential new hires and can cause them to halt the application or interview process.

Difficult Conversations Are Easier

Leaders need the ability to have difficult conversations. Problems with staff members who are disruptive or aren’t doing their best have to be addressed either during a performance review or when poor performance occurs so it can be corrected before it worsens.

The results you get after a difficult conversation are often affected by your demeanor and choice of words. With practice, your ability to handle difficult situations will improve. You’ll get your point across while treating the other person with respect and allowing them to ask questions.

The Leader Earns Respect

When you make a point of communicating with your team regularly and ensuring they understand the latest assignment or project, you are earning their respect. Poor communicators generally do not garner their employees’ respect, rather team members become annoyed and frustrated instead.

Earning employee respect contributes to a productive work environment, as everyone is usually willing to work harder. Team members who do not respect their managers are often not as willing to go above and beyond.

Goals of Effective Leadership Communication

Effective leadership communication aims to make your workplace run more efficiently and also to make it a less stressful environment for you and your employees. In other words, the goal of effective leadership communication is to make your business look and feel better.

If you communicate early, often, and effectively, you can avoid time-consuming mistakes and the frustration that goes along with them. By facilitating communication on your team, you can establish a good rapport with your employees and encourage collaboration.

Once you have established trust among your team, it is easier to resolve conflicts and rise to meet challenges.

Photo of Employees Speaking with Supervisor

Clearly Communicating Goals

Leaders develop strategies to meet many different types of goals such as meeting deadlines or making efforts to grow the business. Clear communication is needed to interact with upper management and to convey upcoming strategies to employees. Leaders are also responsible for making sure team members have what they need to do their jobs well. This includes both information and resources, which depends on clear communication with both employees and other leaders.

Everyone on the team needs to clearly understand their role, why they’re doing what they’re doing, and how to go about meeting goals and deadlines. Be direct and get to the point rather than rambling or having your message lost in complexity. Provide feedback that results in performance improvement.

Motivating and Inspiring Others

As a leader, you need the power to spark innovation and motivation. Good communication skills are essential for generating positive change. Share your passion for the missions of the organization. Be honest and sincere in your communication.

People want to feel valued and appreciated and may not be motivated to do their best if they aren’t acknowledged. Say thank you to your staff for their contributions and recognize or reward them for their hard work and ideas. Provide growth opportunities whenever possible.

Motivating others depends not just on what you say to others but also on building relationships and being available to listen to their concerns. Communication is a two-way street, and others need to know that you’re interested in their ideas and are empathetic about their challenges. Continually strive to improve your listening skills.

Encouraging Collaboration

The most effective businesses rely on teamwork. Different people bring different strengths to the team while leaders recognize how the team can best work together for the most effective results. Encourage collaboration with team-building exercises that help people get to know each other in a more relaxed setting.

Focusing on engagement and relationship building creates an environment where your team can learn to rely on each other and work together. This goes beyond creating a relaxed atmosphere. Promote a culture of inclusivity where staff members feel safe to share whatever is on their minds.

Handling Conflict and Challenging Situations

Effective communication skills are also needed during more challenging interactions. You may have to give negative feedback to an employee and it’s important to remember that the way you deliver feedback can affect how it’s received. Conflicts that arise among staff can create a tense or hostile working environment that affects the morale of everyone nearby. Good communication skills in leadership are essential to diffuse conflict and to take charge of challenging situations.

Signs You Might Need to Improve Communication Skills

If you are not communicating effectively with your employees, it might seem like the problem is everyone but you. Employees do not follow your instructions because you do not communicate them clearly. You are frustrated with your employees, and they are frustrated with you.

In the best cases, employees respond to your instructions with lots of questions that you thought you already answered. In the worst cases, they respond to your instructions with outright hostility.

Employees Frequently Ask You For Clarification

Perhaps you find yourself clarifying instructions to your team more often than not. Maybe you are fielding questions after most team meetings, or having your day interrupted multiple times because employees are unclear about project descriptions.

While you want your team to come to you with any questions whenever they have them, you shouldn’t spend most of your time clarifying instructions and other scope of work-related issues. It takes time out of your work day that you need to spend on other things, such as scheduling inventory arrivals, arranging lunches with potential affiliates and partners, or establishing a new quarterly budget. Leadership and communication training provides the tools necessary to streamline your work life.

You Feel Stressed More Often Than Not

No job is without stress, but that doesn’t have to mean your blood pressure has to skyrocket on a daily basis. If you are always stressed and nervous because you are explaining things to your team when you should be focused on your own work, it’s time to reflect.

Realizing that you can benefit from communication training is the first step in creating a more harmonious work environment. If you’re constantly stressed, your team feels the tension, resulting in a nerve-racking environment that makes everyone in the workplace unhappy.

Various Employees Have Disrespected You

As the boss, you deserve the respect of your employees. Good leaders know how to command respect without using fear or intimidation tactics, as they lead by example, convey their wishes clearly, and enjoy healthy self-esteem.

If you do not feel respected by your team, it is time to make a change. No one should challenge your authority regularly, make snide comments, or engage in office gossip where you are the main topic. Leadership training helps you learn how to engage your team and demand their respect without being overbearing or otherwise off-putting.

Should you continue to deal with a disrespectful employee, it is time to get the HR department involved. Professional mediation services might be necessary to move past the issue and enjoy a healthier work environment.

Reply Emails Include Lots of Questions

As a manager, a full inbox is nothing out of the ordinary. However, if a significant percentage of your emails are questions about various projects and other work assignments, there is an issue you need to address. Having to constantly reply with answers and hope they are sufficient interferes with your productivity, with the same being true for your employees.

Quality communication keeps your inbox at a reasonable level, allowing you to answer emails from clients, affiliates, partners, investors, and suppliers.

Photo of a Group Discussion

How to Improve Communication Skills

Many people think that good communication skills are something people either have or don’t, but the truth is there are many ways to learn and practice communication skills. These may include:

Reviewing Emails and Instructions in Detail

Vague wording results in questions and frustrated employees. Avoid these issues by reviewing written communications before you send them and ask yourself questions such as, “How can I make this clearer?”, “If I was reading this for the first time, would I understand the instructions or would I have questions?,” and “What sounds vague when I read it out loud?”

Creating an Open Door Policy

While you do not literally have to keep your office door perpetually open, you should implement an open-door policy. Make it clear to your team that you are here to help and will answer any question, no matter how “dumb” it may seem. Consider establishing times during the week when employees can approach you with questions or concerns.

Listen Attentively

Making a point of really listening to employees and fellow managers indicates your respect and interest in what they are saying. It also avoids miscommunication because there is less chance of mishearing and misinterpreting the words of others. To hone your listening skills, put away distractions, such as assorted devices, and concentrate on the person in front of you.

Take a Training Course

Workplaces plagued by ineffective leadership communication are frustrating for everyone, not least among them the leaders themselves. Improving the communication dynamics in your workplace begins with you.

If you are out of ideas for how to communicate better with your employees, do not despair. You have everything to gain from taking leadership training courses with Peaceful Leaders Academy. You can get your leadership training certification through a course that is entirely online. You can also take courses that focus on conflict resolution.

Improve Your Communication Skills with Peaceful Leaders Academy

You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by learning from the experts about effective leadership communication and conflict management. Contact Peaceful Leaders Academy today to find out more about our leadership training programs.

Jeremy Pollack, Ph.D. is a conflict resolution specialist and founder of Pollack Peacebuilding and Peaceful Leaders Academy. He is also Chairman of the Board of the Peaceful Leadership Institute, the President of the Florida chapter of the Association for Conflict Resolution, and Chair of the Workplace Peace Committee of Division 48 (Division of Peace Psychology) of the American Psychological Association. His credentials include being a Certified Organizational Development Coach (CODC™), a Certified Clinical Trauma Specialist-Individual (CCTS-I™), and an Associate Certified Coach (ACC) under the International Coaching Federation. Jeremy is an Adjunct Professor of Psychology at Arizona College, and still actively participates in coaching and training sessions offered by his companies. He lives in Miami with his wife, Jenny, and their labradoodle, Denver.