Removing Barriers to Communication

Sometimes a very fast organisational growth can result in systemic flaws going undetected. We recently faced a similar situation at a client.

Our client had grown in 3 digit percentage growth over the past 5 years. The employees were happy, the rewards were immense the management wanted to share the wealth. Then, all of a sudden they hit a road block due to a change in the environment.

Suddenly with no projects in place and some bad customer reveiws they had to resort to pink slips. The morale took a dive and the trust deficit deepened.

One of the things that we found was there were no clear paths for communication. The top down communication was not happening , or whatever was happening – was sporadic and insufficient , especially when the nerves of the employees were so jangled.

Plus, the employees did’nt know whom to approach with their grievances. They stayed silent out of fear of any repercussions- especially with the recent bout of retrenchment..

One solution would be to raise the level of communication happening within the organization. This could be through the simple principle of  MBO –

  • Management by walking around.Reaching out to people at these times of distress would help to stabilize nerves in a big way.
  • Asking open ended questions , to facilitate dialogue.
  • Listening. Non judge-mental active listening and taking down notes if required.

When trust diminishes understanding and acceptance vanish. Here, the management can proactively step forth and try to understand the concerns of their employees. Most of these employees have been with the company for 4-5 years.

The next phase can be to try and communicate to the employees their approach and plan of action, or involve the employees in managing the lean period ( think Win-Win)

Every situation is unique and has its dynamics. But, becoming aware of the concerns of everyone and involving everyone in the decision making even if its for the short term can go a long way in building a better organization.

And all this can be accomplished only with an effort at bringing down the barriers in communication.


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