Communication – A Symptom Not The Problem

by Michael Haberman on February 7, 2007 · 0 comments

There is an excellent post in Slow Leadership on Why Most Communication Problems Aren’t. Carmine Coyote states that “Sometimes it feels as if nearly every difficulty or source of discontent is labeled a “communication issue” as a matter of routine. On the surface, it may even look as if this is correct. Bosses and their subordinates routinely misunderstand and miscommunicate with each other. Information becomes garbled as it is passed through the organization. Customer queries are mishandled because what the customer wanted wasn’t clearly understood or communicated internally. Projects falter in a morass of poorly-communicated data and inadequate reports. Is it any wonder that trainers and coaches spend probably more time trying to help people with their communications that any other single topic?” And this is where HR often jumps in. We try to fix the communication problems. We have training sessions or one-on-one sessions to improve communication. However, as Coyote points out “When communications are bad, the real cause is likely to be something else.”

The blog points out that poor communication is often the symptom of other problems, such as pressure, haste, aggression, mistrust and fear. Communication gets seen as the problem because it is visible. The lesson in this for the Human Resources Manager is to look beyond the surface. If your organization is having communication problems ask yourself the question “What is causing this?” Then treat the disease and not the symptom.

For further discussion click the link above to go to Slow Leadership.

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