Ways To Fix Communication Issues In The Workplace

8 Ways to Fix Communication Issues in the Workplace Before they Become Catastrophes

By Zachary Amos, a features editor focused on trending technology topics, including how to fix communications issues in the workplace.

Unresolved communication issues in the workplace can tank employee morale and contribute to a toxic company culture

Workplace communication problems often build and grow over time. What starts as a simple misunderstanding can turn to resentment and poison the well for everyone. 

What’s more, while they can be frustrating, most communication issues and misunderstandings don’t spring from a desire to cause chaos and sow discord.

Management has been bureaucratized to the point that we throw away effective strategies of everyday communication.”


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In Radical Candor Kim Scott writes: “One of the funniest things about becoming a boss is that it causes an awful lot of people to forget everything they know about how to relate to other people.”

“If you have a beef with somebody in your personal life, it would never occur to you to wait for a formally scheduled meeting to tell them. Yet, management has been bureaucratized to the point that we throw away effective strategies of everyday communication.”

Not communicating clearly or saving up communication for a formal interaction are two of the biggest communication issues in the workplace.

Kim explains, “If you wait to tell somebody for a week or a quarter, the incident is so far in the past that they can’t fix the problem or build on the success.”

It’s impossible to prevent all communication issues at work. However, knowing how to fix communication issues in the workplace can stop small problems from becoming insurmountable obstacles. Here are eight ways to get started.

Ways to Fix Communication Issues in the Workplace

1. Fixing Communication Issues in the Workplace Starts at the Top

Fix communication issues

Communication issues in the workplace often stem from leadership failures. Those in charge must set an example of excellent communication so that others will follow. 

Provide your management team opportunities to improve their leadership communication skills through feedback training or attending feedback workshops

Excellent leaders understand that fast and frequent discussions are one of the most effective ways to provide feedback and that it’s important to get feedback from their employees before they give it. 

Implement management styles that foster communication and take the time to train managers in the best way to provide critiques without destroying confidence or making the employee feel overlooked or abused. Better bosses foster better communication for everyone in the workplace.

When kind, clear specific, and sincere interactions are encouraged and supported by the boss, communication flows, resentments that have festered come to the surface and get resolved, and people begin to love not just their work but whom they work with and where they work.

2. Seek Cross-Functional Collaboration

Radical Candor Fast Feedback Meaningful Feedback

Salespeople hang out with their counterparts, marketing goes on break at the same time and management eats lunch at their favorite restaurant. Often these types of silos can create communication issues in the workplace.

While it’s natural for employees to stick with those who do similar tasks or within the same area, collaboration with people outside the immediate circle helps bring fresh ideas to both workers, which can improve team performance

Look for opportunities to pair people from different departments. Sales and marketing can collaborate on what product people want and determine how to address their pain points to sell it to them. 

The more people work together, the better they’ll communicate since they’ll understand each other better.

3. Create a Culture of Radical Candor

Effective feedback is a critical component of a healthy company. Caring about others means lifting them up when they need encouragement and pointing out what they can change to avoid mistakes in the future. 

Radical Candor allows leaders to offer kind and clear criticism and specific and sincere praise so everyone knows what to do more of and what to do less of. This framework is one of the best ways to fix communication issues in the workplace before they start.

Radical Candor is not the same as brutal honesty; you can be forthright and honest while still letting employees and team members know you care about them and will work alongside them to reach goals. 

A desire to help others grow is at the core of Radical Candor.

One of the easiest ways to fix communication issues in the workplace is to steer clear of communication styles that are obnoxious, manipulative, or avoidant and always communicate from a place that demonstrates your care while also showing you’re not afraid to challenge others to do better.

 4. Create Communication Policies

Emotions at work

Approximately 45% of workers say their employer doesn’t have a communication policy. This is how things go sideways.

If you want to create communication norms on your team, start by outlining the ideal way to talk to another person, incorporating the principles of Radical Candor. 

Create rules about how leadership addresses employee concerns, such as inviting human resources (HR) to the conversation.

Dig deeper and set standards about language, tone of voice, and what constitutes formal and informal reprimands. Employees are more likely to make changes when they feel respected and management cares about them.

5. Share Information to Avoid Communication Issues In the Workplace

performance review

Imagine being an employee at an office building who is preparing to go on parental leave. You go to the head of HR, ask a few questions, and then think through other ones you have. 

However, when you head back to HR, the point of contact is out on medical leave and no one else seems to know the answers.

One way to avoid knowledge gatekeepers and make procedures accessible to everyone is to create documentation. Handbooks and guides allow someone to step into a role and pick up the responsibilities when the primary employee is out of the office. 

Communication issues also occur when someone hoards knowledge, even unintentionally. This is a form of micromanagement that keeps people from accessing the information they need to succeed at their jobs. 

Commit to being a thought partner and ensure everyone can find what they need to meet the expectations of their role.

6. Ask for Employee Feedback

performance review

The importance of feedback in the workplace cannot be overstated, yet most employers fail to solicit feedback from their staff. 

Around 25% get input quarterly, but another 15% never ask for input on how well they’re doing their jobs. 

Effective communication is a dialogue, not a monologue. You must solicit feedback, listen with the intent to understand, and communicate how you plan to respond to negative feedback if you wish to fix communication issues in the workplace. 

If your employees believe you are listening to them and are committed to acting on their feedback, they’re much more likely to tell you things you need to know. If they feel like you don’t care, they won’t care either.

Make feedback from your staff part of your routine. Talk to team leads and find out what their employees’ greatest concerns are. Set up anonymous surveys to discover areas where management can improve.

7. Understand Basic Human Needs

How to fix communication issues in the workplace

Take the time to study and understand Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. People struggle with higher thought and creativity if basic human needs for physical and emotional safety are not met. 

Talk to people about how life is going for them inside and outside work. Productivity will likely fall if an employee gets evicted and has to scramble to find a place to live. They may not be open to feedback about things they can improve, and reprimanding them could strike such fear in them that they shut down completely.

First, show your team you care about them. When they know you share opportunities for growth from a place of care, you’ll improve your working relationship and they’ll be more likely to make the changes needed to improve.

Think about a teacher you loathed and one you loved. Difficult people often only teach how not to act. On the other hand, an educator who truly cares about students’ well-being may inspire them to try harder, learn more, and stretch further. 

When you start from a place of common human decency, communication issues are less likely to fester.

8. Diversify Your Team

A team of unique individuals from different backgrounds improves communication by highlighting each person’s strengths. Gallup reports that 88% of employees strongly agreed that understanding their strengths improved co-worker relationships. 

Add employees of different genders, ages, cultures and experiences. Hiring people with various personality types and learning to navigate cultural differences is crucial if you want your business to thrive and workers to embrace new ideas.

When hiring new employees, be diligent about seeking out people who will add to your culture, versus looking for someone who will “fit in” with the team.

Learn How to Fix Communication Issues in the Workplace

As you implement changes to improve communication in your workplace, expect a bit of pushback. Some people take time to embrace new things. 

Transparency is a vital component of excellent communication skills. Explain why you’re starting new policies, focusing on the benefits and how a more open dialogue helps the company and employees. 

Start by caring about the person you’re talking to and then develop better skills through feedback, mutual respect, and training. These efforts will make a big difference and improve interactions.

Go to RadicalCandor.com/resources to access information about courses, learning guides, videos, the Radical Candor podcast, and other tools to help you fix workplace communication issues.


Zachary Amos contributes workplace culture articles to Radical Candor. He is also constantly preoccupied with the latest technology trends, ranging from the ethics of AI to experimenting with the newest gadgets and playing the latest gaming consoles. As Features Editor at ReHack.com, he specializes in various trending technology topics such as cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, and smart homes. His tech insights have been featured in publications like VentureBeat, TalentCulture, ISAGCA, Unite.AI, HR.com, and many others. 


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