What are the barriers to effective internal communication?

A consistent complaint in companies across the world is ~ poor internal communication. You either hear the boss saying "why don't my people have my eyes?" ~ "how come my people don't get the importance of this message?" Or staff saying "those bosses should come down here and see what it is really like..." and "Oh dear the 6th floor have just dreamt up another initiative"

Poor internal communication can make people feel excluded, it can lead to a negative reaction even to a fundamentally great idea; it can cost millions through lost customer satisfaction or sales and can even costs lives. No internal communication can be worse, as it communicates ~ I don't want to have a dialogue with you or you don't count. That can generate feelings of alienation, isolation and significantly impact whatever trust or confidence there was in the relationship. Employee alienation and/or dissatisfaction shows up in under performance towards targets and an increase in staff turnover or short term sickness.

What do you consider are some of the significant barriers to internal communication?

Here are two barriers to internal communication from me;

  1. Structure
    Typically as companies grow so does the hierarchy, and between each layer of management it is not always trust that grows. The factors effecting the "climate" that each company employee works in are numerous and complex and if this blend of factors is not quite right "worker tension" can take hold and severely limit the effectiveness of internal communication and the performance of the business.
  2. Command & Control
    Attempts to "control" behaviour from above generally result in compliance and not commitment ~ and we know how much productivity and creativity we get from a "pressed" staff member. If through internal communication we are told the answers, told what to do, told how to chance ~ the telling doesn't generally engage serious thinking on our part and we don't have a chance to have our say. Without some opportunity for reflection and for discussion and calibration with colleagues people don't have the chance to test, challenge and adapt their preconceived ideas and beliefs on the subject. If our previous beliefs hold true we are more likely to reject the message.

What do you consider are some of the significant barriers to internal communication?

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