Biggest Communications Challenges in Organizations

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Organizational communication addresses asynchronous or two-way communications on an organization's mega, macro and micro levels. It addresses how an organization communicates within its structure. A hierarchy is one type of structure with upper-level executives at the top and other personnel in descending responsibility. A hierachical structure utilizes vertical communication both upward and downward. A lateral or flat organization consists of personnel who function on the same level, therefore communication is horizontal. Diagonal communication consists of interactions between workers and managers in different teams. Communication challenges may become apparent when, for example, goals are not reached, there is a high employee turnover or it is difficult to find talent to fill roles.

Listening Skills

  • Executives and managers may or may not possess effective listening skills. A manager who does not understand personal styles may be unable to communicate well with diverse employees. In a vertical organizational structure it has traditionally been a challenge to reach upper-level executives who may be so consumed with business success that in spite of best intentions have no time to engage employees outside of their immediate functional circle. More executives are making efforts to make themselves available and new technologies aid a great deal in that effort.

New Technology

  • Email was perhaps the first new communication tool that challenged organizations. Privacy, security, email etiquette and content permitted into the organization were all issues to be understood. Company policies were modified to address email issues. The new social media tools, such as Facebook, Twitter, wikis and blogs bring new challenges for businesses to contend with. Some of those challenges consist of: Facebook causing loss of productivity; or for those who want to use Facebook or Twitter there may be a learning curve and new security concerns. Social media adherents are challenged with keeping up with the demands of tools like Twitter and who should be responsible. How to make best use of new communication tools or whether to make use of them is a new challenge.

Meetings

  • Many companies and many of their employees consider frequent meetings a waste of time and productivity. They are beginning to frown upon face-to-face meetings held weekly or even monthly as a means of communication. The meetings often have to be rescheduled when key players cannot attend and can take detours from the agenda resulting in nothing being accomplished. Webinars and phone conferences are replacing meetings with effective tools like desktop sharing for Powerpoint presentations and web cams or virtual "hand raising" or "smiley faces" and polls to vote, which help to address virtual distance.

Technology

  • Technology in business communication can be a blessing or a curse. Some personality types have difficulty when unable to make eye contact or to see reactions to their comments in facial expressions. Tools like Skype, Oovoo and web cams have made it possible to communicate on a global scale in real time. In doing so new issues arise: time zones, technology issues may cause some to drop offline bringing meetings to a standstill or learning curves may delay meetings while someone is brought up to speed. Doing business in cyberspace may be very convenient as documents can be accessed from anywhere. Google, Amazon.com and Microsoft offer cloud storage to businesses; however, reading the fine print may introduce concerns for some businesses once their data is stored there.

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