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Poor communication creates workplace errors

Only 7% of U.S. workers strongly agree communication is accurate, timely, or open at their organization, according to Gallup.

  • Why it matters: That leaves a lot of potential for confusion and errors to arise — 30% of all project failures, in fact, are the direct result of poor communication, according to a Project Management Institute study.

When it comes to communication, “leaders need to step up,” says Able Clark, CEO at Corsearch, at a Voray event sponsored by Axios HQ. That means staying mindful about what your audience needs and often means going back to communication basics — plan, compose, measure, preserve — to elevate each essential message.

A few best practices to revisit:

  • Define where you need to align. Gallup found employees are 2.8x more likely to be engaged when they talk to their manager regularly about goals and successes. Once you know exactly what your audience needs, you can refine, prioritize and repeat the messages that matter most.

  • Choose your channels wisely. Effective communications reach your readers where they are. That could be a quick-hit question via IMs, more formal documentation living on your intranet, or essential updates that meet your readers where they often are — their inbox. Be purposeful so readers can find what they need.

  • Tap your internal experts. Communication is a team sport. When you’re sharing difficult or complex news, work with the leaders around you — the CFO, Chief Product Engineer, or head of HR — to share what readers need in a clear, accurate way.

  • Be efficient. Beyond where your audience will best receive your message, it’s equally critical to consider how much time they can dedicate to it when they receive it. Distill your messages to their core without sacrificing specificity or personality. Enhance the chance they see what’s key without becoming unrealistic.

  • Create feedback loops. Smart communication doesn’t stop when you hit send. Listening to your audience to understand what they value, what they need, and how your communications can serve them even better is key. Offer ways ways for them to give honest feedback — surveys, 1:1 conversation, team feedback — so you can continue to refine your approach.

The bottom line: Communication openness depends on the culture you create and support, but when done correctly, you can avoid costly errors one message at a time.

Go deeper: See how Axios' CEO communicates an All-Hands update.