The 4 Signs That Anemic Communications Is Sapping Your Company's Vitality

A silent drag on many organizations is employees who feel disconnected from company decision making and inhibited bringing problems to light.

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By Patrick Goodman

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Your company is like a human body. New customers are the food that fuels it, revenue is the oxygen that sustains it and internal communication is the lifeblood that connects it.

Your employees are dependent on effective, timely and personable communications. Communication binds the organization. Seek your internal advocates and utilize their influence to assist in your efforts to maintain a healthy organization.

Related: How Social Networks Can Boost Productivity

If your business is sluggish and weak, the diagnosis is most likely an anemic and broken communication chain. Here are a few symptoms to look for:

1. Your communication chain is a game of telephone. Remember the game of "telephone" that we played as kids? One person starts by whispering a message to the person next to her, that person silently passes it to the person next to him and so on down the line.

How accurate was the original message when it finally got four or five people down the chain? The message was not anywhere near its original intent or tone. That is the root of the problem.

Maintain your company's message fidelity by giving all employees access to the same communication platform, including those who are not connected through company email. If you don't, your message of "Great job in Q2! Let's stay focused on our production goals" can quickly be transformed aka "telephoned" into "Eat at Bob's and don't forget two quarters for the roadway tolls."

2. Your communication chain is one-way only. The more spread out your company is among various locations, time zones, states and countries, the greater the risk the lifeblood of communication isn't making it back to the heart of your organization.

A clear symptom of one-way communication anemia is when the corporate office only hears positive messages coming back up the chain. Just like the game of telephone, messages coming back up the chain are often modified so upper leadership only hears that sales are up and to the right, and customer service complaints are minimal.

If you want authentic feedback from front line employees about the new product line or how the new Point of Sale system is actually working, you must utilize your internal advocates to role model desired behaviors and provide a channel for direct and unfiltered communications with your employees. Genuine communication is a two-way street.

Related: The Secret to Higher Employee Productivity: Social Networking? (Infographic)

3. Your communication chain is more paper, less digital. There is a place and time for everything. Paper was a revolutionary communication vehicle...600 years ago. A company competing in today's global economy must have a digital communication chain. Sadly, larger companies with greater resources often rely on direct mail, payroll envelope stuffers, bulletin boards and word-of-mouth for critical communications.

If you keep hearing the external limbs (remote and hourly workforce) saying "We feel so disconnected. We have no idea what's really going on," then, clearly, you have an anemic communication chain. Left untreated, a company with this symptom will become weaker over time and lose parts of its body through employee turnover, missed deadlines and anemic profits.

4. Your communication chain has no accountability. "I sent you the email last week, you didn't get it?"

"I told Frank to call her about the schedule change, maybe he forgot."

"I forwarded them the conference meeting info. They should be here by now."

"I still can't get all the forms back for the employee health insurance update."

"I just wish I knew if they read my messages."

Do these frustrations sound familiar? If so, you are experiencing symptoms of poor communication accountability. When the right hand isn't communicating well with the left hand, important things are missed or worse, critical messages are fumbled between departments and divisions.

To empower your workforce and achieve accountability in communication, engage with your internal advocates and use modern communication methods that allow co-workers to collaborate easily and know when their messages have been received and read by each other.

Healing an anemic communication chain in your company is not a quick fix. Curing it will require the same consistent commitment that it takes to achieve a healthy lifestyle. You're still working out, right?

Related: Why Are Employees Resistant to Using Internal Networks?

Patrick Goodman

Product Director at Red e App

Two core elements exist at every point along Patrick’s career journey: a love of building things and a desire to connect with people. Whether innovating as an engineer or his work as a translator and humanitarian while in Russia, Patrick has found that his greatest passion has always focused on both People and Products. The mobile revolution is allowing his passions to unite at Red e App where he leads both the Product and Client Engagement teams.

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