Improving Communication at Work

In a work situation - without communication skills, little co‑operation would occur between management and employees; in management and supervision, good communication skills are therefore essential.

Vertical Communications
Messages sent between staff belonging to different hierarchies within an organisation. Eg. An office junior to a manager.
Horizontal Communications (see below)
Communications between staff on the same level. Eg. Manager to manager.
Internal Communication (see below)
Takes place within in the same business.
External Communication
Communications between the business and outside organisations and individuals..
Formal communications
These are official messages within an organisation, such as company memos or reports.
Informal communication
These are unofficial or informal messages within an organisation eg. Office gossip.
Communication Channel
The path taken by a message.

It is important in any organisation to define the roles of both individuals and groups. If responsibilities are clearly defined/delineated, communication becomes much easier and more effective.

Communication can have a big impact on the efficiency of a business. Effective communication can mean that –

  •   Staff understand their role, responsibilities, tasks, deadlines and so on.
  •   Staff are motivated, as managers listen to their suggestions and respond.
  •  Customers enjoy a good relationship with their business. There is effective communication and complaints are dealt with quickly and efficiently.

Poor communication can generate problems which in the work place can lead to:

  •          Loss of income
  •          Loss of time - production
  •          Accidents
  •          Loss of respect
  •          Loss of employees
  •          Loss of customers


When you are communicating effectively you are making your message understood without confusion.

Communication is a two-way process i.e. a person is sending a message and another is receiving it.

Communication is not effective if it is one-way i.e. the information is sent but not understood by the person receiving it: or the receiver does not indicate that they do not understand the message.

The communication process is not just restricted to the communicator relaying a message to the receiver. It also involves the receiver of the message relaying information back to the sender and includes any other person that also needs to receive and understand the information given.


Confusion is avoided if the sender understands the process of clear and concise communication and checks to ensure that the receiver has understood the message.

In the work place the manager or supervisor has the responsibility to ensure that the process of communication is constantly taking place and that the most effective method of communication is used. This means that they will be taking into account the receiver and the environment in which the communication is taking place.


What are the Barriers to Effective Communication?

When understanding is blocked communication becomes ineffective resulting in the kinds of problems listed earlier. There are many barriers to communication including:

  • ·         Using unnecessarily complicated language or words.
  • ·         Using jargon – not everyone will understand jargon that may be industry specific or regional.
  • ·         Language difference – it is important to ensure that the receiver has understood your message.
  • ·         Your meaning – make sure that both you and the receiver of your message both understand what you are trying to convey. Poorly expressed communication can alter the meaning. Also do not assume that the receiver will know the importance of your message. Communications fail when the receiver does not understand what the sender is trying to say. This can also occur when the sender uses jargon not understood by the receiver.
  • ·         Preconceptions - don’t presume that the receiver of your message automatically knows what you are trying to communicate; or that they will let you know that they do not understand.
  • ·         Fear or anxiety - nervous receivers may be concentrating more on how they are feeling then the communicator if they feel anxious.
  • ·         Overload – giving too much information at once, making it impossible to absorb. Excessive communication can lead to information overload. Too much paperwork or too many emails can lead to inefficiency and miscommunication.   For example, members of staff receiving hundreds of messages via email each day.
  • ·         Whereas, insufficient communication – if staff are not told what is going on, they can felt “left in the dark” and demotivated. It is about finding the balance between overload and insufficient communication.
  • ·         Physical barriers – i.e. when using telephones or other such forms of communication poor reception can result in the message not being heard.
  • ·         Unrealistic demands- don’t presume that the receiver is more capable then they actually are.


All of this can result in higher costs and inefficiency, so more resources are needed to achieve the same results. Training staff to ensure they use an appropriate medium and send accurate, clear messages can help communication throughout an organisation.

Learn More about Better Business Practices -Click to see Courses