Communication is the “canary in the coalmine” of organizational dysfunction. But unlike the coal miners who understood the danger and knew when it was time to act, organizational leaders too often ignore it, work around it, or double down on what isn’t working.
And, part of the reason is that communication is a two-headed monster – sender and receiver. Each can easily blame the other for its breakdown. This is classic human relationship stuff: You never told me vs. you weren’t listening. I don’t want this vs. you need this. I don’t check that vs. that’s where I sent it. Who’s right? Who is to blame for the breakdown?
If you are leading an organization with communication challenges, these questions don’t really matter. You know that poor communication is generating unnecessary risk and employee stress, reducing productivity and performance, and ultimately, losing money for your company.
And, in hospitals, this can literally impact life and death – not just the company bottom line.
It’s ebola and flu and other emerging updates and critical protocols. It’s drug shortages and emergency alerts. It’s technology and equipment outages. It’s critical research and best practices. It’s physician performance metrics.
Delivering this content through mass emails or other “spray-and-pray” tools just generates noise and wastes time - which further erodes communication.Research at one academic medical center reported that a single physician received 2035 mass distribution emails from the center over a 12-month period, at a cost of as much as $4900 per physician per year.
Improving communication requires change; changing workflows, technologies, expectations, investments, and so on. And, most people don’t exactly love change.
But, as the saying goes, “if you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.”