Are Dysfunctional Communication Styles interfering with your company’s productivity?

by | Mar 5, 2024

As a manager are you paying attention to how your staff interacts both with you and with each other, or are you just focused on productivity and the bottom line?  Are you stepping over communication glitches, morale issues, or snide remarks that might point to deeper problems?

One of the issues we see over and over again in organizations are dysfunctional communication styles, which are patterns of interacting that can result in wasted time, delaying of progress, stopping of progress, or a chaotic environment, all of which impede forward motion and completion of goals.  And, of course, these also negatively affect productivity and the bottom line.

Here are some signs that you may have a staff member who engages in a dysfunctional communication style:

  • You get multiple complaints about a staff member’s “attitude”
  • Tasks/actions seem to take much longer to achieve than they should
  • You observe staff avoiding another employee when possible
  • The “meeting after the meeting”

Here are some signs you may have a dysfunctional communication style:

  • Staff reluctant to come to you with issues
  • Employees appear uncomfortable when discussing issues and work-related items
  • Staff goes over your head for workarounds or complaints

Sometimes a dysfunctional communication style is an unconscious pattern, and sometimes a DCS is born from any number of sources: insecurity, anger issues, and social ineptness, to name a few.

What do we do about this problem?  Well, it depends, of course.  Is this a “right person in the right seat” problem? It doesn’t mean they’re a bad person, per se, just not a good fit for the organization.  Is it a conflict with someone else where if one of the two were redistributed, that personality conflict wouldn’t be an issue?  Would this person respond well to coaching or mentoring?  What about training for the entire organization or department?  We’ve seen firsthand the ripple effect one bad apple can have on an entire organization, so often there is clean-up after the situation is resolved.

And if you’ve identified that you are engaging in a dysfunctional communication style, what do you do about it? First, it takes a self-aware person to identify gaps and areas of improvement in themselves (and we all have them). Second, even better, is to do something about it, which could include coaching or mentoring.  Third, have real conversations with staff members and try to move toward functional communication.

If you want more information on dysfunctional communication styles or how we can help people in your organization work better together tomorrow than they do today, connect with us.


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