How Does a Lack of Communication Cause Conflict in the Workplace?

by Neil Kokemuller Google

    Lack of communication in a workplace can create conflict in relationships among colleagues, co-workers, supervisors and subordinates, team members and even employees and customers. The tension created in these working relationships can ultimately lead to low workplace morale and poor organizational results.

    Co-Worker Communication

    Workers within a department or work team rely on effective communication to keep everyone on the same page in carrying out business activities. Employees in a manufacturing work team need to communicate on task responsibilities and production timing. A lack of communication can lead to mistakes, missteps, delays and wasted time. Eventually, workers begin to blame each other for poor communicating or not listening.

    Supervisors and Subordinates

    Subordinates rely on supervisors to communicate both formally and informally. Informal interaction contributes to relationship development, which helps protect against conflict. If managers don't communicate directions, task assignments and information, workers can make mistakes or fail to perform their duties. This can cause conflict between the manager, who expects good work, and the employee, frustrated by poor performance. Managers also rely on feedback from employees on needs and task progress. Supervisors can get frustrated with employees that fail to provide such feedback.

    Interdepartmental Communication

    Employees from different departments in an organization often need to communicate well to collaborate on company projects and activities. A sales rep who doesn't let the warehouse manager know about an expedited order may irritate workers in the warehousing department because of the last-minute rush. Creative employees in a company might get frustrated with budget managers or accountants if communication is unclear about budget limitations. Creatives may develop a beautiful design that's too expensive to fulfill, for example.

    Employee-to-Customer

    Conflict can also arise in a workplace when employees communicate poorly with customers or clients. A salesperson could get upset with a support employee who offends one of his customers, potentially costing him future sales and commissions. Retail store employees may get frustrated with employees that misinform customers about store policies on the phone or in person. This poor communication could lead to frustrated customers taking their feelings out on unknowing colleagues.

    About the Author

    Neil Kokemuller has been an active business, finance and education writer and content media website developer since 2007. He has been a college marketing professor since 2004. Kokemuller has additional professional experience in marketing, retail and small business. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Iowa State University.

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