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Miscommunication is the source of much confusion

March 9, 2011

Peter Drucker has been quoted as saying “The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn’t being said.” An inability to communicate can be disastrous for any organization. As a result, it is not only up to managers, but also employees to ask questions that further their understanding.

These simple tips are designed to extract valuable information from any assignment. Whether from an employee or employer (the leader, the manager, etc.) both parties should bridge communication gaps.

Use Goals as a Guide for each Assignment. Both managers and employees need to have a clear understanding of each project’s and task’s goals. Managers and leaders need to remove barriers to goal achievement (Judith A. Hale, The performance consultant’s fieldbook: tools and techniques for improving organizations and people) while employees need to ensure they are clear on the goal of their project not simply their role. Here are simple questions both parties can ask:


What is the ultimate goal of this project?


How can I help you achieve our common goal?

An employee may want to post the goal somewhere visible so they don’t lose sight of the bigger picture. The employer should outline the goal, and other expectations, in writing and arrange a meeting to ensure that the employee is well equipped to achieve the project/task goal.

Take Note of Due Dates. Manuel Ortiz Braschi, author of Time Management Strategies for Ultimate Success, states “Time is unchangeable and intangible – only our attitudes towards time can be changed.” You cannot control your deadlines. What you can control is how you use the time before this date. Again here are simple clarifying questions:



What are the milestone dates for the task/project?


When would it be helpful for us to check-in so you can update me on the project progress?

Employees should create project lists to ensure they understand what activities must be finished at each phase before they move on to the next. Employers should also schedule weekly or monthly (depending on the size of the project) check-in meetings where employees can share what they have accomplished to date.

Be aware of everyone’s roles and who you can go to for help. “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success”- Henry Ford. You are all working towards a common goal, so why not “work” towards it together?


Who can I approach should I have a question? Who will I be working most closely with?


Who will you go to for help if I am not available?

Employees should make sure they have at least one other co-worker that they feel comfortable asking for help. This will ensure that their concerns are addressed in a timely manner. Employers should clarify how they want their teams to ask questions and how they can get their questions answered most efficiently (e.g. email, phone, texting).

Looking for more Tips and Tricks? Try these great books:

dialogue so people listencommunication skillstalking so that people will listen

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