Communication breakdown

Communication breakdown

Ineffective communication is crippling your customer service and costing dollars to your bottom line. Cut the communication smog and build better relationships.

October 22, 2015

The pollutant called “Ineffective Communication” affects every employee and causes smog in your organization that prevents clear and concise communication while killing profits. While most leaders believe communication is important, very few have ever tried to quantify their losses. Communication Smog causes an average loss of 40 minutes of productive time for every employee, every day, of every year. As the pollutant builds and thickens it causes your organization significant damage.

Category 1 Communication Smog

If your company is like most, you operate in a continual state of Category 1 Communication Smog, and the typical employee will lose 167 hours of productive time per year. Most people don’t realize the time lost daily due to issues like:

  • Seeking clarification
  • Asking a question multiple times
  • Resolving customer or employee conflicts
  • Never-ending email threads
  • Crisis management due to missed deadlines
  • Re-work

Companies don’t recognize the importance of these issues because each is too small to be noticed as a financial impact. While this pollutant could be considered insignificant, over the course of a year, a company with 20 employees is likely to lose over $100,000 of productive time.


Category 2 Communication Smog

Now ineffective communication pollution becomes visible on your financial statements You start experiencing:

  • Lost sales and customers
  • Increased marketing, customer acquisition and customer service costs
  • Increased staff turnover
  • Decreased operational continuity
  • Negative comments towards customers, employees and management
  • Employees resistant to raising issues in any forum
  • All levels of staff operate in a CYA (cover your assets) mode
  • Lack of faith

At this level of dysfunction, the cost, time, resources and organization discomfort required to correct the issue is exponentially greater than Category 1.

Category 3 Communication Smog

Category 3 smog is so thick you will observe:

  • Prevalent sarcasm and negativity
  • Inappropriate comments about customers and management
  • Conflicting management objectives
  • A complete breakdown of trust and communication
  • High employee turnover
  • Skyrocketing legal costs
  • Large-scale customer defections
  • Loss of reputation

Picture the air in a post-apocalyptic

To clear the air, simply remember Acknowledgement, Identification and Remediation.


The first and often hardest step in clearing the air is the acknowledgement of the problem, and that it impacts everyone in the organization. For any plan to be successful, all levels of management must agree that communication is important and that everyone has room to improve. Once there is true acknowledgement that communication needs to be addressed you can move to the next step.


To maximize the results from any remediation plan, it is critical the highest impact communication problems be addressed first. To properly assign priority, an assessment should be done that evaluates communication based on: job title/position; duration of service with the company; communication categories and issues.

You can now begin developing a remediation plan that will get you maximum gain quickly, and start clearing the air.


Your remediation plan should focus on the processes and skills required to create an environment for clear and concise communications.

By launching initial elements of the remediation plan on high target areas, you are able to quickly gain the momentum and create a ripple effect that will be required to flush the pollution and the smog from your environment.