April 15, 2024

1 min reading time

How Miscommunication Negatively Affects Your Organisation

Fed up with employees not understanding each other and the consequences of this? Implementing a common language will help you to build the foundations of a strong L&D strategy, improve your organisational performance and enhance your communication channels.

Everyone’s talking but who’s actually listening?!


In our modern world, where communication is faster and more extensive than ever before, it is rather ironic that in many ways our world is failing at communication. Many words are spoken through the different mediums we use, but how much is actually heard?


Effective communication is something that many people talk about but very few actually achieve. To be effective, communication requires connection. Ideas have to land. And for this to happen, we need to spend more time listening and more time seeking to understand the very people we wish to communicate with.   

Emergenetics International suggests six ways miscommunication costs organisations: 


  1. Falling revenue
  2. Reduced efficiency
  3. Lost productivity
  4. Diminishing trust
  5. Limiting innovation
  6. Increased employee turnover

How might miscommunication be impacting you? 


The Power of Common Language 

One way to tackle these problems is through establishing common language; reference to a shared and mutual understanding within and amongst teams. The presence of a common language serves as a bridge to unite teams, encourage collaboration and help minimise unnecessary conflict. According to research carried out in 2013 by Thomas and McDonagh, effective and consistent communication is almost impossible without it.  A number of strategies exist today that help us establish and leverage the power of a common language.  


Andy Lancaster, Head of Learning at the CIPD, says In the past, organisations might have dabbled a bit and done a bit of Googling around a particular programme, but what we’re seeing now is an intentional strategy to go and find great resources which support learning within the organisation”.  


The Learning and Development strategy of any organisation will be different by tailoring to the needs, scale and budget that exists. Differing strategies, however, can all be built on a common language that underpins how this strategy is applied 


C-me Colour Profiling is a ‘go-to tool for many companies seeking such resources. It's a tool that is used in industries large and small, from Siemens, the BBC, the NHS and Virgin, to Universities, Schools, Charities and individuals. C-me profiles are cost-effective, making them scalable; simple, making them memorable; and practical, making them useful.  


C-me produce bespoke behavioural profiles for individuals, as well as additional resources, to help one person’s self-understanding connect with that of another colleague or team-mate. Using colour as our common language makes it simple to understand and explain a person’s preferred ways of doing things. Whilst profiles are created for individuals, they are designed to be highly relational in application.


As Louisa Mulvany, Deputy Head Teacher, recently said The profiling and workshops that C-me recently delivered remotely, have given us a common language for talking about difference. They have made a marked difference to our communication as a staff team. We now feel better placed to deal with conflict and support one another. We would thoroughly recommend C-me as an excellent provider”.   


Returning to the six ways miscommunication costs organisations, here are some suggestions of how a common language can help reduce these costs:


  1. Falling revenue: A common language acts as a powerful motivational driver, ensuring teams work effectively together. Whilst there may be many explanations for a decline in revenue, a disengaged workforce will go a long way to explaining an organisations poor bottom line.

  2. Reduced efficiency: When communication is lost in translation or fails to be clear, it requires unnecessary repetition. This reduces efficiencies and can also lead to mistakes being made that could otherwise have been avoided.

  3. Lost productivity: The mutual understanding that a common language helps achieve, ensures team members understand each other and are committed to bringing out the best in one other. Not only will we as individuals be more productive when we understand others, but the productivity of the collective ‘we’ will also increase, ending up being greater than the sum of its parts.

  4. Diminishing trust: An absence of trust breeds negativity, gossip, self-protective behaviour and selfishness. Without trust, communications quickly break down. By contrast, common language breeds understanding, and this supports the deepening of trust - the bedrock for thriving relationships.

  5. Limiting innovation: Most successful innovations are devised in community, where one person’s idea sparks another, so that together an even more effective third way is found. A common language will help bring unity to the innovation process and far more effective collaboration as a result. Ideas ‘come from places’ and so to understand ideas, we need to be able to understand the place from where these ideas have come.

  6. Increased employee turnover: Without a common language to help keep teams together and ‘on point’, it is far too easy to become disillusioned, frustrated or simply left behind. The result of these experiences goes a long way to explain the high levels of staff turnover in many industries today.   
Reflection Questions
  • What could you do to help your staff better understand each other? 
  • What steps are you taking as an organisation to ensure communication connects?
  • When you observe miscommunication, what is it costing you?  


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