The high cost of miscommunication

The High Cost of Miscommunication

For many years now I’ve worked with medical, financial services and technology businesses to simplify their complex business jargon into simple explanations for their staff and clients.

Thankfully many of my clients in those businesses see the importance of strategic and straightforward communication for their audiences. And a great deal of them work hard to produce one-page summaries or short videos to ensure their message is understood.

But, there are clients I meet, from time to time, who think that everyone else should understand the information they are sharing. That is not true. You are not the audience. And your approach to sharing your message should always be to put yourself in your audience’s shoes and tailor or package your message accordingly.

When you don’t factor this into your equation, miscommunication happens. And the cost to the business can be high.

Below are three areas in business that are greatly impacted by miscommunication. Further down, I’ve outlined three simple solutions to these challenges.

The impact on business

  • Higher failure rates
    One in three projects fail or never see the light of day either because of poor communication or over communication. When working on a project, it’s vital to keep the bigger picture in mind and communicate it often to relevant stakeholders. Even more important is communicating with clients or focus groups if you’re doing a proof of concept. It’s challenging to do and often feels like a waste of time. But ongoing communication means ongoing improvement, and that can only result in a better outcome at the end of the day.
  • Lower sales numbers
    Up to thirty percent of sales opportunities are lost when there is a lack of understanding or miscommunication. This happens in several areas. In the senior exec space or sales space, teams are not equipped with the right tools to communicate effectively with customers. Or the sales team doesn’t understand what the customer is sharing.
  • Valuable time is wasted.
    Staff waste one hour a day trying to gain clarity on tasks. Mainly because there are so many versions of information flying around, and much of that information is so poorly presented that, even if staff do find it, they would have to read through pages and pages to understand if it is the correct thing in the first place.

How to fix it

  • Remove silos
    Few things kill communication like siloed thinking. Not that focusing on your area or role is bad, but it becomes problematic when that becomes the sole focus. The net result is a lack of context i.e. the bigger picture. What ends up happening is that documents are shared between departments with little or no understanding of how they impact the business. Collaboration is crucial for understanding the big picture.
  • Accountability
    As a leader it’s vital that you set the standard with your team to communicate the vision, values, or strategic objective.  You also need to create a space where staff feel safe to ask questions around ongoing improvement. This fosters an environment of accountability. If you have that, then you can quickly and easily see where miscommunication is happening.
  • Be consistent
    To create effective communication, it needs to be clear and consistent. Avoid jargon and don’t overwhelm staff with too many channels. Be clear on which channels serve what purpose, and strive to create a series of visuals that unpack key concepts in the business vs forcing staff, who are already time poor, to read more.

The benefits

Helping employees understand how their goals and work connect to the company’s objectives can improve overall performance by at least 10%. According to Gartner, this does, however, not happen by accident but rather by design. It needs to be planned and practiced by leadership first, and then adopted by staff, so you create a culture of clarity throughout the organisation.

How we can help?

We Explain Stuff works with leaders and entrepreneurs to help them simplify key messaging like business strategies, change processes and customer value propositions onto one page. This becomes a blueprint for ongoing successful communication. For more information, email us at


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About Garth Jemmett

Garth Jemmett is the founder of We Explain Stuff. He helps business leaders escape complexity by making strategies, processes, products and services easy to understand.

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