A clear communication channel is required between team members and their leader, a team leader and other team leaders, and between a leader and his or her leader. The only time it is appropriate to step outside of the channel is if there is an emergency or if the issue has something to do with the leader themselves. Otherwise, working outside of the proper communication channels ultimately sends mixed messages in regards to problem resolution, direction, and the overall chain of command.
Three instances that should be reined in when noticed:
- Team members take issues to someone else within the organization, rather than addressing them with the Leader of their team.
- A member of the Leadership team addresses an issue related to another division with their Leader before addressing it with the appropriate leader of that division (they do not give the other person the courtesy of providing feedback / a chance to resolve the issue).
- Lack of continuous team improvement. If a team is not improving, it is typically due to lack of self-awareness/internal communication.
Causes of communication breakdown:
- Lack of communication.
- New hire that is not yet 100% knowledgeable.
- People (at every level) letting it happen.
How should we address?
- Team members must take their issues to their leader first.
- Leaders must continuously prove that they are the right resource.
- Other Leaders must support the communication channel and either revert the issue back to the appropriate team leader or bring them in immediately, rather than addressing the issue without them.
When we see a strain on the communication channel, the best thing to do is regroup, and remind others of the proper channels to take. Then we ourselves must be supportive and disciplined.