Indirect Communication and How It Undermines Trust in Organizations

Last April and May I did a 4-part series on building trust in the workplace and offered a number of suggestions about how to improve levels of trust.

As I was preparing for my upcoming free tele-seminar on January 20th – “The 7 Deadliest Sins of Organizational Leadership Communication” (click the link to learn more and register), I realized that that original series was incomplete.

There are many different things within an organization that can kill trust and one of the biggies is ‘communication.’ Being that I’m prepping for the call next Thursday, I thought I would continue to discuss one of the most destructive communication sins when it comes to trust, and that is what I call ‘indirect communication.’

Most of us have both experienced ‘indirect communication’ and/or have practiced it, at one time in our lives.

In organization speak it is called other things like, ‘back stabbing,’ ‘throwing people under the bus’ (my all-time favorite), ‘going behind one’s back,’ or ‘going over someone’s head.’

That’s one form of ‘indirect communication’ most often engaged in by co-workers trying to gain a competitive advantage with a boss by dragging someone down.

Another form is when a supervisor, leader, manager (call them what you will) attempts to address behavior issues with a blanket memo or staff meeting when the issue is only with one person.

Instead of dealing one-on-one with that individual the supervisor calls everyone together to go over the ‘policy and procedures’ manual thinking that reminding the whole team of the guidelines will solve the issue.

What usually happens is that everyone in the room knows who the perpetrator is, becomes even more resentful of that person for pulling everyone into it and loses trust in their leader because the issue is not being dealt with one-on-one.

The real work environment killer is that the individual perpetrator doesn’t ‘get it.’ They don’t see themselves or their behavior as a problem and the directive goes right over their head so they keep doing it.

This happens more often than you may think and it is a trust and work environment killer. I know because I used to lead this way and experienced it for myself.

How is indirect communication negatively impacting your organization, I’d love to hear about it and see if I can help.

In the meantime be sure to sign up for next Thursday’s free Tele-Seminar on “The 7 Deadliest Sins of Organizational Leadership Communication” – learn more and register today before it fills up (my last call had over 105 people register for some may have gotten shut out).

See you on the call next Thursday!

’til then, make it a great week!

skip weisman, helping leaders motivate employees to improve organizational performance