Weaponised double aged sword

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Weaponised double aged sword. Weaponised Internal Communication. Communication is the double-edged sword. It brings people together, but unfortunately, it can also tear people apart.

As organisations, we must consider how people use communications and why. We need to foster the dissemination of ideas, but we must also be aware of the hazards of utilising the same mediums.

Policies dissuading this are not enough; cultural changes are required.

I recently read a Forbes article, “Employees are weaponising communication tools to get colleagues in trouble—and it’s a huge HR oversight.”  In this article, the author talked about how colleagues are using internal communication as a way to store information to and using it against people at a later date or blind ccing leadership, making private conversations public and then using them as a tool to devalue the person making the comments.

Unfortunately, corporate politics and one-upmanship are not new phenomena, but the permanency of a digital footprint enables information to be readily shared forever. The question lies in what we do about this without robbing the workforce of the benefits of using these same mediums for efficiency and clarity.

In my opinion, whether they create policies and norms or ignore them, this leads to organizations getting the culture they deserve based on the actions they condone.

  • Leadership and middle management may accept particular behaviours from specific individuals because they either desire to avoid conflict or out of favouritism. 
    Leadership, when being blind cc’d on a questionable email thread or forwarded a statement from social media or Slack, is not having a conversation with the person who sent it about open and honest conversation practices; instead, we punish only those exposed.

When we punish only the exposed, those who send such emails and commit such acts are encouraged to continue their practice.

  • We need to create a culture where problems and issues are discussed openly and honestly so that the best ideas and practices win. We must develop a culture where people talk with each other, have civil discord about ideas and direction, and not have protracted personal battles with sides taken that ruin reputations and careers.
  • We need to see digital communication as a place to share ideas asynchronously, and personal conflict situations should always be done in person and synchronously. 
  • Hiding behind digital devices and spreading hate, discord, or rumours needs to be eradicated, and leadership needs to develop policies where this is not only disavowed but eliminated. 
  • Policies are needed where cultural rot is not tolerated, and those people are either motivated to change or encouraged to look for employment elsewhere.

The cost of discord in the workplace is astounding. 

SHRM – The Society of HR Management states that miscommunication can cost as much as $62 million per year in organizations of one hundred thousand employees. In companies of one hundred employees, this equates to $42,000 per year per organization.

There are many forms of miscommunication in the workforce, but toxic communication is a crucial factor in why there is mistrust and disengagement and, eventually, why good employees leave.

In summary, it may be time to look at what is causing the weaponised communication within your organisation , both those who are utilising it and those who are supporting it, and either make significant changes or show them the door.

Footnote from the Editor

Ben is one of a select few, who have been chosen to become a Featured Columnist for The Maverick Paradox Magazine. You can read all his articles by clicking below.

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