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Bridge the Gap: Overcoming Misunderstandings Between Employees and Leadership


Christopher E. Maynard


In today's fast-paced and constantly evolving business landscape, effective communication is essential for success. Miscommunication can lead to a plethora of problems, including reduced productivity, conflict, and missed opportunities. When it comes to communicating with leaders, employees often struggle to get their messages across. Misunderstandings can arise from a lack of clarity, cultural differences, and other factors. This article explores the challenges that employees face when communicating with leaders and offers strategies for improving the effectiveness of communication.

Misinformed or Misunderstood: Understanding Employee's Approach to Getting Their Message Across to Leadership

Employees often feel frustrated when their messages fail to resonate with leadership. They may believe that their ideas are being ignored or dismissed. However, it's crucial to understand that the challenge is not always with leadership's willingness to listen. Instead, the problem lies in how the message is being communicated. For instance, employees may be misinformed about the company's goals, priorities, and values. Alternatively, they may not understand the cultural nuances that influence leadership's decision-making.

To improve the effectiveness of communication, employees need to take a strategic approach to getting their message across. This means understanding the needs of their audience and adapting their communication style accordingly. Additionally, they need to be proactive in seeking feedback and clarifying misunderstandings.

Understanding the Needs of the Audience

One of the most significant barriers to effective communication is a lack of understanding of the audience. To get their message across, employees need to understand what their leaders care about, what their priorities are, and what their communication preferences are. For instance, some leaders may prefer concise, data-driven messages, while others may respond better to personal anecdotes or emotional appeals.

To better understand the needs of the audience, employees need to do their research. This may involve reviewing the company's mission statement, strategic plan, and recent communications from leadership. It may also involve speaking to colleagues who have successfully communicated with leadership in the past.

Adapting Communication Style

Once employees have a better understanding of the audience's needs, they can adapt their communication style accordingly. This may involve using different language, tone, and examples. For instance, if a leader is more data-driven, employees may need to provide clear statistics to support their message. If a leader is more emotionally driven, employees may need to share personal stories or anecdotes to create a connection.

Adapting the communication style can be challenging, particularly if the employee is not used to communicating in a particular way. However, it's essential to remember that the goal is to make the message resonate with the audience. If the message is not getting through, it may be necessary to adjust the style.

Proactively Seeking Feedback and Clarifying Misunderstandings

Even when employees take a strategic approach to communication, misunderstandings can still occur. It's essential to be proactive in seeking feedback and clarifying misunderstandings. This means asking questions to ensure that the message is being understood as intended. It also means being open to feedback and making adjustments as necessary.

When seeking feedback, it's essential to be specific. For instance, instead of asking, "what do you think of my idea?" employees may ask, "do you think my idea aligns with our strategic goals?" This provides a clear and specific question that can lead to more productive feedback.


Effective communication is essential for success in today's business landscape. When communicating with leaders, employees must take a strategic approach to get their message across. This means understanding the needs of the audience, adapting the communication style, and being proactive in seeking feedback and clarifying misunderstandings. By doing so, employees can increase the chances of their message resonating with leadership and ultimately drive better outcomes for the organization.

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