Organization communication is a critical element of organization behaviour since it affects how employees relate with each other and also how leaders convey their messages to the subordinates. It entails the exchange of information between employees and leaders through formal and informal channels (Guest & Conway, 2002). For an organisation to function effectively, it is important that communication is as clear as possible. In other words, how employees decode messages from the organisation's top leadership is critical to the success of that organisation.
Top-down formal communication channels are predefined channels through which the top leadership of an organisation passes information to the middle managers and other employees. Sending memos through email; making presentations and speeches; holding meetings and conferences; and talking on the telephone are some of the examples of the formal avenues through which employees and organisational leaders exchange information on a daily basis (Husain, 2013).Top-down communication platforms enable the top leadership to articulate allows the leaders to communicate to employees the overall direction of the company (Guest & Conway, 2002). Messages that come from the top leadership are well-thought out policy directions. As such, these messages must be as clear as possible to the employees. In context, a majority of employee problems at Skyline International are communication-related.
Through formal avenues, employees and organisational leaders exchange information on a daily basis. The sender, the message, and the receiver are essential components of communication (Husain, 2013). See diagram below.
Sender Message en Route to the Receiver
One type of communication mechanism that embraces this type of communication is Aristotle's communication model. Aristotle emphasized that the speaker is required to make a careful selection of the words that will be transmitted in the form of a message. This model holds that it is the words that carry the meaning of the message, and as such, must be selected with great care to avoid message distortion at the point of receipt. Aristotle observed that, although the contents of the message and the sender are critical for communication to take place, it is the receiver who makes the final decision on whether the communication actually occurs (Petersons & Khalimzoda, 2016). For instance, once employees decode messages correctly, they give feedback to the top leadership in terms of change of behaviour to conform to the expectations such messages. On the contrary, the employees fail to give the required feedback for wrong integration of the messages. In context, Aristotle's model can be applied to diffuse ambiguities created by Dean in email communications and also ensure that decisions communicated to the employees are made after extensive consultations on their likely effect on employees, especially in the event of misinterpretation.
One of the ambiguities created by Dean relates to downscaling of the number of aircraft and the launch of a subsidiary known as Skyline Mini. In his communication, Dean created optimism and pessimism among employees at the same through his poor choice of words. Dean could address this problem through meetings with the top leadership. A meeting with the top leadership can be useful in designing the most appropriate message for workers. At formal meetings, leaders could have the opportunity to give proposals on the best course of action for the company and how such course of action will be communicated to employees through top-down formal channels (Brown et al., 2009). Here, the human resource department leaders can get the chance to advise Dean on how top-down messages are supposed to be corded to ensure clarity.
The concept of the message as a paramount element in communication can also be useful for the human resource department (HRD).In the case scenario, the department has informed the employees of impending appraisals, but details on how the appraisals will be conducted remain scanty. Based on Aristotle's model, the inability of the employees to decode the meaning of the appraisals implies that the use of appraisals cannot take place in practical terms. Consequently, it is vital that the HRD communicates procedure for the appraisals and their implications to every employee recognize the need for the appraisal exercise. Failure to do so could create further ambiguities about the message. As emphasized by Dharmawardena (2006), it is the content of the message that is being exchanged and its meaning that matter most in organizational communication and not its delivery.
The Schramm model of communication is also an important platform through which coordination and understanding can be enhanced at Skyline International. This model identifies the sender, the medium, the message, the receiver, and the ability to offer feedback as the critical elements of communication. Unlike the Aristotle model, Schramm recognizes the medium through which the information flows and the feedback mechanisms available to employees as equally important for communication to be considered as successful (Steinberg, 2007). At Skyline International, it appears that employees do not have the opportunity to give feedback on the communications they receive regarding the restructuring process of the firm and its implications. Provision of a feedback mechanism could ensure that the top leadership hears the concerns of employees about the proposed changes to the organisation. Incorporation of these concerns in the decision-making process would assure employees that the direction Skyline is taking recognize their aspirations as individuals. By so doing, Dean could escape the industrial action that has been announced by the employees' representatives.
Following the above discussion, it is evident that the content of the message and the opportunity to give feedback on the part of employees are critical to successful communication in an organisation. As espoused by Aristotle, the content of the message can determine whether it is decoded correctly or not. This model emphasizes that the receiver needs to be considered when designing messages for employees. Schramm's idea of feedback is critical for effective communication. An opportunity to give feedback allows employees to offer views on the issues that have been highlighted by top leadership through the communicated messages. If used appropriately, these models can help Dean and other top leaders address the volatile employee situation at Skyline international.
Brown, J. B., Lewis, L., Ellis, K., Stewart, M., Freeman, T. R., & Kerperski, J. (2009). Mechanisms for communicating within primary health care teams. Canadian Family Physician, 55(12), 1216-1222.
Dharmawardena, K. (2006). The changing nature of the psychological contract and its impact on modern organizations. Monash University. Retrieved from http://users.monash.edu.au/~prowler/Documents/PsychContract.html.
Guest, D. E., & Conway, N. (2002). Communicating the psychological contract: an employer perspective. Human Resource Management Journal, 12(2), 22-38. doi:10.1111/j.1748-8583.2002.tb00062.x
Husain, Z. (2013). Effective communication brings successful organizational change. The Business &Management Review , 3(2), 43-50.
Petersons, A., & Khalimzoda, I. (2016). Communication models and common basis for multicultural communication in Latvia. Proceedings of the International Scientific Conference. Volume IV,May 27th-28th , 423-433.
Steinberg, S. (2007). An introduction to communication studies. Cape Town: Juta and Company Ltd.
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