Communication is a process in which an individual or group of individuals pass a message to another individual or group of individuals. Every process of communication has distinct stages that complete the process. The first stage is the source of the message being communicated. The source can be an individual or a group of individuals trying to communicate with their colleagues or associates within or outside the institution or organization. The second stage constitutes the message itself. This is the idea that is meant to be transmitted. The third stage is the channel of communication. A channel is the medium of communication an individual or group uses to convey a message. The final stage is the receiver. A receiver is an individual or group to whom the message is targeted.
Communication can take place in different environments such as institutions of learning and business organizations. Communication within learning institutions involves the governing board, school administrator, teachers, parents, and students. In an organization, communication involves the board of directors, the management, and employees. Outside the organization, communication may also involve clients or customers. According to contemporary literature, organizational communication is a process where the stakeholders attempt to instill meaning in the minds of other stakeholders within the organization using verbal or nonverbal messages. An organizational stakeholder is any individual or entity that has an interest in an organization. Organizational stakeholders include customers, stockholders, employees, suppliers etc.
The system of communication in an organization can be categorized into upward, downward, horizontal, and outward directions of communication. Upward communication is a communication process whereby messages are passed on from lower parts of the organization to higher levels of the organization. For instance, communication initiated by human resource subordinates with their departments manager. Upward communication constitutes messages such as employee performance, employee perceptions of organizational policies, and relevant employee problems. On the other hand, downward communication is a process whereby messages are passed on from upper parts of the organization to lower parts of the organization. The types of messages passed through this form of communication include job instructions, managerial feedback, and training.
Horizontal communication involves the flow of message across same-level departments within an organization. Hence, employees who are at the same level within the organization are able to communicate effectively. The types of messages passed through this form of communication include information sharing, and task sharing. This type of communication enables employees to establish strong teamwork and solutions to adverse problems. For purposes of maintaining strong customer relations, organizations incorporate outward communication to acquire necessary feedback from their customers. Hence, outward communication is a process whereby messages are passed to customers and the public as a way of relying feedback to consumer opinions about products and services. The types of messages passed through this form of communication include organizational feedback, information on products and services, and customer care services. However, outward communication does not only entail communication with consumers. It also involves communication with the government, and competitors.
Empirical research shows that a number of factors including organizational culture guide organizational communication. Organizational culture refers to the manner in which an organization conducts its operations. It drives an organizations functions, determines how an organization responds to its customers, and to the external environment. It is the duty of the organization to inform and train (if necessary) its employees the organizations culture. Otherwise, an organization risks hiring individuals who do not value an organizations culture.
Organizational culture is created by:
The actions and behaviors of leaders,
What leaders consider important,
Allocation of resources, and
Actions that get rewarded or punished
An organizations culture is guided by goals such as its vision, mission statement, and core values. The organization environment enables it to achieve its goals. For example, excellent management, employee performance, and good customer service characterize an effective internal environment. An effective external environment is characterized by steady competition, abiding by the law, and proper handling of economic, and market pressures (Guffey & Loewy, 2012, p. 270).
Good communication is essential to the operations of any business. It facilitates collaboration between leaders and employees and proper decision-making. The benefits ensure smooth functioning of different organization departments such as marketing, and sales. However, as many businesses have experienced, the flow of information within a business is not always smooth and continuous. When effective communication within an organization fails, the consequences may range from reduced morale and profits to strained employee-managerial relationships. To avoid this, an organizational only needs to examine the root causes of communication failure in the organization (Guffey & Loewy, 2012, p. 140). The following are the main causes of communication failure.
Unclear responsibilities and roles- Research has shown that this is the number one root cause of communication failure within organizations. This problem has dire consequences because it can turn an organization with excellent cooperative effort into an organization featuring internal disputes and spiteful employees. In such cases, employees often blame their colleagues of power grabbing, and failing to follow organizational procedures. Once this kind of situation starts in an organization, everything turns into a communication problem because employees are rarely agreeing about anything.
Unclear decision-making roles and processes- decision-making is vital in any organization. It helps employees to follow and recognize the right channels of command. This facilitates proper decision-making in major areas such as organizational strategizing, operational change, and investment. However, in most cases, employees often have differing views and opposing agendas. Hence, they do not intend to be left out in the process of decision-making because they feel that they should be part of it. Also, many individuals are normally worried that the decision-making authority will be eroded by organizational tyrants. Communication problems emerge from issues in decision-making when employees in an organization are not able to expose the poor decision-making skills of given superiors.
Poor Organizational processes- communications can become intense when more than one organizational process overlap. For example, when two development teams create differing processes to apply in an organizations development program, it is likely that these groups have different views, which determine how they devise their process. Hence, an internal scuffle is inevitable as these two groups fight against each other to show how their processes are superior.
Poor organizational structure- there are many confusing organizational structures in some organizations today. Some of these structures are designed to satisfy the needs of powerful organizational superiors. In other organizations, the structures are highly redundant such that departmental goals overlap. Poor organizational structures lead to reduced accountability, power struggles, and intimidation. Hence, this type of environment within an organization is likely to cause severe communication problems.
Poor employee organization- employee organization helps to align individuals according to their skills and abilities. The task of aligning individuals around an organizations projects, structural changes, and initiatives is sensitive especially when there are a large number of people involved. When business managers try to push business initiatives or projects forward without necessary alignment among employees, stakeholders, and other affected groups, they create resistance, anger, and communication problems.
While each of the above challenges lead to communication problems, the probability a more obscured root cause within an organization depends on its operations, management, and employee relations. Hence, an organization that is able to do so is undoubtedly on the right track. Internal communication is a vital part of any organizations operations. It is glue that keeps the organization together. Without internal communication systems, an organization is merely a collection of disconnected employees working individually. However, with it, an organization is a combined unit with power that goes beyond the sum of its different business operations (Guffey & Loewy, 2012, p. 191). Upright internal communications help employees trust each other and connect in more ways. In turn, these employee connections increase an organizations productivity.
LMM is a general trading company in the UAE that conducts business operations with many parties using trusted agents. These agents trust the other parties if their actions are coherent with whatever they say. However, in some cases, the organizations agents are compelled to break ties with business associates if their actions fail to back up their words. For example, if an associate businessperson who wishes to conduct business with LMM shows up late to a meeting whereas he or she emphasizes the need to respect business colleagues, then his or her words are incoherent with his or her actions. Furthermore, actions speak louder than words. This is a principle that guides effective communication in LMMs business operations. However, LMMs greatest communication problem is grounded in the organizations internal communication system.
Research conducted in sample organizations shows that there is a big difference between what is communicated in memos and reports and the reality (Petrovits, Shakespeare & Shih, 2011, p. 326). This problem exists when the source message is does not reach the right receiver or when it is not issued at all. Hence, an organization should learn how to distinguish between how things should be and how things are. In LMM, formal communications often belong to the category of how things are supposed to be. However, the communication system pays little attention to how things are. Hence, there is need to breach this gap to ensure effective communication within the organization. Like any other organization, LMM management understands that there is a difference between employees who work to achieve the bare minimum and those who are willing to put in maximum effort. However, the management still finds that communication problems are still evident in the organization.
Critical information that falls in the hands of the wrong people has widened the gap between what has should done and what is happening. When critical information from the organization does not reach the intended receiver, the organization is at risk of exposing confidential information. This is a challenge that can be avoided if the communication chooses its communication channels well. Unfortunately, by the time the organization is finding a solution to ensure that critical information is never lost again, it will have lost to any entity that was able to use the information at the expense of LMM.
Traditional forms of internal communication in the organization also tend to put a lot of emphasis on downward communication while treating upward communication as an afterthought (Petrovits, Shakespeare & Shih, 20...
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