By Business Consultant
Mirror Image needs an overhaul in communication between management and workers. After collecting information collected through the CEO and a resent staff survey, it is apparent that certain things are restricting good communication. With the help of great pre-existing research this report identifies several major issues. Distrust of management has led to limited communication, as the workers feel this protects them.
I suggest this course of action:
1. Create a transparent workplace and reassure staff about future redundancies.
2. Invest in communication courses for managers that deal with open conversation.
3. Actively encourage ‘two way’ communication between managers and workers.
4. Promote team leaders (foremen) that communicate well.
This report was commissioned by the CEO and will help identify the communication problems at Mirror Image, particularly between factory workers and managers. Firstly the report will bring together relevant information on the subject, secondly identify the problems with provided information and lastly it will suggest some causes of action to help improve communications at IM. 2.0 Analysis of communication:
2.1 Literature review:
Managers need more than technical skills, communication is a leaders main channel for inspiration and engagement, whilst helping avoid serious problems. Communication classes for management have been proven effective by large pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, large amounts of evidence suggest educating managers about communication is very beneficial (Walters & Norton 2007). Communication classes for management can be tailored to address concerns. It’s usually hard to identifying issues resulting in poor communication.
Luckily there is a wealth of information on the subject. Newberry & Conrad (2010) delivered a journal dedicated to improving communication skills in the workplace. Relevance established, the authors list twenty four key communication guidelines to aim for. Relevant key ideas: * Initiate open Discussion(Organizational communication)
* Create information networks “
* Provide feedback “
* Building trust(Interpersonal, involve positive verbal/non-verbal communication)
Trust is gained by a manager, when subordinates have certainty about events. Certainty gained from open discussion, where both parties have a say. Trust leads to increased productivity (Bach, 2006). “The best disinfectant is sunshine (Allen, 2012)”
Gupta and Sharma (2008) believe Power bases play a pivotal role in worker compliance. They make a distinction between harsh power bases (HPB) and soft power bases (SPB). They conclude that SPB are more effective in conjunction with quality communication then HPB. The SPB categories are expert, referent, information and dependence legitimacy. The HPB categories are coercion, reward, position legitimacy (French & Raven 1959). Silence
The theory ‘the spiral of silence’ by Noelle-Neumann (1974) talks about how in groups, individuals will not raise comments or arguments, when they feel their views aren’t shared by the other members. The idea is important when considering employee involvement in the decision making process. Silence also occurs when there are trust issues. If someone believes what they say will be used against them, they will remain silent. Comment made by UK charity ‘Public Concerns at Work’, in a UK newspaper: “The knowledge that there is a culture of silence in the workplace both encourages and shields the corrupt and dishonest (stern, 2008).”
In this instance the negligence of management was extreme. However silence can still facilitate negligence in management, no matter the severity. Therefore, silence in its adolescence is bad, if left untreated it could turn into something much worse. When participants in an organization discuss issues at meetings, certain points should be taken into account. Levasseur (1995) provides ten points, the relevant ones are: 2. Agree on a shared purpose.
4. Record ideas, issues and agreements.
6. Manage tasks and teamwork simultaneously.
7. Answer 4 key questions about every agenda topic.
8. Decide on next steps as a group.
This list highlights the fact that communication is a ‘two way street’. Silence occurs in Organisations when these recommendations are not met.
2.2 Staff survey: (full results can be found in the appendix) The staff survey highlighted serious problems, with MI’s factory workers. The majority of workers gave a negative response to nearly every question. The workers seem to be more aware of the issues then the managers. The survey provided an anonymous outlet for factory workers where there previously wasn’t one.
The survey should therefore be regarded as an accurate representation of worker/manager views. However some questions contain results that suggest ‘attribution errors’. Attribution errors effect perceptions of positive or negative situations, and whether it’s internalised or externalised (Philip, 1985), evidence will not be taken from these afflicted questions.
Figure [ 1 ]~ 60% of workers believe they are insufficiently educated on their job role. Workers don’t receive enough instruction about their specific role in the company. This leads to enormous inefficiencies, as workers are left to pick up the pieces.
Figure 2 ~60% of workers do not have confidence in management. The lanes of communication needed are not there. A workplace without trust is inefficient.
Figure [ 3 ] ~80% of workers are prevented from voicing their concerns. Workers are scared that what they say will be viewed favourably. They are also worried about getting fired. They are already inherently disadvantaged, because their only form of vertical communication is ‘logical persuasion’.
Figure 4 A lot of managers don’t involve workers. Decisions are probably made without them knowing. The workers probable feel helpless.
Figure 5 All managers consider themselves approachable. Question three was the most unanimous result from the entire survey. This suggests managers don’t openly discourage communication. They most discourage communication other ways. They are in positions of power, making them more accountable then individual workers.
2.3 Case Study:
Mirror Image shows a general lack of communication between management and their respective subordinates, brought about by distrust and fear. Management is distrusted because the workers fear clear communication will ultimately leave them jobless. Fear keeps what little interpersonal communication they have focused on safe subjects, like the ‘Rugby world cup’. Fear is a powerful tool used by harsher power bases. Managers at MI resort to harsh power bases because they come with the job (legitimate and coercive bases). Softer more progressive bases require reform and effort. The need for softer bases is evident in the formation of several factory leaders. One mentioned was ‘Rick’ who became a ‘go between’ for workers. Workers like Rick display reverent power that managers and the foreman lack. This is an obvious inefficiency.
Effectively doubling the time spent communicating. The ‘spiral of silence’ impacts employees, because their ideas are not considered my management. Previously efforts in communication where hampered by an uninterested CEO. Relying on memo boards is extremely impersonal and should only be used for functional information. This lack of effective communication set a low standard for workers and managers, this caused the distrust between them. Managers didn’t involve workers and don’t ask for their opinions, while workers used inefficient mediums of exchange. The loss in productivity isn’t easy to quantify, however managers being disinterested in workers activities may further decrease productivity (Mayo, 1930). 3.0 Conclusion:
MI has significant issues between factory workers and management. Brought about by lacklustre communication, the issues were mostly caused by distrust. When analysing the workers survey it was obvious that they sore serious problems with the way MI was run. NOT FINISHED
These recommendations will help managers and workers communicate more efficiently, remembering as CEO you should lead by example. Transparency should be deployed in every facet of the organisation, to tackle the large trust issues hampering communication. Start by reassuring staff that jobs will not be going under your leadership, making shore you don’t promise something you can’t keep. Try having reviewable performance evaluation systems. If transparency is achieved certainty will result, certainty in time will bring a trusting workforce. Use communication classes to teach the basics, from subtle nonverbal communication to lifting the level of communication entirely (extensive list provided in index). Include shifting manager’s power bases from harsh to soft. Only bother teaching the managers as it will cost less, while achieving more.
Managers should be encouraged to show an interest in the workers and the work they are doing. Managers should encourage ‘two way’ communication, make them answer employee questions fully. If they are not receiving questions have them rhetorically answer some of their own. Enforce these measures by increasing the transparency down the chain of command. Ask for updates on progress regularly. Removing the memo board is a good idea, in favour of orders being communicated down the chain of command, to ensure ‘two way’ communication. Only process information should be distributed through other mediums.
Goals should be produced by both the workers and managers. This should reduce some of the ‘spiral of silence’ effects. Finally the team leaders (foremen) have proven to be a bottle neck in communication. Seek to promote workers who display natural ability to communicate. For example ‘Rick’ the employee mentioned by you would be a fine candidate. These leaders will hopefully bridge the gap between workers and management.
5.0 List of references:
1. Allen, Christopher J,D.V.M., J.D. 2012, “4 Ways to Provide Transparency in the Workplace”, DVM, vol. 43, no. 10, pp. 54-55. 2. Bach, P. 2006, Workplace trust hard to gain, but consistency, transparency key, Washington, United States, Washington.(ProQuestID- 463161676) 3. Daniel A. Wren, Arthur G. Bedeian, John D. Breeze, (2002) “The foundations of Henri Fayol’s administrative theory”, Management Decision, Vol. 40 Iss: 9, pp.906 – 918 state: It was not until the Storr’s translation that Fayol’s (1949) 4. French, J. R. and B. Raven (1959).
“The bases of social power.” Studies in social power 150: 167 5. Gupta, B. & Sharma, N.K. 2008, “Compliance with Bases of Power and Subordinates’ Perception of Superiors: Moderating Effect of Quality of Interaction”, Singapore Management Review, vol. 30, no. 1, pp. 1-24. (ProQuestID-226850816) 6. Levasseur, R.E. 1995, “Breaking the silence”, Successful Meetings, vol. 44, no. 13, pp.
61-61.(ProQuestID-206037363) 7. Mayo, Elton (1930). Hawthorne and the Western Electric Company. The Social Problems of an Industrial Civilisation. Routledge. 8. Newberry, R. & Conrad, D. 2010, “Identification of Outcome Based Business Communication Skills”, Allied Academies International Conference.Academy of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict.Proceedings, vol. 15, no. 2, pp. 28-32.(ProQuestID- 807539416) 9. Noelle-Neumann, E.(1974) “The spiral of silence”: A theory of public opinion. Journal of Communication, 24, 43-3 10. Philip E. Tetlock. Sept 1985, “Accountability: A Social Check on the Fundamental Attribution Error”, Social Psychology Quarterly, Vol. 48, No. 3, pp. 227-236 11. Stern, S. Sept 9 2008, Pssst . . . get smart and wipe out whistleblowing, The Financial Times, United Kingdom 12. Walters, D. & Norton, D. 2007, “Leadership communication – the AstraZeneca way”, Strategic Communication Management, vol. 12, no. 1, pp. 16-19. (ProQuestID-203573719) | |
6.1 Question from Survey:
Factory Worker Questions
1. I have a clear idea about my job role.
2. I am satisfied with the performance evaluation system. 3. Sometime I’m given tasks without the required resources (including time and knowledge) to complete them. (possible attribution error) 4. I have confidence in the intentions of the top management team 5. I feel comfortable voicing my concerns to senior managers. 6. I have a voice in the organizational decision making process. 7. I trust the people with which I work
8. I am treated fairly at work
9. I am satisfied with my work.
10. I feel committed to this organisation
1. I try to seek employees’ input when making decisions. 2. I tend to closely supervise my subordinates.
3. I consider myself an approachable manager(possible attribution error) 4. I tend to customize my communication with employees to fit specific
situations 5. I consider my workplace as rather political
6. I am satisfied with my work.
7. I feel committed to this organisation
6.2 Results from Survey:
| Workers n=100| | | | |
| | | | | | | | | | |
| q1| q2| q3| q4| q5| q6| q7| q8| q9| q10|
Completely Disagree| 20| 15| 10| 35| 60| 72| 36| 23| 0| 5| Mostly Disagree| 40| 45| 15| 25| 20| 24| 25| 32| 19| 55| Neither| 20| 20| 10| 25| 10| 4| 30| 28| 52| 25|
Mostly Agree| 10| 20| 40| 15| 10| 0| 9| 7| 23| 10| Completely Agree| 10| 0| 25| 0| 0| 0| 0| 10| 6| 5| | |
| Managers n=20| | | | | | | |
| q1| q2| q3| q4| q5| q6| q7| |
Completely Disagree| 2| 0| 0| 3| 1| 0| 0| |
Mostly Disagree| 7| 2| 0| 5| 2| 2| 3| |
Neither| 10| 3| 0| 4| 3| 3| 3| |
Mostly Agree| 1| 4| 0| 3| 5| 5| 5| |
Completly Agree| 0| 11| 20| 5| 9| 10| 9| |
6.3Newberry & Conrad (2010) extensive list of valuable communication skills “Organizational Communication Skills
1. Initiating open discussion – the ability to create the act of discussion and dialogue exploring opposition by individuals who advocate their positions and convince others to adopt those positions through logic, argument, or debate
2. Resolving conflict – the ability to employ a range of processes aimed at alleviating or eliminating sources of conflict through processes including negotiation, mediation, and diplomacy 3. Creating information networks – the ability to design and institute formal or informal systems for managing the flow of information and providing person-to-person relationships through which information flows
4. Teaching important skills – the ability to provide skill remediation to employees in areas such as job performance, technical competency, interpersonal communication, and problem solving 5. Using information technology – the ability to employ equipment (usually computers) that enables managers and staff to access ongoing and relevant company information including reports, planning data, and employee and customer feedback
6. Providing performance feedback – the ability to assess employee performance and provide performance feedback as a review of the performance of employees, which helps to set targets for future performance targets
7. Negotiating – the ability to produce an agreement upon courses of action, to bargain for individual or collective advantage, or to craft outcomes to satisfy various interests.
8. Writing business correspondence – the ability to produce written communication used in business including letters, memos, bulletins, and reports
9. Making convincing presentations – the ability to provide informal or formal talks delivered to decision making groups to convey information or make a point Leadership Communication Skills
1. Arousing enthusiasm – the ability to inspire a whole-hearted devotion to an ideal cause, study or pursuit, or merely being visibly excited about what one’s doing
2. Being a change catalyst – the ability to initiate change through provision of information to employees that will convince them of why a change is necessary and will compel them to embrace it
3. Creating group synergy – the ability to compel organizational members to interact and produce a joint effect that is greater than the sum of the members acting alone
4. Building team bonds – the ability to establish team cohesiveness, which is the extent to which members stick together and remain united in the pursuit of a common goal
5. Expressing encouragement – the ability to provide support and confidence raising or increasing one’s self-esteem and confidence to make choices and decisions
6. Providing motivation – the ability to move a person or group toward desired goals by increasing their willingness to exert effort and energy to achieve the goals
7. Being persuasive – the ability to guide people toward the adoption of an idea, attitude, or action by rational, and logical means relying on appeals rather than coercion
8. Building optimism – the ability to create a disposition or tendency to look on the more favorable side of events or conditions and to expect the most favorable outcome despite obstacles and setbacks Interpersonal Communication Skills
1. Active listening – the ability to employ an intrapersonal and interactive process to actively focus on, interpret, and respond verbally and nonverbally to messages 2. Building rapport – the ability to create a harmonious relationship, bond, or kinship based on mutual respect, friendship, camaraderie, or emotional ties making someone feel comfortable and accepted 3. Demonstrating emotion self control – the ability to display balanced moods through retaining, mastering, and dominating one’s reactions provoked by pleasant or unpleasant emotion 4. Building trust – the ability to construct the reciprocal faith in others’ intentions and behavior through a shared belief that you can depend on each other to achieve a common purpose 5. Relating to people of diverse backgrounds – the ability to recognize and respect differences in people and communicate appropriately in verbal and nonverbal exchanges 6. Demonstrating respect – the ability to show esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person, a personal quality or ability, or something considered as a manifestation of a personal quality or ability 7. Building relationships – the ability to establish a relatively long-term association between two or more people based on liking, trust, and respect creating regular business interactions, interdependence, or some other type of social commitment (Newberry & Conrad 2010)”