Communication is important in every aspect of our lives. This is also true for the communication used in our professional lives. When at work we “depend on cooperation with others to accomplish our goals, and communication is the critical human process we use to promote such cooperation.” (Kreps, 2011; sec. 1.1) Understanding communication is the best way to make sure it is being used effectively correctly. When communication is effective then organizational components will run smoother and efficiently. Smoother and effective communication means that an organization has a greater chance of following its mission and achieving its goals. Successful communication can be as important to organizational productivity as any other component used. There are five concepts that are important for successful communication within an organizational setting and this proposal will discuss their necessity in an organization. Culture is something that needs to be recognized and aware of when we are communicating with everyone. It is also important in organizational communication.
Organizational culture includes the norms and attitudes of the organization. To support clear and effective communication in an organization the employees must be pay close attention the organizational culture. The process of socialization will also help an employee to adapt to an organization’s culture. The process of socialization is where, “established members of cultural groups educate others and enforce adherence to established cultural rules or norms for appropriate behavior.” (Kreps, 2011; pg. 17) In understanding the norms in an organization communication will be smoother because there will be less chance for misunderstandings. An example of organizational culture would be the style of dress in the office. If an organization is one where the employees dress in suits and formal business wear then an employee who came to work in shorts and a t-shirt would affect the culture in a negative way. Those communicating with those employees could become uncomfortable, or distracted. This may result in avoiding communication with this employee and over all communication will breakdown.
Avoidance of communication with only one employee is enough to cause a gap in efficiency. The book “Communications in Organizations” explains, “Strategic organizational communicators initiate and develop strong, effective, and satisfying relationships with others to promote cooperation and coordination in organizational life.” (Kreps, 2011; pg. 15) Understanding the organizational culture also builds trust and respect among employees which in turn brings higher production. Paying attention to organizational culture helps to build the relational communication to support effective communication. Part of an organization’s culture is the forms of communication used. Informal and formal communications are two types of communication that play an important role in an organization.
The difference in both forms of communication can be explained as “Formal patterns of organizational communication follow the power hierarchy within organizations, whereas informal patterns of communication do not necessarily follow along power hierarchy lines” (Kreps, 2011; sec. 1.5) Formal communication is used to address important job related material. Paying close attention when receiving or using formal communication will stop an employee from making a mistake and will also give them the information to be successful. However, when filtering through formal communications such as emails it is important to avoid information overload. Information overload takes place when, “so many different messages are impinging on a person that the person has difficulty making sense of all the information available.” (Kreps, 2011; pg. 174)
Scanning email for the most important and relative messages is a skill that is necessary but recognizing formal emails for their importance will ensure that the information involved will be received. In understanding the nuances of informal communication an employee can avoid getting themselves in trouble by offending a supervisor or missing important information. In regards to organizational communication conflict resolution can be the difference in success or failure when working with others to meet company goals. Conflict is inevitable, and happens when people communicate. It can come from assumptions, miscommunications, or one way communication. The good news is conflict can be turned into a positive thing.
A quote in the book, says An Introduction to Leadership, that, “The most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people.” (Weis, 2011, pg 2) Working through conflicts can build better communication skills, as well as trust and understanding. In using conflict resolution steps new and better ideas can be generated for the organizations. A gentleman named Mr. Tim Scudder wrote a book in which he describes five steps to conflict resolution. An interview he gave he made the point that in conflict “both parties want the same thing.” (Scudder, 2011) He also stressed the importance of anticipating conflict. By anticipating conflict an employee will take time to think, and in thinking they will realize that the person they may have a conflict with wants the same thing. This puts the employee in a positive frame of mind and helps to come to a reasonable solution for both involved.
In the article “How to Deal with Annoying Co-Workers” gives a suggestion to help in dealing with co-workers. It suggests that, “With most types of annoying co-workers, the solution is simply to be straightforward and assertive.” (Green, 2011) Working through a conflict helps co-workers to come to a better understanding of each other. When people understand and respect each other communication is smoother and more effective. Once again, smoother and effective communication benefits the organization. Formal communication, informal communication, and conflict resolution involve two parties. Each of these communications involves a time where another party receives information. In face to face communication active listening is a technique that will ensure that messages are received correctly and will allow the listener to formulate the best response.
Active Listening is not only an important part of conflict resolution but communication as a whole. Active listening means, “being fully engaged in paying attention to your relational partner’s communication with you. It is not just hearing skills. It involves paying close attention to your partner’s verbal and nonverbal behaviors.” (Kreps, 2011; sec. 4.3) In other words, it’s a way of showing respect for those you are communicating with. It sounds as simple as just listening but it’s not that simple. It takes a conscious effort to begin with before it becomes habit. If you are fully engaged in what your partner is communicating then you will get all of the information being sent. It may also evoke the norm of reciprocity which will have your partner giving you their full attention.
The norm of reciprocity is, “the urge to act in-kind that often encourages these relational partners to provide you with information and treat you similarly to the way you treat them.” (Kreps, 2011; pg. 15) The importance to an organization of its members practicing active listening is participants receive all the information that is coming to them. This means that they have all they would need to know to complete their jobs successfully and meet organizational goals. Organizations have both formal and informal leaders. Formal leaders typically are ‘assigned their positions of authority within the organizational hierarchy and hold titles such as president, vice president, division leader, and manager.” (Kreps, 2011; pg. 19)
Informal leaders are little harder to define by position or tile but “emerge with organizational life based on credibility (usually a combination of charisma, dynamism, expertise, and trustworthiness), ability to accomplish complex tasks, and access to relevant information.” (Kreps, 2011; pg. 19) Even if you are not a formal leader you can still have influence over others as an informal leader. Informal leaders are not defined by title but by quality of character. Understanding leadership strategies and what being a leader entails helps to motivate workers to meet organizational goals. It is important for organizational leaders be able to communicate in different ways for different situations. There are several different leadership strategies that can be employed for different situations. To understand leadership strategies it’s important to think about how leaders may see those under them.
Douglas McGregor used X and Y models of leadership to explain the relationship between leaders and followers. Theory X makes the assumption about workers they do not like work and will do anything to avoid it. This model will make leaders be more directed because they think that is what workers prefer and need. McGregor’s Theory Y assumes that workers do not dislike work and will work hard if they feel the value of their effort. The Theory Y suggests that if workers are given a degree of autonomy and a chance to use their imaginations they will strive to be successful in their tasks. Depending on how leaders see workers can dictate their leadership strategies. One of three helpful leadership styles is the autocratic leadership style. This is a leadership style that would come from a leader who is a believer in Theory X.
An autocratic leader “makes most organizational decisions without consulting with others. The leader calls all the shots, tells workers what to do and how to do it.” (Kreps, 2011; sec 7.6) This type of leadership style would have little use for upward communication from those who follow. Upward communication is, “communication that travels up the power hierarchy.” (Kreps, 2011; pg. 10) This would be difficult for a leader who believes in Theory X because, “upward communication enables workers to express their concerns and ideas, to provide and ask for feedback, and seek clarification from managers.” (Kreps, 2011; pg. 10) The autocratic leadership style is best suited not for driving workers but in emergency situation where there is little time for collaboration. Organizational participants would appreciate a direct approach in times of pressure. On the opposing side of autocratic leadership is democratic leadership style.
When using the democratic leadership style you, “share responsibility and involve other organizational participants in decision making, although the process for the final decision may vary from the leader having the final say to them facilitating consensus in the group.” (Kreps, 2011; sec. 7.6) This type of leadership style is something that followers respond positively to. It also bolsters the leader’s position because the workers feel a “buy in” to the process. This is something that Theory Y talks about. The ability of helping the workers feel that their efforts and work are valued, and helping them to see the value. The drawback to this type of style is that it is time consuming, and can lead to conflict if not used correctly and in the right situation.
Lastly, there is the laissez-faire leadership style. The laissez-faire leadership style would have the leader, “share power with workers and delegate decision-making authority to those individuals who are directly involved in the decision-making situations.” (Kreps, 2011; sec. 7.6) This leadership style could be considered an extension of the democratic leadership style. In using this style it is important for a leader to know the capabilities of those under them. The employees under this leader must be experienced and skilled in the tasks that they are being given a degree of control over. This type of leadership style will help a leader delegate those things they have little time for. Delegation is an important skill. In the article “A Tool Kit for the Real World” it says that, “Business people don’t get accolades for being smart, but for being effective.
That is measured in things like increased sales, increased earnings and an increased number of licensing agreements. Not, alas, by the fruition of one employee’s great idea.” (Motluk, 2011) However, this should not be used as a way of having others do their work for them. This would be damaging to the leader and certainly the organization in that it can bring a degree of disorganization that would be extremely difficult to correct. The leadership strategies above are mentioned because they show the need for a leader to be able to decipher the right strategy for the right situation. Each has one distinctive way to deal with leading and each has its drawbacks when used outside of its best application. Therefore the situational model of leadership may be the best strategy when it comes to leadership. The situational model of leadership is, “based on the assumption that there is no right way of leading.
Rather, the best leaders adapt to the unique situational constraints to exhibit the appropriate leadership style for the situation.” (Kreps, 2011; sec. 7.6) A leader must be able to analyze situations, those involved, the choices, and the preferred outcome. If it’s an emergency and little time involved then use the autocratic leadership style. When time is available to employ upward communication, and bolster workers self esteem and organizational value a leader should employ democratic leadership style. If a leader is feeling overwhelmed or they are feeling pulled in too many directions, perhaps a laissez-faire leadership style might help to delegate tasks to that can handle them. Understanding leadership strategies helps to use communications with workers that will work best in certain situations.
The most important thing about communication in the work place is awareness. As the book “Communications in Organizations” points out, “Organizations and the way they communicate play critical roles in our lives.” (Kreps, 2011; pg. 25) The key to effective communication is awareness. All of the five concepts of organizational communication mentioned above have some type of awareness piece built in. Communication is smoothest when those communicating are aware of those they are communicating with, their culture, and their style of communication. Thinking before speaking, anticipating change and conflict, and knowing what actions to take will help a leader communicate effectively with workers. After presenting the five concepts for successful communication within an organizational setting above it is clear to see their necessity for successful communication.
Kreps, G. (2011). Communications in Organizations. San Diego: Bridgepoint Education, Inc. Green, A. (2011, January 6). How to Deal With Annoying Co-Workers. Retrieved from http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/outside-voices-careers/2011/06/06/how-to-deal-with-annoying-co-workers Motluk, A.(2011) A Tool Kit for the Real World. Retrieved from http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn19969-a-tool-kit-for-the-real-world.html?full=true (2011). Tim Scudder Interview. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_E7YVkjJQ0 Weiss, J. (2011). An Introduction to Leadership. San Diego, Bridgepoint Education, Inc.