This paper is aimed at identifying strategies that firms can utilize to improve communications channels with its employees. The introduction gives a concise explanation of communication process in an organization. It then identifies obstacles faced by employees in firms. Using the theories identified by research recommendations explain viable strategies for organization are given. All this information then form the basis for conclusion that is also given in the paper.
In organizations, communication is the process by which information is passed from the top-level management that is comprised of the CEO and the Board of Directors down to the other subordinates and vice-versa. The significance of communication is any institution is to ensure that the recipient of data fully understands the information given. The main medium for communication in organization is people i.e. among managers, subordinates, customers etc (Gibson & Hodgetts 1999).
One form of communication is known as interpersonal communication. This form of communication exists between two or more people. It involves transfer of information from one person to another. The category receiving information is known as receivers (recipients). In any communication process, transmitter sends information to recipients in a construable format. The process in which receivers translate data is known as encoding. This is normally done through variable formats namely; visual, oral, written, etc (Baker, 2002).
Transferring data from a sender to a receiver is enhanced through a medium known as channel. Some channels viable in business enterprises are fax, telephones, internet services, etc. Transference of data requires the receiver to interpret information. This is a process known as decoding. The final stage of a communication process requires the receiver to confirm the information sent to them. They may also be required to act upon the information and give back data to the sender; this is known feedback (Baker, 2002).
Issues Faced by Employees
Language and Cultural Difference
In general, the process of communication may encounter barriers that make the process ineffective to both the receiver and the sender. These barriers that cause interference to the communication process are known as noise. One of the factor that causes information to qualify as noise is the issues of language and cultural differences.
Foreign language from any party involved in the communication process causes the misunderstanding amongst all parties. This is because none of them can encode or decode information (Gibson & Hodgetts 1999).
The other issue that may affect the process of communication is environmental issues. If the environment of recipients or transmitters is full of sound passing information may be impossible. Background noise from either machinery, colleagues etc causes messages being passed not be understood fully. Similarly, channels issues may affect the process of communication. Example of this is the use of faulty fax machines, eligible handwriting etc (Baker, 2002).
In the organization structure of modern societies, communication is encompassed in both formal and informal structures. These various forms of communication play a significant role of disseminating formal information between managers and subordinates. Due to the diversity of communication, firms have faced the challenge of managing these myriad communication channels so they can be utilized to improve customer relations (Gibson & Hodgetts 1999).
Some of the issues faced by employees in an organization include perpetual barriers. This exists especially between members of self-directed groups or virtual teams. It is expressed by different of opinions from members of a specified group (team).
Varied perceptions held by individuals need to be addressed in order for the communication process to be effective. Additionally, physical barriers are other issue faced by subordinates. Studies have revealed proximity has played a major role in improving communication networks in business firms (White & Chapman, 1996).
This therefore means that closed doors and cabins present in higher management levels of organizational structure have limited interaction among subordinates and their leaders. This consequently limits effective communication. Furthermore, cultural barriers have also interrupted communication process in the modern societies.
This is especially demonstrated with the increasing rate of globalization that has allowed individual from diverse social background to interact more freely. A cultural barrier is mainly stipulated when employees of a firm belong to different religion, social, educational and national background (Lauring, 2007).
Leading Communication Theories
Human Relations Theory
Theories have been developed to resolve issues of ineffective communication process in organizations. One of these studies is known as human relations theory. It emphasizes its focus on human aspects of business. It develops strategies that aim at utilizing human as a valuable resource of any business operations. It provides that managers should consider restructuring business operations in a way that focuses on employee relations (Bratton & Gold, 1999).
It states that organizations should invest time and money onto the development of their employees. This can be done through formulating training programs into the business operations of the firm. This will help communicate to employees the nature of their tasks, missions and visions of the organizations as well as elucidate what is expected of them.
Additionally, the structure of the organization should be such that employees seeking career growth and development are satisfied with their respective working environment (Bratton & Gold, 1999).
This theory encourages management to develop a business environment that fosters on employee valuation. This instills an atmosphere of trust, respect and mutual co-operation for employees. Human management theory also recommends the organization to empower their subordinates. This increases productivity through motivation.
Organization (communication) theory is the second theory that addresses the issue of communication in an organization. It holds that communication process as a science that leads to greater efficiency and productivity. This theory incorporates Fredrick Taylor thoughts on scientific management.
He advocates for selection of personnel scientifically through advertisement and recruitment. Again, the states management should select one ‘best way’ to complete activities allocated to employees. This reduces work stress through avoiding task ambiguity. It is the duty for managers to develop strategies and the workers will implement these plans. Moreover, they should develop compensation plans for production and not position of workers (Pearce, 1994).
According Max Weber, bureaucracy is an efficient way of improving the communication process between managers and workers. This is because the hierarchical nature of communication network is clearly stated by the order of authority. The system also states the ‘universal’ system of rules completely. Again, theory holds that promotion and selection of candidates should be based on technical competence (Pearce, 1994).
Motivational theories also makes a contribution to effective communication process. It’s comprised of expectancy theories, equity theories and reinforcement theory. These theories focus on the behavioral aspects of employees. According to Adams S.J. workers compare potential rewards and appraisal systems to their efforts. This means organizations should formulate equitable rewards systems to effectively enhance communication (LittleJohn & Foss, 2008).
Goal Setting Theory
Goal setting theory was developed by Edwin Locke in 1960. He held that for organization to effectively communicate to employees, goals should be stipulated. This helps explain to employees exactly what is required of them. This strategy forms a basis for motivation for employees to work prudently in their areas of specialization (LittleJohn & Foss, 2008).
Example of Organizations with effective Communication Networks
Coca Cola Company
An example of an organization that has utilized effective communication network is the Coca Cola Company. This organization was started in 1944 with John Pemberton as its founder. Since then the organization has extended its subsidiaries in over two hundred countries across international borders (Harris, 1993).
The company uses both self-directed teams and virtual groups in its business operations and effective communication networks have enabled the firm to expand its business operations across the countries. Effective communication has cause management of the firm to clearly define the mission of the organization as well as its visions and goals. Additionally, it has disciplined the company to formulate objective that is line with these set objectives (Harris, 1993).
In order to reduce chances of role ambiguity, the organization has taken all its employees through training sessions. Initial training session is done at the early stages of working after candidates have been recruited for job posts. These training sessions continue at intervals during seminars, mentorships, etc.
The purpose of these training sessions is to reinforce the objectives of the organization among its subordinates. It is also aimed at improving productivity of employees through specialization since training teaches employees on their tasks (Hargie &Tourish, 2009).
Through the use of virtual groups and self-directed teams, Coca Cola Company empowers its employees across different geographical areas with specified tasks. Empowerment of employees has significantly helped in the effective communication of the firms goals. This is because allocation of specified has enabled the team members to sufficiently encode and decode messages before giving feedback. Similarly, it has acted as motivating factor and this has increased productivity of subordinates relatively (Harris, 1993).
Again, the Coca Cola Company has improved its communication network over time. They have developed intra-communication networks that pass information to employees within a specified subsidiary. This type of data does not leak out to the public but rather remains among members of the organization. They use channels such as memos, telephones, fax etc (Baker, 2002).
They also use inter-communication network that pass information from management to different stakeholders of the firm. Some of these stakeholders include government, shareholders, suppliers, etc. This kind of information is important as it notifies stakeholders on the various aspects of the firm’s position e.g. financial reports give the valuation of the firm.
This is important for stakeholder who needs to make decisions concerning the firm. Here, techniques such as emails, newspapers, etc are used as a media for communication (Baker, 2002).
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc that was founded in 1962 by Samson Walton is another example of an organization that practices effective communication process. This multinational corporation runs discount warehouses and stores across countries globally. In 1987, the organization launched American’s most largest private satellite communication system.
The main task of the satellite is that it linked all the operating units of the organization. It was comprised with one-way video communication and a home office with two-way voice (Miller, 2012).
Like in Coca Cola Company, the use of virtual teams and self-directed groups have a played a key role of reinforcing the objective of the organization. The business environment of Wal-Mart Stores is such that employees are provided with career and professional development. This is not only described in training sessions but also in the contracts of employees. Individual with a specified working experience and educational background, they become potential candidates for promotions (Miller, 2012).
The significance of this is that attitudes of employees, which can act as obstacle communication, are receptive to orders. This is because workers put more effort in order to be awarded more responsibilities and benefits as they continue climbing up the management ladder. Reward systems are other techniques used by the Wal-Mart organization to motivate employees.
This system is such that individual employees are recognized for achievements enhanced with a working environment. Departments, subsidiaries, groups etc are also recognized by the management of the firm for excellent performances (Miller, 2012).
For an organization to improve employee communications, various steps should be taken. First the organization needs to recognize the importance of employees as an important aspect of human resource. This should be done through analyzing existing trends, attitudes and process of communication existent in the working environment.
Secondly the firm should clearly define the hierarchy of management. If an organization has a narrow organizational structure it means that decision-making process is concentrated on the upper levels of management. Therefore communication strategies in this case, should aim at having low bureaucratic process. For instance if emails are used as channels for information the copies of messages of messages should be forwarded to all heads of departments (D’Aprix, 1996).
If an organizational structure is relatively flat, it means empowerment of employees is vast. The management should then ensure that selection of employees is based on technical performance, production and not through positions. Empowerment can be facilitated through sub-dividing subordinates into virtual teams and self-direct group. Assigning specified tasks to these groups motivates the employees and gives them a sense of trust and responsibility.
Effective communication in any organization requires the subordinates to understand core goals and strategies of firms. For this to be successful it is important for firms to utilize recommended techniques to achieve desired outcomes.
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