IMPORTANCE OF EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION FOR ORGANIZATIONAL PERFORMANCE INTERNALLY AND GLOBALLY
By: MANUSHI TRIVEDI
Management and Organizational Behavior - MGT6351
University Of Houston-Victoria
Submitted in Full
Dr. NWABUEZEU UCHE
Communication plays a vital role in management for business success.
Effective communication in the workplace provides employees not only clear
understanding of their job but also knowledge of what they should do and what to expect.
The problem that lies today is that the organizations are often not accepting the responsibility to communicate with their employees.. However, it is a serious problem it is also considered that the main barriers to accept this responsibility are the middle managers. The managers are unable to communicate to the employees to know all information to perform better. The problem also lies in the uninterrupted flow of communication in a hierarchical manner . Thus this paper focuses on how organizations can communicate effectively without any hindrances with their employees and increase effective performance of the staff, customer loyalty and profit. This paper overviews dangers of ineffective communication, summarizes leading effective approaches of communication, and offers specific types of business models of communicating effectively for business concerns.. The paper will draw conclusions on the Importance of Effective Communication for Organizational Performance And Effectiveness.
Importance of Effective Communication For Organizational Performance
Communication plays a crucial role in the functioning of organizations. It becomes
the lifeblood of an organization .Communication can be improved in every organization because communication is the only systematic way through which an information passes through the system for all to know the degree of its importance. According to Zia Ahmed, Frank Shields, Rayondraous White, Jessica Wilbert (2010) "research shows that organizational performance markedly improves when communication is permitted to flow uninterrupted and employees are empowered, provided incentives and given the necessary resources to perform at an optimal level" (p107).
Successful business leaders agree that communicating with employees is vital to business success. If the employees understand their goals and their work in achieving them, they will be further motivated in working towards their role and will work more efficiently. Above all is good, but today the scenario is different where the middle managers are considered as the main barriers to the effective flow of communication across the organization.
A more difficult question is what specific types of communication models and methods are in helping corporations achieve their broader strategic goals of improved
profitability and competitiveness. The existence of an organization's effectiveness
completely depends on proper flow of information in a system and feedback of the same. Identifying and selecting the most appropriate methods does carry risks, since business communication tend to be less formalized, more interpersonal, and therefore significantly more important compared to other more traditional approaches to management.
This paper reviews specific communication methods and reviews research efforts that have demonstrated benefits of business communication models. The purpose of this exercise is to identify the results of effective communication that could reasonably be expected to benefit organization's performance and effectiveness and be repeatable within various companies operating in different industries. This paper will also address the effectiveness of different methods of communicating as documented in the reviewed research.
The paper will summarize the methods and models that have proven to be optimal, and also overview those that have been demonstrated to be ineffective. In all cases, the goal is to try to identify those approaches that would carry over to multiple industries and are suitable for most of the organizations. In conclusion, the paper will offer guidelines on what specific benefits a corporation can expect to receive from an effective business communication, and what approaches would be most likely to insure the overall success.
This paper defines communication from the works of Bell and Martin who define communication as "the downward horizontal or upward exchange of information and transmission of meaning through informal or formal channels that enables managers to achieve their goals."(Bell and Martin, 2008, p. 130 ). In simpler terms, Communication is the process for conveying meaning from one person to another or from the formal organization to the individual employee.
Communication is an effective key to build trust and confidence between managers and staff employees. Leaders tend to develop better relations with their employees by creating an environment of interpersonal and informal communication networks. These networks can help employees to speak and implement actions for achieving organizational goals. These networks encourage and motivate employees to perform effectively which in turn helps to develop profitable organization.
In their article Managerial Communication: The Link Between Frontline Leadership and Organizational Performance, Zia Ahmed, Frank Shields, Rayondraous White and Jessica Wilbert mention that information and communication are unique entities but they go hand in hand. Their definition of communication is taken from the works of Katz and Kahn who say that communication is a social process of the broadest relevance in the functioning of any group, organization or society (Zia Ahmed, Frank Shields, Rayondraous White, Jessica Wilbert, 2010, p 112). Simply interpreted, that effective communication is essential for the successful performance of organizations. It also means that without effective communication, an organization cannot maintain its competitiveness. Such definitions suggest that communication behavior can refer to the transmission of information between collectivities [e.g. work groups, organizations,
nation-states), as well as between individuals.
The Importance of the Problem for Organizations
Understanding the importance of effective communication is a complex issue in fast growing industries. As mentioned by David Bateman (2007) that "highly occupied business concerns have a more easy way to it by depending on the middle level managers to manage the system of communicating the information while only decision making is left for the top level. It is neither communication grounded in germane issues nor is it communication that is helpful to the employee in evaluating controversial issues confronting labor and management." Frequently, this poor communication is a result of the fact that the people with the information are still processing it themselves and haven't realized themselves enough from the problem to discover that there are other people around them who will also be requiring that same information.
As companies increasingly move toward communicating effectively as a way to improve the performance of these empowered individuals and teams, it is critical that they implement strategies and techniques that help them achieve their bottom line goals. For organizations that ignore this problem, they will face consequences like ineffective performance of the staff and decreases customer loyalty and profit.
An Overview of Effective Communication Research for Organization's Performance
Most of the behaviorists believe in the fact that subordinates tend to withhold information which is needed by peers or superiors. Such an assumption hampers the situation and endangers interpersonal relations existing organizations. Research should determine how widespread and important this practice really is. Perhaps more important would be research of how can organizations avoid this problem and introduce a characteristic communication flow and improve the situation from bad to good. Although current research provides important information about the possible benefits of the effective communication process, it often falls short of meeting this paper's higher standards: validation of the ability of communicating to enhance corporate performance. There are a number of reasons that current research fails to meet this standard.
Firstly, a number of researcher efforts base their conclusions on case studies at individual companies. This paper discounts case studies of individual companies in favor of research that covers multiple companies or a statistically significant number of individuals. It is believed that such an approach offers lessons that will be more readily transferred to different types of organizations operating in unique external and internal environments.
Lastly, a number of research articles show that managerial communication improves employees' perceptions of the benefits of the effective communication and intentions regarding their future actions. This same research typically fails to demonstrate a positive
link between these perceptions and intentions and actual performance at the corporate level. These arguments are also therefore considered to be non-conclusive.
For simplicity's sake this paper summarizes the numerous benefits of effective communication that are cited in research which helps managers to understand how effective communication overcomes internal and external barriers for organization success into the following broad categories: improved performance and productivity, better interpersonal (Employee-Employer) relations and it also overviews a link between communication, motivation and performance. This paper also mentions the best approaches or channels of communication in an organization that would cover the barriers. Each of these areas is examined below.
1) Improved Performance and Productivity
Poor communication is a common problem in many workplaces. Managers
involve themselves so much in meeting deadlines and demands that they fail to share vital information with employees. And this could result in employees low morale in achieving organizational objects. Frontline leadership is an effective solution introduced by Zia Ahmed, Frank Shields, Rayondraous White, Jessica Wilbert (2010) for an effective communication process. They defined Frontline Managers (FMs) as (persons of influential status operating at the technical core of organizational subsystems) seek this type of knowledge.(p108)" Frontline Managers goal in both public and private sectors is to establish a culture conducive to achieving short term as well as long term organizational objectives. The performance of visionary organizations is linked to their Frontline Managers' efficient and effective use of communication, which inculcates confidence in employees.
Frontline Managers understand that motivating employees to participate in decision making process, is one of the most important form of empowerment. Frontline Managers perform a number of things like unity of command, delegation of authority and responsibility, teamwork and leadership, each one of which becomes a strong support of effective communication. They act as a link between the top level managers, middle managers and the employees. As a result, communication becomes an inseparable, essential and continuous process just like the circulatory system in the human body. They play a role of strategic communicators to influence the employees for better performance.
Zia, Frank, Rayondraous and Jessica mentioned in their article Managerial Communication: The Link Between Frontline Leadership and Organizational Performance that the "Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act changed the attitudes of welfare personnel in such a way that they not only performed their jobs diligently, but also went a step further in solving problems for their clients" (2010,p 113). A beneficial public management policy along with an open communication can motivate the employees to achieve their organizational goals.
2) Better Interpersonal (Employee-Employer) Relations
Thomas and Glen (2009) in their article Avoiding the tech trap: Personal Communication in an impersonal world purely state that technology has taken away the importance of conversations and personal relations from the individuals and transferred it into the ‘digital world' (p 21). It is believed that personal communication helps in reducing the inferior and superior gap between the managers and employees. Interpersonal relations become strong because of personal communication. Communication can engage employees in participating in board meetings, events, seminars, committee discussions and share the information they have collected.
The best way to break barrier of communication gaps between superiors and subordinates Thomas and Glen (2009) suggested in their research to open up social and communication blog on Intranet that would influence a discussion on organization issues, external environment, exchange personal information, etc (p 21). This would not only help employees to share their information but also managers would get to know their staff creative ideas. In this way two way communication can change from formal to informal step by step.
Leaders are the only strength to an organization who can develop good interpersonal relations with the staff by creating a free, fair, an informal communication networks in an organization. According to Zia, Frank, Rayondraous and Jessica (2010) in their research believe that it is not always easy to terminate poor performing employees. The procedures and protocols are strict to follow it up. In this scenario to avoid maximum termination communication and motivation go hand in hand which possible only through informal communication and better interpersonal relationship environment. Through interpersonal relations managers can understand the cultural contexts of their employees and the field from which they have come, their experiences in order to craft an effective strategy for organizational growth. (p 113).
Managers in organizations, whether large or small, understand the significance of establishing meaningful relationships with their employees. Interpersonal relationships can be established by accomplishing organizational goals, giving performance feedback and influencing formal and informal communication networks(Zia, Frank, Rayondraous, Jessica, 2010, p 112,114)
3) A Link Between Communication-Motivation-Leading-Performance
Leading and motivating employees are vital tools connected to managerial communication that helps organizations to achieve its objectives. Many leaders or managers fail because of their authoritative leadership styles which in turn results in a huge communication gap with their employees. Due to this, there is a greater possibility of turnover and absenteeism by the valuable workforce. Our research is focused on the role of effective communication process used to interact and engage managers and employees in the workplace environment. In this case, motivation is a direct link between better communication with the employees, coaching, satisfying salary and an overall pleasant work environment.
Managers can influence their employees for an exemplary performance through effective communication. An effective communication is possible only if there is a free exchange of information. Leaders tend to hold out certain business details to themselves and not share with their team. Such a behavior leads to rumors and misunderstandings in the organization instead of work. To avoid this scenario leaders need to communicate all the necessary information to their employees and they should be aware of all the changes happening in the organization.
In his article Communicating Effectively with Employees, Messmer (2005) supports that the best way to motivate the employees is to be heard by them and then give valuable feedbacks. Managers should give more opportunities to the employees to open up a discussion because this is the time when they have great ideas and suggestions to offer.
Improving communication with them managers can build productive relationships which further leads to improved performance(p 16).
Zia, Frank, Rayondraous and Jessica in Managerial Communication: The Link Between Frontline Leadership and Organizational Performance (2010) believe that employees are the main players for organizational success; therefore, exchange of their knowledge and feedback is vital while evaluating the success and failures of the organization (p 113). Leadership comes into picture only when a leader can communicate organization's vision effectively to his employees for achieving growth and profitability. Leaders can also motivate their staff by influencing them to set good examples. Leaders are those who can develop good relations with the employees and influence them to perform efficiently and effectively. Leaders understand the competency level of all employees and so it becomes easier for them open up a platform for communication.
Zia, Frank, Rayondraous and Jessica (2010) have also mentioned in their works that "whether a task is accomplished or not, is determined by employees' confidence and trust in their managers and in turn a manager's ability to convince their subordinates to accept communication as authority." (p 113,114). It is imperative that FMs in organizations, both large and small, understand the significance of establishing meaningful relationships with their employees. Beslin and Reddin have shared their works in Zia, Frank, Rayondraous and Jessica article Managerial Communication: The Link Between Frontline Leadership and Organizational Performance (2010) that managers employ interactive communication channels with employees. These consist of formal informal meetings, group discussions, casual coffee meetings, huddle room gatherings. They also engage the staff in an effective dialogue process that resolves their issues.
4) Organizational performance and effectiveness
Brewer added to the research in the works of Zia, Frank, Rayondraous and Jessica in the article Managerial Communication: The Link Between Frontline Leadership and Organizational Performance (2010) "opined that managers played an important role in organizational performance and effectiveness, and supervisory management was an important determinant of high performance in federal agencies. Further, the optimistic approach of supervising helps in energizing employees by following an open communication policy and being abreast of laws that affect the way in which leaders supervise their staff. Changes can occur day-to-day, or hour-to-hour, depending on the operating environment. Organizations must be well equipped internally to handle these changes as ambiguity gives rise to confusion and chaos. Not accepting communication as authority can be a major obstacle to the improvement of organizational performance, innovation, and change efforts." (p 109-112)
Managers should also take assistance from ther organizational subsystems to improve performance. According toZia, Frank, Rayondraous and Jessica in the article Managerial Communication: The Link Between Frontline Leadership and Organizational Performance (2010) "Human resource professionals are those organizational subsystems that can assist managers with improving organizational performance through the use of communication. Although authority ultimately rests with an employee perceiving and accepting communication, there are times when an employee feels uncomfortable with expressing his/her feelings to a manager. A human resource associate, can be enormously effective in serving as a mediator and taking into consideration the best interest of the manager, employee, and organization. The ability to listen is an essential attribute a manager must possess and human resource professionals can assist managers with developing this essential skill." (p 111-114). One of the most important determinants of organizational performance is a manager's ability to listen and respond to feedback. Top management, including the board of directors of a company, should implement a forum in which the solicitation of feedback from employees is both warranted and encouraged. Organizational strategy is only successful if feedback is actively encouraged from those who are directly responsible for implementing the strategy.
Effective Channel of Communication
In their article Effect of Organizational Effectiveness through Face-2-Face Communication, Tirumala and Vijay (2008) explain that "Communication within organizations is just not about conversations, documents, meetings, and memos to coordinate business activities, but it also has the potential to impact the ability of an organization to accomplish its goals."(p 30). The interpersonal relationship of the staff members is affected by the structure of organizational hierarchy. People communicate using different modes or channels of communication like telephones, email, newsletters, memos, etc. But the best mode of communication is that which transmits a message clearly and effectively.
Face-2-Face Communication Channel
Face-2-Face, an important component of communication, is vital to organizational existence. In the article Effect of Organizational Effectiveness through Face-2-Face Communication by Tirumala and Vijay (2008), Thompson contributed his study found that a positive relationship exists between communication patterns and degree of specialization. In the same article McPhee stated that organizational structure is the essence of communication processes. Face-2-Face communication acts as a direct interpersonal communication channel for favorable employee communication which in turn leads to job satisfaction and better performance.
In the above stated article Hage et al. investigated that interdepartmental communication is affected by the structural variables. He also investigated that "the complexity, centralization, and formalization against communication patterns and found that as organizational structure becomes more and more bigger there is an increase in personal specialization, the volume of communication also increases to coordinate the diverse occupational specialties of the organization." (p 30,31)
Face-2-Face communication, one can transmit all the information reqired to perform the task usual and can immediately give a feedback in return. In the article Effect of Organizational Effectiveness through Face-2-Face Communication Tirumala and Vijay (2008) have researched that face-2-face captures the "entire bandwidth of human interaction both physical and psycho-emotional. Relative to electronically mediated exchange, the structure of face-2-face interaction offers an unusual capacity for interruption, repair, feedback and learning. With different modes of communication, the availability of information within an organization seems to be one of the determining factors in assessing organizational effectiveness". (ICFAI Journal of Organizational Behavior, Vol. VII, No. 2, 2008,p 29-31)
The impact of communication depends on pattern and flow in which it travels. It also depends on job design and use of the information. Employees usually prefer face-2-face communication during the need of more information. According to Roberts and O'Reilly in the above quoted article shared his work that "employees who were active participants in communication networks and communicated more openly were likely to be rated as more productive performers."
Recommendations to Managers for Enhanced Organizational Performance Better Functioning And Effectiveness Using Face-2-Face Channel of Communication
In the article of Zia, Frank, Rayondraous and Jessica Managerial Communication: The Link Between Frontline Leadership and Organizational Performance (2010), Goleman and Boyatzis has provided six social qualities that are imbibed in the top performing leaders and managers which focus on every aspect of communication along with effective communication channels and that every manager should posses. They are as follows :
1) Empathy: Managers should know the employees needs, desires and their backgrounds by using a face-to-face channel of communication.
2) Attunement: There should be a flexibility with the understanding of moods of the staff members. Managers should attentively listen to their employees issues and give a positive feedback for better performance. This can be done by using Face-2-Face communication channel.
3) Organizational Awareness: Learning managers should appreciate the differing cultures and values of employees group and understand their social networks by casual meetings and use of newsletters, flyers and emails.
4) Influence: Managers should have the ability to motivate their staff in participating in discussions and appealing their self-interests and sharing their own experiences. To influence managers can have small group presentations, boardroom meetings, performance appraisal sessions and also telephonic conversation.
5) Developing others: Managers should invest their maximum time and energy in coaching, mentoring and professional training and also by providing effective feedbacks which will be a help for their personality development. Best channel would be Face-2-Face communication channel.
6) Inspiration: Articulating a vision to build group strength, using a positive emotional tone, bringing out best in employees, working in team, building team spirit and encouraging cooperation by using Face-2-Face channel.
Although many significant claims have been made regarding the benefits of communication, the actual demonstrated results of these programs have been limited both in terms of the types of bottom-line results that can be expected and in terms of the environment where optimal outcomes can be expected to be achieved.
Demonstrating the return on implementation for effective communication and face-2-face communication channel is very difficult, in part because there are so many variables to control. Communication is a complex, highly personalized, interactive form of medium . Benefits are easily ‘lost in the noise' of other programs in play. Furthermore, gains may arrive only years after a single communication model is effective in nature . This may be why a significant percentage of the research being conducted is aimed at understanding the ability of effective communication and its various ways to make an organizational communication a success to change the perception and intentions of protégés, and so little research is available that focuses on the actual outcomes of overall communication strategies.
Despite these issues, a number of findings were clear from this study. First, an appropriately structured communication channel of face-face communication channel can be a very effective tool for improving the performance of all employees in the organization . Second, communication can improve employees' commitment to an organization's goals, as well as improve an employees commitment to his or her job. Finally, there is evidence that effective communication can benefit human resource departments by reducing the likelihood of employees' leaving an organization and by improving the desirability of an organization. Although this view has not been validated by demonstrated reductions in employee turnover, repeated studies have shown that employee perceptions in this area are significantly improved by better interpersonal communication between managers and employees.
Of equal significance is the lack of concrete support for the benefits of communication or it is the case where there is lot to the benefits of effective communication that no one model or channel can be sufficient enough for an organization to accomplish its goals and increase its competitive advantage. Little support was found for such critical and commonly cited benefits of effective communication enhanced learning, improved competitiveness, and strategic functioning and effectiveness. It also mentioned the importance of communication in terms of motivation and leadership in an organization.
It is also noteworthy that a frienldly environment is extremely important. Common themes found in research include the benefits of having communication performed by managers and leaders within an organization, the benefits of manager interpersonal relations over formal relations , the importance of having experienced managers and their recommendations for being the top managers by using effective communication, the importance of a structured face-2-face channel of communication program and the importance of providing effective communication in internal as well as global organization.
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