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Chapter 10

Chapter 10 Notes

Management (MGH)
Course Code
Julie Mc Carthy

of 4
Chapter 10 Communication Notes
What is Communication?
x communication Æ the process by which information is exchanged between a sender and a receiver
x the simplest prototype for interpersonal communication is a one-on-one exchange between two individuals
x the simplest communication model is valuable because it points out the complexity of the communication process and
demonstrates a number of points at which errors can occur, which can lead to a lack of correspondence between the sender’s
initial thoughts and the receiver’s understanding of the intended message
x effective communication Æ communication whereby the right people receive the right information in a timely manner
x violating any of these 3 conditions results in a communication episode that is ineffective
Basics of Organizational Communication
Communication by Strict Chain of Command
x chain of command Æ lines of authority and formal reporting relationships
x under this system, three necessary forms of communication can be accomplished
x downward communication Æ information that flows from the top of the organization toward the bottom
x upward communication Æ information that flows from the bottom of the organization toward the top
x horizontal communication Æ info that flows between departments or functional units, usually as a means of coordinating effort
x within a strict chain of command, such communication would flow up to and then down from a common manager
Deficiencies in the Chain of Command
x managers recognize that sticking strictly to the chain of command is often ineffective
x the chain of command obviously fails to consider informal communication between members
x getting the right information to the right people is often inhibited by filtering
x filtering Æ the tendency for a message to be watered down or stopped during transmission
x the potential for filtering increases with the number of links in the communication chain
x for this reason, organization establish channels in addition to those revealed in the formal chain of command
x open door policy Æ opportunity for employees to communicate directly with manager without going through chain of command
x such a policy should decrease the upward filtering of sensitive information if subordinates trust the system
x to prevent downward filtering, many firms attempt to speak directly with potential receivers, bypassing chain of command
x even when the chain of command transmits information faithfully, it can be painfully slow
x the chain of command can be even slower for horizontal communication between departments, and it is not a good mechanism
for reacting quickly to customer problems; therefore, cross-functional teams and employee empowerment are used instead
x in summary, informal communication and the recognition of filtering and time constraints guarantee that organizations will
develop channels of communication beyond the strict chain of command
Manager-Employee Communication
x manager-employee communication consists of the one-to-one exchange of information between a boss and an employee
x perceptions that managers are good communicators tend to be correlated positively with organizational performance
How Good Is Manager-Employee Communication?
x extent to which managers and employees agree about work-related matters and are sensitive to other’s point of view is one index
x research indicates that managers and employees differ in their perceptions of issues—how employees should and do allocate
time; how long it takes to learn a job; importance employees attach to pay; amount of authority employee has; employee’s skills
and abilities; employee’s performance and obstacles to good performance; and manager’s leadership style
Barriers to Effective Manager-Employee Communication
x in addition to basic differences in personality and perception, conflicting role demands and mum effect have been implicated
x many managers have difficulties balancing task and social-emotional functions
x mum effect Æ the tendency to avoid communicating unfavourable news to others
x employees with strong aspirations for upward mobility are likely to encounter communication difficulties with their bosses
The Grapevine
Characteristics of the Grapevine
x grapevine Æ an organization’s informal communication network that exists in any organization
x as such, the grapevine often cuts across formal lines of communication that are recognized by management
x observation suggests several distinguishing features of grapevine systems:
o not only is information communicated by word of mouth, but also by written notes, emails, and fax messages
o organizations often have several grapevine systems, some of which may be loosely coordinated
o the grapevine can transmit information relevant to the performance of the organization as well as personal gossip
x only a proportion of those who receive grapevine news pass it on, with the net effect that more “know” than “tell”
Who Participates in the Grapevine?
x extraverts might be more likely to pass on information than introverts
x similarly, those who lack self-esteem might pass on information that gives them a personal advantage
x the nature of the information might also influence who chooses to pass it on
x finally, the physical location of organizational members is related to their opportunity to both receive and transmit news
Pros and Cons of the Grapevine
x for one thing, it can keep employees informed about important organizational matters, such as job security
x in some organizations, management is so notoriously lax at this that grapevine is a regular substitute for formal communication
x the grapevine can also provide a test of employee reactions to proposed changes without making formal commitments
x finally, when grapevine information extends outside the organization, it can serve as a potential informal recruiting source
x the grapevine can become a real problem for the organization when it becomes a constant pipeline for rumours
x rumour Æ an unverified belief that is in general circulation
The Verbal Language of Work
x jargon Æ specialized language by job holders or members of particular occupations of organizations
x while jargon is an efficient means of communicating with peers and provides a touch of status to those who have mastered it, it
can also serve as a barrier to communicating with others who do not understand the jargon
x a second serious problem is the communication barrier it presents to those outside of the organization or profession
The Non-Verbal Language of Work
x non-verbal communication Æ the transmission of messages by some medium other than speech or writing
Body Language
x body language Æ non-verbal communication by means of a sender’s bodily motions, facial expressions, or physical location
x senders communicate liking and interest in receiver when they position themselves physically close to receiver; touch receiver
during interaction; maintain eye contact with receiver; lean forward during interaction; and direct torso toward receiver
x each of these behaviours demonstrates that the sender has genuine consideration for the receiver’s point of view
x senders who feel to be of higher status than the receiver act more relaxed than those who perceive to be of lower status
x relaxation is demonstrated by the casual, asymmetrical placement of arms and leg; a reclining, non-erect seating position; and a
lack of fidgeting and nervous activity; in other words, the greater the difference in relaxation between two parties, the more they
communicate a status differential to each other
Props, Artefacts, and Costumes
x in addition to the use of body language, non-verbal communication can also occur through the use of various objects
x props, artefacts, and costumes all signal status and the degree of professionalism among other things
Gender Difference in Communication
x men are more sensitive to power dynamics and will use communication as a way to position themselves in a one-up situation
x women are more concerned with rapport building, and they communicate in ways that avoid putting others down
x women find themselves in a one-down position, which can have a negative effect on the rewards they receive and their careers
x there are a number of key differences in male and female communication styles and rituals that often place women in a one-
down position—getting credit; confidence and boasting; asking questions; apologies; feedback; compliments; ritual opposition;
managing up and down; and indirectness—these all often place women in a one-down situation
Cross-Cultural Communication
Language Differences
x communication is generally better between individuals or groups who share similar cultural values
x the role of language in communication involves some subtle ironies—a common language can sometimes cause visitors to
misunderstand or be surprised by legitimate cultural differences because they get lulled into complacency
Non-Verbal Communication across Cultures
x there are considerable cross cultural differences in facial expressions, gestures, gazes, and touching
x these can often cause considerable distress, even though facial expressions are a type of communication that translate well
Etiquette and Politeness across Cultures
x literal decoding will almost always lead to trouble
x in some cultures, politeness is expressed with modesty that seems excessive to North Americans
Social Conventions across Cultures
x over and above the issues of politeness and etiquette, there are a number of social conventions that vary across cultures
x greetings and how people say hello also vary across cultures, and these differences can lead to misunderstandings
x what individuals consider a proper degree of loudness for speech also varies across cultures, and people fromquieter” societies
might unfairly view those from “louder” societies as pushy or intimidating
x what people consider proper punctuality also varies greatly around the world
x finally, nepotism, favouring one’s relatives in spite of their qualifications, is generally frowned on in more individualistic
societies; however, in more collective cultures, people are expected to help their relatives
Cultural Context
x cultural context Æ the cultural information that surrounds a communication episode
x it is safe to say that context is always important in accurately decoding a message
x some cultures, including many East Asian, Latin American, African, and Arab cultures, are high-context cultures
x this means that the message contained in communication is strongly influenced by the context in which the message is sent
x in high-context cultures, literal interpretations are often incorrect
x low-context cultures include North America, Australia, Northern Europe (excluding France), and Scandinavia
x messages can be interpreted literally because more meaning resides in message than in context in which communication occurs
x differences in the importance of context across cultures have some interesting implications for organizational communication
Computer-Mediated Communication
x information richness Æ the potential information-carrying capacity of a communication medium
x a face-to-face transmission of information is very high in richness because the sender is personally present, audio and visual
channels are used, body language and verbal language are occurring, and feedback to the sender is immediate and ongoing
x a telephone conversation is fairly rich, but it is limited to audio channel, and it does not permit observation of body language
x communicating via numeric computer output lacks richness because it is impersonal and uses only numeric language
x two important dimensions of information richness: the degree to which information is synchronous between senders and
receivers, and the extent to which both parties can receive non-verbal and paraverbal cues
x highly synchronous communication, such as face-to-face speech, is two-way, in real time
x on the low side of synchronization, memos, letters, and even emails are essentially a series of one-way messages
x computer-mediated communication (CMC) Æ forms of communication that rely on computer technology to ease info exchange
x memos, reports, emails, and web portals are fine for recurring, impersonal communication where info is being disseminated
x important decisions, news, intended changes, controversial messages, and emotional issues call for richer media
Personal Approaches to Improving Communication
Basic Principles of Effective Communication
x these principles are basic, in that they apply to upward, downward, horizontal, and outside communication
x these principles are (1) take the time, (2) be accepting of the other person, (3) do not confuse the person with the problem, (4) say
what you feel, (5) listen actively, and (6) give timely and specific feedback
x active listening Æ a technique for improving the accuracy of information reception by paying close attention to the sender
x techniques of active listening include the following, among others: watch your body language, paraphrase what the speaker
means, show empathy, ask questions, and wait out pauses
Organizational Approaches to Improving Communication
360-Degree Feedback
x traditionally, employee performance appraisal has been viewed as an exercise in downward communication in which the boss
tells the employee how he or she is doing—that is, there is no two-way communication
x more recently, performance appraisal has become a two-way communication process in which employees are also able to have
upward impact concerning their appraisal—that is, they can clarify problems in their performance
x most recently, some firms have expanded the communication channels in performance appraisal to include not only superior and
self-ratings but also the ratings of subordinates, peers, and clients or customers
x 360-degree feedback Æ performance appraisal that uses input of supervisors, employees, peers, and clients of appraised
x the 360-degree system usually focuses on required behavioural competencies rather than bottom-line performance
x it is usually used for employee development rather than salary determination
Employee Surveys and Survey Feedback
x surveys of the attitudes and opinions of current employees can provide a useful means of upward communication
x since surveys are conducted with anonymous responses, employees should feel free to voice their genuine views
x good employee survey contains questions that reliably tap employee concerns and provide info useful for practical purposes
x employee survey Æ anonymous questionnaire enabling employees to state opinions and attitudes about a firm and its practices
x surveys are especially useful when they are administered periodically
x when survey results are fed back to employees, along with management responses and plans for changes, this feedback should
enhance downward communication as it should show employees that management has heard and considered their comments
x plans for changes in response to survey concerns indicate a commitment to two-way communication
Suggestion Systems and Query Systems
x suggestion systems Æ programs designed to enhance upward communication by soliciting ideas for improved work operations
from employees; formal attempt to encourage useful ideas and prevent their filtering through the chain of command
x the simplest example of a suggestion system involves the use of a suggestion box, which is usually not very effective, since there
is no tangible incentive for making a submission and no clear mechanism to show that management considered a suggestion
x much better are programs that reward employees for suggestions that are actually adopted and provide feedback as to how
management evaluated each suggestion—for simple suggestions a flat fee is usually paid; for complex suggestions of a technical
nature that might result in substantial savings to the firm, a percentage of the anticipated savings is often awarded
x related to suggestion systems are query systems, which provide a formal means of answering questions that employees may have
x these systems foster two-way communication and are most effective when questions and answers are widely disseminated
Telephone Hotlines, Intranets, and Webcasts
x many organizations have adopted telephone hotlines to further communication
x some hotlines use a news format to present company information; others serve as query systems
x corporate intranet portals is used as means of communicating announcements or engaging employees in electronic discussions
x intranet portals represent an important information source on various topics of interest to employees and can also allow
employees to communicate information to the organization
Management Training
x effective training programs often present videotaped models correctly handling a typical communication problem
x managers then role-play the problem and are reinforced by the trainers when they exhibit effective skills