MGHB02H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 10: Decision Support System, Smoke Screen, Videotelephony
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Questions and Exercises prepared by Alan Saks.
I. What is Communication?
Communication is the process by which information is exchanged between a sender and a receiver. The
sender must encode his or her thoughts into some form that can be transmitted to the receiver. The
receiver must perceive the message and accurately decode it to achieve understanding. Feedback
involves yet another communication episode that tells the original sender whether the receiver received
and understood the message. Effective communication occurs when the right people receive the right
information in a timely manner.
II. Basics of Organizational Communication
There are a number of basic issues about organizational communication.
A. Communication by Strict Chain of Command
When communication flows in accordance with an organization chart, we say that communication
follows along the chain of command or lines of authority and formal reporting relationships.
In downward communication, information flows from the top of the organization toward the bottom.
In upward communication, information flows from the bottom of the organization toward the top.
Horizontal communication refers to information that flows between departments or functional units,
usually as a means of coordinating effort.
A lot of organizational communication follows the formal lines of authority shown on organizational
charts. However, the reality of organizational communication shows that the formal chain of command
is an incomplete and sometimes ineffective path of communication.
B. Deficiencies in the Chain of Command
Sticking strictly to the chain of command is often ineffective.
Informal Communication. The formal chain of command fails to consider informal communication
between members. This type of communication might not benefit the organization since inaccurate
rumours might be spread across the organization.
Filtering. At times, effective communication using the chain of command is inhibited by filtering,
which is the tendency for a message to be watered down or stopped altogether at some point during
transmission. Employees use upward filtering to keep negative performance information out of their
supervisor's hands. Supervisors use downward filtering to play the "information is power" card.
To prevent filtering, some organizations have an open-door policy in which any organizational member
can communicate directly with a manager without going through the chain of command. Managers may
also wish to go outside normal channels if information has broad applications.
Slowness. Even when the chain of command relays information accurately, it is painfully slow
especially for horizontal communication between departments.
III. Manager-Employee Communication
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-employee communication consists of one-to-one exchange of information between a boss and
an employee. It represents a key element in upward and downward communication in organizations.
Most employees prefer their immediate supervisors as a source of organizational information.
A. How Good Is Manager-Employee Communication?
Research indicates that managers and employees often disagree in their perceptions of such fundamental
workplace issues as employee use of time, how long it takes to learn a job, pay, authority, employee
skills and abilities, performance, and the manager's leadership style.
These perceptual differences indicate a lack of openness in communication which might contribute to
role conflict and ambiguity and reduce employee satisfaction.
B. Barriers to Effective Manager-Employee Communication
In addition to basic differences in personality and perception, a number of factors can cause
communication problems between managers and employees.
Conflicting Role Demands. Many managers have difficulties balancing the social-emotional needs of
workers and the role demands of the task.
The Mum Effect. The mum effect is the tendency to avoid communicating unfavourable news to others.
People often prefer to “keep mum” than convey bad news that might provoke negative reactions on the
art of the receiver. The mum effect applies to both employees and managers.
IV. The Grapevine
A great deal of information travels quickly through organizations as a result of the grapevine.
A. Characteristics of the Grapevine
The grapevine is the informal communication network that exists in any organization. The grapevine
cuts across formal lines of communication. Although the grapevine is generally thought of as involving
word of mouth, written notes, e-mail and fax messages have may also be involved. Organizations may
have several loosely coordinated grapevine systems, and the grapevine may transmit information that is
relevant to the performance of the organization as well as personal gossip. Non-controversial
organizationally related information is often accurate while personal information that is emotionally
charged is likely to be distorted.
B. Who Participates in the Grapevine?
Personality characteristics play a role in the grapevine. Extroverts are more likely to pass on information
than introverts. The physical location and task elements of members are also related to their
opportunities to participate in the grapevine. Locations that receive a lot of traffic or employees that
must travel through the organization in the course of their jobs both facilitate the operation of the
C. Pros and Cons of the Grapevine
At times, the
rapevine can be a re
ular substitute for formal communication either b
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