Textbook Notes - Chapter 10

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10 Nov 2010
MGTB27 / 01 Week 12
- The University of Guelph believes in the importance that good electronic and face-to-face
communication depends on the size and culture of a university
What is Communication?
- Communication is the process by which information is exchanged between a sender and a
- Interpersonal communication is the exchange of information between people and the simplest
prototype is a one-on-one exchange between two individuals
- The sender must encode his or her thoughts into some form (e.g. writing, speech) that can be
transmitted (e.g. via email, face-to-face, or voicemail) to the receiver
- The receiver must perceive the message accurately (e.g. reading memo) and accurately
decode it to achieve understanding (e.g. uses online catalogue to understand). Then receiver
will provide feedback to the sender (e.g. may send copy of an order)
- Communication model points out the complexity of the communication process and how
ineffective transmission)
- Encoding and decoding can be more prone to error if message is ambiguous or emotional
- Effective communication is communication whereby the right people receive the right
information in a timely manner
Basics of Organizational Communication
- Basic issues about organizational communication
Communication by Strict Chain of Command
- Organizational communication can stick to the chain of command which are lines of
authority and formal reporting relationships
- Under this system, three forms of communication can be accomplished:
- Downward communication is information that flows from the top of the organization toward
o Directives and instructions usually pass downward through the chain of command
- Upward communication is information that flows from the bottom of the organization
o Ideas and suggestions usually pass upward
- Horizontal communication is information that flows between departments or functional
units, usually as a means of coordinating effort
- Within strict chain of command, information will flow up and down from a common manager
(e.g. new idea, will transmit to vice-presidents of marketing and research)
Deficiencies in the Chain of Command
- Sticking strictly to the chain of command is often ineffective
- Informal Communication
o Chain of command fails to consider informal communication between members
o Informal interaction helps people accomplish their jobs more effectively but informal
grapevine who spreads inaccurate rumours is harmful to the organization
Chapter 10 ± Communication (pg. 324 ± 351)
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MGTB27 / 02 Week 12
- Filtering
o Filtering is the tendency for a message to be watered down or stopped during
transmission (e.g. CEO does not communicate every detail of the management
company right down to the shop floor)
o Overzealous filtering will prevent the right people from receiving information
o Upward filter occurs because employees are afraid that the boss may use the
information against them
o Downward filter occurs due to time pressure or simple lack of attention to detail
o The potential for filtering increases with the number of links in the communication
o As a result, managers establish an open door policy which allows any organizational
member to communicate directly without going through the chain
Decreases upward filtering if subordinates trust the system
Prevents downward filtering by communicating directly with receivers
- Slowness
o Chain of command transmits information slowly and even slower for horizontal
communication between departments (not a good mechanism to respond quickly)
o Cross-functional teams and employee empowerment improves communication in
these areas by short-circuiting the chain of command
Manager ± Employee Communication
- Manager-employee communication (upward or downward) consists of the one-to-one
exchange of information such as instructing employee on tasks, clarifying reward
contingencies, allowing employees to ask questions about work role or make suggestions
How Good is Manager-Employee Communication?
- Good communication can be measured as the extent to which managers and employees agree
about work-related matters
- Research shows that managers & employees often differ in their perceptions on these issues:
o Importance employees attach to pay
o The amount of authority the employee has
- Perceptual differences suggest a lack of openness in communication which may contribute to
role conflict and or ambiguity (also decreases job satisfaction)
Barriers to Effective Manager-Employee Communication
- Factors that causes communication problems between managers and employees:
- Conflicting Role Demands
o Leadership role requires managers to tend to both task & social-emotional functions
o Sales manager congratulates young sales rep on their sales then suggests that he
should increase his performance in the future. Sales rep may be offended since it
implies that he has not been pulling his weight in the company. Manager should
consider using 2 separate communiqués (congratulating & performance directive)
- Mum Effect
o Mum effect is the tendency to avoid communicating unfavourable news to others
negative reactions on the part of the receiver
o Sender does not have to be responsible for the bad news (e.g. engineer is reluctant to
tell boss that the contractor did faulty work which caused cracks to building)
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MGTB27 / 03 Week 12
o Mum effect is even more likely if the sender is responsible for the bad news or they
have strong aspirations for upward mobility
o Mum effect does not only apply to employees, can apply to bosses when they do not
want to communicate bad news downward (e.g. poor performance ratings)
The Grapevine
- Information can travel quickly due to grapevine
Characteristics of the Grapevine
- Grapevine often cuts across formal lines of communications recognized by management
- Observation suggests several distinguishing features of the grapevine system:
o We normally associate grapevine as communicating information by word of mouth
but it can also be written in notes, emails, and fax messages
o Organizations have several grapevine systems some of which may be loosely
- Experts conclude that 75% of non-controversial organization-related information carried by
the grapevine is correct (personal info & emotionally charged info are more likely distorted)
- A proportion of those who receive grapevine news pass it on, with the net effect that more
Who Participates in the Grapevine?
- Personality characteristics play a role in who is likely to be a transmitter of grapevine
information (extraverts are more likely to pass on information than introverts; those who lack
self-esteem are more likely to pass on information to give them a personal advantage
- The nature of the information may influence who chooses to pass it on (e.g. news of doctor
receiving large research grant will follow a different path than him having an affair)
- The physical location of organizational members is related to their opportunity to both receive
and occupants of work stations that receive a lot of traffic are more likely)
Pros and Cons of the Grapevine
- Grapevine can keep employees informed about important organizational matters
- Grapevine can also provide a test of employee reactions to proposed changes without making
formal commitments (The Body Shop founder often did this around the office)
- When grapevine information extends outside the organization, can be used as a potent
informal recruiting source
- Grapevine can become a problem for the organization if it becomes a constant pipeline for
rumours which are unverified belief that is in general circulation (can be true or false)
- Rumours spread the fastest when the information is especially ambiguous, when the content
of the rumour is important to those involved, when the rumour seems credible, and when the
recipient is anxious
- Due to increasingly difficult global competition, staff reductions, and restructuring, it has
been more important to control rumours
The Verbal Language of Work
- Jargon is a specialized language used by job holders or members of particular occupations or
organizations to communicate with each other
- E.g. OB means organizational behaviour to management professor & obstetrics to physician
- E.g. upward mobility can mean: fast trackers, superstars, high fliers, water walkers etc...
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