• Module Code: PM 025 • Class/Group: Group A • Module Title: Contemporary Organisational Behaviour • Assignment Title: Final Essay • Assignment Title: Communicationin the workplace • Tutor Name: Frenie Antony • Student ID Number: 2059591 • Date of Submission: 21st Match 2013 Communication in the workplace The definition of communication is ‘ a process in which information and its meaning (common understanding) is conveyed by a sender to receiver (s)’ (Rollinson and Broadfield, 2002: 612, and Jones and George, 2011, cited in Antony and Macvicar, 2011: 146).
In Rollinson and Broadfield’s theory ‘ meaning’ was more important than ‘ information’, as long as both sender and receiver can understand the meaning of information, even the feedback is not necessarily in the communication ptocess. In addition, ‘ The exchange of ideas and information is the lifeblood of any organization. ’ (Hodge and Johnson, 1970: 93). In the other words, communication for an organization is the same as the blood flow forhuman being. (Conrad and Poole, 2012: 5).
Furthermore, according to Hodge and Johnson (1970) and O’Reilly and Pondy (1979), Dekay (2012) communication shaped the organization by interaction the organization and itsenvironment, as the result, communication maybe the only connection between the organization and outside world. Besides, The majority aim of communication was enhance the connection between different roles in the company and smooth the working processes (Smith and Davidson, 1991, cited in Smith 1991: 22).
Therefore, Williams’s and Smith and Davidson’s ideas might argue that the purpose of communication in the workplace was improving the work efficiency and finally increasing the profit. This essay will argue that barrier to communication in the organization may not only influence the further market expansion of company, but also push the company to the edge of bankrupt, as its can distortion the meaning of information during the communication process.
Furthermore, this essay will mainly divided into two parts, first, indicate the communication processes in the organization and verify some barriers (power difference barrier, cultural diversitybarrier, individual perception barrier and so on) during the communication processes, second, inspect threecase studyof different companies (Bernard Matthew farms, The Luxor Company, Exxon Mobil, BP, Shell and ChevronTexaco) which had conquered the communication barriers.
Normally, there were three directions of communication in the workplace: ‘ vertically’ (superior and subordinate), ‘ laterally’ (horizontal), and ‘ diagonally’ (Rollinson and Broadfield, 2002: 627). Furthermore, the communication processes unsurely consisted of two parts, the sender and receiver (Williams 1991, cited Smith, 1991: 120 and Hodge and Johnson, 1970: 150, Rollinson and Broadfield, 2002: 612). On one hand, sender wanted to transfer an idea, the idea needed to be ‘ Encoded’, which means translated the message into general language.
Then choosing a ‘ Channel’, for instance, by e-mail, by telephone, put anadvertisementand so on. After that, receiver received the massage from sender and they should try to ‘ Decoded’ the message, which means the receiver should try to understand what sender’s meaning, at last gave respond (feedback) to the sender (Rollinson and Broadfield, 2002: 617 and Buelens et al, 2011, cited in Antony and MacVicar, 2011: 109). On the other hand, the barriers, which called ‘ Noise’, existed during these six processes, and might lead to organization ‘ communication collapses’, even worse, the bankrupt of company (Hodge and Johnson, 1970: 151).
The barriers of communication often separated into two parts: ‘ external barriers to the communication’ and ‘ internal barriers to the communication’ (Williams 1991, cited in Smith, 1991: 117, and Coulson-Thomas and Coulson-Thomas, 1997: 267). To be more specific, first, external barrier often indicated as: neglect the extra message, ignore the importance of the information that processes it all followed by first-come-first-served rule, and slack to theresponsibility(Williams 1991, cited in Smith, 1991: 117).
Second, there were five performance of internal barrier: first, could not find a need of communication, second, careless in understanding the information or tend to not correspond at all. Third, ‘ Encoded’ problem, the sender introduce in professional way that make message unclear or the sender executed it in a wrong ‘ channel’, the message could not receive by target customer. Fourth, the message might tamper during the transfer. Fifth, thepersonalitymight influence people’s understanding and acceptance of the message (ibid).
The lack of communication might trigger a death for a company. For example, Bernard Matthews farms (the largest turkey supplier in the UK) started to lose reputation since 2005, because of the incident of unhealthy turkey for students in improve-school-meal program, then reached at the peak because of outbreak of bird flu and exposure of imported turkey from abroad, which against the idea of company. What was worse, Matthews never responded and defended themselves to the media in time (The Times 100, 2012).
With reference to Williams’s (1991, cited in Smith, 1991: 117) theory, the farm met one of the external communication barriers that the manager notice the problem they faced, however, took no respond of it. Before Matthews took any actions the company already lost 35% of selling in the UK, and it was standing on the edge of bankrupt (The Times 100, 2012). As mentioned above, the purpose of communication is to make organization work better and increasing the profit.
With reference of Rollinson’s theory (2002: 617), during the improved communication processes, Bernard Matthews acted in three ways to simulate the internal stakeholders: formal written (weekly newsletters), electronic communication (company’s intranet site), and face to face communication. While Bernard also try to change external stakeholders’ attitude by: internet (four websites with different target customer) andsocial media(advertisement).
These series of action offered high information richness which easily understood and accepted by both internal and external stakeholders, in addition, it rescued the Bernard Matthews farms from bankrupt to 9% annual increasing rate. To sum up, an effective communication, both internal and external, could help overcome the barriers and change the loss position. The communication could not only help company changing the loss position, but also make great effort for company’s further development.
The Luxor Company (manufactures domestic and office furniture), which headquarters had 750 employees approximately and located in outskirts of Paris , for instance, increased dramatically in a short time that the CEO of company, Charles Binochet, realised everything seemed to be not working as smoothly as before. Furthermore, Charles believed that the rapid development would become a serious barrier when the next wave of market expansion coming (Rollinson and Broadfield, 2002: 626).
According to Williams (1991, sited in Smith, 1991: 117), the barriers of the Luxor Company was external communication barriers, which means both the employers and the employees could not take care of the extra information, ignore the importance of the different information, and slack to the responsibility to the company. By hiring a consultant the Luxor Company solved problem of the lack of connection between production and marketing and no financial control system problem (Roillinson and Broadfield, 2002: 626). However, the chaos of relations in the organization still existed.
After some discussion, the Luxor tried to keep all of its in touch with company and its actions by provide the formal information which contained the high information richness (displayed four company’s situation chart which including ‘ Number of employees’, ‘ Output’, ‘ investment in new plant and machinery’, and ‘ New product lines added’) (ibid). Although the feedback of this action might come slowly and seldom, according to Roillinson and Broadfield (2002: 612) as long as the receiver understood the information, feedback was less important in the communication.
The charts, which might help employees to understand the company’s operation and their contribution to the company, leaded to hard working performance of employees (Roillinson and Broadfield, 2002: 626). As a result, it improved communication with company and employees that not only improved the employees’motivationbut also might offer a significant assistant in company’s next expansion. Many multinational corporations had the same communication barriers as the Luxor Company, during the processes of taking collaborative advantage (Hansen and Nohria, 2004: 22).
Nowadays, increasing international competition lead the company, for instance, Exxon Mobil, BP, Shell and ChevronTexaco (multinational corporations) were losing their dominant position than before. To recover the position and to increase the profit, they were willing to seek a new source, where collaboration might work, to increase the competitive advantage (ibid). Hansen and Nohria (2004: 23) claimed that collaboration had several benefits: decreased the cost, better decision making, increased the revenue, be more creative, and enhanced the connection with its subsidiaries.
During the processes of taking collaborative advantage, there was a significant barrier called: ‘ Inability to work together and transfer knowledge’, which Hansen and Nohria considered it as a communication barrier (ibid). The employees from different subsidiaries which belonged to different countries, suffering the language barrier (language different) and intercultural barrier (message changed because of localculture) (ibid).
According to Williams (1991, cited in Smith, 1991: 117), the MNCs often had external communication barriers, which indicated as personality (culture different) influence the understanding and acceptance of the message and the message had been distorted (translate language) during the transfer. After a survey from supervisors, the companies decided to operate two actions to encourage the communication: First, setting an international standard of technologies words to conquer the communication.
Second, setting an employee-exchange-program that employee could understand the culture different and improve the work efficiency. With reference to Rollinson and Broadfield (2002: 617) theory, the first solution settled the encode and decode barriers, while second solution was choosing the ‘ channel’, which was exchanged the employees to other subsidiaries, to increase the understanding and to solve the distortion barriers.
To conclude, this essay has identified the communication in the workplace which included the communication barriers in the organization and purpose of communication, follow with three case studies about communication barriers, which including first, Bernard Matthews farms developed internal and external stakeholder by communication to rescue the loss position, second, the Luxor Company’s communicational-bias-further-development, third, communication helped multinational corporations to develop collaborative. As a result, communication in the workplace is critical important.
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