Communication In An Organization Management Essay
Communication in an organization is significant and its continuous effectiveness is fundamental for the seamless integration of its internal publics into the organization. Ferguson (1999), suggests that communication priorities must be capable of responding to the requirements of both external and internal audiences. Apparent communication channels echo the well being of an institute. Clampitt (1991) suggests that effective internal communication helps to improve an organization’s success. Clampitt’s proposition is consistent with Heath’s (2001) observations that effective internal communication leads to increased productivity, satisfied clients and maintenance of the organizational structure.
Furthermore, Clampitt and Downs 1993 cited in Hargie and Tourish (2000) suggest that organizations benefit a lot from improved internal communication. This includes improved productivity, reduced absenteeism, higher quality of service and products. Organizations also experience increased levels of innovation, fewer strikes and reduced costs of operation and high staff turnover. Taylor (2005) summarizes the benefits of effective communication in the acronym as,
SUCCESS defined as follows: S- stronger decision making and problem solving; U-upturn in productivity; C-convincing and compelling corporate materials; C-clearer, more streamlined work flow; E-enhanced professional image; S-sound business relationships; S-successful response assured (p. 11).
. For an organization to assess the effectiveness of its internal communication based on its employee’s attitudes about the firm, it needs to conduct a communication audit (Argenti, 2009). Therefore, the assurance that effective internal communication systems exists is vital to the success of any organization. This ensures that all the objectives undertaken by an organization are clearly understood by its employees.
A communication audit
Scott (2007) defines a communication audit as an indicator used in a particular time to help an organization assess its current communication practices and also to show how effective they are. She suggests that a communication audit can also be used to identify areas with problems such as frequent misunderstandings, information blocks, information gaps, information duplication or misrepresentation. McGann (2010) suggests that,
a communication audit is a snapshot of the organization’s communications programs, practices and activities. A communication audit will inform you on what is working, what is not working and what needs to be changed or improved in terms of communication within the organization (p. 1).
According to Hargie and Tourish (2000), communication audits have been used to identify and reward good practice and at the same time help organizations to manage crisis and improve business performance. Snyder and Morris (1994) cited in Hargie and Tourish (2000) observe that there is a positive correlation between the employee perceptions of communication and job satisfaction which in turn correlates to the overall organizations’ effectiveness. This can be achieved by the results of the communication audit.
Seitel (1995) states that, organizations utilize communication audits to analyze the perception of its constituents, evaluate the readership of its communication, annual reports and newsletters which are the vehicles of the organization. Further, the author suggests that, communication audits provide the organization with important information on how to solve problems like employees working at cross-purposes, uneven communication workloads and benchmarks against which public relations programs can be applied and measured in the future. The author concludes that, a communication audit will determine the communications systems which are being used by the organization, which are the most effective and if the information that is being transmitted by the organization is regarded as adequate by its recipients. This study is an internal communication audit of the CDF Board and Secretariat which aims to determine the effectiveness of the communication systems used within the organization.
History of CDF in Kenya
In the recent past, the government of Kenya has created a number of alternative windows to allow allocation of resources directly to devolved government units in response to the needs to ensure equitable development at the grassroots. For instance, there has been substantial increase in resources committed at the constituency level and the local government units. When President Mwai Kibaki was in opposition he introduced a motion in parliament that sought to have funds devolved at the grassroot level, however the motion was defeated by the then head of state President Daniel arap Moi’s government.
In the year 2003 when H. E Mwai Kibaki took power, the Ol-Kalao Member of Parliament Hon. Eng. Karue having been a member of his party, brought the motion again to Parliament seeking the funds to be devolved at the grassroot level and it was passed. Constituency Development Fund (CDF) became operational in 2004 with an annual budgetary allocation of a minimum 2.5% by the central government to each of the country’s constituencies. The fund aims to address imbalances in regional development. It targets community projects at the constituency level, particularly those aiming to combat poverty. It also provides individuals at the grassroot the opportunity to make development choices that maximize their welfare in line with their needs and preferences.
Some of other notable devolved funds in Kenya include the Community Development Trust Fund (CDTF), the Roads Fund, Constituency AIDs Fund, the Local Authority Transfer Fund (LATF), Women Enterprise Fund, Youth Enterprise Development Fund, Rural Electrification Programe Levy Fund (REPF), Free Primary Education Fund (FPEF) and the Constituency Education Bursary Fund (CEBF). The over-arching goal has been to improve the development outcomes by involving local communities in the decision-making process and management of projects (CDF Board Strategic Plan, 2010-2014).
During the period of CDF existence, the fund has registered substantial achievements and has greatly contributed in transforming the lives of Kenyans. The researcher’s observations are that, the impact of the fund is widespread that in all corners of the country one can never miss a project which has been financed from the CDF kitty. They include the improved infrastructure especially in the rural areas in the form of rural access roads, education and health facilities. The fund has enabled many students to access education through bursary. In addition it has enabled locals to build capacity at the grassroot level through empowerment in participation in project management through various committees.
CDF has received a lot of media attention both positive and negative despite the fact that it has brought a paradigm shift in most of Kenya’s rural areas in terms of development. However, just like any other noble idea, the Fund has had its own share of challenges ranging from mode of financing, accountability to the public, political interference in identification of projects, approval and implementation of the projects, low level of awareness among communities on the operations of the fund among others. However, Gikonyo (2008) observes that CDF has been a great success despite the challenges faced by the fund. This idea has been seconded by New Partnership for Africa Development (NEPAD) as it acknowledges the Fund as one of the best innovations in Africa’s development and as a result many countries are seeking to adopt the CDF model.
By law, the CDF is controlled by the Member of Parliament of a constituency. This amount is then shared among all the constituencies on an established formula that factors in equality and the poverty levels of each constituency. Thereafter, the onus of disbursing and ensuring the constituencies use their share of the money efficiently and accountably falls with the CDF Board and Secretariat. This body was established under CDF (Amendment) Act 2007 section 5 (CDF Board Strategic Plan, 2010-2014). However, this Board and Secretariat is charged with the overall responsibility of managing the Funds and reporting to parliamentary Constituency Fund Committee (CFC) on its usage. The Board activities are also coordinated by a Secretariat based at its headquarters in Nairobi County. The CEO to the Secretariat is also the Secretary to the Board and the chief accounting officer to the fund.
The CDF Board and Secretariat just like any other organization is believed to have communication channels in place. These communication channels play an important role of information dissemination from one person to another. However, they need to be evaluated so as to give the guidelines based on what is working, what is not working and what needs to be changed. The communication channels used by organizations include memos, telephone, emails, newsletters, website, notice board, suggestion box, meetings, annual reports and face to face. In this study the researcher will provide a credible baseline of the actual status of communication in the CDF Board and Secretariat with its internal publics.
Good internal communication is supposed to ensure low staff turnover, high quality of service and goods, improved productivity, reduced absenteeism, and reduced cost of operation. For an organization like CDF Board and Secretariat good internal communication is critical because it will ensure seamless integration of its internal publics. Staff retention is important to ensure such a young organization has officers long enough to understand, establish and concretize its mandate to ensure it serves the purpose for which it was established.
A look at the CDF Board and Secretariat website indicates that several senior officers have left the organization in a period of one year. Although no exit interviews were conducted to establish the reason for their departure, poor internal communication, according to Hargie and Tourish (2000) is a major cause of high staff turnover. These authors further suggest that an organization should conduct a communication audit between five and seven years or after any major change in the organization. This enables the organization to realize what is working and what needs to be changed in terms of communication. The high staff turnover at the CDF Board and Secretariat in the long run would increase the operation costs of hiring and training new staffs regularly and also paint a negative image of the organization. This study therefore aims to investigate whether the CDF Board and Secretariat has effective internal communication and whether poor communication could have contributed to challenges like high staff turnover.
Purpose of the study
The purpose of this study is to conduct an internal communication audit of the CDF Board and Secretariat and to analyze the effectiveness of its communication channels between the CDF Board and Secretariat and its internal publics.
Objectives of the study
The general objective of this study is to carry out an internal communication audit of the CDF Board and Secretariat and to establish what communication styles are in place, how they work and the perceived effectiveness of the organization’s communication.
Specific objectives of the study will be:
To establish the communication systems used to communicate amongst the internal publics of the CDF Board and Secretariat.
To verify the effectiveness of the communication systems in meeting employees information needs.
To establish employees perception on the relationship of internal communication to job satisfaction and employee retention.
To document the strengths and weaknesses of the existing communication practices and propose a way forward.
The issues that this study will address include:-
What are the communication systems that are used to communicate among the internal publics of the CDF Board and Secretariat?
What is the perceived effectiveness of communication amongst the internal publics?
What is the employee perception on the relationship of internal communication to job satisfaction and employee retention?
What are the strengths and weaknesses of the existing communication practices at the CDF Board and Secretariat?
Rationale/ significance of the study
This study will help the organization to develop possible solutions to communication problems if they will arise and also help the organization to avoid other forms of crisis including high staff turnover. The study findings could also be adopted by the government of Kenya as a basis of developing a comprehensive policy framework for internal communication among public institutions in Kenya. Such a policy would ensure smooth flow of information on government policy and directives among the public servants, which would translate to better service delivery to the public/citizens.
Further, the study finding will contribute immensely to the body of knowledge in the country, and help scholars and practitioners better understand the subject of internal communication.
At the completion of this study, the researcher will provide significant recommendations concerning communication issues from the research findings which will be useful to the organization. This will help the CDF Board and Secretariat to improve its internal communication systems for better and more effective internal communication within the organization.
Assumptions of the study
The following are the basic assumptions of the study.
That CDF Board and Secretariat has got communication systems that can be audited.
That the CDF Board and Secretariat employees will be truthful in responding to the research questions.
That the CDF Board and Secretariat will allow the participation of its internal publics in this study.
That the CDF Board and Secretariat will provide relevant information to the researcher.
Limitations and delimitations
In this study the researcher will focus on the internal publics of the CDF Board and Secretariat who include the CEO, the staff and the Board members. The researcher will not extend the study to the external publics. In addition, some employees may opt to withhold information due to fear of victimization. This is because most of the information that flows within the CDF Board and Secretariat is classified. To delimit this, the researcher will assure the respondents that the information provided will only be used in this study. In addition, most of the Board members do not report to the Secretariat head office on a daily basis; they only meet on several occasions in a month. To delimit this, the researcher will make arrangements to have the interviews with the Board members when they are at the head office.
Scope of the study
The research will be conducted at the CDF Board and Secretariat head office which is situated at the junction of Uhuru Highway and Haile Selaisse Avenue at Harambee Sacco Plaza 10th floor in Nairobi. The study will restrict itself to the audit of communication of the internal publics of the CDF Board and Secretariat which includes the CEO, Board of Directors, management staff and subordinate staff.
Definition of terms
Is a snapshot of the organization’s communication programs, practices and activities which inform the organization on what is working, what is not working and what needs to be changed or improved in terms of communication within the organization (McGann 2010). For the purpose of this study a communication audit will mean a gauge which helps the organization to analyze its perceived communication to its publics.
CDF Board and Secretariat
Is the body which has been mandated by the Government of Kenya to manage constituency funds and report to the Parliamentary Constituency Fund Committee on the usage of the funds (CDF Board Strategic Plan, 2010-2014). For the purpose of this study it shall remain one and the same thing.
These are the communication networks which help in the flow of information from one level of employee to another. For the purpose of this study it shall remain one and the same thing.
Fielding (2006) defines effective communication as the management of flow of information, this means from the sender, the message itself, the channel, the receiver and the feedback. Collins (2009) defines effective communication as “the practical guidance on using communication vehicles and tools”. For the purpose of this study, effective communication will mean transfer of information and understanding between the sender and the receiver.
Broom (2009), refers to internal publics as the employees including managers and people being supervised. Lundblad and Stewart (2005) define the internal publics as “the individuals / groups in the employ of the organization”. Seitel (1995) says that the internal publics are the publics who are inside the organization though they vary from one organization to another, depending on the nature of the organization. For the purpose of this study the internal publics will be the CEO, the Board of Directors and the employees of the CDF Board and Secretariat.
High staff turnoverâ€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦.
This chapter covered the introduction and background to the study, defined a communication audit, and gave a brief history of CDF in Kenya, CDF Board Secretariat. Problem statement, objectives of the study, justification of the study and operationalization of terminologies has also been done in this chapter. The next chapter will cover the literature review, the role of corporate communication in conducting a communication audit, theoretical, and conceptual framework.
Chapter two: Literature Review
This chapter reviews a literature on communication audits and related concepts. Key topics covered include: the role of corporate communication in conducting audits, empirical studies of internal communication audits, and the process of communication in organizations. Others include internal publics, and barriers to effective communication, communication systems, employee information needs and the theoretical and conceptual frameworks of the study.
Communication audits have been used as indicators to help organizations assess their current communication practices and show how effective they are. They are used to identify areas with problems such as frequent misunderstandings, information blocks, information gaps, information duplication or misrepresentation Scott (2007). More importantly, the communication audits provide a snapshot of the organization’s communication programs, practices and activities. In addition, they act as a tool which helps one to know what is working, what is not working and what needs to be changed or improved in terms of communication within the organization McGann (2010).
Contribution of communication audit to organizational success
Downs and Adrian (2004) say that there is a tendency of organizations paying attention to communication only after a problem/crisis has occurred. The organizations need to overcome this behavior by conducting a communication audit periodically. Knowing the problem early enough saves image, time and reputation. They add that, organizations have got the responsibility to monitor the effectiveness of the messages they send to the employees because the survival of the organization depends on the employees’ ability to exchange and coordinate the information they are receiving. However, the authors point out that communication is not the only challenge experienced by organizations.
Organizations need to have accurate impression of what their internal publics think of them, how they receive and transmit messages. This amounts to the importance of auditing communication in an organization (Hargie & Tourish, 2009). For an organization to know how effective their communication is perceived based on employees attitudes it needs to conduct a communication audit. The results of the communication audit will guide the communication practitioners to formulate the right internal communication programs for the organization (Argenti, 2007).
According to Hargie and Tourish (2000) organizations that conduct communication audits enjoy a long running performance in the marketplace. This means that the results of the audit will help the organization to avert chaos like misunderstandings, misrepresentation of staff, strikes, high staff turnover and poor performance. Furthermore, they suggest that the communication audits have been used to identify and reward good practice and at the same time help the organization to manage crisis and improve business performance. This idea concurs with Clampitt (1991) and Heath (2000) who say that as a result of conducting communication audits organizations have experienced increased productivity, employees’ job satisfaction and a positive maintenance of organizational structure.
According to Hargie and Tourish (2009) organizations that have conducted internal communication audits have experienced high performance from their employees because there is a correlation between high performance and existence of effective internal communication programs. This idea concurs with Hicks and Gullet (1988) who say that there is a positive correlation with the openness of communication channels between the subordinate and the supervisor. The openness of communication channels can be realized as a result of communication audit where employees’ engagement and commitment to work become more significant. For instance, Arnold (1993) conducted a study of internal publics of General Motors in the United States of America. In his findings, a staff turnover rate of 30% in 1989 went down to 12% by 1991. In addition, the company’s bad debt percentage went down from 3.2% to an average of 0.4% per month.
The role of corporate communication in conducting a communication audit
According to Cornelissen (2011) corporate communication practitioners have a role to act as intermediaries between the organization and its stakeholders, and he refers to this process as boundary spanning. Kitchen (1997) defines boundary spanning as the mechanism used by organizations to gather and analyze data about their environment. He insists that the public relations practitioners/boundary spanners play an important role of strategic decision making. This idea is consistent with Tripathi (2009) who says that the boundary spanning function of corporate communication is supposed to help the management to gather information through conducting a communication audit, interpret it from its environment and represent the organization to its publics. Steyn and Puth (2000) however, refer to the boundary spanning role as the mirror/delicate and important function of the corporate communication practitioner.
Likely (2003) cited in Barker and Angelopulo (2007) says that the corporate communication has got the role to provide information for the evaluation of the internal environment of the organization. The evaluation of the communication will help the organization to identify strengths and weaknesses of the organization’s communication and the management will be able to provide the input to the development of communication strategy.
Empirical studies of internal communication audits
At Daystar University some scholars have carried out studies on communication audit to assess the impact of communication channels in organizations. Ndegwa (1996) conducted an audit among Daystar University students. In her findings the study found that students received most of the information concerning the university from the weekly newsletter known as infospot and during chapel. In addition, students expressed a desire to get more information in general and at the same time they also felt that there was need to improve the physical environment in the university. This audit was important to the university as the institution has increased the channels of information dissemination to the students.
Wamba (1999) conducted a study on public relations audit of selected publics of the Kenya Wildlife Service. In her findings majority of the respondents stated that the organization meant what it said when it made an important announcement. This was in line with employee management relations. On the issue of employees complaints being taken seriously by the management 61% of the respondents agreed that they were rarely looked into. This shows that the management did not care much about the needs of the employees. On the issue of communication from the management, 70.6% of the respondents agreed that the management was interested in telling them what they thought staff ought to know rather than what staff wanted to know.
Ngugi (2004) carried out a communication audit of the internal publics of Kenya National Library Services. About 63.8% of the respondents stated that they would like to receive information from management. A small fraction of 1.3% of the respondents stated that they received information from the communication department. About 57.5% of the respondents stated that they had never heard about an internal news letter as much as it had been available. According to the study, the Kenya National Library Services had a policy guideline on forwarding issues to the management, but according to the respondents departmental heads did not forward their issues to the management (Ngugi, 2004).
Pokumensah (2011) carried out a communication audit of the internal publics of the Elris Communication Services Limited. In his findings about 88% of the lower level employees received most of the task oriented information from their supervisors. This explained that the network for task oriented was top – down. Another 80% of the lower level respondents states that they share task oriented information with their colleagues. This indicated that the horizontal communication happened among the employees of the same level of organizational structure (Mounter, 2003).
The process of communication in organizations
Communication is a continuous process of exchanging verbal and nonverbal messages. A message must be conveyed through some medium to the recipient. It is essential that this message must be understood by the recipient in same terms as intended by the sender and a response given within a time frame. Thus, communication is a two way process and is incomplete without a feedback from the recipient to the sender on how well the message is understood by him.
According to Hicks and Gullett (1988) most organizations have taken communication for granted. They assume that if an individual can read, write and speak they are communicating. However, communication is not just speaking, reading and writing; rather it is the transfer of information and understanding from the sender to the receiver.
According to Watson and Hill (2000) communication includes five key factors that include the initiator, the recipient, the vehicle, the message and the effect. However, they argue that the communication process, sender, message and receiver are all subject to a multitude of cues which are likely to influence the message. Taylor (2005) suggests that as a communicator it is important to ensure that your message is understood, and stimulates the recipient to take appropriate action.
Communication can be affected by the context in which it takes place. This context may be physical, social, chronological or cultural. The sender chooses the message to communicate within a context. Second is the sender / encoder a person who sends the message. A sender makes use of symbols (words or graphic or visual aids) to convey the message and produce the required response. For instance, a training manager conducting training for new batch of employees. Sender may be an individual or a group or an organization. The views, background, approach, skills, competencies, and knowledge of the sender have a great impact on the message.
The verbal and nonverbal symbols chosen are essential in ascertaining interpretation of the message by the recipient in the same terms as intended by the sender. The third component is the message which is the key idea that the sender wants to communicate. It is a sign that elicits the response of recipient. Communication process begins with deciding about the message to be conveyed. It must be ensured that the main objective of the message is clear. Fourth is the medium which is the means used to exchange / transmit the message. The sender must choose an appropriate medium for transmitting the message else the message might not be conveyed to the desired recipients. The choice of appropriate medium of communication is essential for making the message effective and correctly interpreted by the recipient.
This choice of communication medium varies depending upon the features of communication. For instance, written medium is chosen when a message has to be conveyed to a small group of people, while an oral medium is chosen when spontaneous feedback is required from the recipient as misunderstandings are cleared then and there. Fifth is the recipient / decoder who is the person for whom the message is intended / aimed / targeted. The degree to which the decoder understands the message is dependent upon various factors such as knowledge of recipient, their responsiveness to the message, and the reliance of encoder on decoder. Last but not least is feedback which is the main component of communication process as it permits the sender to analyze the efficacy of the message. It helps the sender in confirming the correct interpretation of message by the decoder. Feedback may be verbal (through words) or non-verbal (in form of smiles, sighs, etc.). It may take written form also in form of memos and reports among others (Management Study guide -Online).
Grunig (1992) suggests that the employees who are the internal publics of an organization are the most important strategic publics of an organization. He further says that their “communication should be part of an integrated and managed communication program”. However, Baskin, Aronoff & Lattimore (1997) argue that identification of the key publics by the organizations is important for the survival of the organization. Internal publics are the active publics of the organization and seek and process information about the organization or an issue of interest to an organization (Grunig, 1992).
Importance of effective internal communication in organizations
According to Hamilton and Parker (1993) organizations are made up people and the decisions made on a daily basis are likely to affect the organization, customers, other workers and even the destiny of the organization. This idea makes internal communication to be an important aspect of the organization because it is through communication the organization can gain and offer the information needed to its publics which enables them to make successful decisions. Miller (2006), however, says that internal communication helps the organization to answer the following questions; what information needs to be communicated to the publics? When should it be communicated? Who will be in charge of communicating to the public? How will the information be communicated?
Miller’s proposition is consistent with Katz and Kahn’s (1966) observations that effective internal communication is important to the organization because it address the employees concerns and helps to establish the roles and responsibilities of the employees within the organization. Modaff and DeWine (2000) suggest that organizations need to communicate effectively with their internal publics for it to improve the work environment which will eventually promote awareness of the organization’s plans and activities.
According to Downs and Adrian (2004) effective communication is important to interpersonal and organizational levels. They say that effective communication has been used to streamline functions of the organizations and at the same time solve their problems. They observe that when a married couple petition for a divorce, observers assume that it was as a result of ineffective communication. This situation also happens in organizations when they experience high staff turnover or go slow it is assumed that there could be a lack of effective communication between the employees and the management.
Hargie and Tourish (2004) suggest that effective communication promotes organizational cohesion and effectiveness because it helps to answer the basic motivational questions which preoccupy many employees. Most employees ask themselves, what is in for me? (WIIFME) and what is in it for us? (WIIFU).
Barriers/ challenges to effective organization communication
It is without no doubt that communication is the key factor in the success of any organization. However, every organization experiences certain barriers that hinder effective communication. Even though many people often feel that communication is as easy and simple as it sounds, these barriers makes it complex, difficult and frustrating. The common barriers to successful communication include message overload (when a person receives too many messages at the same time), and message complexity. Further, these barriers could be classified as physical, system design, attitudinal, ambiguity of words/phrases, individual linguistic ability, physiological, and presentation of information barriers (Mukherjee & Basu, 2005).
Physical barriers are often due to the nature of the environment. For example, the natural barrier which exists if staff are located in different buildings or on different sites. Likewise, poor or outdated equipment, particularly the failure of management to introduce new technology, may also cause problems. Staff shortages are another factor which frequently causes communication difficulties for an organization. In addition, distractions like background noise, poor lighting or an environment which is too hot or cold can all affect people’s morale and concentration, and in turn interfere with effective communication.
System design faults refer to problems with the structures or systems in place in an organization. Examples might include an organizational structure which is unclear and therefore makes it confusing to know who to communicate with. Others could be inefficient or inappropriate information systems, a lack of supervision or training, and a lack of clarity in roles and responsibilities which can lead to staff being uncertain about what is expected of them.
Attitudinal barriers come about as a result of problems of attitude with staff in an organization. These may be brought about, for example, by such factors as poor management, lack of consultation with employees, personality conflicts which can result in people delaying or refusing to communicate, the personal attitudes of individual employees which may be due to lack of motivation or dissatisfaction at work, brought about by insufficient training to enable them to carry out particular tasks, or just resistance to change due to entrenched attitudes and ideas.
Words or phrases sounding the same but having different meaning can convey a different meaning altogether. Hence the communicator must ensure that the receiver receives the same meaning. It would be better if such words can be avoided by using alternatives. Individual linguistic ability arises from the use of difficult or inappropriate words in communication that can prevent people from understanding the message. Poorly explained or misunderstood messages can also result in confusion.
Physiological barriers may result from individuals’ personal discomfort, caused, for example, by ill health, poor eye sight or hearing difficulties. Presentation of information is also important to aid understanding. The communicator must consider the audience before making the presentation itself and in cases where it is not possible the presenter can at least try to simplify his/her vocabulary so that majority can understand (Mukherjee & Basu, 2005).
Communication systems and employees information needs
Employees are the scarcest but the most valuable economic resource for any organization, as the success of any business largely depends on their dedication, commitment and constant striving. Healthy relations between employee and employer can be brought through good communications which in turn is dependent on reasonable openness and willingness to exchange information on matters of mutual interest. The financial condition of the employees, the present performance and future plans of the company are generally matters of mutual interest to the employee and employer (Gupta and Choudhury, 2009).
The biggest question facing many executives on employee information needs is on what and how should you communicate with your employees? Communication in the workplace should satisfy the three key employee needs before they can be engaged and highly productive. Each and every employee needs to know the facts about the organization and their specific job the type of business the organization is conducting, who are their customers , specific details about the product or service, where forms are located and who to see when there is a problem in work related issue.
Next they need to master the practical skills required to do their job well. For instance, repairing a machine, filling out an invoice, designing a building, writing a software program and so on. Then the employees must have a sense of belonging and self-worth, being listened to, respected, trusted, valued (Business Performance -online).
Traditionally, communication with employees was considered as a “soft” skill, but now it is seen to have “hard” business impacts. The costs of poor employee communication to an organizations business include: increased employee turnover, increased absenteeism, dissatisfied customers from poor customer service, higher product defect rates, lack of focus on business objectives and stifled innovation. Employees will put in that extra “discretionary effort” when they are kept informed openly and honestly on aspects of their job and the business and they feel that they are being listened to with empathy (Business Performance -online).
According to Kombo & Tromp (2006) a theoretical frame work is a “collection of interrelated ideas based on theories”. The authors add that a theoretical frame work accounts for or explains a phenomenon. In addition, they refer to a theoretical flow as a general set of assumptions based on the nature of the phenomena. The theory concepts are measurable and its prepositions testable, however they are subject to refutation. A theory becomes more prominent when it is noticed by the scientific community, and it passes into history when better explanations are established on a particular issue (Stempel III & Westley, 1989).
Miller (1959) observes that “theories help us to understand or explain phenomena we observe in the social world. The author adds that theories are the nets which we catch the world or the ways in which we make sense of social life.” The theoretical framework for this study will be based on Situational theory of strategic constituencies.
Justification of the theory
There are many theories on employee communication in corporate communication. They include Co-orientation Theory, Systems Theory and Elaboration Likelihood Model among others. Grunig (1997) points out that the Situational Theory of Strategic Constituencies helps the public relations practitioners to identify the important publics whose communication systems and behavior have an impact on the organization. In addition, this theory guides the practitioner to segment the publics so as to develop unique communication approach for each segment.
The segmentation of publics also helps the communication practitioners to define the nature of a communication problem and come up with a solution. Thompson (2003) suggests that identifying the publics helps the organization and the corporate communication practitioners to develop strategies that aid effective communication to the intended audience, using correct messages carried in correct channels.
Grunig (1992) adds that an organization should give higher priority to the publics whose opposition or support can either help or hinder the organization to achieve its goals and missions. This theory will therefore be useful in identifying strategic constituencies of the CDF Board and Secretariat as well as understanding their communication behavior.
Situational theory of strategic constituents
As the name suggests internal publics or the employees are strategic to the organization. Grunig (1992) says that organizations must focus on publics that are most active in the organization. He adds that an organization has got a responsibility to build a mutual relationship with strategic constituencies so as to pre-empt problems like boycotts, law suits, strikes, high staff turnover or any negative reaction. By doing so, the organization will save on money, time and image.
The Situational Theory of Strategic Constituencies can be segmented in three categories which are active constituencies, latent constituencies and passive constituencies. The active constituencies/publics feel that an activity of an organization affects them directly and the organization therefore needs to protect their interest. The latent constituencies/publics are dormant while the passive constituencies/publics do not care about any issue at hand.
According to Baskin et al (1997) say that effective employee communication is crucial to organizational success. These communication scholars argues that employees are still considered to be a very special public which acts as a medium through which other publics gain information and establish attitudes toward the organization. Organizations therefore, must operate with an understanding of the respect for the publics they coexist with. Austin & Pinkleton (2001) say that organization’s success depends on their ability to incorporate the needs and desires of its pertinent publics so as to increase and maintain mutual trust and obligation.
Communication in an organization is integrated using independent and dependent variables. The independent variables include the issues that lead to problems in the organization. For instance, at the CDF Board and Secretariat there could be misunderstandings, lack of motivation among the internal publics and misrepresentation. As a result of the mentioned problems the organization is experiencing high staff turnover. The intervening variables in this study will be the communication audit while the dependent variables will be the staff retention, job satisfaction, improved performance and crisis management. This study seeks to address the issues facing the effectiveness of communication in the organization by conducting an internal communication audit.
Using the Situational Theory of Strategic Constituencies of Grunig (1992), the identification of internal publics as the active publics of the organization will help the communication practitioner to understand the issues of communication facing the internal publics of the CDF Board and Secretariat. Through an internal communication audit its results will provide a way forward to effective communication by coming up with a relevant and practical communication strategy. The illustration of the conceptual framework is on the next page (p. 30).
Lack of motivation
High staff turnover
Effective Communication Strategy
This chapter reviewed literature on communication audits and key related concepts. A review of some studies on communication audits, the process of communication in organizations, the importance of internal communication in organizations, the theoretical and conceptual frameworks of the study have also been reviewed. The next chapter will be based on the aspects of the research methodology which includes research design, population to be studied, sample and sampling procedures, procedure of data collection, data analysis and ethical issues in the study.
Chapter three: Research Methodology
This chapter will outline the aspects of the research methodology which includes research design, population to be studied, sample and sampling procedures, procedure of data collection, data analysis process, ethical issues in research and the budget for the research. Kothari (2009) defines research methodology as “a way to systematically solve the research problem.” In this case the researcher will consider the logic behind the research methods and will explain why a particular technique is used in this study.
This study will use a descriptive design. According to Chandran (2004) a descriptive design portrays a situation or characteristics of an event. This idea concurs with Wimmer and Dominic (2006) who suggest that a descriptive design attempts to picture or document the current conditions or attitudes and describe what exists at the moment. In this study descriptive design will be appropriate because the researcher wants to investigate and understand the effectiveness of the communication channels that exist at the CDF Board and Secretariat as well as the perception of employees based on communication in the organization. Hargie and Tourish (2000) adds that descriptive design is one of the effective ways of conducting a communication audit in organizations.
This study will employ both qualitative and quantitative approaches. According to Mugenda and Mugenda (2003) quantitative strategy will facilitate the collection of data in numerical terms while the qualitative strategy will describe the attitudes based on views, opinions and perceptions through the open ended questions and interviews. In this study the researcher will use questionnaires in which numerical data will be obtained. Interviews will also be used to obtain views, opinions and perception of the respondents concerning the organization.
The researcher will use triangulation which means the use of two or more methods of data collection in social inquiry namely questionnaires and in-depth interviews (Robson, 2002; Tashakkori & Teddlie, 2003; Somekh & Lewin, 2007). Triangulation increases the reliability and validity of the results. Validity gives assurance on trustworthy of the findings (Johnson & Christensen, 2000), while reliability assures the repeatability of the findings producing the same results when applied to a similar situation (Sommer & Sommer, 1997).
The research will be conducted at the CDF Board and Secretariat head office which is situated at the junction of Uhuru Highway and Haille Selaise Avenue at the Harambee Sacco Plaza 10th floor in Nairobi County.
According to Sommer and Sommer (1997) a population can be defined as the “entire group of people or cases of direct interest to the investigation”. For the purpose of this study the population to be studied will include the internal publics of the CDF Board and Secretariat which comprises of the CEO, the Board members, and staff at the headquarters who are 50 employees in total (CDF Board Strategic Plan, 2010-2014).
The table below shows the breakdown of the internal publics of the CDF Board and Secretariat.
Population of CDF Board Secretariat headquarters
Level of management
CEO and Board members
Accountants, Public Relations Manager, Human Resources Manager, Internal Auditor, ICT Manager, Procurement Manager, Administration Manager, and Finance Manage including their Assistants.
Receptionist, Clerks, Drivers
Source: (CDF Board Strategic Plan, 2010-2014).
Sample and sampling method
The population of CDF Board Secretariat is small and accessible to the researcher. The researcher will therefore include the entire 50 employees in this study and this process is called a census sampling. This process includes gathering information from all the population and it is applied when the sample is small and when feedback from all the interviewees is important (Hayes, 2008).
In research there are many forms of data collection methods. They include questionnaires, interviews, observations, focus groups and standardized tests. In this study data will be collected using the following instruments; questionnaires and face to face interviews.
Hargie and Tourish (2000) suggests that the named instruments are commonly used to conduct a communication audit.
According to Neelankavil (2007) a questionnaire is
a series of questions on a specific topics based on specific information needs or research goals that a respondent answersâ€¦the role of a questionnaire is to translate the research objective(s) into specific questions that are asked of respondents (p. 160).
Wimmer and Dominic (2006) suggest that questionnaires should be short because the long questionnaires discourage some respondents to complete them. The authors add that shorter questionnaires are more favorable because they do not consume a lot of time to complete. The questionnaires in this study will consist both the open-ended questions and the close ended questions (see Appendix 1 and 2). According to Robson (2003) “the open-ended questions will enable the respondents to formulate his or her own answers while the close-ended questions will require the respondents to answer from selected choices” (p. 238). In this study the questionnaires will be administered by a research assistant to the middle and lower level staff of the CDF Board and Secretariat. The research assistant will be incorporated to this study so as to minimize bias. The research assistant will be a holder of Bachelors of Arts degree in Communication and trained by the researcher on ethical issues involved in research.
There are several types of questionnaire instruments which have been developed for communication audits. They include Communication Satisfaction Questionnaire (CSQ) which was developed by Downs and Hazen (1977), which focus on relationship between communication and job satisfaction. The other one is the International Communication Association (ICA Audit Survey) which was developed by a team of communication scholars to assess organizational communication practices. The Organization Communication Development (OCD) was developed to determine how well the communication system helps the organization to translate its goals to the desired publics (Clampitt, 1991).
The above mentioned instruments focus on communication aspects between the organization and its publics. For the purpose of this study the researcher has incorporated the variables from all the mentioned questionnaire instruments and designed a questionnaire for the internal publics of the CDF Board and Secretariat excluding the Board of directors and the CEO whose input will be captured through face to face interviews. The questionnaire will collect demographic data, opinions on communication networks and channels that exist in the CDF Board and Secretariat. The other information which will be collected includes the adequacy of information dissemination, their communication needs and concerns and the effectiveness of communication channels in the CDF Board and Secretariat.
According to Kombo and Tromp (2006) interviews can be defined as “questions asked orally”. Millar, Crute & Hargie, (1992) say that interview is a face to face interaction in which one individual takes a role of interviewer and the other takes a role of interviewee and during the process clear expectations concerning behavioral and attitudinal approach is experienced. Kombo and Tromp (2006) suggest that there are various forms of interviews. They include unstructured interviews whereby the researcher uses some sort topic list as a reminder. The other ones are semi-structured interviews where the researcher is guided by a written list of questions/topics that need to be covered during the interview.
The structured interviews involve asking each respondent a similar question during the interview. In this study the researcher shall use the semi-structured interviews to obtain information from the Board of directors and the CEO. They have been selected for interview because they are the key decisions makers at the CDF Board and Secretariat as well as the gatekeepers. Millar et al. (1992) suggest that gatekeepers and those up in the hierarchy have the responsibility for the operation of the organization and they need to be interviewed during an audit. Data from the interviews will be tape-recorded with a view to transcribing later during analysis it will be reported through narratives and conclusions will be drawn. The researcher will include a moderator in conducting the interviews so as to control the stage. An interview schedule will be used to collect information on communication networks and policies that exist in the organization and the general opinion on the perception and effectiveness of internal communication.
A pilot test allows a researcher to pre-test the questionnaire and the interview questions. According to Laws, Harper and Marcus (2003) a pilot test helps to refine the questions so that respondents will not experiencing difficulties in answering the questions. Wimmer and Dominic (2006) suggest that it is important to pretest a research instrument by conducting a study with a small sample. This will help the researcher to correct areas of confusion or misunderstanding. This idea is consistent with Sommer and Sommer (1997) observation that a researcher needs to pre-test his/her instruments in order to reduce ambiguity and capture some topics which might have been left out. In this study during the pre-testing of the questionnaires, the researcher will ask the respondents to comment on wording and clarity of the questions.
According to Babbie (1995) ten respondents are a good number to undertake a pre-test. The researcher will also conduct a pre-test of the study using five (5) copies of the questionnaire and five people to pre-test the interview questions from a different organization which conducts a similar business with that of the CDF Board and Secretariat.
Kombo and Tromp (2006) state that, “data analysis refers to examining what has been collected in a survey or experiment and making deductions and inferences. It involves scrutinizing the acquired information and making inferences” (p. 117). According to Bogdan and Biklen (1992), data analysis is the process of searching for and arranging fieldwork data including questionnaires and interviews in a systematic approach. On the other hand Babbie (2010) says that today data analysis is almost always handled by computer programs such as Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS). This idea concurs with Tashakkori and Teddlie (2003) observation that this program has been used to analyze numerical data and generate reports in social studies.
The researcher will use SPSS where the quantitative data will be converted to numerical form and subject including pie charts and percentages, then to statistical analysis (Babbie, 2010). The various reports generated will then be interpreted. Qualitative data will be transcribed, coded and the themes for analysis will be identified. It will then be reported through narratives to convey the findings, and then conclusions will be drawn (Creswell, 2009). In this study the same research assistant who will be used in administering the questionnaires will also be used to facilitate the use of SPSS in data analysis.
According to Robson (2003) the researcher should not apply any form of pressure to the participants in order to get information from the interviewers. However, Babbie (2010) suggests that subjects’ confidentiality must be protected in data analysis and reporting. This means that if the respondent feels exposed she/he might not provide some important information to the researcher.
In this study therefore the researcher will indicate on the cover letter of the questionnaires the purpose of the study and the respondent will not be expected to write their name on the questionnaires. The researcher will also distribute the questionnaires in envelopes and collect them in the same manner so as to ensure confidentiality of the respondents. The researcher will seek consent from the respondents and inform them that during the interviews there will be a recording device (an audio-tape recorder).
This chapter has outlined the aspects of the research methodology which include research design, population to be studied, sample and sampling procedures, procedure of data collection, data analysis process and ethical issues in research. The next chapter shall cover data analysis, presentation and interpretation of findings.
Argenti, P. A. (2007). Strategic corporate communications. New Delhi: Tata McGraw-
Argenti, P. A. (2009). Corporate communications. (5th ed.), New York: McGraw-Hill.
Austin, E. W. & Pinkleton, B E. (2001). Strategic public relations management:
Planning and managing effective communication programs. Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Arnold, W. (1993). The leader’s role in implementing quality improvement: walking the
talk. Quality Review Bulletin, March, 79-82.
Babbie, E. (1995). The practice of social research. (7th ed.). London: Wadsworth
Babbie, E. (1998). The practice of social research. (8th ed.). London: Wadsworth
Babbie, E. (2010). The practice of social research. (12th ed.). Belmont: Wadsworth
Baskin, O., Aronoff, C., & Lattimore, D. (1997). Public relations: The profession and practice. (4th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.
Barker, R. & Angelopulo, G. (2007). Integrated organizational communication. Lansdowne, Cape Town: Juta and Company (Pty) Ltd.
Bogdan,R. C., & Biklen, S. K. (1992). Qualitative research for education. (2nd ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
Broom, G. M. (2009). Effective public relations. (10th ed.). United States of America: Pearson International Edition.
Business Performance: http://www.businessperform.com/workplace-communication/workplace_communication.html (Retrieved on February 1, 2012).
CDF Board Strategic Plan, 2010-2014. Government of Kenya.
Chandran, E. (2004). Research Methods: A qualitative approach with illustrations from
Christian ministries. Nairobi, Kenya: Daystar University.
Clampitt, P. G. (1991). Communicating for managerial effectiveness. (3rd ed.).Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications.
Collins, S. (2009). Effective communication: A workbook for social care workers. London, United Kingdom: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
Cornelissen, (2011). Corporate communication: A guide to theory and practice. (3rd ed.). London: SAGE Publications.
Crewel, J. W. (2009). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods approaches. (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.
Downs, C. W. & Adrian, A. D. (2004). Assessing organizational communication: Strategic communication audits. New York: The Guilford Press.
Downs, C. and Hazen, M. D. (1977). A factor analytical study of communication satisfaction. Journal of Business Communication 14, 63-73.
Ferguson, S. D. (1999). Communication planning: an integrated approach. Thousand Oaks: Sage.
Fielding, M. (2006). Effective communications in organizations: Preparing messages that communicate. (3rd ed.). Juta & Co. (Pty), Cape Town: Lansdowne.
Gikonyo, W. (2008). The CDF social audit guide: A handbook for communities. Nairobi, Kenya: OSIEA.
Grunig, J. E. (1992). Excellence in public relations and communication management. New York: Routledge.
Grunig, J. E. (1997). A situational theory of publics: Conceptual history, recent challenges and new research. Public relations research: An international perspective (pp. 3-48). Boston: International Thomson Business Press.
Gupta, S, P.R, and Choudhury, P. (2009): The IUP Journal of Management Research, Vol. VIII, No. 9, pp. 18-47, September 2009.
Hamilton, C. & Parker, C., (1993). Communicating for results: A guide for business and professionals. (4th ed.). Belmont, California: Wadsworth Publishing Company.
Hargie, O. & Tourish, D. (2000). Handbook of communication audits for organizations. New York: Routledge.
Hargie, O. & Tourish, D. (2009). Auditing organizational communication: A handbook of research, theory and practice. New York: Routledge.
Hayes, B. E. (2008). Measuring customer satisfaction and loyalty: Survey design, use and statistical analysis methods. (3rd ed.). United States of America: America Society for Quality, Quality Press.
Heath, R. L. (2001). Handbook of public relations. California: Thousand Oaks.
Hicks, H. G. & Gullett, C. R. (1988). Organizations: Theory and behavior. Singapore:
McGraw-Hill International Book Co.
Johnson, R. B. & Christensen, L. B., (2000). Education research: Qualitative and quantitative approaches. (2nd ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
Katz, D., & Kahn, R. L. (1966). Psychology of organizations. New York, NY: John Wiley and Sons.
Kitchen, P. J. (1997). Public relations: Principles and practice. London: International Thomson Business Press.
Kothari, C. R. (2009). Research methodology: methods and techniques. (2nd revised ed.) New Delhi: New age international Publishers.
Kombo, D. K. and Tromp, D. L. (2006). Proposal and thesis writing: An introduction. Nairobi, Kenya: Pauline Publications Africa.
Laws, S., Harper, C., & Marcus, R. (2003). Research for development: A practical guide. New Delhi: VISTAAR Publications.
Lundblad, S. S. & Stewart, K. G. (2005). Public relations for schools: A resource guide for principles. United States of America: Information Age Publishing Inc.
Management Study guide: http://www.managementstudyguide.com/components-of-communication-process.htm (Retrieved on February 1, 2012).
McGann, M. (July, 2010). Communication audit: why and how to do it. http://2mcommunications.wordpress.com/2010/07/05/communications-audit-why-and-how-to-do-it/ (Retrieved on November 28, 2011).
Millar, R., Crute, V. and Hargie, O. (1992). Professional interviewing. London: Routledge.
Miller, K. (1959). Communication theories: perspectives, processes and contexts. New York: McGraw Hill Companies.
Miller, K. (2006). Organizational communication. Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth Publishing Company.