Concepts Of Effective Communication Management Essay

Chapter 2

LITERATURE REVIEW

In the literature review section, the opening part will be about the concepts of communication and effective communication in an organisation along with a brief overview about the principles of effective communication. Next are the models of communication which will be elaborated with the help of various authors and from academic journals. Following that, the main theories of the types of communication, communication channels and communications systems will be discussed and compared with reference to the local authority. Furthermore, the purpose of communication in an organisation will be disseminated. In addition, the benefits of effective communication will be discussed along with the different costs encountered in communicating through the different levels.

The literature review will help to formulate the research questions as well as to establish a relevant methodology to carry out the research.

2.1 Definition of Communication

Work needs communication. Communication in every organisation is the way people get their work done and get recognised for their contributions. As such, people at BRDC will communicate to plan services, coordinate manufacturing and delivery, hire, train, motivate employees and so on.

According to Tyson and Jackson (1997),

‘The problem is in the definition of the word “communication”. It covers a great deal and includes not only the actual words used, but, also, the tone of voice, pitch situation in which it takes place and so on’.

Despites these difficulties, some ideas that convey a fairly good picture of what communication is all about are proposed by different authors.

Communication is a process in which people who occupy differing environments exchange messages in a specific context via one or more channels and often respond to each other’s messages through verbal and nonverbal feedback. (Alder, R.B., Elmhorst, J.M., 1996)

Similarly, Baskin and Aronoff (1980) have defined “communication as the exchange of messages between people to achieve shared meanings”.

According to Carell et al, (1995),

“Communication is the glue that binds various elements, coordinates activities, allows people to work together and produces results”.

Cole (1993), on the other hand, defines communication as

“the process of creating, transmitting and interpreting ideas, facts, opinions and feelings. It is a process that is essentially a sharing one – an interchange between two or more persons”.

As defined by the authors, by using different means of communication, information and meaning can be transferred between senders and receivers. Communication in organisation is therefore a study of the exchange of words and meanings as the people within and outside these establishments work towards achieving organisational objectives.

2.2 Effective Communication

According to Roberts, J. (2009), effective communication is the passing of the right message or information to the right person, in the right way, at the right time, and with the right effect, impact and outcome.

Effective communication is a two-way process – sending the right message, which is also being correctly received and understood by the other person/s. Effective communication is the key factor to successful management. The principles of effective communication can be reviewed using two approaches namely, the ABC approach and the Seven Cs.

2.2.1 The ABC approach

Accuracy

This implies that the information conveyed must be as accurate as possible since people can interpret it in different ways. It is important to set communication in some form to allow for variations of information. However, being accurate is not always easy and recipient needs to be aware of its limitations.

Brevity

This means being concise and therefore the message can be identified and understood. This helps the recipient as arguments do not get lost in a clutter of unnecessary words. However, one must stick to the point as wander off in other areas may cause confusion.

Clarity

This is achieved through the use of the right language. The audience needs to be considered carefully. Locker, O.K and Kaczmarek, S.K (2007), believes that audiences pay attention to messages only if they seem important, relevant and interesting. However, this includes what language, explanations and examples will make sense to the audience.

2.2.2 The Seven Cs

Clear

Meaningful language is needed to avoid ambiguity and the messages must be communicated in a way which can be easily understood by the audience. Therefore, words and phrases need to be chosen with care.

Concise

Brevity, compatible with the complexity of the information to be conveyed and the necessary style and tone, is of the essence. Messages should be free from all elaboration and superfluous detail.

Correct

The information has to be correct. However, staff at BRDC should check for errors, especially in figures, names and addresses.

Courteous

In any form of communication, it pays to consider it as a personal address to the recipients. Employees should be polite and use friendly language rather than formal “officialese” which is a barrier to communication.

Complete

The communication should fully convey the message, leaving as far as possible nothing out. Audience will be aware that they have everything they need.

Consistent

The flow of language is considerably helped by consistency of use, such as standardising the person and tense, and sticking to a particular style and tone throughout.

Convincing

Employees should show confidence and commitment in what they communicate, even though there may be times when they do not actually feel them in what they do at work.

The Seven Cs considers a wider range of points and is more developed than the ABC approach.

2.3 Communication Theory Framework 1

Mechanistic – communication is simply the transmission of information from the first party to the second party. The first party being the sender and the second party being the receiver.

Psychological – communication is actually the thoughts, feelings of the sender which he tries to share with the recepients. It also includes the reactions, feelings of the receiver after he decodes the information.

Social – communication is considered as a result of interaction between the sender and the receiver. Communication is directly dependent on the content of the speech.

Systemic – Communication is actually a new and a different message which is created when various individuals interpret it in their own way and then reinterpret it and draw their own conclusion.

Critical – Communication is simply a way with the help of which an individual expresses his power and authority among other individuals.

To sum up the communication theory suggests that to survive, every living entity, needs to communicate with others and also among themselves.

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1 http://www.managementstudyguide.com/communication-theory.htm

2.4 Communication Models

There are five most recognised and accepted models of communication.

2.4.1 Aristole’s Model of communication

Aristotle was the first to take an initiative and design the communication model.

Figure 1

Source: Scribd.com – models-of-communication

According to this model, the speaker plays a key role in communication. The sender first prepares content where he put his thoughts in words with a view to influence the recipients, who would then respond in the sender’s desired way. The model demonstrates that the speaker communicates in such a way that the listeners get influenced and respond accordingly.

2.4.2 Shannon-Weaver Mathematical Model

Shannon designed the most popular of all early communication models. He wanted to guide the efforts of engineers in finding an economical way of transmitting electrical signals between locations.

http://www.shkaminski.com/Classes/images/Shannon-Weaver%20Model.gif

Figure 2

Source: The Mathematical Theory of Communication (Shannon, C. and Weaver, W., 1949)

Compared to the Aristotle’s model, the Shannon-Weaver model is a common communication model used. It is seen as a resemblance of the human communication process. However, it is not analogous to human communication. Mortensen, C.D (1972), believes that the model is only formal, that is, does not account for content. Moreover, he is of the opinion that the Shannon-Weaver communications system is static and also linear. “It conceives of a linear and literal transmission of information between locations.”

2.4.3 Berlo’s Model of communication

While the Aristotle model of communication puts the speaker in the central position, the Berlo’s model of communication takes into consideration the emotional aspect of the message. It is an adaptation of the Shannon-Weaver model. Berlo’s model of communication operates on the SMCR model.

In the SMCR model

S – Source

M – Message

C – Channel

R – Receiver

Berlo’s model of communication

Figure 3

Source: The Process of Communication (Berlo, D.K, 1960)

This model shows that source is flexible as it includes oral, written, electronic and any other forms of communication. Message was made the central element. Furthermore, it stress that receivers are the targets. The “encoding” and “decoding” notion translate thoughts into words and decrypt words of others into terms one can understand. However, it implies that human communication and machine communication are similar and there is manipulation of the message. People misunderstand each other even with the “right” symbols.

With reference to the berlo’s model of communication, the speaker and the listener must be on a common ground for smooth conversion but this is sometimes not practical in the reality.

2.4.4 Schramm’s Interactive Model

Wilbur Schramm (1954) was the first to modify the mathematical model of Shannon and Weaver. He emphasises that communication is incomplete until the sender receives a feedback from the recipient. Schramm believed that communication is actually a two way process between the first party and the second party.

mhtml:file://F:VANDANAHcommunicationsCommunication%20Models.mht!http://www.shkaminski.com/Classes/images/Schramm’s%20Model%202.gif

Figure 4

Source: The Process and Effects of Communication (Schramm, W., 1954)

Schramm provided additional notion of a “field of experience”. It includes feedback, context, culture and so on. However, this model accounts for only mutal communication between two parties. This model does not account for multiple levels of communication between several sources.

According to Schramm model of communication when a sender passes on the information to the receiver, the latter must interpret it in the desired form and give him the feedback or respond accordingly. The communication is not complete and thus ineffective if the sender does not get the feedback.

2.4.5 Dance’s Helical Spiral

Another important model of communication is the Helical Model of communication which was proposed by Frank Dance in 1967 to throw some more light on communication process. This model understands communication in a bird’s eye perspective and considers almost all the activities of an individual.

mhtml:file://F:VANDANAHcommunicationsCommunication%20Models.mht!http://www.shkaminski.com/Classes/images/Helical%20Model.gif

Figure 5

Source: www.shkaminski.com- communication model

Mortensen: “As a heuristic device, the helix is interesting not so much for what it says as for what it permits to be said. Chapanis (1961), on the other hand, called “sophisticated play:” The helix signals that communication is continuous unrepeatable, additive, and accumulative. In short, the helix emphasises the integrated aspects of human communication as an evolving process. However, helical model of communication may not be a model at all as there are too few variables. The model leaves unanswered questions.

2.4.6 Westley and MacLean’s Conceptual Model

Unlike Frank Dance, Westley and MacLean believed that communication does not start from day one but begins when the speaker receives signals from his external surroundings.

This model pertains to a strong relation between the signals from the surroundings and the communication process. The process of communication begins with receiving messages rather than sending messages. Events may sometimes unintentionally occur and signals is received accidentally.

(Receives message)             

Environment———————————————-Sender—-then sends message

(Communication starts)        

Figure 6

Source: www.managementstudyguide.com/westley-maclean-model-of-communication

The model accounts for feedback, a sensory field, non-binary interactions and different modes. Westley and MacLean’s model describes more variables in the communication interaction. However, it is still two-dimensional.

It can therefore be concluded that the six models of communication are all initiatives by great scholars to simplify and help in better understanding of the communication process.

2.5 Types of Communications

“No one would talk much in society if they knew how often they misunderstood others”. – Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe.

Organisations have recourse to two types of communication namely,

Verbal

Non-verbal communication.

2.5.1 Verbal Communication

Anderson, H. et al (2004) states “verbal communication implies that information has been transmitted through speech.” In verbal communication words are involved. According to Boolaky, M. and Gokhool, D., (2006) verbal communication is further divided into:

Oral Communication

Written Communication

Oral Communication

In the communication process, oral communication refers to spoken words. It can either be a conversation over the phone or face-to-face communication or on the voice chat on the Internet. At the BRDC, oral communication is vital as it is easier to get feedback by observing facial expressions and asking questions and provides more opportunity to get attention and keeping interest. However, Desmonds W. Evans (1990) argued that Oral communication is volatile, that is, major decisions cannot be recorded and thus cannot be saved for future reference.

Written Communication

In contrary, written communication can be either via emails, letters, faxes, reports, memos and so on. The advantages are that highly technical topics can be presented using words and diagrams and provides a permanent record that can be referred to from time to time or passed on to others. However, Kushal, S.J and Ahuja, S., (2010) argues that written communication is unfit for uneducated person, it is a wastage of time, delays feedback and no clue about real intentions and emotions. They further discuss that to ensure effectiveness of written communication, it should be short and simple, complete, avoid jargons and so on.

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2.5.2 Non Verbal Communication

“Actions speak louder than words”. – Kaye, M. (1994)

Fromkin and Rodman (1983) suggest that up to 90 per cent of the communication process takes place non-verbally. Courtland, L.B, et al (2010) defined non-verbal communication as “the interpersonal process of sending and receiving information, both intentionally and unintentionally, without using written or verbal message. He further stress that non-verbal communication is vital as it helps to strengthen a verbal message.

In contrast to verbal communication, non- verbal communication includes overall body language of the person who is speaking, which will include the body posture, the hand gestures, and overall body movements. It can also be in the form of pictorial representations, signboards, or even photographs, sketches and paintings.

Kushal, S.J and Ahuja, S., (2010) states that non-verbal communication are reliable, efficient, helps establish credibility and leadership potential, accurate understanding of attitudes. However, they argues that there is lack of secrecy, useful for small pieces of information, gestures can be misunderstood, it is necessary for both parties to face each other, lack of written proof, more difficult to study and fails to discuss past events and ideas.

Verbal and Non- verbal communication are important in an organization. BRDC must ensure the effectiveness of the types of communication as there are both advantages and drawbacks.

2.6 Communication Channels

Communication is now done through variety of channels ranging from nonverbal signals to very sophisticated communication media and technology. The communication that takes place in the organisation can be categorised as formal and informal.

 

Formal communication can take place in two ways:

Vertical

Horizontal

2.6.1 Vertical Communication

It moves between individuals at different levels in an organisation (Taylor, 2005). Vertical communication in classical management hierarchy can be:

Upward

Downward

Upward Communication

It refers to information flow from the lower levels of a hierarchy to the upper levels. Employees use this channel to communicate suggestions, grievances and progress of work (Boolaky and Gokhool, 2006). In addition, Courtland, L.B, et al (2010) pointed that executives can solve problems and make intelligent decisions. It is good to taking feedback on policies and takes corrective action. However, it does not transfer realistic message.

Downward Communication

Information flows from a higher level to a lower level in a hierarchy. Management uses this channel to inform employees about policies, plans, job instructions and feedback (Boolaky & Gokhool, 2006). The advantages of downward communication are that it is appropriate for giving instructions and ensures that everyone is working towards goals and objectives. On the other side of the coin, information can be distorted as it goes down and there is lack of openness between managers and employees

2.6.2 Horizontal Communication

Horizontal communication is both task related and informal and occurs between people on equal footing in the hierarchy (Postmes, 2003). Further, Taylor, S. (2005) stress the need of employees to corporate and share. It can take various forms like meetings, face to face exchange, group discussions and telephone conversations. Its objectives are coordination, cooperation and integration.

Informal communication as defined by Courtland, L.B, et al (2010) is referred to “as the grapevine that encompasses all communication that takes place outside the formal network.” Similarly, in the words of Thill and Bovee, “The informal communication network carries information along the organisation’s unofficial lines of activity and power.”

Kushal, S.J and Ahuja, S., (2010) proposes some advantages of formal communication such as it is dynamic, speedy communication as no formal line of communication exist, multi-dimension as topic of communication varies and it is supplementary to formal channels. The authors however debated that informal communication results in distortion of communication as it carries half-truths and rumours. There is also the existence of erratic message.

It can be deduced that the channels of communication in an organization will depends on the structure of the organization.

2.7 Communication Systems

“Communication systems can be divided into those using an intranet, those using the written word such as newsletters, circulars, and notice-boards, memo, fax, and those using oral methods such as meetings, briefing groups and, telephone amongst others”. (Armstrong, 2006)

Communications through an intranet system

Organisations are increasingly relying on an internal e-mail system (the intranet) to communicate information, especially in workplaces where all or most of the employees have direct or indirect access to a computer. The advantage of intranet communications is that they can be transmitted swiftly to a wide audience and thus saves a lot of time.

Fax messages

Similarly to the intranet system, a fax machine is relatively inexpensive. Fax transmits and receives any kind of message- handwritten, printed, diagrams, photographs. It takes only seconds to transmit a fax message, depending on the length of the document. Due to its versatility and speed, it is often used between divisions or branches of the same company instead of telephone or memos.

Circular letters

A Circular letter is one that is sent out to many people at the same time. The letter may be prepared once and then duplicated. It is sent for the following reasons:

Inform staff of new policy matters

Announce opening of a new office/branch

Notice-boards

Notice-boards are used to bring special items to the attention of all staff. It is an obvious but frequently misused medium for communications. The biggest danger is allowing boards to be cluttered up with uninteresting or out-of-date material. Its advantage is that a written record of the message is kept.

Memos

It is a written communication from one person to another or a group of people within the same organization. Its purpose is to remind someone of action required, request decisions actions and provide information of any kind.

Telephone

Telephones are a point-to-point communication system whose most basic function is to allow two people separated by large distances to talk to one another. In any organisation the person on the phone represents the company and gives an impression of the company to the outside world.

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Meetings

Meetings enable face to face contact of a number of people at the same time. They provide a useful opportunity for sharing information, making suggestions and proposals, taking decision and obtaining instant feedback.

2.8 Purposes of Communication

The main purposes of communication in organisation are as follows:

Organisational Communication

Express feelings and emotions

Achieve coordinated action

Share information

Organisation goals

Task directive

Results of efforts

Decision making

Source: adapted from Moorhead and Griffin (1992)

2.9 Benefits of Effective Communication

Taylor (2005) argues that if organisations want to be successful in today’s world, good communication at all levels is essential. The benefits that can be achieved are:

Stronger decision-making and problem solving

Upturn in productivity

Convincing and compelling corporate materials

Clearer, more streamlined workflow

Enhanced professional image

Sound business relationships

Successful response ensured

In addition, Courtland, L.B, et al (2010) found that effective communication strengthens the connection between a company and all those groups affected in some way by the company’s actions.

2.10 Barriers to effective communication

Maini & Morrel-Samuels (2006, p.38) establish that most large organizations are plagued by serious communication problem, the difficulties are especially prominent in large organisations where precise collaboration is critical.

Robbins (1998) identifies the following barriers to effective communication: Filtering, selective perception, defensiveness and language.

Filtering

Filtering refers to sender manipulating information so that the receiver will see it more favourably. Filtering also takes place between the supervisor and the manager, and in fact, from one level to the next.

Selective perception

Selective perception takes place when the receivers in the communication process selectively see and hear based on their needs, motivation, experience, background, and other personal characteristics. Receivers of information also associate their interests and expectations into communication as they decode them.

Defensiveness

Defensiveness occurs when people try to defend their position because of certain threats. They have a tendency to engage in such behaviours as verbally attacking others, making sarcastic remarks, being overly judgmental, and questioning others’ motives. Therefore, when individuals interpret another’s message as threatening they often respond in ways that blur effective communication.

Language

Words and term means different thing to different people. Age, education and cultural background are three of the more obvious variables that influence the language a person uses and the definition he or she gives to words. In an organisation, employees usually come from different backgrounds and therefore have different patterns of speech.

In addition to Robbins, Taylor (2005) suggests the following barriers to communication:

Emotional responses

Communication cannot succeed if a person is highly emotional about the topic concerned. Problems may arise from insecurity, fear, anger. If emotions are high on the part of the sender or recipient, then it would be better to wait for a while before trying to put the message.

Systems

In any organizations there should be prescribed procedures for getting messages to the people who need them. Without such systems there can be no effective communication.

Courtland, L.B, et al (2010), on the other hand, point out the following:

Competing messages

One must compete with other messages that are trying to reach the audience at the same time. It is essential to come up with messages that the audience will care about as any messages that are more compelling can pull the audience’s attention away.

2.11 Trends in communication

Today’s world has developed rapidly from an industrial age to an information age. Owing to technological advancement, methods of working and composition of groups are affected. In the words of Courtland, L.B, et al (2010), “today’s business rely heavily on technology to facilitate the communication process.” However, they argued that the benefits of technology are not automatic. Inappropriate used technology can hinder communication.

“Traditionally, communications in business were hierarchical with messages being passed up and down the chain, often with secretaries acting as a filter between managers and staff” (Taylor, 2005). Network has now replaced the hierarchical model with email, every member of staff is able to communicate directly with everyone else. Information can therefore be distributed more efficiently around the organisation.

It can be deduced that changes in organisational forms have made communication increasingly important to overall functioning of the organisation. However, technology is not a replacement but only a tool to help communication to take place effectively.

2.12 Ethical Communication

According to Werner David ‘Management is in essence the act of communication, for management processes are linked to the receipt of information and its valid interpretation which results in effective decision making.’

A perception of ethical foundation is essential for those employed in communication. A variety of theories exist that link organisation communication with its ethical underpinning.

Courtland, L.B, et al (2010) is of the opinion that to ensure ethical communication, three elements are required namely, ethical company leadership, ethical individuals and policies and structures to support employees to make ethical choices. Moreover, they pointed out that these three elements need to work in harmony. The authors further argued that unethical communication can manipulate audiences in ways such as plagiarism, omitting essential information, selective misquoting, misrepresenting numbers, distorting visuals, failing to respect privacy.

Ethical communication is true in every sense. Many organisation establish ethics policy by providing a written code of ethics to help employees determine what is acceptable. For example, at BRDC, employers establish clear ethical guidelines and detailed code of conduct addressing areas like health and safety, protection of the organisation’s assets and information, conflicts of interest and so on.

2.13 Contemporary issue in communication

2.13.1 Cross-Cultural communication

Courtland, L.B, et al (2010) defined cross-cultural communication as “the process of sending and receiving messages between people whose cultural backgrounds could lead them to interpret verbal and non-verbal signs differently.” Munter (1993) come forward with the difficulties in cross-cultural communication like barriers caused by semanties, connotations, tone differences, differences among perceptions. Adler (1991), on the other hand, as reported by Robbins (1998), provides the following recommendations; assume differences until similarity proven, emphasis description rather than interpretation, practice empathy and treat interpretation as a working hypothesis.

In every organisation, culture influences the sending and receiving of messages. Therefore, to communicate effectively, BRDC need to grasp cultural differences and handle them to open up opportunities throughout the world. Moreover, BDRC will be able to maximize the contributions of staff in a diverse workforce.

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