CHAPTER 1--COMMUNICATING SUCCESSFULLY IN AN ORGANIZATION
COMMUNICATION, BUSINESS, AND YOU
- Communication skills help students obtain jobs and succeed in their careers
- Individual employees act as links in the communication chain, transmitting messages to and from the outside world and up and down the organization.
- the manager's essential function is to collect and disseminate information.
- Each organization has its own communication requirements and methods for exchanging information.
- Formal communication channels are defined by the official chain of command and govern the flow of information up, dow, and across the organization.
- Messages may become distorted as they travel up and down the organization; the bigger the company, the bigger the problem.
- Flat structures are less susceptible to distortion than tall structures.
- Downward information flow: from upper to lower levels of the hierarchy; permits management to direct activities of employees.
- Upward information flow: from lower to upper levels; enables management to monitor performance and obtain ideas.
- Employees are inclined to suppress bad news
- "Going through the channels" can be awkward for employees; some companies create alternative transmission lines from lower to higher levels.
- Horizontal information flow: from department to department, peer to peer; enables employees to do their jobs efficiently.
- Amount of horizontal flow depends on degree of cross-functional interaction required by the organization.
- "Grapevine" supplements formal channels:
- Contains mix of business and personal messages
- Contains mix of facts, assumptions, opinions
- Enables organization to function more efficiently
- Successful managers use the grapevine to keep in touch.
- Fluid nature of grapevine contrasts with relatively rigid structure of formal channels.
- Organizations depend on communication with customers, suppliers, competitors, investors, government officials, community representatives.
- Two types of external communication: formal and informal.
- Marketing is a type of formal communication aimed at selling goods and services.
- Another type of formal communication, public relations deals more broadly with establishing the organization's reputation.
- the reaction to a crisis can profoundly affect a company's future.
- One of the main functions of public relations people is to anticipate problems and outline steps for dealing with them.
- Individual employees make informal contacts with outsiders: receptionists present a distinct image to customers, lower-level employees pick up bits of information helpful to the organization, and top managers encounter colleagues, competitors, suppliers, and so forth with whom they regularly exchange information.
CHARACTERISTICS OF EFFECTIVE ORGANIZATIONAL COMMUNICATION
- Corporate culture determines the degree to which management (1) encourages honesty and debate and (2) shares information with employees.
- Three distinct management styles are associated with various communication climates:
- Theory X: Workers are viewed as lacking motivation, requiring control through fear; closed communication climate.
- Theory Y: Workers are viewed as motivated and responsible, deserving encouragement and support; open communication climate.
- Theory Z: Workers are viewed as part of a family or team; open communication climate.
- Employees prefer to work for companies that are ethical in their communication practices; that is, companies that are trustworthy, fair, and impartial in their dealings with people.
- Conflicting loyalties may pose ethical dilemmas for business communicators, whereas an ethical lapse is choosing an unethical or illegal action.
- Legal considerations: first priority is to obey the law
Avoid questions or comments that discriminate against people on the basis of gender, age, race, or religion
- Avoid making false or misleading statements about products
- Remember that comments, letters, and reports can be used as evidence in court
- When the law does not apply, consider the moral implications of the message:
- The legality
- The balance of good and harm
- The way the decision makes you feel
- The way the decision works in the real world
- the effect the message will have on people outside the company, supervisors, employees, and co-workers
- So many communication situations are neither black nor white. Business people occasionally find themselves forced to choose between several alternatives that are a muddy shade of gray. when handling these ethical dilemmas, people face conflicting loyalties and difficult trade-offs between principles and practicalities. Often such dilemmas arise when organizations and individuals feel pressure to meet the competition, increase profits, or adhere to the "party line."
- Intercultural communication is crucial both abroad and at home.
- Culture determines our perceptions, customs, and social conventions.
- Understanding, using, and adapting to technology is crucial to successful business communication.
- Audience-centered approach is the best way to communicate effectively, openly, and ethically.
- Many organizations are awash in a sea of paper. The solution:
- Reduce the number of messages
- Make instructions clearer
- Delegate responsibility
- Train writers and speakers
- How to improve:
- Assess strengths and weaknesses
- Set goals