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Unit 4 RELATIONAL CHALLENGES Superior - Subordinate Communication.

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1 Unit 4 RELATIONAL CHALLENGES Superior - Subordinate Communication

2 IMPORTANT QUESTIONS What are the primary differences inherent in the superior-subordinate relationship? What are the two types of information communicated between supervisors and subordinates? What are the distinctions between semantic- information distance and perceptual incongruence? Distinguish between upward distortion and strategic ambiguity? Why would researchers want to study leadership as a dyadic construct as opposed to traits or behaviors? Vertical Dyadic Linkage Theory (VDL) is also known by what name? Why?

3 Overview Nature and Importance of Supervisor-Subordinate Relationship Prevalence of Misunderstandings in the Supervisor- Subordinate Relationship Dyadic View of the Supervisor-Subordinate Relationship Trait vs Behavior Leader-Member Exchange Theory (LMX) Communication Activities: Supervisor-Subordinate Trust, Immediacy, and Feedback Compliance-Gaining Communication Activities: Subordinate to Supervisor Upward Influence Women and the Supervisor-Subordinate Relationship

4 Superior-Subordinate Communication “Those exchanges of information and influence between organizational members at least one of whom has formal (as defined by official organizational sources) authority to direct and evaluate the activities of other organizational members”

5 Nature and Importance of Superior-Subordinate Relationship Exists when one person has formal authority to regulate the behavior of another Forms of Communication (Table 10.1, p. 175) Task and Personal Information is shared by both superiors and subordinates Information sharing, seeking, and collaboration A critical role of communication is the maintenance of an acceptable relationship between the subordinate and the supervisor. Questions Why is this relationship important for a newcomer? Why is maintaining an acceptable relationship with a subordinate crucial for a supervisor? See page 176 for specific reasons

6 Misunderstandings in the Superior-Subordinate Relationship Semantic- Information Distance Gap in information and understanding that exists between superior and subordinate on specified issues (Dansereau & Markin, 1987) Perceptual Incongruence Stunts growth of relationship and hinders organizational effectiveness Causes Over-reporting by Supervisors (more positive) Inaccurate view of satisfaction Supervisors reporting that subordinates are actually less satisfied than they actually are Subordinate participation Communication openness Performance feedback Effects Individual (satisfaction, conflict) Relational (development) Organizational (climate, communication)

7 Misunderstandings in the Superior-Subordinate Relationship Upward Distortion (subordinates) The hesitancy of subordinates to communicate negative news up the chain of command the their tendency to distort such news to place it in a more positive light (Dansereau & Markham, 1987) Explanations for Upward Distortion Kill the messenger?! (blame subordinates) Interpreted as criticism of supervisor Moderating variables Subordinate’s desire for promotion Need for security Level of trust in the supervisor Level of motivation Strategic Ambiguity (supervisors) A situation in which contextual tools are purposefully omitted from communication to “allow for multiple interpretations on the part of the receiver” (Eisenberg, 1984) Can be used to promote identification and the sense of a shared vision Outcomes Allows for meaning projection Leads to restricted code Allows people to regulate what and how much they want to share

8 Misunderstandings in the Superior-Subordinate Relationship Which of the communications strategies (upward distortion or strategic ambiguity) is most ethically suspect? Why?

9 Leadership and the Study of Superior-Subordinate Relations Trait Research Intelligence, dominance, self-confidence, energy, activity, and task-related knowledge Behavior Research Initiating Structure (goals, expectations, jobs) Consideration (personal interest in subordinate) Leader-Member Exchange Theory Vertical Dyadic Linkage Theory (VDL) LMX - Leader-Member Exchange (in-group relationships) Mutual trust, reciprocal support, liking, greater levels of interaction Middle group relationships SX - Supervisory Exchange (out group relationships) Role-defined and contractually-based Determined by liking and perceived ability of subordinate

10 Maintenance Communication “Messages and behaviors used to preserve an acceptable and lasting relational state” (Waldron, 1991) Subordinate Tactics Personal - informal interaction used to build and maintain a friendship Contractual - conformity to formal role requirements, expectations, and contracts with the supervisor Regulative - strategic regulation--of messages, impressions, emotions, and contacts with the supervisor Direct - direct negotiation of the terms of the relationship and explicit discussion of perceived relational injustices

11 Communication of Women Leaders Minimizing POWER Differences Value Congruence (similarity in values) Nonroutine Problem-Solving (creativity) Insider Makers (group membership and jokes) Support (social and professional) Coaching (help in mastering skills and concepts) Maximizing POWER Differences Performance Monitoring (check work and progress) Face-threatening Acts (criticism and rebuke) Competitive Conflict (interruptions and nonsupport) Power Games (arguing for sake of arguing)

12 Communication Activities: Superior to Subordinate “Supervisor as Teacher and Coach” Trust Expectations that the other will act benevolently Willingness to be vulnerable and risk that the other will not act accordingly Some level of dependency Immediacy Any communication that indicates interpersonal warmth and closeness Feedback Any communication between organizational members that implicitly or explicitly provides task guidance, personal evaluation, or other guidance PROVIDING and SEEKING feedback Compliance Gaining Attractive style (attentive, friendly, and relaxed) Unattractive style (inattentive, unfriendly, and unrelaxed)

13 Communication Activities: Subordinate to Superior Dependent on FREQUENCY, TYPE, and PERSONAL NATURE of Communication Upward Influence Goes beyond subordinate’s comfort and skill level Three Potential Strategies Open persuasion (overt) Strategic persuasion (partial disclosure) Manipulation (disguised influence attempt) “Pelz Effect” Subordinates would initiate more upward messages if they believed their superiors had upward influence (Pelz, 1952)

14 Women and the Superior-Subordinate Relationship Plight of Women in Organizations 10% of Fortune 500 companies’ senior managers are women Less than 4% of the top-ranked individuals (e.g., CEO, COO, president) are women Women make up less than 3 percent of the top corporate earners Gender Inequity is rooted in our culture patterns and therefore in our organizational systems Research indicates that sex does not appear to be relevant to the outcomes Women are rated higher as managers on the skill of “putting people at ease.” What is most predictive of differences in evaluation of leadership skills (one’s position in the hierarchy or sex)?

15 Women and the Superior-Subordinate Relationship Men and women do not differ in the types of persuasive strategies (compliance-gaining) How does level of power effect the types of persuasive strategies employed? BOTTOM LINE: Legitimate authority, level of power, and one’s position in the hierarchy are the best predictors of communication differences in the workplace SEX DIFFERENCES Communication Competence Women supervisors are rated lower than men supervisors Women subordinates rated women supervisors less favorably than they rated men supervisors Supervisors rated women subordinates lower in communication competence than they rated men

16 Summary Dyadic View of the Supervisor-Subordinate Relationship that is best characterized by... Varying levels of TRUST SUPPORT FREQUENCY of INTERACTION Discussion Questions (p. 192) Modern Workplace is Undergoing Changes Decentralized Structures Participative Decision Making Project Teams (SDWTs) Changes include... Blurred lines of authority Increased communication More equal distribution of power Moving from... authority and control to... conditions where managers must be accomplished communicators


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