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Chapter 9 Communication

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1 Chapter 9 Communication
Michael A. Hitt C. Chet Miller Adrienne Colella Slides by Ralph R. Braithwaite

2 Communication Casualties
What were some of the communication issues before, during, and after Hurricane Katrina? What recommendations would you make to avoid another communication disaster such as this? What types of communication problems have you encountered in your work or school environment? Hurricane Katrina Exploring Behavior in Action

3 Strategic Importance of Communication
Some private companies developed a carefully arranged crisis communication plan to deal with disasters such as Katrina. Should every type of organization – public and private – have some type of effective plan?

4 Knowledge Objectives Explain why communication is strategically important to organizations. Describe the communication process. Discuss important aspects of communication within organizations, including networks and the direction of communication flow. Define interpersonal communication and discuss the roles of formal versus informal communication, communication media, communication technology, and nonverbal communication in the interpersonal communication process. Describe organizational and individual barriers to effective communication. Understand how organizations and individuals can overcome communication barriers.

5 What is Communication? The sharing of information between two or more people to achieve a common understanding about an object or situation. Success occurs when the person receiving the message understands it in the way the sender intended.

6 This is a problem with communication from time to time.

7 Communication Process
Encoded Message Received Message Sent Message Receiver Sender Communication Medium Received Feedback Sender – the person who wishes to communicate a message Receiver – the person with whom the sender wishes to communicate Encoding – the process whereby a sender translates the information he or she wishes to send into a message Communication medium or channel – the manner in which a message is conveyed Decoding – the process whereby a receiver perceives a sent message and interprets its meaning Feedback – the process whereby a receiver encodes the message received and sends it back to the original sender Feedback Decoded Message Adapted from Exhibit 9-1: Sent Message

8 Organizational Communication
Patterns of communication at the organizational level – formal and informal Purpose to facilitate achievement of organizational goals Involves the use of communication networks, policies, and structures

9 Communication Two-way Communication – communication that includes feedback and an exchange of information between two or more parties One-way Communication – communication that does not include feedback

10 Communication Networks
Y Network All Connected Network Centralized Networks Wheel Network Circle Network Decentralized Networks Centralized networks – all communications pass through a central point or points so that each member of the network communicates with only a small number of others – the Y and the Wheel Decentralized networks – many people or units can communicate with many others – the Circle and the All-Connected Adapted from Exhibit 9-2: Communication Networks

11 Direction of Organizational Communication
Downward Upward Horizontal Peers Manager Customers Direct Reports 360° Feedback Downward - From supervisor to subordinate Job instructions, Information on organization policies, Performance feedback, Inform associates about the organization’s goals and changes Upward - From subordinate to supervisor Grievance procedures, Departmental meetings, Participation in decisions, and others Upward communication may be necessary to Monitor the effectiveness of decisions, Provide information, Maintain associate morale, Ensure that jobs are being done properly Horizontal - Between associates at the same level Facilitates coordination among organizational units, May arise from integrating positions (boundary-spanning positions), 360-degree performance feedback, sometimes referred to as lateral communication 360 Degree Feedback – feedback and appraisals from a variety of levels – peers, subordinates, and supervisors. Sometimes the feedback will also come from customers, clients, suppliers, and others who have contact with the individual. One problem that some subordinates have experienced is retaliation by their supervisors; another problem is that peers may be politically motivated to either overrate or underrate their co-workers.

12 Communication at J. Crew: Mickey Drexler
What would be your reaction to an or phone call from the CEO of a company you contacted about a service issue? If you worked for a company like J. Crew, how would you respond to some of Drexler’s behavior? Should more senior level managers show their passion about their businesses? Experiencing Strategic OB

13 Interpersonal Communication
Direct verbal or nonverbal interaction between two or more active participants Formal Informal Formal – communication that follows the formal structure of the organization – supervisor to subordinate and communicates organizationally sanctioned information. It can be slow Informal - involves spontaneous interactions between two or more people outside the formal structure, may reach more associates, can help build cohesion and friendship among associates, may include untrue rumors and gossip Rumors – unsubstantiated information of universal interest, often created to deal with uncertainty Gossip – information that is presumed factual and communicated in private or intimate settings, often not specifically work related and focuses on such things as others’ personal lives. Gossip usually reflects information that is third-hand, fourth-hand, and even farther removed from the person passing it along. Gossip can cause problems for organizations because it reduces associates’ focus on work, ruins reputations, creates stress, and can lead to legal problems. People are thought to engage in gossip in order to gain power or friendship or to enhance their own egos. To avoid rumors and gossip in the workplace, managers are advised to provide honest, open, and clear information in times of uncertainty. Rumors Gossip

14 Face-to-face is the richest medium
Communication Media Richness depends on: The availability of feedback The use of multiple cues The use of effective language The extent to which the communication has a personal focus Face-to-face is the richest medium Richness describes the amount of information a medium can convey.

15 Communication Media Richest Least Rich Equivocal Messages Face-to-face
Telephone Electronic messaging Personal written text Equivocal messages are those that can be interpreted in multiple ways Formal written text Formal numerical text Least Rich

16 Communication Technology
Cell Phones Internet Instant Messaging BLOG Social Networking

17 Communicating with Customers
What are your thoughts about the JetBlue letter in Exhibit 9-3? Should they have anticipated potential problems?

18 Surfing for Applicants
Managerial Advice Surfing for Applicants What was your reaction to the relatively high percentage of negative information about applicants? What was your reaction to the positive information statistics? What concerns would you have as a hiring manager in terms of using the web to find applicants?

19 Nonverbal Communication
Communication that takes place without using language, such as facial expressions or body language Paralanguage Gestures Body Language Body language (kinesics) - Facial expressions, Use of hands, arms, legs and posture Paralanguage (How something is said) - Tone and pitch of voice, Use of silence Gestures - Hand signals, Shrugging one’s shoulders Attitude Lying?

20 Barriers to Effective Communication
Organizational Individual Organizational barriers – information overload, noise, time pressures, breakdown in the communication network, information distortion, and cross-cultural barriers Individual barriers – differing perceptual bases, semantic differences, consideration of self-interest, personal space, and poor listening skills

21 Organizational Barriers
Information Overload Noise Time Pressures Network Breakdowns Specialty Area Jargon Information Distortion Information Overload – receiving more information than can be reasonably processed. Occurs for several reasons – First, organizations face higher levels of uncertainty because of escalating change and turbulence in the external environment, so they obtain more information to reduce the uncertainty. Second, the increasing complexity of tasks and organization structures creates a need for more information. Again, organizations employ more specialists to provide the needed information, placing greater information-processing burdens on organizational members. Third, ongoing developments in technology – small mobile computers, the Internet, intranets, the growing number of large organizational databases – increase the amount of information available to associates and managers. One way in which organizations are trying to deal with the overload caused by electronic messaging and is by adopting newer, web-based interactive technologies for internal communications. These include blogs, wiki sites, and social networking sites. With this technology, messages are all posted in one place, avoiding redundancy. Also, new anti-spam software has helped businesses cut down on the cost of unwanted . Noise – Anything that disrupts communication or distorts the message. Noise can be either an organizational-level barrier or an individual-level barrier. It may occur at any step in the communication process or within any element, and it may occur in many forms. Often, it is unintentional, as when two parties have different perceptions of a message. But at times noise may be intentional. Other examples of noise include language barriers (especially in international firms), interruptions, emotions, and attitudes. Time Pressures – In most organizations work needs to be done under deadlines, which create time pressures and constrain an individual’s ability to communicate. When people are under time pressure, they sometimes do not carefully develop a message before sending it. In addition, the pressure of a deadline often does not allow for time to receive feedback, so the sender may not know whether the receiver accurately perceived the message. Network Breakdowns – Breakdowns in the communication network frequently occur in large organizations because so much information flows through those networks. Many things can interfere with the flow – mail can be misplaced, messages may not be received by those targeted, and people can forget to relay pieces of information. Larger organizations have more problems because messages must flow through more people, increasing the probability that the message will be transmitted inaccurately at some point. One other factor that can cause communication network breakdowns is the architecture of the work environment. Specialty Area Jargon – One problem in large, complex organizations concerns the proliferation of specialists. Specialists are highly knowledgeable within their own fields but frequently have limited understanding of other fields. In addition, they often have their own “language,” or jargon. It may be difficult for two specialists in different fields to communicate effectively with one another because they use different terminology. Information Distortion – It is common for information to be distorted, either intentionally or unintentionally. Unintentional distortion can occur because of various problems, such as time pressures, or because of perceptual differences. However, intentional distortion often occurs because of competition between work units in an organization. Departments frequently have to compete for scarce resources in their operating budgets. Suppression or distortion of information can (and does) also occur when an associate has more information than his or her supervisor. Cross-Cultural Barriers - Cross-cultural barriers occur for two general reasons: lack of language fluency and lack of cultural fluency. Even though English is becoming an international language for business, the potential for language barriers continues to exist in cross-cultural communications. Language fluency is one dimension of what is known as cultural fluency – the ability to identify, understand, and apply cultural differences that influence communication. Language fluency is necessary for cultural fluency but is not itself enough. Cultural fluency can affect many dimensions of organizational behavior, including negotiating styles, nonverbal behavior, personal space, and the use of symbols. Cross-Cultural Barriers

22 Cultural Differences Eye Contact Time Orientation Answering Questions
Indicating “No” Posture Self-Presentation Eye contact – U.S. – Direct Elsewhere – In many Asian countries, extended eye contact is unacceptable. Time orientation – U.S. – Punctual – ”Time is money” Elsewhere – Asian and Latin American cultures have longer time horizons; resolving issues is more important than being on time. Answering questions – U.S. – Direct and factual Elsewhere – Many Asian cultures view being direct as rude and aggressive. Self-presentation – U.S. – Self-promotion rewarded Elsewhere – Many other cultures (e.g., Asian, Russian) find this rude. Posture – U.S. – Open body posture preferred (e.g., arms relaxed) Elsewhere – In Japan, a closed body posture is preferred (e.g., crossed arms and legs). Indicating “no” – U.S. – Shaking one’s head from side to side Elsewhere – In Bulgaria, the “no” signal means “I’m listening,” rather than “I disagree.” Adapted from Exhibit 9-4: Cultural Communication Differences

23 Cultural Communication Snafus
Common problems include: Opening and closing conversations Taking turns during conversations The signaling of agreement Appropriate topics of conversation Use of humor Direct versus indirect communication Acknowledgement of authority and status Thoughts? Experiencing Strategic OB

24 Differing Perceptions Consideration of Self-interest
Individual Barriers Differing Perceptions Semantic Differences Status Differences Consideration of Self-interest Differing Perceptions – One of the most common communication failures occurs when the sender has one perception of a message and the receiver has another. Differing perceptions are caused by differing frames of reference. Our expectations or frames of reference can influence how we recall and interpret information. Semantic Differences – Semantics refers to the meaning people attach to symbols, such as words and gestures. Because the same words may have different meanings to different people, semantic differences can create communication problems. One reason for semantic differences relates to the proliferation of specialists in organizations. Specialists tend to develop their own jargon; such terminology may have little meaning to a person outside the specialist’s field. Status Differences – can result from both organizational and individual factors. Organizations create status differences through titles, offices, and support resources, but individuals attribute meaning to these differences. Status differences can lead to problems of source credibility and can create problems that block upward communication (and thus feedback). To be effective communicators, managers must overcome the status difference that exists between them and the associates reporting to them. Consideration of Self-Interest – Often, information provided by a person is used to assess his or her performance. For example, it is not uncommon for firms to request information from managers about their units’ performance. Data such as forecasts of future activity, performance standards, and recommendations on capital budgets are often used in determining the managers’ compensation. Research shows that where data accuracy cannot be independently verified, managers sometimes provide information that is in their own self-interest. Although this does not necessarily mean they intentionally distort information, they may provide incomplete data, selecting only information that is in their own best interests. Personal Space – All of us have a personal space surrounding our bodies. When someone enters that space, we feel uncomfortable. The size of the personal space differs somewhat among individuals; it also differs by gender and across cultures. Women seem to have smaller personal spaces than men. Similarly, the typical personal space in some cultures (such as some European and South American cultures) is smaller than that in other cultures (such as the United States). Poor Listening Skills - A frequent problem in communication rests not with the sender but with the receiver. The receiver must listen in order to hear and understand the sender’s message, just as the sender must listen to feedback from the receiver. Managers spend more than 50 percent of their time in verbal communication, and some researchers estimate that they spend as much as 85 percent of this time talking. This does not leave much time for listening and receiving feedback. Perhaps more importantly, it has been estimated that managers listen with only about 25 percent efficiency. Therefore, they hear and understand only 25 percent of what is communicated to them verbally. This can lead the speaker to become annoyed and discouraged, thus leaving a bad impression of the listener. Poor listening is not conducive to high-involvement management, because it breaks down the communication process and will limit information sharing. Personal Space Poor Listening Skills

25 Communication Audit Analysis of an organization’s internal and external communication to assess communication practices and capabilities and determine needs Recommended Audit Methodology Hold a planning meeting – approach and commitment Conduct interviews with top management Collect, inventory, and analyze material Conduct associate interviews Prepare and administer a questionnaire to measure attitudes toward communication Communicate survey results

26 Communication Climates
Associates’ perceptions regarding the quality of communications within the organization. Mutual Trust Credibility Feedback Organizations can overcome communication barriers by establishing mutual trust between senders and receivers, communication credibility is present, and feedback is encouraged. Managers also should encourage a free flow of downward, upward, and horizontal communication. People must be comfortable in communicating their ideas openly and in asking questions when they do not understand or they want to know more. Information should be available and understandable. People in organizational units should be allowed to develop their own communication systems independently for an effective communication culture.

27 Individual Actions Know your audience
Select an appropriate communication medium Encourage feedback Regulate information flow and timing Listen actively Know your audience – communicate with others as if you were communicating with yourself. To communicate effectively, people must know their audience, including the audience’s experience, frames of references, and motivations. Select an appropriate communication medium – when messages are important or complex, use of rich media, such as face-to-face communication, is necessary. Also, when dealing with important and/or complex information, it is best to use several forms of communication – for example, by following a face-to-face communication with an message summarizing the discussion. Encourage feedback – Communication is a two-way process. To ensure that the received message is interpreted as intended, feedback from the recipient is necessary. Some guidelines that individuals can use to obtain feedback include asking recipients to repeat what they have heard, promoting and cultivating feedback, but not trying to force it, rewarding those who provide feedback and using the feedback received and responding to feedback, indicating whether it is correct. In other words, obtaining feedback, using it, and then feeding it back to recipients. Regulate information flow and timing – regulating the flow of information can help to alleviate communication problems. Regulating flow involves discarding information of marginal importance and conveying only significant information. That is, do not pass on irrelevant information, or else important messages may be buried by information overload or noise. The proper timing of messages is also important. Sometimes people are more likely to be receptive to a message and to perceive it accurately than at other times. Thus, if you have an important message to send, you should not send it when recipients are about to leave work, are fully engaged in some other task, or are receiving other communication. Listen actively – poor listening skills are a common barrier to effective communication. People tend to hear and understand only around 25 percent of what is communicated to them verbally. Listening is not a passive, naturally occurring activity. People must actively and consciously listen to others in order to be effective communicators.

28 Steps to Effective Listening
Listen empathetically Hear before evaluating Pay attention Listen to the whole message Stop talking Send feedback 1. Stop talking. Often, we talk more than we should without giving the other person a chance to respond. If we are thinking about what we will say when we talk, we cannot focus attention on the person we wish to listen to. Do not interrupt. 2. Pay attention. Do not allow yourself to be distracted by thinking about something else. Often, we need to make an active effort to pay attention when others are speaking. 3. Listen empathetically. Try to take the speaker’s perspective. Mirror the speaker’s body language and give him or her nonjudgmental encouragement to speak. 4. Hear before evaluating. Do not draw premature conclusions or look for points of disagreement. Listen to what the person has to say before jumping to conclusions or judgment. 5. Listen to the whole message. Look for consistency between the verbal and the nonverbal messages. Try to assess the person’s feelings or intentions, as well as just facts. 6. Send feedback. In order to make sure that you have heard correctly, paraphrase what was heard and repeat it to the person you were listening to. Adapted from Exhibit 9-5: Steps to Effective Listening

29 The Strategic Lens For what tasks in a manager’s job is effective communication critical? Explain. Which contributes more to an organization’s performance – verbal communications or written communications? Justify your answer. What are the strengths and weaknesses in your communication abilities? How can you best take advantage of your strengths and overcome your weaknesses to have a successful career? What impact is rapidly developing communication technology likely to have on communication in organizations?

30 Questions

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