Problems of communication in business organizations

Communication in business organizations can be quite different in each company. The employees in the departments communicate all the time. Every day. However, in communication, we can also encounter problems of different nature.

When discussing this issue, there is a need to distinguish this concept from related “information” and “communication”.
The concept of “information” occupies an essential place in the theory of communications. Reference: “Communication process in management”, https://www.mmrls.org/communication-process-in-management/

Wiener views information as “labeled content received from the outside world in the process of our adaptation to it and its adaptation to our senses.”

Knut believes that information is synonymous with data or concepts that can be derived as follows: a) information exists outside and independent of our senses – in this sense it is objective; (b) on the other hand, it is accepted, transmitted, lost or accurately reproduced by the individual, and this expresses his subjective character.

In general, it can be assumed that the information represents a certain amount of data, but we are interested in those data that are important for the functioning and development of the company and its management.

Information is inextricably linked to the process of communication and communication – it is their essence!

Communication is a process that is the basis of human existence – it is a basic human need. Reference: “Reorganization of business processes in the organization“, https://w-europe.org/reorganization-of-business-processes-in-the-organization/

With the help of this process, information is exchanged. This exchange can take place purposefully or spontaneously, tendentiously or arbitrarily, rationally or irrationally.

Communication is a form of communication

Communication is one of the forms of communication. It is conscious, purposeful, and rational. It exchanges information for pre-defined purposes. Information is also the content of the communication. As it is purposeful and rational, it is very important here what volume and how to convey the information to ensure the achievement of the goal, and in our case, this is the information needed to build the behavior of the company.

Communication is a process of transmitting information

According to the Daily, “communication is the process of transmitting information, orders or instructions in such a way that the addressee understands exactly its purpose.” Ways to transmit this information:

– verbally
– In written form
– non-verbal (through facial expressions, gestures)

Communication has a huge role to play in defining personality in organizations. As a result of communication, attitudes, goals, and overall behavior can be changed.

The purpose of communication is to achieve unity in a particular community through a common language and understandable signs.

Communication is the result of the communication process

Communication is the result of the communication process through which information is exchanged. Communication is especially important for the existence of companies and organizations. The more effective it is, the more effective the organization. It is the communication system that supports an entire system (without it, it breaks down).

Effective communication requires clearly defined channels through which to flow. The channels must be known to all, and be sufficient in number to be able to reliably transmit messages related to the activity.

These channels have a certain structure and the information must be transmitted in an appropriate, understandable form. Many examples in the literature show that information transmitted in the same way can be understood differently depending on the attitudes of a certain category of people. Therefore, the issue of gathering information and transmitting it so that it is clearly and accurately understood is essential for any system and organization.

Chester Bernard identified several conditions under which information could be considered reliable:

1. To understand its literal meaning.
2. To be compatible with the goals of the organization.
3. To be compatible with the interests of employees (staff). Reference: “Phases of staff selection in organizations“, https://customessaysonline.net/phases-of-staff-selection-in-organizations/
4. There should be a desire to adopt and attitudes to comply with it.

It can be seen that the reliability of the received information depends a lot on certain personal attitudes and characteristics. Important are the qualities of perception, the way of thinking and decision-making, the direction of interests and motivation, loyalty and interest to the company, hostility, mental climate in groups. Reference: “Analysis of the work of employees in the organization”, https://customer-service-us.com/analysis-of-the-work-of-employees-in-the-organization/

Apart from subjective reasons, communication difficulties can also be discussed in connection with objective reasons. These may be: 1) ignorance (or disregard) of the need for communication; 2) lack of information to be exchanged between staff and management; 3) ignorance of the means of communication that ensure its reliable transmission; 4) undeveloped communication channels.

To take into account the causes of communication difficulties, and eliminate them, the communication process must be well known.

How does communication start?

The process of communication begins with the desire of the communicator to say something, ie. with the availability of information, with the presence of intention (motive) to say something (related to the communicator). The communicator says it in a certain way, ie. the content of the information transmitted reflects what has been said. The following is the impression created by the recipient. It plays a crucial role in how it is perceived (according to external and internal factors). The following is an interpretation of the information by its recipient (what is understood). This forms the so-called communication process.

The main problem in communication is that the recipient of the information may not understand its exact content. The reason for the incorrect understanding may be: a) incorrect way of transmitting the information; (b) vague statement by the representative; c) negative attitude, distrust on the part of the recipient towards the transmitter of the information.

This process takes place under certain conditions. Noise effects can be observed in it, which are also the reason for the incorrect perception.

The main barriers to communication

According to Armstrong, the main communication barriers can be represented as follows:

Ignoring information that conflicts with what we already know. This is usually information that contradicts our beliefs and preconceptions.

The recipient evaluates not only the information but also the qualities of the person presenting the information: the impressions of the communicator (our attitude towards him, whether he can be trusted).

The influence of the group with which the recipient is identified (if the reference group rejects this information, likely, the recipient will also reject it).

If the information is accompanied by a specific emotional coloring, this leads to the creation of a favorable or unfavorable impression, which also hinders the accurate reception of the information.

Assess the significance (for the audience) of what is being said. It should not be thought in advance that information provided by a supervisor is also important for subordinates (it should be in a form in which subordinates will assess its importance).

An important barrier is also the way the information is presented (with specific professional terms, jargon, etc.). The method must be following the capabilities of the recipients.

The emotional state of the recipients of the information themselves. Depending on their condition, the same information can be perceived as alarming, indifferent, mobilizing, etc.

Noise when transmitting and receiving information (literally or as distorted, obscure information, with accompanying content that has little to do with central information, etc.).

The size of the organizations, the levels of management through which the information must pass to be communicated to the final recipient. The higher the levels, the greater the risk of information loss or distortion.

With the many barriers, Armstrong gives specific recommendations to managers on how to overcome barriers:

  • To consider how, where and what to convey to the recipients of information;
  • Use feedback to know what is accepted;
  • To use reinforcement of the information (through the way of the message transmission – oral, written form, repetition, etc.) – the most reliable is the information that is transmitted directly (face to face);
  • A clear, precise, concise statement (combination of words with actions);
    Reducing the level of management levels in the organization Reference: “Management of the organization“, https://www.islandjournal.net/management-of-the-organization/ (“Take action to improve relationships and mental climate in groups, as well as between the administration and subordinates!”);
  • Small stand-alone and self-reporting units are better for good communication.

Shannon includes among the factors relevant to the reliable reception of information, and:

The qualities of the voice (timbre, etc.);
The qualities of the visual and auditory analyzer.

Concepts in communication

The specific terms used in the study of communications are:

1) Communication channel.
2) Communication network.

According to O’Shaughnessy, the line of communication that connects two individuals (objects, organizations) is called a communication channel. The direction of the connection is indicated by arrows.

A communication network is formed when several objects connect to several channels. It establishes a connection between several people (management and administration, management and individual production units, direct manager and subordinates). O’Shaughnessy compares the communication network to the human nervous system, in which brain cells connect to all parts of the human body through nerve conductors. Different communication networks are known, which are differently effective in different cases:

  1. Wheel. It is characteristic that in the center there is a leader who is directly connected with all units (or people) and they – with him. Separately, all units are interconnected and transmit information. This network is typical for small groups, where there is a clear formal leader, it does not apply to large organizations.
  2. Circle. There is no set leader, and the information needed for the job is passed from one to the other. No one is a leader. It is applied in the presence of many levels of transmission (not very effective).
  3. Network “everyone with everyone” (not funny!). It is typical for smaller organizations. Because the transmission of information is face-to-face, it is less likely to lose information.

The communication channels that determine the path of information movement can be:

(a) visual (taking into account reactions, gestures, appearance, image; allowing for a fuller perception of the information, especially if combined with verbal and auditory channels);

b) verbal (the requirement is to present the information with accurate speech, good vocabulary, clear voice, and diction, as well as through several channels);

c) auditory.

Ways of transmitting information in companies and organizations

According to Armstrong, in companies and organizations, there are several ways to transmit information – the so-called. external channels:

1. Personal contact.

It is recognized as the best communication channel. He immediately receives feedback. Thus, in case of negative feedback (when the information is not accepted), the strategy of the message can be changed immediately. Reference: “The strategic consensus management of the organization”, https://phron.org/strategic-consensus-management-organization/

This channel requires constant meetings with people, in which you get a personal impression of both the people and the information from the bottom up. Personal contacts are usually conducted as conversations, which must comply with certain requirements. Balinski and Berger present an opportunity for managers to assess the factors that are important for the success or failure of the conversation. Each leader must be able to answer the questions that characterize certain aspects of the conversation.

The methodology consists of evaluating one successful and one unsuccessful conversation. The questions to be assessed (on a dichotomous scale) are:

– Did you show a friendly attitude to the interlocutor?

– Were you interested in the conversation and its course?

– Was the conversation ready?

– Was the goal set?

– Did you behave freely without insisting?

– Was the interlocutor calm?

– Have you tried to reduce his tension?

– Have you tried to reduce the distance between you?

“Did you give him a chance to say what he thought?”

“Did you give him time to say what he wants?”

– When you disagreed with him, did you show respect and sympathy nonetheless?

– Did you stick to the topic?

– Did you listen all the time?

– Did you pay attention to what was being said?

– Did you encourage the interlocutor to give examples when speaking vaguely?

– Did you encourage him to ask questions about your words?

– Did you use gestures to facilitate the conversation?

– Did you end the conversation in a friendly tone?

– Did you provide information in the conversation that could be used for future contacts?

– Did you answer your interlocutor’s questions when you could?

The more “yes”, the more successful the conversation.

2. Operations.

They replace personal contacts to some extent without displacing them. The manager cannot meet many people for a short period, and it is preferable to pass the information directly.

The operative is a system of communications performed by the line management. Its purpose is to provide information to all who need to know what their results are, the requirements of management, and what needs to be done in future work. The operative is the gathering of the direct manager with his team (without skipping a level). Work-only issues are discussed.

The transmission of information usually starts in the top-down direction. Bottom-up information is also required (this is often forgotten) – this type of information is a kind of control and should become the basis for management decisions.

Operations are organized in advance so that there is no loss of time, boredom (when there is nothing to say), etc. All units of the organizations are covered. Groups do not have to be large. The optimal size is 4-17 / 18 people. Each group is led by the line manager at the appropriate level.

The operatives should not be overdone – the normal frequency is 1-2 times a month. What is said must be important for those present, for the work – to be related to the policy of the organization, the results and organization of work, security, pay (incentives), and more.

Their duration should not be more than 30 minutes. For the effective course of the operation the conductor must be prepared to have a conversation, otherwise, unwanted situations may occur. Reference: “Effective management of organizations”, https://www.businesspad.org/effective-management-of-organizations/

In the book “Creative Discussion”, Kurtright and Heinz present techniques for directing and mastering conversations. They are especially needed when solving problems, and the opinions of the participants are very different and the members of the group have no experience in leading a discussion. The authors indicate specific actions for the specific situations through which the conversation can be optimized. Eg there must be prior regulation during the speech – so if the conversation is usurped by the most talkative, he should be invited to comply with the regulation or be asked specific questions if he deviates from the topic.

3. Video.

This is a possible external channel, as it can transmit information visually and aurally and is more suitable than printing. Relatively complex information is conveyed, but it must be prepared in advance – to emphasize the essential point.

4. Magazines, newspapers, newsletters.

They make it possible to explain much more complex information in more detail. Advantages: the information can be re-read several times and the most important can be separated from it. Statistics, results, orders are presented through this channel. The moment of shaping the material is very important – both in form and content. This is usually done by specialists – editors. But there is always the question of how best to present information so that it is reliably received.

5. Information boards

They allow for clarity. They require a very good layout. It is not desirable (even contraindicated) for the board to stay on the wall for a long time – this reduces the interest (due to the action of the adaptation, after a while it is not even looked at). Reference: “Adaptive and Survival model of strategic modeling in organizations”, https://www.libraryofmu.org/adaptive-and-survival-model-of-strategic-modeling-in-organizations/

The presentation of ratings (positive or negative) on the board is avoided. Usually, only accurate and clear information is given.

6. Advisory boards and committees

They aim to provide a better two-way connection. The information at the top goes to the committee, which has to pass it down to the workplace. But it has been shown that committees withhold information that they consider harmful to them (“released” late or inaccurate). These committees are not the most reliable channel for transmitting and receiving information.

7. Lessons on qualities

Recommendations for effective company communication

William Mercer identifies several specific recommendations and conditions under which internal communication is effective:

If leadership does not know how to present its policy and strategy well to its subordinates, they (subordinates) believe that it does not have them (need for correct speech!). Reference: “Strategies for the formation and use of knowledge in the organization”, https://pgov.org/strategies-knowledge-organization/

In a situation of an information vacuum, the worst is usually expected. Mercer advises managers to never be sure that people know what they are talking about (need for clear and concise explanations!). In addition, people who do a job know more about that job than their supervisors.

To say something only once is like not saying it at all (need for more channels to provide information!).

Do not expect someone to give you information if it is negative for him (to his detriment) – the need to obtain information from more channels!

Don’t be afraid to admit that you made a mistake (this way people will consider you a normal person and have a positive attitude towards you).

Do not be afraid to take advice, to consult (this elevates you in the eyes of subordinates, and requires strength from you).

Learn to convey both good and bad news but in a certain way.

Don’t be afraid to criticize, but not with a negative attitude (if you don’t, rumors will).

Basic means of communication

1. Speech – timbre, strength, diction, vocabulary, etc.

2. Gesture (the oldest means of expression):

  • Facial expressions (facial expression);
  • Pantomime (body movements): should be controlled during communication, tension should be hidden, not too close to the interlocutor, etc.
  • Gestures (movements of the hands and wrists): do not hit the table, do not wave a finger, etc.

The partner’s gestures should also be taken into account – they show the extent to which the information is perceived and the attitude towards it.

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