Updated: Feb 8
Claire Belisle Mr. Elgin Management 331 21 April 2003
Communications Process in Company A
Communication is “a process of sending and receiving messages with attached meanings” (Organizational Behavior 190). Effective communication occurs “when the intended meaning equals the perceived meaning [while efficient communication occurs] at minimum cost in terms of resources expended” (Organizational Behavior 192). While not always effective or efficient, communication is a necessary and integral part of Company A. This report will discuss successful and unsuccessful approaches used for communication within the organization, while evaluating the effectiveness and efficiency of each.
“Throughout all business sectors, we now see large organizations beginning to form smaller groups to gain the…communication found in small companies” (Thompson et al. 39). While Company A is no longer a small company, it has retained some of the qualities of smaller companies with regard to communication. Individuals at all levels interact with each other daily and do not hesitate to bypass the normal “chain of command” as needed. While this is definitely an efficient means of communication, it is not always effective because other individuals within the “chain” may not receive information needed to complete their tasks. An example of this would be when a project accountant goes directly to the vice-president regarding a billing question. While the vice-president may be the one who will ultimately make the decision, the project manager and the controller may also need to be involved in the decision in order to effectively communicate with the owners and sub-contractors.
On the other hand, not following the standard procedures for check requests has, at times, proven both efficient and effective. For example, an employee recently needed a check to pay for services rendered by a local company. Standard procedure would require the individual to create a check request, have it approved by the department head, who then forwards it to the controller. The controller would then determine if it were a “petty cash” check or a standard check, and then take it to the appropriate person to write the check. Because the employee needed the check quickly and knew that checks under a certain amount were generally handled through the “petty cash” checking account, the employee took the check request directly to the person who issues those checks. This not only saved time proving to be efficient, it was also effective because the employee was able to get the check in a timely manner.
Another example of efficient communication within Company A is seen in the use of e-mail to disperse information not only within the company, but to outside persons as well. In the article, “Do you communicate?” Jim Urban states, “Communicating is about knowing your audience…” (4). Urban further relays, “You have to know when to say nothing, but you also must know when it’s time to talk” (4). Because Company A has been utilizing e-mail for quite some time it has become apparent that it is not the most effective form of communication for all situations. While e-mail is both efficient and effective for notifying office personnel that the accounting calendar is available, it has proven to be ineffective when notifying employees of the annual safety meeting or any other situation requiring an e-mail of more than one or two sentences. Apparently, too much information in the e-mail leads to distraction on the part of the reader and the full message of the e-mail is lost. An example would be when an e-mail is sent detailing the date, time and place of a meeting, with a request for an R.S.V.P. Quite often, the reader focuses only on the date, time and place, failing to notify the sender of whether or not the recipient will be attending.
Although long e-mails to employees have often been shown to be ineffective, the same does not always hold true for communicating with sub-contractors via e-mail. Quite often the information contained in e-mails to sub-contractors relays specific information that is needed to complete a particular job and the sub-contractor is more willing to read all of the information. By knowing that the sub-contractor has a vested interest in reading the full details, the person sending the information will be more detailed in the information conveyed.
Further observation of Company A shows that departments or groups within the organization often strive to have meetings to discuss issues related to the department or group and to the company. While this process may be effective in covering all the pertinent information, it is sometimes inefficient as it takes the employee away from their work. It has also been noted that feedback is not always present in these meetings, especially among new employees who may lack the familiarity or self-confidence needed to ask questions and get clarification. The lack of feedback, which could result in clarification of the issues covered, may prove the meetings to be ineffective. This is supported by Schermerhorn et al when they state, “research indicates that two-way communication is more accurate and effective than is one-way communication, even though it is also more costly and time consuming” (Organizational Behavior 196).
Because there is more to communicating than just speaking or writing some words, those doing the communicating must be aware of how their message is being perceived. In addition, those receiving the message must be actively listening, which is defined as “the ability to help the source of the message say what he or she really means” (Organizational Behavior 194). In a recent meeting of office support staff and accounting personnel designed to discuss issues and problems related to the switchboard and reception, individuals were given the opportunity to give feedback regarding a proposed schedule and any other issues related to switchboard duties. Although part of the meeting was intended to convey the needs of the receptionist to the rest of the support staff, concerns of the support staff were also to have been addressed. While the receptionist’s needs were effectively communicated, recent discussions with other support staff have shown that the needs of the rest of the support staff were not effectively communicated to the receptionist. This may be in part because personnel were not willing to speak openly in front of the group or because the receptionist was not actively listening. Also, by having all support personnel present at one meeting, the efficiency of the meeting comes into question.
As seen, there are many forms of communication within Company A, including meetings, e-mail messages, and face-to-face conversations. While each form has proven to be effective in certain situations, they are not always. In addition, the efficiency of the form may come into question. The key for managers is to focus on which situation warrants what kind of communication and to be certain that they are actively listening when someone else is attempting to communicate with them. E-mail may be efficient, but does it effectively communicate the message? Meetings may be effective, but can be inefficient. In either situation, is the receiver actively listening? As Jim Urban states, “In today’s frenetic and highly competitive work environment, there is increasingly less time for poor communication” (4).
Thompson, Leigh, Eileen Aranda, and Stephen P. Robbins. Tools for Teams. Boston: Pearson, 2000.
University of Phoenix, ed. Organizational Behavior. 7th ed. University of Phoenix custom edition e-text. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2002. MGT331 – Organizational Behavior. Resource. University of Phoenix. 7 April 2003 <https://mycampus.phoenix.edu/secure/resource/resource.asp>
Urban, Jim. “Do you communicate?” Executive Report 14.6 (1996): 4. EBSCOhost. University of Phoenix Online Collection. 19 April 2003. Keywords: Effective Efficient Communication Business.