Communication Gap within the Organization: A case study in administrative building of SUST, Sylhet By Sato Barua Masters Student Department of Public Administration SUST, Sylhet Introduction Organizational communication as a discipline grew tremendously over the 20th century, but accompanying that growth was a struggle to establish a clear identity of the field. Today scholars still continue to define and redefine the focus, boundaries and future of the field (Thompkin & Wanka-Thibault, 2001).
Why it is that organizational communication is such an interesting concept for researchers to study? Apparently, a great deal of the answer to this question can be found in the importance communication has been re-vealed having for the success of organizations.
Open communication has for example been found to be positively correlated with employees’ satisfaction with the organization (Koike, Gudykunst, William, Lea & Ting-Toomey, 1989). Communication is the glue that holds a society together. The ability to communicate enables people to form and maintain personal relationships.
And the quality of such relationships depends on the caliber of communication between the parties.
Communication is the process of sharing ideas, information, and messages with others in a particular time and place. Communication includes writing and talking, as well as nonverbal communication (such as facial expressions, body language, or gestures), visual communication (the use of images or pictures, such as painting, photography, video or film) and electronic communication (telephone calls, electronic mail, cable television, or satellite broadcasts).
Communication is a vital part of personal life and is also important in business, education, and any other situations where people encounter each other (Encarta, 1998).
A study was completed within the organization to determine if there was an internal communication gap that existed between the supervisors and representatives. When there 1 is an internal communication gap within an organization there is usually a breakdown in the way information is been sent from the sender to the receiver. This is precedent in organizations that have a top down hierarchy.
In this type of hierarchy it can be difficult for bottom level employees to obtain information regarding changes within the organization. Significance of the study Communication is described as one of the crucial fouls of management. It helps in handling the major managerial tasks of planning direction coordination motivating and controlling. We live in a world filled with other people. We live together, work together, and play together. In our personal lives, we need each other for security, comfort, friendship, and love.
In our working environment, we need each other in order to achieve our goals and objectives. None of these goals can be achieved without communication. Communication is the basic thread that ties us together. Through communication we make known our needs, our wants, our ideas, and our feelings. The better we are at communication, the more effective we are at achieving our hopes and dreams (Alessandra, Hunsaker, 1993). Based upon conversations among the representatives, this study is important because there appears to be a lack of communication within the organization.
Some of the representatives feel as though the supervisors have daily meetings, but no information is shared regarding the company changes and/or procedures. When there is an internal communication gap it becomes difficult for anyone to effectively achieve goals. Purpose of the study The purpose of this study is to determine whether or not there’s an internal communication gap that exist between the representatives and the supervisors. The three objectives of this study were to: 2 1. Discover whether or not there is an internal communication gap between supervisors and representatives within the organization. . Determine the subject’s perception of their immediate supervisor’s level of communication. 3. Identify the ways in which employees usually receive most of their information. Definition of terms Sender Someone or something that sends or transmits something. To establish yourself as an effective communicator, you must first establish credibility. You must also know your audience (individuals or groups to which you are delivering your message). Failure to understand who you are communicating to will result in delivering messages that are misunderstood (Fowler, 2005).
Message A communication in speech, writing, or signals. Written, oral and nonverbal communications are effected by the sender’s tone, method of organization, validity of the argument, what is communicated and what is left out, as well as your individual style of communicating. Messages also have intellectual and emotional components, with intellect allowing us the ability to reason and emotion allowing us to present motivational appeals, ultimately changing minds and actions (Fowler, 2005). Channel A course or a means of communication or expression.
Messages are conveyed through channels, with verbal including face-to-face meetings, telephone and videoconferencing; and written including letters, emails, memos and reports (Fowler, 2005). 3 Receiver These messages are delivered to an audience. No doubt, you have in mind the actions or reactions you hope our message prompts from this audience. Keep in mind, your audience also enters into the communication process with ideas and feelings that will undoubtly influence their understanding. Your audience will provide you with feedback, verbal and nonverbal reactions to your communicated message.
Pay close attention to this feedback as it is crucial to ensuring the audience understood your message (Fowler, 2005). Context The words or phrases or passages that come before and after a particular word or passage in a speech or piece of writing and help to explain it’s full meaning (Encarta, 2005). Feedback Comments in the form of opinions about the reactions to something intended to provide useful information for future decisions and development (Fowler, 2005). A literature review was completed to determine the importance of internal communication within the work environment. Review of literature
In every society, humans have developed spoken and written language as a means of sharing messages and meanings. The most common form of daily communication is interpersonal- that is, face-to-face, at the same time and in the same place (Encarta, 2005). Communication barriers can pop-up at every stage of the communication process (which consists of sender, message, channel, receiver, feedback and context) and have the potential to create misunderstanding and confusion. To be an effective communicator and to get your point across without misunderstanding and confusion, your goal should be to 4 essen the frequency of these barriers at each stage of this process with clear, concise, accurate, well planned communications (Fowler & Manktelow, 2005). Communication, the heart of business, is the most important of all entrepreneurial skills. The destiny of the business depends on the quality of your relationships. Your ability to transmit information helps both clients and employees feel they can communicate with and ultimately trust you (Black Enterprise, Charles, 1998, pg 116). Internal communication is more important today than in previous years partly because the business and market conditions are more complex.
There is a lot of information in the marketplace and it’s crucial that employees understand it. The development of a strategic internal communication strategy and its implementation can provide a number of benefits to organizations, such as keeping employees motivated and engaged, and sharing clear, consistent messages with employees in a timely manner. Personal relationship is what organizations are all about -or should be. An organization, whatever its size, mission, or motive is merely a collection of people assembled to pursue a common objective.
An organization functions through its people, who in turn function through communication (Brennan, 1974). Employees have their own sources, their own information system, separate from the management channels. These usually carry the news ahead of communications from management. Not that the employee network is flawless. That system transmits information indiscriminately- Fragments, Rumors, Gossip. It may not always operate in the best interests of the organization, but it does provide a check-point when management fantasies are disguised as information.
Furthermore, it enables employees to participate in the communication process, and it fills their need for information which at least seems to come from a credible source: another employee (Brennan, 1974). Employees, like all people, require outlets for their thoughts and feelings. And they find them. So don’t arbitrarily assume that the relative absence of employee complaints is a positive sign. Employees may be expressing themselves through other channels: meetings with fellow employees, union representatives, government agents; or through passiveaggressive behavior such as work slowdowns, carelessness, tardiness, absenteeism, and apathy.
These can be symptoms that employees feel other means of participation are unavailable to them (Brennan, 1974). 5 The skill of listening becomes extremely important when we talk about “upward communication. ” There are many avenues through which management can send messages downward through a business organization, but there are few avenues for movement of information in the upward direction (Nichols & Stevens, 1999). Many popular theories on workplace communication focus on the differences between men and women, suggesting that the sexual divide causes communication to break down. Women are seen as being more empathetic and oblique than men.
Other variables that cause people to mix their messages include differences in age, culture, and socioeconomic background. Some tips to help managers bridge any communication gap were (Fortune 1994): 1. Listen actively for the subtext of people’s words. 2. Persuade rather than command. 3. Target your words to your audience. 4. React to content, not to people’s manner of expressing themselves. 5. Let people know that criticism is welcome. 6. Make your intentions clear before acting. 7. Assume that people take responsibility for what they say. By successfully getting your message across, you convey your thoughts and ideas effectively.
When not successful, the thoughts and ideas that you convey do not necessarily reflect your own, causing a communications breakdown and creating roadblocks that stand in the way of your goals-both personally and professionally (Fowler & Mankelow, 2005). In the workplace, supervisors and their employees have opportunities to develop nonthreatening, mutually rewarding relationships. These can be quite conducive to individual and corporate health. They are akin to what in our personal life we call meaningful relationships. Supervisors who attain such relationships with employees are said to practice “positive human relations. True. But it’s done through communication. (Brennan, 1974). 6 Methodology of procedures Methodology can properly refer to the theoretical analysis of the methods appropriate to a field of study or to the body of methods and principles particular to a branch of knowledge. Methodology has been increasingly used as a pretentious substitute for method in scientific and technical contexts. “Methodology” is a system of precise rules and procedures on which research is based and against which claims for knowledge and evaluation. Research and Design
A quantitative research methodology was used for the research to determine if there was a communication gap within the organization. A multiple choice single answered survey was distributed to the lower-level employees. A survey can be a powerful tool to improve communication between different parts of an organization. Surveys are especially useful for establishing upward communication links from lower-level employees to management. Population The survey was distributed to lower-level employees who are within the organization. The participant’s involved included males and females with 6 weeks to 20 years of experience within the organization.
A total of 20 surveys were completed. The participants were informed per instructions on the survey and through face-to-face conversation that their participation was voluntary and the answers in which they chose would remain confidential, with the exception of the final results from all the participants. Sample The research was conducted within Administrative Buildings of Shahjalal University of Science and Technology, located in Sylhet, Bangladesh. The organization has an 7 estimated 300 staff which are located in three separate buildings. The administration is divided into some units and each unit has one supervisor.
The subordinates report to the supervisors. Instrumentation The survey consisted of ten multiple choices single answer questions and one open ended question. The participants were asked single answer questions to discover whether or not there was an internal communication gap between supervisors and the subordinates within the organization, to determine the subject’s perception of their immediate supervisors level of communication and to identify the ways in which employees usually receive most of their information. The survey was distributed to the employees by the researcher via face-to-face contact.
The researcher chose face- to-face contact because it gave the participants the opportunity to ask questions and to have a visual picture of whom and where to return the surveys. Data collecting and recording A Microsoft program, Excel was used to determine the percentage rate of each answer given by the participants. Limitations of the study The limitations of this study were that the researcher could not distribute the surveys to forty-three employees. Some employees were not available to complete the survey due to absenteeism (vacation, personal time, sick, etc). The employees are so much busy so they cannot provide me to give information.
Time is not sufficient to gain practical knowledge and prepare a report. I have no proper experience to do this kind of report. So, inexperience creates obstacle to follow the systematic and logical research methodology. 8 Analysis Findings The present study was designed to determine whether or not there were an internal communication gap that existed between the subordinates and the supervisors. The three objectives of this study were to: 4. Discover whether or not there is an internal communication gap between supervisors and representatives within the organization. . Determine the subject’s perception of their immediate supervisor’s level of communication. 6. Identify the ways in which employees usually receive most of their information. The representatives responded to questions regarding the communication within their organization. To the contrary, the result suggests that 5% of the representatives were neutral regarding the overall satisfaction of communication within this organization, 80% were very satisfied, 15% were satisfied and no one indicated that they were dissatisfied.
Although majority of the representatives were very satisfied so 60% thought the organization kept them fully informed and no one indicated that the organization gave them a limited amount of information, 35% thought that they were fairly well informed, 5% answer was unclear. When asked how would you rate your supervisor’s communication skills, 80% indicated excellent and 20% marked that their supervisor communicated very good. Also, 35% indicated that whenever there was change within the organization their supervisors inform them most of the time. A 60% response was given to the supervisors informing them all the time.
Like many organizations, the majority (90%) of the representatives indicated that they received most of their information through their supervisor. The overall result of the survey indicates that there does not appear to be a lack of communication between the subordinates and the superiors. 9 Results Table 1: Which best describes your impression of communications within this organization? Item Response Frequency % Keeps us fully informed 14 70 Keeps us fairly well informed 3 15 Keeps us adequately informed 2 10 Gives us only a limited amount of Information 0 0 Doesn’t tell us much at all about what is going on 0 Answer was unclear 1 5 N=20 0% Figure 1: impression of communications within this organization. 10 5% Answer were unclear 0% Doesn’t tell us what is going on 10% Adequately informed Fairly well informed 15% Limited amount of information 70% Fully informed 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% Table 2: How do you feel about the information you receive? Item Response Frequency % I can almost always believe it 14 70 I can usually believe it 3 15 I can believe it about half the time 2 10 I usually can’t believe it 1 5 Frequency % Strongly Agree 16 80 Agree 3 15 Neutral 1 5 Strongly Disagree 0 0 N=20
Table 3: I have the information I need to do my job. Item Response N=20 11 Table 4: How would you rate your supervisor’s communication skills? Item Response Frequency % Excellent 16 80 Very good 4 20 Good 0 0 Fair 0 0 Poor 0 0 Unclear answer 0 0 N=20 20% Excellent Very Good 80% Figure 2: Supervisor’s communication skills. 12 Table 5: Overall, how satisfied are you with the communications within this organization? Item Response Frequency % Very satisfied 16 80 Satisfied 3 15 Neutral 1 5 Very dissatisfied 0 0 Unable to identify answer 0 0 N=20 90% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% 80% 15% 5% Very Satisfied Satisfied Neutral
Figure 3: Overall satisfaction of communications within the organization. 13 Table 6: From which of the following sources do you usually receive most of your information? Item Response Frequency % Grapevine 0 0 Bulletin Board 0 0 My supervisor 18 90 Group meetings 0 0 Organizational Programs 0 0 Organizational emails 0 0 Multiple answers 2 10 N=20 Table 7: I feel confident that management considers my ideas and/or concerns. Item Response Frequency % All the time 8 40 Some of the time 12 60 Undecided 0 0 Almost never 0 0 Never 0 0 N=20 14 Table 8: Whenever there is a change within the organization, my supervisor Item Response Frequency Always inform me 12 60 Inform me most of the time 7 35 Almost never informs me 0 0 Never informs me 0 0 Unable to identify answer 1 5 N=20 Table 9: The information that I receive from my supervisor is consistent with the information received from other supervisors. Item Response Frequency % Strongly Agree 15 75 Agree 5 25 Neutral 0 0 Disagree 0 0 Strongly Disagree 0 0 N=20 15 What topics do you feel are important for you to know more about and would like the organization to inform you during future communications? Answer: ? Policy and/or procedural changes ? Future and/or general changes that are coming and how to prepare for it ?
Correct procedures for completing work correctly ? Adequate training for job changes ? Training and/or how to use new programs ? Overtime and/or for special projects ? All information that can help improve goals and job skills ? New updates within the system ? Legitimate reasons why things cannot be updated or corrected ? More feedback on the quality and quantity of work completed. ? Information regarding promotions ? Information regarding other departments. 16 Conclusions Communication is very important in every aspect of our lives. In order for any relationship to work properly we have to learn to communicate effectively with each other.
The fact still remains that in order for any business whether entrepreneur, partnerships or corporate offices to succeed we have to communicate with someone to voice our ideas and/or concerns. The literature review addressed the importance of internal communication. It provided the researcher with background information on the different ways and the different styles of communication. Needless to say, face-to-face communication seemed to remain the number one style of communicating within organizations. Based upon the answers given on the survey, most people were thought that the communication was satisfactory within the organization.
Majority of the participants also felt that their supervisor communication skills were excellent. 17 Recommendations The researcher would recommend for future research that the survey exclude any neutral options. Although by eliminating this option it forces the participants to answer one way or the other. The researcher believes that you will get more precise answers. The supervisors can also following communication techniques can be used to increase the level of internal communication in the organization and therefore the level of the organizational efficiency (Fishman, 2000). 1. Share information with employees whenever possible.
One of the most sensitive areas in management involves how much company information should be shared with employees. Many feel that information should be given on a need-to-know basis. 2. Find out if those listening to you hear what you say and interpret it correctly. One way of doing this is to ask questions that will show the understanding level of those with whom you are speaking. 18 References 1. Alessandra, T & Hunsaker, P. (1993). Communication at Work. Fireside, Simon & Schuster, New York, NY. 2. Brennan, J. (1 974). The Conscious Communicator; making communication work in the workplace. Addison-Wesley Publishing Co. Reading, MA. . MSN Encarta Premium (2005). Retrieved May 2005 from http:// www. msn. com. , accessed on 15. 12. 2011. 4. Retrieved from, http://www. communicationintheworkplace. net/, accessed on 15. 12. 2011. 5. Retrieved from, http://www. buzzle. com/articles/importance-of-communication-inthe-workplace. html, accessed on 18. 12. 2011. 6. Retrieved from, http://www4. ncsu. edu/~crmiller/Publications/ATTW03. pdf, accessed on 18. 12. 2011. 7. Retrieved from, http://www2. uwstout. edu/content/lib/thesis/2005/2005mallett hamerb. pdf, accessed on 20. 12. 2011. 8. Retrieved from,http://www. lisc. org/docs/resources/experts/2007/eo_2007_03_07. df, accessed on 22. 12. 2011. 9. Retrieved from, http://www. google. com/#sclient=psyab&hl=en&source=hp&q=communication+in+t he+workplace+ppt&oq=communicaton+in+the+workplace+&aq=3&aqi=g10&aql=& gs_sm=c&gs_upl=7599l8963l0l11145l8l6l0l0l0l5l766l3816l55. 1l6l0&bav=on. 2,or. r_ gc. r_pw. ,cf. osb&fp=55dcc7523cfd78c6&biw=1024&bih=577, accessed on 23. 12. 2011. 10. Retrieved from, http://www. managementskillsadvisor. com/effective-communicationin-the-workplace. html, accessed on 23. 12. 2011. 19 Appendix Survey Questions Please fill in the answer that best fit your experience when dealing with communication within this organization. . Which best describes your impression of communications within this organization? ? Keeps us fully informed ? Keeps us fairly well informed ? Keeps us adequately informed ? Gives us only a limited amount of Information ? Doesn’t tell us much at all about what is going on ? Answer was unclear 2. How do you feel about the information you receive? ? I can almost always believe it. ? I can usually believe it. ? I can believe it about half the time. ? I usually can’t believe it. 3. I have the information I need to do my job. ? Strongly Agree ? Agree ? Neutral ? Strongly Disagree 20 4.
How would you rate your supervisor’s communication skills? ? Excellent ? Very good ? Good ? Fair ? Poor ? Unclear answer 5. Overall, how satisfied are you with the communications within this organization? ? Very satisfied ? Satisfied ? Neutral ? Very dissatisfied ? Unable to identify answer 6. From which of the following sources do you usually receive most of your information? ? Grapevine ? Bulletin Board ? Company Newsletter (Intranet) ? My supervisor ? Unit leader ? Group meetings ? Company Programs ? Company emails ? Multiple answers 21 7. I feel confident that management considers my ideas and/or concerns. All the time ? Some of the time ? Undecided ? Almost never ? Never 8. Whenever there is a change within the organization, my supervisor ? Always inform me ? Inform me most of the time ? Almost never informs me ? Never informs me ? Unable to identify answer 9. The information that I receive from my supervisor is consistent with the information received from other supervisors. ? Strongly Agree ? Agree ? Neutral ? Disagree ? Strongly Disagree 10. What topics do you feel are important for you to know more about and would like the organization to inform you during future communications? 22