Managerial Communication for Organizational Development
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Managerial Communication for Organizational Development

Reginald L. Bell, Jeanette S. Martin

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  1. 168 pages
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eBook - ePub

Managerial Communication for Organizational Development

Reginald L. Bell, Jeanette S. Martin

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Managerial Communication for Organizational Development provides clarity for top, middle, and frontline managers on paramount communication issues

It helps them anticipate and respond to communication challenges managers face daily. Challenges occur rapidly and with no warning. A business can be destroyed by media manipulations of public perceptions.

Knowing what to do, what to say, and what not to say is paramount in dealing with complex cultural issues faced by today's managers. Developing effective communication strategies, internally and externally, will keep organizations viable. This book is a field manual for managers at any organizational level.

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The Nature of Managerial Communication

After reading this chapter, you will be able to:
  1. explain how management and communication form managerial communication;
  2. explain how managers use managerial communication to motivate;
  3. explain the need for communication policies;
  4. identify the processes of group or team communication in traditional and virtual environments.

Your success as a manager depends on your ability to communicate effectively. In today’s global economy, that is not easy because technology is producing more information, complicating the way in which people from different countries and cultures communicate, as well as how they communicate with people with various business specialties. The ability to sift through the information, cultures, and disciplines is time-consuming, and the amount of information being processed is but one of many existing barriers to communication. This book is a guidepost through those barriers that will help you focus your managerial communication (MC) to make your organization as efficient as possible.
As a manager, you need strong communication competency to work with diverse groups of people in an ever-changing global work world. It takes a great deal of skill to both manage and communicate well. Understanding how the disciplines of management and communication have come together to form MC will help you understand the importance of MC in the organization.
Origins of Managerial Communication
When people think of management, they think of it as something people do in an organization to get things done. Management is the “act or art of managing: the conducting or supervising of something (as a business)” or “the judicious use of a means to accomplish an end” (Merriam-Webster’s online 2014). When people think of communication, they think of message exchanges between a source and a receiver. The basic definition of communication is “to make commonly understood.” Therefore, MC is the use of management and communication skills to make information commonly understood in order to accomplish organizational goals.
The fields of management and communication continue to evolve through scientific investigation. The two fields were a fledgling collection of ideas in the 1900s. Compared with the more ancient fields, such as philosophy or mathematics, management and communication are still infant fields of study. However, management and communication have advanced through scientific investigation.
The management theories we use today have developed over time. Management scholars talk about four managerial functions, and textbooks define management generically as the process of planning, organizing, leading, and controlling to achieve the stated goals by using resources judiciously. The field of management employs the classical approaches, which include perspectives on scientific management principles, administrative management, bureaucratic management, behaviorism, human relations, and so on. Contemporary approaches include perspectives on quality circles, organizational behavior, quantitative analysis, and contingency theories. The classical perspective, a more pessimistic managerial view, pioneered
by Frederick W. Taylor shown in the photo at the bottom left of this page, is often referred to as Theory X, where managers felt their subordinates had nothing to offer the company except their manual labors. The behavioral perspective, a more optimistic managerial view, is referred to as Theory Y, where managers began to realize that the workers could be a source of assistance if encouraged to do so. The human relations perspective, put forth by William Ouchi and referred to as
Theory Z, involved the quality circle approach to managing, teaching American businesses to adapt to the art of Japanese management styles. Theory Z focused on increasing employee loyalty to the company by providing a job for life with a strong focus on the well-being of the employee, both on and off the job. According to Ouchi (1981), Theory Z management tends to promote stable employment, high productivity, and high employee morale and satisfaction through his examination of the evolving culture of “Z” people in society. Management scholars agree that contributions by people such as
Max Weber, Henri Fayol (shown in the photo at the top right of this page), Frederick W. Taylor, Chester I. Barnard, Joan Woodward, Mary Parker Follett, Herbert Simon (shown in the photo at the bottom right of this paragraph), Elton Mayo, and W. Edwards Deming helped to shape the field of management. In fact, their books are considered by many to be the most influential management books of the twentieth century (Bedeian and Wren 2001). Frederick W. Taylor’s work revolutionized early American industrial organizations, leading to the scientific management approach. Elton Mayo’s and Fritz Roethlisberger’s work at the Hawthorne plant in Illinois is largely responsible for shaping managers’ understanding of the direct effect that social interaction has on productivity in the workforce, thus ushering in the human relations movement.
Edward Deming’s research on quality circles and teams further revolutionized management theory. The field of management evolved largely from the ideas of these people.
Communication studies grew out of the field of management studies. The National Communication Association defines communication as “a group of instructional programs that focus on how messages in various media are produced, used, and interpreted within and across different contexts, channels, and cultures, and that prepare individuals to apply communication knowledge and skills professionally”
(Morreale and Backlund 2002, p. 7). Peter F. Drucker (1954), shown in the photo at the top left of this page, argued that management was the effective use of motivation and communication, one of five basic tasks of the manager.
Moreover, it was in the 1950s that communication studies began to concentrate on an individual’s relations with other individuals (Morreale and Backlund 2002). Along with management studies, communication studies revealed evidence that workers could help improve operations when their ideas were considered. Communication studies became more relationship oriented.
Mary Parker Follett (shown in the photo at the left) was a management philosopher, whose contributions helped business leaders recognize the importance of effective communication of human beings within the organization. What is clear about her emphasis on motivation and interpersonal communication skills is that they are predicated on effective management. She is also credited with offering the following sage advice: “Management is the art of getting things done through people.” Follett’s writings are featured with commentary in the 1995 Harvard Business School Press book, Follett: Prophet of Management.
As the study of the fields of management and communication evolved concurrently, practitioners became increasingly aware that communication is an essential competency for managers and their subordinates.
Managerial Communication
Management and communications theories go hand in hand at all levels of the organization: top, middle, and frontline. Morreale, Rubin, and Jones (1998) listed the study of relationship management as part of interpersonal and group communication skills. Managers must control conflict, allow others to express different views, know how to effectively be assertive, analyze situations, and exchange information. Managers who practice these skills successfully are effective communicators. The role of effective MC in the workplace is to help the firm succeed.
The Role of Managerial Communication
Managers play many complex roles in the workplace: mind reader, detective, analyst, pundit, and fortune-teller. But managers are only human, and they need two-way communication to truly know what is happening in their work worlds. A manager’s worst communication error is to assume that everyone has and understands the information that has been conveyed. On the flip side, as any help wanted advertisement will prove, a manager’s most important competence—and the one most executives look for in college graduates—is the ability to communicate. Using writing, speaking, listening, and nonverbal skills effectively to translate organizational ideas into productive worker actions contributes directly to a healthy bottom line.
A successful communication is a message that is understood in the way that the sender intended and leaves the sender and receiver on good terms. These criteria for successful communication are consistent with Barnard’s (1968) views on coordinated systems of organizational control and the most important function of the executive (Zuboff 1988). In this role, managers ensure the downward, horizontal, and upward exchange of information, and transmission of meaning through informal or formal channels that enable the achievement of the goal (Bell and Martin 2008).
Effective MC is imperative to achieving the mission of any company, and no manager can succeed in the classic management functions of planning, organizing, leading, and controlling without it. By communicating effectively at all levels—top, middle, and on the front line, as well as across internal boundaries and interculturally—a manager can help the organization exert a positive influence on the community in which it is located and be as profitable as possible for its owners.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, communication theorists wrote articles that defined the boundaries of several professional disciplines in the field of communication (Shelby 1993). For the purposes of scientific investigation in professional communication, the discipline is often divided into four areas: organizational, business, corporate, and MCs. These areas are not exactly mutually exclusive (managers can be engaged in two or more of these types of communication simultaneously), but they are distinct enough to be considered separate disciplines within the field.
Four Types of Workplace Communication
Organizational communication is the study of how in a complex, system-oriented environment people send and receive information within the organization, and the effect that it has on organizational structure. The type of communication focused on at the organizational level would include improving coordinated systems of control.
Business communication focuses on studying the basic use of both written and oral skills. For example, business communication focuses on developing the fundamental concepts of written communication principles, such as grammar, unity, emphasis, coherence, construction of standard documents used in a business environment—that is, bad news and good news messages—progress reports, reprimands, and job search skills such as resumes and employment application letters. Business communication overlaps with managerial and corporate communication in that these documents are what form the history of the corporation.
Corporate communication focuses on creating a desired world reputation and image of the organization. For example, the duties of a director of corporate communications would include the task of overseeing the writing of the company’s external documents such as the annual report.
MC merges business communication, organizational communication, corporate communication, and management. Figure 1.1 illustrates how management and the other three areas of communication are interdependent, with MC emerging as the main communication in the workplace.
MC combines the management and communication theories in the workplace to help managers function as planners, organizers, leaders, and controllers of a company’s limited resources in order to achieve the stated goals. In fact, it is impossible for any manager to function without MC at any level of management. Take a moment and try to plan, organize, lead, or control a project without using communication on some level.
Communicate to Motivate
Figure 1.2 illustrates the Communicate to Motivate Model (CMM) and its constituent parts. Planning sets up a blueprint for future actions needed to achieve agreed-upon goals. Organizing determines who will do what and why. Leading occurs when top managers share their vision of the future and then shape organizational culture to achieve that vision. Controlling systematically gauges the organization’s actual performance against the established plans and goals and calibrates adjustments in areas of weakness.
Along with resources, managers use their functions to attain the goals of the organization. Imagine trying to accomplish any of these functions without goal-directed communication. Froschheiser (2008) argues that business leaders need to preach “communication, communication, communication” (p. 9). Every employee should know the company’s goals. No confusion. No exceptions. Communication is the “golden thread” tying all the management functions together. For example, you can conceive of a brilliant plan; however, successful interpersonal communication is necessary to implement it. To conceive a plan is to communicate on an intrapersonal level. In fact, most plans that failed did so somewhere in the communication process.
Geneen, a former ITT executive, wrote that to “manage means to get something done, to accomplish something that you, or the team of managers, set out to do, which presumably is worthy of your effort” (Geneen and Moscow 1984, p. 105). What is implicit in all the earlier definitions is that managers work for owners, especially in profit-seeking enterprises. Managers successfully operate businesses for owners to achieve their goals, so as to dominate the market as the number one recognized brand. Whether owners bear the risk of failure or enjoy the safety of success, employees will expect them to provide the resources for them to do their jobs. Thus, we could say that the real work of a manager is to help owners judiciously utilize resources to accomplish the owners’ goals. (Nonprofit organizations may have benefactors and donors instead of owners, while government organizations have stakeholders such as voters and tax payers.) This managerial task requires motivating and communicating with employees.
Employees are the organization’s most important resource because only human resources can be developed and improved in a way that makes them more productive (Drucker 1954). No nonhuman resource is capable of being the boss! Therefore, managers must always strive to continually improve their ability to motivate their employees. In management terms, motivating an employee means getting him or her to do a good job independently with little help.
Motivation can be done with a stick (threat, punishment) or with a carrot (incentive, reward). The carrot approach is preferred for building an organization of employees who take initiative and are proactive in helping achieve the stated goals. Employees work better when rewarded for good work. Because motivation is a large part of the leadership function, motivation theories are nearly always included in the prominent part of management textbooks. Window into Practical Reality 1.1 shows a good example of a manager getting things done through people using her interpersonal communication skills.
Window into Practical Reality 1.1
Getting Things Done Through People
George Stanford and his wife Jennifer worked in different careers for 25 years, George as an accountant and Jennifer as a manager for several large retail discount chains. They had two children, Lucinda and Ryan, 19 and 17, respectively. Though things were going well for the couple, Jennifer was not content with her career and decided to do something about it. George and Jennifer agreed that they would take the...

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