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  1. 1. Employee/organization communications 1Dr. Berger‘s article outlines the subject of employee/organizational communication, describingits importance and basic internal communication processes, networks and channels. Highlightingimportant issues in current practices, the article concludes with 15 principles of effectivecommunication and an interactive list of recommended readings.―The greatest continuing area of weakness in management practice is the human dimension. Ingood times or bad, there seems to be little real understanding of the relationships betweenmanagers, among employees, and interactions between the two. When there are problems,everyone acknowledges that the cause often is a communication problem. So now what?‖ JimLukazewski, 2006Executive SummaryThis article reviews the research-based knowledge regarding employee/organizationalcommunications, a complex process that is vital to organizational success in a dynamic globalmarketplace. I first define the subject, summarize its importance and describe basic internalcommunication processes, networks and channels. The benefits of internal communication arethen highlighted, followed by a history of the changing perceptions and practices of internalcommunication. I then discuss the roles of professional communicators and four important issuesin current practice–social media, measurement, employee engagement and organizationalidentity. The article concludes with 15 principles of effective communication, a list of referencesand some suggested readings.I want to thank internal communication experts Keith Burton, Gary Grates and Sean Williams,whose valuable insights and suggestions greatly enriched this article.Definition of the Topic
  2. 2. Employee/organization communications 2Employee/organizational communications refer to communications and interactions amongemployees or members of an organization. I use the terms internalcommunications and organizational communications to mean the same thing. Internalcommunications also have been called internal relations (Cutlip, Center & Broom, 2006)and internal public relations (Kennan & Hazleton, 2006; Kreps, 1989).Deetz (2001) described two ways of seeing and defining internal communications. The mostcommon approach focuses on internal communication as a ―phenomenon that exists inorganizations‖ (p. 5). In this view, the organization is a container in which communicationoccurs. A second approach sees internal communication as ―a way to describe and explainorganizations‖ (p. 5). Here, communication is the central process through which employees shareinformation, create relationships, make meaning and ―construct‖ organizational culture andvalues. This process is a combination of people, messages, meaning, practices and purpose(Shockley-Zalabak, 1995), and it is the foundation of modern organizations (D‘Aprix, 1996).The first approach has dominated, but the second perspective is gaining wider acceptance asmore organizations recognize the crucial role of communication in dealing with complex issuesand rapid changes in a turbulent global market.Why Internal Communication MattersCommunication is one of the most dominant and important activities in organizations (Harris &Nelson, 2008). Fundamentally, relationships grow out of communication, and the functioningand survival of organizations is based on effective relationships among individuals and groups.In addition, organizational capabilities are developed and enacted through ―intensely social andcommunicative processes‖ (Jones et al., 2004). Communication helps individuals and groups
  3. 3. Employee/organization communications 3coordinate activities to achieve goals, and it‘s vital in socialization, decision-making, problem-solving and change-management processes.Internal communication also provides employees with important information about their jobs,organization, environment and each other. Communication can help motivate, build trust, createshared identity and spur engagement; it provides a way for individuals to express emotions, sharehopes and ambitions and celebrate and remember accomplishments. Communication is the basisfor individuals and groups to make sense of their organization, what it is and what it means.Communication Processes, Networks and ChannelsInternal communication is a complex and dynamic process, but early models focused on a one-way transmission of messages. TheShannon-Weaver Model (1949), concerned with technologyand information distribution, is a classic example. In this S-M-C-R model, an information source[S] encoded a message [M] and delivered it through a selected channel [C] to a designatedreceiver [R], who decoded it. Later versions of the model added a feedback loop from receiver tosender. Nevertheless, the model suggested that all meaning is contained within the message, andthe message would be understood if received. It was a sender-focused model.Berlo‘s (1960) S-M-C-R model provided a richer interactional perspective. He emphasizedrelationships between source and receiver and suggested that the more highly developed thecommunication knowledge and skills of sources and receivers, the more effectively the messagewould be encoded and decoded. Berlo also acknowledged the importance of the culture in whichcommunication occurs, the attitudes of senders and receivers and strategic channel selection.Later models emphasized the transactional nature of the process and how individuals, groups andorganizations construct meaning and purpose (Harris & Nelson, 2008).
  4. 4. Employee/organization communications 4Today, the model is more complex due to new media and high-speed, multi-directionalcommunications (Burton, 2008; Williams, 2008). However, the core components live on informal communications planning and implementation. Organizational leaders andcommunication specialists first develop strategies to achieve objectives, construct relevantmessages and then transmit them through diverse channels to stimulate conversations withemployees and members. Increasingly, formal communications are grounded in receivers‘ needsand concerns. Employees communicate informally with others inside and outside theorganization through high-speed communications, too.Communication LevelsInternal communication occurs on multiple levels. Interpersonal or face-to-face (F-T-F) communication between individuals is a primary form of communication, and for yearsorganizations have sought to develop the speaking, writing and presentation skills of leaders,managers and supervisors. Group-level communications occur in teams, units and employeeresource or interest groups (ERGs). The focus on this level is information sharing, issuediscussion, task coordination, problem solving and consensus building. Organizational-levelcommunications focus on such matters as vision and mission, policies, new initiatives andorganizational knowledge and performance. These formal communications often follow acascade approach where leaders at hierarchical levels communicate with their respectiveemployees, though social media are changing communications at this level.Communication NetworksA network represents how communication flows in an organization. Networks can be formal andinformal. In a formal communication network, messages travel through official pathways (e.g.,
  5. 5. Employee/organization communications 5newsletters, memos, policy statements) that reflect the organization‘s hierarchy. Informalcommunications move along unofficial paths (e.g., the grapevine, which is now electronic, fastand multidirectional) and include rumors, opinions, aspirations and expressions of emotions.Informal communications are often interpersonal and horizontal, and employees believe they aremore authentic than formal communications (Burton, 2008). Employees and members use bothnetworks to understand and interpret their organizations.Communications also can be described as vertical, horizontal or diagonal. Verticalcommunication can be downward–flowing down the hierarchy of an organization–or upward,i.e., moving from lower to higher levels in the chain of command. Horizontalcommunicationrefers to communication among persons who have no hierarchical relationship,such as three supervisors from different functions.Diagonal or omni-directionalcommunication occurs among employees at different levels and in different functions, e.g., aquality control supervisor, accountant and systems analyst. Evolving organizational structuresand technologies create opportunities for new and conflicting communication flows (Williams,2008).Studies regarding the effectiveness of communication flows often reveal employeedissatisfaction with both downward and upward communications. Findings by the OpinionResearch Corporation, which has examined employee perceptions of internal communication formore than 50 years, generally show that more than half of employees are dissatisfied orsomewhat dissatisfied with both downward and upward communications (Cutlip, Center &Broom, 2006). Less is known about the effectiveness of horizontal and diagonalcommunications.
  6. 6. Employee/organization communications 6Communication ChannelsA communication channel is a medium through which messages are transmitted and received.Channels are categorized as print, electronic or F-T-F (interpersonal). Common printchannels include memos, brochures, newsletters, reports, policy manuals, annual reports andposters. New technologies have spurred the use of electronic channels, e.g., email and voicemail, Intranets, blogs, podcasts, chat rooms, business TV, video conferencing, instant messagingsystems, wikis and electronic town-hall meetings. Face-to-face channels include speeches, teammeetings, focus groups, brown bag lunches, social events and gatherings and management bywandering around.According to Harris and Nelson (2008), the most used channel is listening, which consumesabout half of our communication time (Johnson, 1996). Effective listening is crucial to learning,understanding, conflict resolution and productive team work. It helps leaders at all levelsimprove employee morale, retain employees and uncover and resolve problems. Yet, manystudies suggest that most people are not good listeners, and few organizations devote resourcesto developing listening skills in managers and leaders (Alessandra & Hunsaker, 1993).―The medium is the message.‖ Marshall McLuhan, 1964Selection of MediaToday, organizations and their employees and members have access to many communicationchannels. Selecting the most appropriate medium or media is an important issue for professionalcommunicators once they have determined objectives and strategies, assessed relevant audiencesand constructed messages. Perhaps no one made this point more strongly than McLuhan (1964),
  7. 7. Employee/organization communications 7who claimed that ―the medium is the message.‖ He argued that each medium, independent ofcontent, engages receivers in different ways and affects the scale and pace of communication.McLuhan distinguished between ―hot‖ and ―cool‖ media, each of which involves differentdegrees of receiver participation. Hot media (e.g., print channels, film, lecture, radio) require lessactive participation and involvement than cool media (e.g., TV, comic books, F-T-F channels).Hot media are more segmented and linear, while cool media may be more abstract and requiremore participation to understand.Daft and Lengel (1984) developed a media richness model to explain media choices. They saidthat media choice should match the ambiguity of any communication task with the richness ofparticular media. Ambiguity refers to the difficulty of interpreting or understanding amessage. Media richness refers to the capability of media to effectively convey information.Capability is differentiated by the availability and speed of feedback of the channel, the use ofmultiple cues and natural language to facilitate understanding and the personal focus of themessage.The researchers proposed a continuum of media choices: At one end are channels that possessmost or all of these capabilities (rich media); at the other end are channels with few of thesecharacteristics (lean media). F-T-F communication is the richest medium and optimal channel forcommunicating complex information or resolving conflicts, for example. Lean and impersonalmedia include simple announcements, data reports and posters. Electronic mail, phone calls,personal written communications and other channels fall in the middle of the continuum.Later research has shown that media selection also is influenced by the social environment inorganizations, which affects member attitudes toward a channel or medium and how it is or
  8. 8. Employee/organization communications 8should be used in their organizations (Fulk et al., 1987). The dual-capacity model of media use(Sitkin, Sutcliffe, & Barrios-Choplin, 1992) argued that any channel carries two types ofmessages–a ―data‖ or task-related message, and a ―meaning‖ or symbolic message. The data-carrying capacity of media is similar across organizations, but the symbol-carrying capacityvaries from one organization to another due to cultural differences. Thus, communicators shouldselect channels based on message ambiguity, media richness, organizational culture andavailable resources.Measureable BenefitsInternal communication continues to evolve in a dynamic world characterized by an explosion ofnew technologies, intense global competition and rapid change. Today, many would agreewith Harris and Nelson‘s (2008) assertion that internal communication is an essential aspect oforganizational change–it is ―the key variable in almost all change efforts, diversity initiatives andmotivation‖ (p. 95). Some even argue that internal communication is the most ―fundamentaldriver of business performance‖ (Gay, Mahoney & Graves, 2005, p. 11).A growing body of evidence demonstrates that effective internal communications help increaseemployee job satisfaction, morale, productivity, commitment, trust and learning; improvecommunication climate and relationships with publics; and enhance quality, revenues andearnings. Here are some examples:Employees who are disloyal to their organizations, or lack commitment to helping organizationsachieve their goals, may cost business $50 billion per year in quality defects, rework and repaircosts, absenteeism and reduced productivity, according to Alvie Smith, former director ofcorporate communications at General Motors (cited in Cutlip, Center & Broom, 2006).
  9. 9. Employee/organization communications 9Improving the quality, adequacy and timeliness of information that employees receive aboutcustomers, the organization or their own work can improve their individual performance by asmuch as 20-50 percent (Boyett & Boyett, 1998).More than 80 percent of employees polled in the US and UK said that employee communicationinfluences their desire to stay with or leave an organization. Nearly a third said communicationwas a ―big influence‖ on their decision (Burton, 2006).The 200 ―most admired‖ companies spent more than three times as much on employeecommunications as the 200 ―least admired‖ companies (Seitel, 2004).Employees‘ satisfaction with communication in their organizations is linked to organizationalcommitment, productivity, job performance and satisfaction and other significant outcomes(Gray & Laidlaw, 2004).Organizations with engaged and committed employees were 50 percent more productive thanthose organizations where employees weren‘t engaged. In addition, employee retention rateswere 44 percent higher in organizations with engaged and committed employees (Izzo &Withers, 2000).Positive communication climate and effective employee communication strengthen employees‘identification with their organizations, which contributes to an organization‘s financialperformance and sustained success (Smidts, Pruyn & van Riel, 2001).Sears Roebuck found that creating a more compelling place to work for employees led to asignificant increase in employee attitude scores, customer satisfaction scores and revenues(Rucci, Kim & Quinn, 1998).
  10. 10. Employee/organization communications 10A significant improvement in communication effectiveness in organizations was linked to a 29.5percent rise in market value (Watson Wyatt, 2004).Effective communication facilitates engagement and builds trust, which is a critical ingredient instrong, viable organizations (Grates, 2008). Engaged employees enhance business performancebecause they influence customer behavior, which directly affects revenue growth andprofitability (Towers Perrin, 2003).The Evolution of Internal CommunicationSocial theorist James Coleman (1974, 1990) traced the rise of large organizations and claimedthey have changed communications practices and personal relationships through two powerfulinteractions: big organizations communicating with other big organizations and with individuals.Large organizations were relatively new in the early 20th century, apart from government andthe military, so theories developed to explain how organizations worked and tried to achievetheir goals. This section outlines five theoretical approaches that evolved in the last century–theclassical, human relations, human resources, systems and cultural approaches. Communicationfeatures or characteristics of each approach are briefly described. More comprehensivetreatments may be found in many communication texts, e.g., Harris & Nelson, 2008; Miller,1995; and Modaff, DeWine & Butler, 2008.Classical ApproachesSometimes referred to as the machine metaphor because of how employees were viewed asinterchangeable parts, this approach is grounded in scientific management theories of work andworkers in the early 20th century. Frederick Taylor (1911) was the best known proponent of thisapproach. He studied factory production lines and concluded that work processes could be
  11. 11. Employee/organization communications 11improved by applying scientific principles to jobs and workers. These included such things asdesigning each task to improve performance, hiring workers who possessed characteristics thatmatched each job and training workers and rewarding them for productivity achievements.Henri Fayol (1949) believed that operational efficiency could be improved through bettermanagerial practices. He prescribed five elements of managing (planning, organizing, command,coordination and control) and 14 principles of administration. Fayol also introduced the ―ScalarChain,‖ which represents organizational hierarchy, and said that communication needed tofollow this chain to reduce misunderstanding. During times of emergency, however, he indicatedthat employees might communicate with each other across the organization. This first notion ofhorizontal communications came to be called ―Fayol‘s bridge.‖The German sociologist Max Weber (1947) developed a theory of bureaucracy as a way toformally establish authority and structure operations and communications. Some keycomponents of this approach included: a distinct chain of command with centralized decision-making; clear delineation of tasks and responsibilities; and writing everything down to avoidmisunderstandings.Communication features: Two key communication goals were to prevent misunderstandings,which might impair productivity or quality, and to convey decisions and directives of topmanagement. The formal structure of organizations drove top-down communication, primarilythrough print channels. The content of most communications was task or rule oriented. Thesocial side of communication was largely ignored, and employees relied heavily on the grapevinefor such information.Human Relations Approaches
  12. 12. Employee/organization communications 12In the 1930s, the focus shifted from work tasks to employees and their needs, and the HawthorneStudies spurred this movement. Carried out at the Western Electric Company in Chicago, thestudies revealed the importance of groups and human relationships in work. Elton Mayo(1933) and his Harvard colleagues discovered that employees who worked in friendly teams,with supportive supervisors, tended to outperform employees who worked in less favorableconditions. This and related research became the basis for the ―human relations‖ approach.Chester Barnard (1938), an AT&T executive, highlighted the functions of organizationalexecutives and their role in communication. He emphasized the importance of formal andinformal communications to the organization‘s success and argued that cooperation amongworkers and supervisors was crucial to improving productivity. In his view, the key tocooperation was communication: ―The most universal form of human cooperation, and perhapsthe most complex, is speech,‖ he wrote (1938; cited in Modaff et al., 2008, p. 50).Though writing later, McGregor (1960) perhaps best articulated principles of the human relationsorganization through his ―Theory X‖ and ―Theory Y‖ presentation. These approaches focused onopposing assumptions that managers may hold for workers, and the corresponding behaviors ofmanagers. Simply put, Theory X managers believe workers lack motivation, resist change andare indifferent to organizational goals. Thus, managers must provide strong, forceful leadershipto direct and control employees. Theory Y managers believe employees are highly motivated,creative and driven to satisfy their needs for achievement. The role of managers, then, is to elicitthose tendencies through employee participation in decision making, managing by objectives andproblem solving in work teams.
  13. 13. Employee/organization communications 13Communication features: This approach included more F-T-F communication and acknowledgedthe importance of internal communications. Downward communication still dominated, butfeedback was gathered to gauge employee satisfaction. Some social information was added to thetask-oriented content of communication, and managerial communications were less formal.Human Resources ApproachesThe human resources approach (Miles, 1965) was widely adopted by organizations in the 1960s.This participative, team approach to management-employee relations recognized that employeescan contribute both physical and mental labor.Blake and Mouton (1964) developed a Managerial Grid to help train managers in leadershipstyles that would stimulate employees‘ cognitive contributions, satisfy needs and help theorganization succeed. The preferred team-management style–high on concern for both peopleand production–became the basis for management development practices in a number ofcompanies. Quality control circles, decentralized organizations, total quality management andemployee participation groups are manifestations of this approach.Focusing more on organizational structure, Rensis Likert (1961, 1967) theorized fourorganizational forms and labeled them System I through System IV. Likert believed that aSystem IV organization, characterized by multi-directional communication and a participatorystyle and structure, would spur productivity gains and reduce absenteeism and turnover.Other theorists argued that the best leadership style would vary from one event to another,depending on contingencies in the environment. Fiedler (1967) said that leaders should firstdefine a contingency and then determine the most appropriate leadership behaviors to deal withit. Contingency theory recognizes that organizations and environments are constantly changing,
  14. 14. Employee/organization communications 14and there is a need to monitor environments and carefully analyze information before makingdecisions.Communication features: Communication became multidirectional and more relational.Feedback was sought to enhance problem solving and stimulate idea sharing. Innovation contentwas added to social and task information in communications. Concepts of employee trust andcommitment emerged as important issues, and organizations began to share communicationdecision-making among employees.Systems ApproachesIn the 1970s some theorists adopted a systems perspective, viewing organizations as complexorganisms competing to survive and thrive in challenging environments. In general systemstheory, any system is a group of parts that are arranged in complex ways and which interact witheach other through processes to achieve goals (vonBertalanffy, 1951, 1968). An auto supplycompany, for example, consists of a number of departments or units (production, marketing,finance, sales), each of which includes individuals and teams. The functioning of any of theseunits or subsystems relies on others in the organization; they are interdependent. The company isalso part of a larger supra system–the automobile industry.Systems and subsystems have boundaries that are selectively opened or closed to theirenvironments, allowing the flow of information and other resources. Open systems useinformation exchange (input-throughput-output) to grow and thrive; closed systems don‘t allowmuch information to move in or out. To survive and adapt, all social systems require somedegree of permeability (Stacks, Hickson & Hill, 1991).
  15. 15. Employee/organization communications 15As Almaney (1974) suggested, communication is a ―system binder‖ that links the system to itsenvironment and its various subsystems to each other. Individuals who exchange informationwith other systems or groups (customers, government personnel, suppliers) areboundaryspanners. Media outlets provide other important links between organizations and theenvironment.Weick (1979) used systems theory to explain organizational behavior and the process of sensemaking. He argued that communication is the core process of organizing; through informationproduced by processes or patterns of behavior, systems can increase their knowledge and reduceuncertainty about the complex environments in which they operate.Communication features: Communication is vital for exchanging information in and amongsubsystems through multidirectional channels which are used in internal communications.Feedback processes help systems adjust, change and maintain control. Collective decision-making processes and shared responsibilities for communication are more prevalent.Cultural ApproachesCultural approaches emerged in the 1970s in the context of increasing competition from Japanand other nations in the global marketplace. Culture refers to an organization‘s distinct identity–the shared beliefs, values, behaviors and artifacts that an organization holds, which determinehow it functions and adapts to its environment (Schein, 1985). As the performance of Americancorporations declined, management scholars looked for other explanations of the behaviors andpractices in the troubled companies. The cultural approach was attractive because of its dynamicnature and the kind of depth insights it can provide (Schein, 1996).
  16. 16. Employee/organization communications 16Two popular books in the 1980s influenced organizational practices and structures and helpedculture gain mainstream recognition.Deal and Kennedy‘s (1982) book, Corporate Culture: TheRites and Rituals of Corporate Life, claimed that companies could improve their performance bydeveloping a ―strong‖ culture based on shared values, celebration of heroes and performance ofrites and rituals, among others. The Peters and Waterman (1982) book, In Search of Excellence:Lessons from America‘s Best-Run Companies, captured characteristics of ―excellent‖ cultures athigh-performing businesses. These included customer focus, employee empowerment, trust,shared values and lean organizational structures. A decade later, Larkin and Larkin‘s(1994) book, Communicating Change, highlighted the importance of F-T-F and supervisorycommunications during cultural changes or other major organizational initiatives.Miller (1995) distinguished between prescriptive and descriptive approaches to examiningorganizational cultures. A prescriptive approach views culture as ―something anorganization has‖ (p. 108) and prescribes interventions to create or manage a ―winning‖ or strongculture. However, scholars often adopt a descriptive approach, which considers culture―something an organization is‖ (Miller, 1995, p. 108). This approach rejects the notion of a one-size-fits-all cultural formula for success and focuses on how communications and interactionslead to shared meaning. Descriptive approaches also call attention to other important aspects oforganizational culture, e.g., power relationships and gender and diversity issues.Communication features: The cultural approach valorizes communication, seeing it as aculturally-based process of sharing information, creating relationships and shaping theorganization (Brown & Starkey, 1994). Communication and culture share a reciprocalrelationship (Modaff et al., 2008). Communications help create and influence culture throughformal and informal channels, stories, shared experiences and social activities. Culture influences
  17. 17. Employee/organization communications 17communications because employees interact though shared interpretive frameworks of culture,e.g., distinctive company vocabulary, valued media channels and established protocols andpractices.SummaryThese five approaches demonstrate how internal communication changed as organizations grewand evolved. Today, elements of all five approaches live on in organizations–work rules,hierarchies, policies, training programs, work teams, job descriptions, socialization rituals,human resource departments, job descriptions, customer focus and so forth. Correspondingcommunication practices also are present today in formal, top-down communications, bottom-upsuggestion programs, horizontal communications among team members, myriad print andelectronic communications and new dialogue-creating social media that are changingcommunication structures and practices.New perspectives continue to appear. Some use metaphors to depict organizations (Morgan,1986) and internal communication (Putnam & Boys, 2006). Others focus on power, gender orhegemony issues in modern organizations (e.g., Mumby, 1993, 2001). Still others theorizecompanies as learning organizations, arguing that the only sustainable source of advantage forany organization is its ability to learn, acquire knowledge and change faster than others(e.g., Senge, 1990; Senge et al., 1994). Increasingly, researchers adopt cultural or co-creationalviews wherein employees and members share stories and construct interpretations and meaningsthrough internal communications and conversations (Botan & Taylor, 2004).―As their role has evolved from ‗conveyors of information‘ to strategic business partners,communication professionals are being asked to better connect employees to the business, equip
  18. 18. Employee/organization communications 18leaders with the skills and tools to effectively communicate, ensure that the right messages are‗breaking through the clutter,‘ and show measurable results–all daunting challenges.‖ Gay,Mahoney and Graves, 2005The Internal Communication ProfessionalCuriously absent in many scholarly research articles are professional communicators or publicrelations specialists (Kennan & Hazleton, 2006). Much of the literature in this review suggeststhat internal communication has long been a struggle between the needs and desires of managersand those of employees. Professional communicators, if mentioned at all, are seen as technicianswho carry out the compliance-gaining directives of executives.But this view is changing, as is the role of communicators. Practitioners today are moving fromhistorical roles as information producers and distributors, to advocacy and advisory roles instrategic decision making, relationship building and programs which foster trust, participationand empowerment. They help their organizations create a strong foundation for success in adynamic world–a culture for communication that is conducive to open, transparent, authentictwo-way communications and conversations.Culture for CommunicationPublic relations excellence theory is grounded in a systems perspective (Dozier et al., 1995; J.Grunig, 1984, 1992; L. Grunig, J. Grunig, & D. Dozier, 2002). The role of public relations is tohelp organizations develop and maintain mutually beneficial relationships with internal andexternal stakeholders through excellent communications. Excellence theory also describes somefactors that facilitate or impede creation of a culture for communication. These include: 1) aparticipative culture where employees are empowered, 2) a two-way system of communication,
  19. 19. Employee/organization communications 193) a decentralized, less formal structure and 4) programs that treat men, women and minoritiesequitably (Grunig, & Grunig, 2006).Sanchez (2006) claimed, ―How an organization conceives and manages communication doesmore to tell about its culture than any other single process element‖ (p. 40-41). He was referringto communication planning, budgeting, staffing and policies. Seitel (2004)cited a Fortunemagazine report in which the top 200 ―most admired‖ companies spent more than half of theircommunication budgets on internal communications. This was more than three times as much asthe 200 ―least admired‖ companies. Colvin (2006) reported that the 100 ―best companies‖ sharethe view that effective and ongoing two-way communication is the foundation for employeemotivation and organizational success.Rhee (2003) found in a comprehensive case study that employees who have positiverelationships (high levels of commitment) with their organizations help develop positiverelationships with the organization‘s publics. In addition, publics assess an organization based onthe quality of employee relationships with their organization. Important factors in employee-public-organization relationships include: leaders‘ communication behaviors, the extent andquality of F-T-F communication, listening skills, opportunities for dialogue and the involvementof leaders in PR activities (http://www.instituteforpr.org/files/uploads/2003_Rhee).Internal Communication and Social CapitalKennan and Hazleton (2006) outlined a theory of internal public relations based on social capitaltheory. Social capital is ―the ability that organizations have of creating, maintaining and usingrelationships to achieve desirable organizational goals‖ (p. 322). Social capital accrues throughcommunication, interaction and development of relationships inside and outside of the
  20. 20. Employee/organization communications 20organization. The use of social capital gained through communication may increase employeesatisfaction, commitment and productivity, as well as customer satisfaction.Trust is the basis for productive relationships, cooperation and communication. Shockley-Zalabak et al. (2000) argued that trust is social capital which directly affects an organization‘sability to deal with change and crisis. They found that trust impacts the bottom line because itinfluences job satisfaction, productivity and team building; it also was linked to lower incidencesof litigation and legislation. Brad Rawlins has provided a comprehensive review of trust on thisweb site (http://www.instituteforpr.org/essential_knowledge/ ).Four Contemporary IssuesOrganizations confront many challenges in today‘s turbulent global market. They must processcontinuous changes and shifting workplace demographics, assimilate new technologies, manageknowledge and learning, adopt new structures, strengthen identity, advance diversity and engageemployees–often across cultures and at warp speed. Internal communication lies at the center ofsuccessful solutions to these issues, and professional communicators must play key leadership,strategic and tactical roles to help their organizations resolve them. This section briefly reviewsfour issues affecting current practice:1. Organizational IdentityIdentification is a big concern for organizations because of the difficulties of being heard in anoisy world and disappearing organizational boundaries (Cheney & Christenson, 2001). Thus,organizations seek to create an identity that distinguishes them from others and ties employeesmore closely to them. Organizational identity has its roots in social identity theory (Tajfel &Turner, 1976, 1986), which refers to an individual‘s self-concept that grows out of membership
  21. 21. Employee/organization communications 21in social groups. Group identity refers to an individual‘s sense of what defines ―us‖ versusothers. Employees or members also can develop an identity with their organizations (Ashforth &Mael, 1989; Mael & Ashforth, 1992). Haslam (2000) found that communication reflects andcreates social identities, and shared identity helps build trust and shared interpretations.Smidts, Pruyn and van Riel (2001) found that effective internal communication strengthenedemployees‘ identification with their organizations, more so than perceived external prestige. Astrong company identity can boost employee motivation and raise confidence among externalstakeholders (van Riel, 1995). As Williams (2008) noted, however, a new generation ofemployees, less inclined to identify with their employers, requires new approaches to identitybuilding. This may include greater use of new dialogue-creating media and e-communicationgroups. It also may require more employee interactions with customers and social causes,improved leaders‘ listening skills and higher quality F-T-F communication (Rhee, 2003).2. Employee EngagementAccording to D‘Aprix (2006), engaging employees more fully in their work is the mostimportant issue facing organizations. Engagementrefers to ―unleashing the full energy and talentsof people in the work place‖ (p. 227). Long an issue, it is more crucial today due to a dynamicmarketplace, an information-saturated work place and trust and morale problems exacerbated bywaves of downsizing, restructuring and corporate governance problems in the past 15 years(Burton, 2008). Employees are inundated with so much information today that they areoverwhelmed, confused and work with the ―volume off‖ (Grates, 2006).Professional communicators can help by aligning words with actions, building relationships andconversing with employees rather than communicating at them, and helping guide authentic
  22. 22. Employee/organization communications 22executive actions which reflect organizational purpose. Burton (2008) suggested that newtechnologies help engage employees by personalizing executive communications and reinforcingface-to-face initiatives. Edelman‘s white paper (―New Frontiers,‖ 2006) on employeeengagement provides a number of ideas for using social media to better reach and engageemployees. (http://www.edelman.com/expertise/practices/employee_change/index.html).The benefits of an engaged workforce are clear. Izzo and Withers (2000) found thatorganizations with engaged and committed employees were 50 percent more productive thanthose where employees weren‘t engaged. Employee retention rates also were 44 percent higher.A Watson Wyatt (2002) study found that companies with more engaged employees producegreater financial returns. Engaged employees contribute discretionary efforts, which theyotherwise may withhold (D‘Aprix, 2006).3. MeasurementProfessional communicators agree that measurement of their work is crucial, but they share fewstandards for what or how to measure. As a result, many measurement practices are tactical innature rather than strategic and ongoing (Williams, 2008). In addition, organizations arestruggling to set objectives for new social media and to measure their effects in internal andexternal communication initiatives (Edelman, 2008).Sinickas (2005) and Williams (2003) provide useful guidelines for conducting audits, developingsurveys and other measurement tools, evaluating program results and analyzing and reportingdata. Gay et al. (2005) outlined a variety of approaches communicators use to measure the ROIon their work. These include: cost savings measures (e.g., idea development programs);employee surveys, pulse surveys and focus groups for specific communication projects; and
  23. 23. Employee/organization communications 23business outcome measures (e.g., retention, productivity, customer satisfaction and qualityfactors). A significant but seldom measured ROI on employee communication is the reducedcycle time for change associated with mergers, acquisitions and other culture-changing initiatives(Berger, 2008).Employee communication case studies for Sears, Roebuck & Co. and General Motors(http://www.instituteforpr.org/research/employee/) offer specific examples of companymeasurement approaches. The GolinHarris Corporate Citizenship Index provides a larger picture(http://www.golinharris.com/news_rel.php?ID=86) of the contributions that effective andauthentic communications make to developing public perceptions of corporate citizenship.Though steady advances are occurring in evaluating internal communication projects andprograms, better measures are needed to assess linkages among communications, longer-termoutcomes and desired behavioral changes.4. Social MediaThe Cluetrain Manifesto (Levine et al., 2000) put businesses on notice that the Internet andIntranets were radically altering the marketplace and the nature of stakeholder relationships. Newsocial media facilitate a ―powerful global conversation‖ in which everyone can participate andshare opinions, ideas, knowledge and images with each other, and circumvent traditionalgatekeepers. Middleberg (2001) claimed that apart from F-T-F communication, no otherchannels ―allowed people to say things more creatively, expressively, precisely, and powerfullythan the Internet‖ and other new media (xii).Social media refer to new electronic and web-based communication channels such as blogs,podcasts, wikis, chat rooms, discussion forums, RSS feeds, web sites, social networks (e.g.,
  24. 24. Employee/organization communications 24MySpace and Second Life) and other dialogue-creating media. Social media are revolutionizingcommunications and reconfiguring the long-time S-M-C-R model of internal communication(Williams, 2008). New media increase the volume, speed and every-way flow of communication,connecting people, giving them a voice and stimulating discussions about topics of commoninterest (Smith, 2006).Holtz (1999) wrote one of the first comprehensive resource works for practitioners to help guidestrategic use of new media. He also co-authored books explaining how practitioners can developand use blogs (Holtz & Demopoulos, 2006) and podcasts (Holtz & Hobson, 2007) to dialogueand interact more effectively with employees and other stakeholders. However, external PRspecialists and marketers have adopted new media more quickly than internal communicationprofessionals. In part this is because organizations no longer control communication, so newmedia require professional communicators to rethink tactics, strategies and their own roles.Burton (Insidedge, 2007) referred to social media as ―me‖ communications, which challengecommunicators to use them to stimulate employee engagement, provide relevant information andcapture employee insights and issues. This means moving the professional role from one ofinformation distribution to open dialogue, letting go of the notion of control, listening closely toothers in the conversations, communicating honestly and equipping managers and supervisors asprimary communicators.Edelman‘s Trust Barometer (http://www.edelman.com/trust/2008/) found that trust in media isincreasing in part because new social media are now perceived as being an important componentof more traditional mass media. A comprehensive study by The Society for NewCommunications Research (http://www.instituteforpr.com/) underscored the growing use of
  25. 25. Employee/organization communications 25social media by professional communicators to disseminate information and engage publics.Communicators in the survey also rated highly the effectiveness of such media in achievingcampaign goals, though measurement of social media is in the early stages.For communicators, social media are here to stay. They also will continue to evolve, possibly tothe point blogger Shel Israel suggests, where ―people will be able to behave and interact onlineas they do in everyday life‖ (http://redcouch.typepad.com/weblog/2008/08/the-future-of-s.html).On the other hand, new media have not killed or replaced traditional media, but rather influencedthem and forced them to adopt (Holtz, 2006). Like all channels, new media represent advantagesand disadvantages, and communicators must carefully analyze and assess their best use.―The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one‘s real andone‘s declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like acuttlefish spurting out ink.‖ George Orwell, 194615 Principles of Successful Internal CommunicationsEffective internal communication is hard work, but research findings and case studies point tosome practices and principles which seem crucial to successful internal communications fororganizations, employees and members. Here are 15 of them:Timeliness and ContentProviding timely and relevant information to individuals, through channels they use and trust,and in language they understand, remains the basis for successful and strategic internalcommunications.
  26. 26. Employee/organization communications 26Communication content should provide context and rationale for changes or new initiatives asthey relate to the organization, but especially to the relative performance or requirements ofemployees in local work units. This underlines the importance of the supervisor‘s front-line rolein communication.ChannelsFace-to-face communication is the richest medium. It should be emphasized in internalcommunications, especially to resolve conflicts or crises, communicate major changes andcelebrate accomplishments.Excellent listening skills reduce errors and misunderstanding, help uncover problems, save time,improve evaluations and facilitate relationship building. Development of excellent listeningskills among leaders at all levels in organizations is crucial.Social media are fast and powerful dialogue-creating channels which can empower and engageemployees and members. They influence and alter traditional media and their uses, but don‘teliminate them. Communicators should blend new and traditional media in ways that helporganizations best achieve their goals and enhance relationships with internal and externalpublics.Leadership RolesThe CEO or senior leader(s) must be a visible and open champion for internal communication.Visibility is the first and most basic form of non-verbal communication for leaders.The communication style of leaders should invite open, ongoing and transparent discussion sothat people are willing to voice their opinions and suggestions.
  27. 27. Employee/organization communications 27The actions of leaders at all levels must match their words. This has everything to do withcredibility and the extent to which employees will trust, commit to and follow leaders. As authorCarolyn Wells said, ―Actions lie louder than words.‖Professional Communicator RolesProfessional communicators must see themselves as internal experts on communication whoserve as facilitators and counselors to executives and managers and provide strategic support forbusiness plans.Communicators must also be organizational experts. They must possess knowledge of theorganization‘s structures, challenges and objectives, as well as understand employee issues andneeds and marketplace requirements and realities.Participation and RecognitionEncouraging employee participation in decision making builds loyalty and commitment andimproves the overall climate for communication. Participative decision making also oftenimproves the quality of decisions.Recognizing and celebrating achievements at all levels helps build shared values andorganizational identity. Similar social events, rites and rituals contribute to and reflect anorganization‘s distinctive culture.MeasurementMeasurement is a key to successful communication in any organization. Through diverse formsand approaches, measurement helps define problems, determine the status quo, record progress,
  28. 28. Employee/organization communications 28assess value and provide a factual basis for future direction and action. Improving measurementknowledge and practice is an ongoing professional requirement.CultureOngoing two-way communication is the foundation for employee motivation and organizationalsuccess. Two-way (now every-way) communication provides continuous feedback, which iscrucial to learning and to processing organizational change.In addition to achieving specific goals, internal communications should help create and reflecta culture for communication, where employees at all levels feel free to openly share ideas,opinions and suggestions. This will enhance employee understanding, build trust, stimulateengagement and encourage greater diversity.ReferencesAlmaney, A. (1974). Communications and the systems theory of organization. Journal ofBusiness Communication, 12(1), 35-43.Ashforth, F. E., & Mael, F. A. (1989). Social identity theory and the organization. Academy ofManagement Review, 14, 20-39.Barnard, C. I. (1938). The functions of the executive. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Berger, B. K. (2008). Getting communications on senior management‘s agenda. In P. Williams(Ed.), Employee communication: The comprehensive manual for those who communicate withtoday‘s employees (pp. 97-114). Chicago: Ragan Communications.Berlo, D. (1960). The process of communication: An introduction to theory and practice.SanFrancisco: Rinehart Press.
  29. 29. Employee/organization communications 29Blake, R., & Mouton, J. (1964). The managerial grid. Houston, TX: Gulf.Botan, C. H., & Taylor, M. (2004). Public relations: State of the field. Journal ofCommunication, 54(4), 645-661.Boyett, J., & Boyett, J. (1998). The guru guide: The best ideas of top management thinkers.NewYork: Wiley.Brown, A. D., & Starkey, K. (1994). The effect of organizational culture on communicationandinformation. Journal of Management Studies, 31(6), 807-829.Burton, S. K. (2008, September 8). Personal communication.Burton, S. K. (2006, Spring). Without trust, you have nobody: Effective employeecommunications for today and tomorrow. The Strategist, 32-36.Cheney, G., & Christenson, L. T. (2001). Organizational identity: Linkages between internal andexternal communication. In F. M. Jablin and L. L. Putnam (Eds.), The new handbook oforganizational communication (pp. 231-269). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.Coleman, J. S. (1990). Foundations of social theory. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Coleman, J. S. (1974). Power and the structure of society. New York: Norton.Colvin, G. (2006, January 23). The 100 best companies to work for in 2006. Fortune, 71-128.Cutlip, S. M., Center, A. H., & Broom, G. M. (2006). Effective public relations (9th Ed.).UpperSaddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.
  30. 30. Employee/organization communications 30Daft, R. L., & Lengel, R. H. (1984). Information richness: A new approach tomanagerialinformation processing and organizational design. In B. Staw and L. L. Cummings(Eds.),Research in organizational behavior (Vol. 6, pp. 191-233). Greenwich, CT: JAI Press.D‘Aprix, R. (2006). Throwing rocks at the corporate rhinoceros: The challenges of employeeengagement. In T. L. Gillis (Ed.), The IABC handbook of organizational communication (pp.227-239). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.D‘Aprix, R. (1996). Communicating for change: Connecting the workplace withthe marketplace.San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Deal, T., & Kennedy, A. (1982). Corporate culture: The rites and rituals of corporatelife. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.Deetz, S. (2001). Conceptual foundations. In F. M. Jablin & L. L. Putnam (Eds.), Thenewhandbook of organizational communication: Advances in theory, research and methods (pp.3-46). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.Deetz, S. A., Tracy, S. J., & Simpson, J. L. (2000). Leading organizations throughtransition:Communication and cultural change.Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.Dozier, D. M., Grunig, L., & Grunig, J. (1995). Managers guide to excellence in publicrelationsand communications management. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Edelman. (2008, June 26-27). North American New Media Academic Summit. [White Paper].Chicago, IL: Edelman.Edelman. (2008, January 22). Business, media now more trusted than government.Online:http://www.edelman.com/trust/2008/
  31. 31. Employee/organization communications 31Edelman Change and Employee Engagement in Partnership with People Metrics. (2006). NewFrontiers in Employee Communications.Online:http://www.edelman.com/expertise/practices/employee_change/index.htmlFayol, H. (1949). General and industrial management. New York: Pittman.Fiedler, R. E. (1967). A theory of leadership effectiveness. New York: McGraw Hill.Fulk, J., Steinfield, C. W., Schmitz, J., & Power J. g. (1987). A social informationprocessingmodel of media use in organizations. Communication Research, 14, 529-552.Gay, C., Mahoney, M., & Graves, J. (2005). Best practices in employee communication: A studyof global challenges and approaches. San Francisco: IABC Research Foundation.Gillis, T. L. (Ed.). (2006). The IABC handbook of organizational communication. SanFrancisco,Jossey-Bass.Grates, G. F. (2008, September 2). Personal communication.Grates, G. F. (2006). Are Your Employees Working With the Volume Off? Edelman Memo toManagement, 1 (4).Online:http://www.edelman.com/expertise/practices/employee_change/documents/Edelman_MemotoManagement_vol1issue4.pdf.Gray, J., & Laidlaw, H. (2004). Improving the measurement of communicationsatisfaction.Management Communication Quarterly, 17(3), 425-448.Grunig, J. (1984). Organizations, environments and models of public relations. PublicRelationsResearch and Education, 1(1), 6-29.
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  38. 38. Employee/organization communications 38Society for New Communications Research. (2008). New media, new influencers andimplications for public relations. [Research Report]. New York: SNCR Press.Stacks, D. W., Hickson, M., & Hill. S. R. (1991). Introduction to communication theory.Ft. Worth, TX: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.Tajfel, H., & Turner, J. C. (1979). An integrative theory of intergroup conflict. In W. G.Austin and S. Worchel (Eds.), The social psychology of intergroup relations. Monterey,CA: Brooks/Cole.Tajfel, H., & Turner, J. C. (1986). The social identity theory of inter-group behavior. InS. Worchel and W. G. Austin (Eds.), Psychology of Intergroup Relations. Chicago: Nelson-Hall.Taylor, F. W. (1911). The principles of scientific management. New York: Harper & Row.Towers Perrin. (2003). Working today: Understanding what drives employeeengagement.Stamford, CT: Towers Perrin.van Riel, C. B. M. (1995). Principles of corporate communication. London: Prentice Hall.von Bertalanffy, L. (1951). Problems on general systems theory. Human biology, 23, 320-312.von Bertalanffy, L. (1968). General systems theory: Foundations, developments,applications.New York: George Braziller.Watson Wyatt. (2004). Connecting organizational communication to financial performance–2003/2004 communication ROI study. Watson Wyatt Worldwide.Watson Wyatt. (2002). WorkCanada2002–Restoring confidence, regainingcompetitiveness.Watson Wyatt Worldwide.
  39. 39. Employee/organization communications 39Weber, M. (1947). The theory of social and economic organizations. (A. M. Henderson andT.Parsons, Trans.). New York: Free Press.Weick, K. E. (1979). The social psychology of organizing (2nd Ed.). Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.Williams, L.C. Jr. (2003). Communication research, measurement and evaluation: Apracticalguide for communicators. San Francisco: IABC Knowledge Centre.Williams, S. (2008, September 2). Personal communication.Woodall, K. (2006). The future of business communication. In T. L. Gillis (Ed.), The IABChandbook of organizational communication(pp. 514-529). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Young, M., & Post, J. E. (1993). Managing to communicate, communicating to manage:Howleading companies communicate with employees. Organizational Dynamics, 22(1), 31-44.Annotated BibliographyBerger, B. K. (2008). Getting communications on senior management‘s agenda. In P. Williams(Ed.), Employee communication: The comprehensive manual for those who communicate withtoday‘s employees (pp. 97-114). Chicago: Ragan Communications.This book chapter will help professional communicators plan, present and sell internalcommunication budgets and strategic proposals to senior executives. Berger argues that themental models for employee communication held by some leaders and practitioners are outdated,leading to poor decision making. He outlines five steps for changing these mental models andthen presents a lengthy section on the topic of ―how to win a budget.‖ This section provides acandid look at the politics involved in resource allocation battles in large organizations. It
  40. 40. Employee/organization communications 40concludes with a discussion of how to successfully answer 10 ―killer questions‖ that executivesmay ask to try to derail or destroy your plans and budget proposals.D‘Aprix, R. (2006). Throwing rocks at the corporate rhinoceros: The challenges of employeeengagement. In T. L. Gillis (Ed.), The IABC handbook of organizational communication (pp.227-239). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.This crisply written article makes a compelling case for engaging employees to helporganizations become more competitive and successful in a global marketplace. The authorargues that employee engagement is the most crucial issue facing organizations today. Citingdata from various studies, D‘Aprix describes how engagement captures the discretionary effortsof employees, which they may withhold or contribute. Such efforts contribute significantly to theachievement of organizational vision, mission and goals. Communicators can play a role by: 1)reinventing themselves as strategic counselors and consultants, 2) collecting data to uncover thecauses of disengagement and make the business case for engagement and 3) improvingleadership communications at all levels.D‘Aprix, R. (1996). Communicating for change: Connecting the workplace with themarketplace.San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.This book provides practitioners with guidelines for creating market-based strategiccommunications, which help connect the workplace to the marketplace. This is importantbecause change often destroys connections between organizations and customers, and marketforces and strategy, and among employees. Strategic communication is open, candid and focusedon the customer and the marketplace. In this view, employees are critical change agents whorequire information to perform their jobs and collaborate with others to support a business
  41. 41. Employee/organization communications 41strategy. D‘Aprix contends the ―best‖ internal communication is characterized by talk thatmatches walk, visible leadership, clear information about how the company is doing and thenature of the marketplace, an emphasis on F-T-F channels, measurement and research, qualitylistening and civility and courtesy.Deetz, S. A., Tracy, S. J., & Simpson, J. L. (2000). Leading organizations through transition:Communication and cultural change.Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.This book blends theory and practice in a highly readable manner. It is invaluable forcommunicators who are engaged in cultural changes brought on by globalization initiatives,mergers, restructuring and technological innovations. In step-by-step fashion, the authors reviewthe dynamic change process and how organizational employees come to process, understand andimplement change. Internal communication is described as the central agent in changemanagement, and the book describes a number of communication processes in this regard. Theseinclude developing and communicating a shared vision, using framing approaches to helpmanage understanding and meanings (metaphors, stories, rituals and slogans), increasingemployee participation in decision making, acting ethically and demonstrating values,communicating in timely fashion and addressing signs of trouble or dysfunction.Gay, C., Mahoney, M., & Graves, J. (2005). Best practices in employee communication: A studyof global challenges and approaches. San Francisco: IABC Research Foundation.Practitioners seeking to learn from best practices in internal communication will find this shortbook to be quite useful. It establishes a strong case for the bottom-line impact of communicationand then highlights research findings, case examples and suggested strategies and tactics to helpresolve organizational issues. Based on their research, the authors identified four critical
  42. 42. Employee/organization communications 42challenges faced by communicators: 1) motivating employees to align with business strategy, 2)leadership and management communication, 3) managing information overload and 4)measuring ROI of internal communication. A number of approaches to measuring the ROI forinternal communication are discussed, including: cost savings (e.g., idea development programs,materials development), business outcomes (productivity, retention and turnover, customersatisfaction, performance ratings and quality factors), employee surveys(channel effectiveness,extent to which messages received) and pulse surveys and focus groups for specific initiatives.Gillis, T. L. (Ed.). (2006). The IABC handbook of organizational communication. San Francisco,Jossey-Bass.This is the latest edition of an outstanding reference work–a collection of 41 chapters written byleading academics and practitioners which provides readers with both concepts and practicalapplications of elements of organizational communication. The book is divided into six sections.An introduction provides basic information about organizational communications and keypremises. Part Two deals with current challenges in managing organizational communication,including planning and implementation strategies. Part Three focuses on employeecommunications and highlights the current issues of engagement, internal branding and changemanagement. Part Four deals with the strategic management of external communications withdiverse stakeholders. Part Five addresses marketing and brand management concepts andpractices, while Part Six looks to future trends and discusses such issues as measurement, newtechnologies and knowledge management.Harris, T. E., & Nelson, M.D. (2008). Applied organizational communication: Theory andpractice in a global environment. New York: Lawrence Erlbaum.
  43. 43. Employee/organization communications 43This recent and accessible textbook blends application and theory and would be useful forpractitioners and students who want to explore the complex dimensions of organizationalcommunication in a dynamic world. The book discusses current organizational and managementtheories and adopts a transactional and systems perspective on organizational communication. Itincludes chapters on verbal and nonverbal communication, networks and channels, interpersonalcommunications, team communications, leadership, new communication technologies andlistening. The latter chapter is particularly valuable in that it provides insights into a crucial topicthat receives limited attention in most organizations.Kennan, W. R., & Hazleton, V. (2006). Internal public relations, social capital, and the role ofeffective organizational communication. In C. H. Botan & V. Hazleton (Eds.), Public relationstheory II (pp. 311-340). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.This academic article provides a compelling argument for communicators to use with theirbosses to help explain the value of their work to the organization. They outline a theory ofinternal public relations that is based in social capital theory and argue that such capital–thecreation and use of internal relationships with and among employees and external publics–canincrease productivity and customer and employee satisfaction, help organizations resolveenvironmental issues and improve change management processes. This argument positionsinternal communication professionals at the center of organizational activities and initiatives.Larkin, TJ, & Larkin, S. (1994). Communicating change: How to win employee support for newbusiness directions. New York: McGraw-Hill, Inc.This well-known book underscores the importance of front-line, F-T-F supervisorcommunications in gaining employee understanding and support for change. It‘s a must readfor
  44. 44. Employee/organization communications 44professional communicators. Rich with data and case examples, the authors highlight threecrucial approaches in change communication efforts: 1) communicate directly to supervisors, 2)use face-to-face communication and 3) communicate the relative performance of the local workarea. Data accompanying the arguments strongly suggest that employees have greater trust in,and stronger relationships with their supervisors than with executives; employees prefer F-T-Fchannels to print and videos for change communications; and messages are more salient toemployees when they are closely linked to local work issues and performance.Putnam, L. L., & Boys, S. (2006). Revisiting metaphors of organizational communication. InS.R. Clegg, C. Hardy, T. B. Lawrence, & W. R. Nord (Eds.), The Sage handbook of organizationstudies, 2nd Ed. (pp. 541-576). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.This chapter will be useful to communication graduate students and scholars. It is acomprehensive literature review of research and theory regarding organizational communication,and it‘s presented through a series of eight metaphors. The authors note the explosive growth ininternal communication research in the past decade and highlight a major shift from the study ofcommunication as a linear transmission of messages, to research into how organizations areconstituted by social interactions, symbolic meanings and discursive processes. The eightmetaphors for organizational communication are: a conduit, information processing, linkage,performance, discourse, symbol, voice and contradiction. Research in the areas of voice, symboland discourse are prevalent today.Rhee, Y. (2003). The employee-public-organization chain in relationship management: A casestudy of a government organization. Institute for PublicRelations:http://www.instituteforpr.org/files/uploads/2003_Rhee.pdf
  45. 45. Employee/organization communications 45Graduate students, scholars and professionals will find this comprehensive case study to beuseful. The case demonstrates that employees who have positive relationships (high levels ofcommitment) with their organizations contribute significantly to the development of positiverelationships with the organization‘s publics. In addition, publics assess the organization basedon the quality of employees‘ relationships with their organization. Successful employee-public-organization relationships are shaped by: the leader‘s communication behaviors and visibility,the involvement of leaders in public relations activities, the quality of F-T-F communication,excellent listening skills, and the open sharing of information and decisions. The study alsosuggests that employees may feel more empowered through participation in communicationprograms with publics.Senge, P. M. (1990). The fifth discipline: The art & practice of the learning organization. NewYork: Currency Doubleday.This was one of the first books to deal comprehensively with the idea that organizations arelearning systems, and learning can provide a competitive advantage. Practitioners may find it avaluable conceptual aid; it provides ways to define, assess and correct communication-relatedissues and perceptions in organizations. Senge‘s extensive discussion of mental models, forexample, can help professionals understand current communication practices and executives‘perceptions of them. Mental models are deeply held assumptions, generalizations or internalimages that strongly influence how we see and understand the world. These models limit us tofamiliar ways of thinking, acting and understanding. Understanding executives‘ current mentalmodels for communication is a crucial first step toward changing them.
  46. 46. Employee/organization communications 46Senge, P., Kleiner, A. Roberts, C., Ross, R. B., & Smith, B. J. (1994). The fifth discipline fieldbook: Strategies and tools for building a learning organization. New York: Currency Doubleday.This is a companion book to Senge‘s earlier work, and it is strongly recommended for seniorpractitioners who are searching for ways to develop the skills, knowledge and unity of their ownprofessional teams. The field book is a rich, pragmatic guide that includes numerous examplesof, and strategies for building a shared vision, developing team and dialogue skills,reinvigorating relationships in organizations, using training as learning and giving life toorganizational communications, among others. It is filled with individual exercises, teamexercises and practical devices and techniques. The authors‘ contention that, ―the onlysustainable source of competitive advantage is your organization‘s ability to learn faster than itscompetition‖ (11), also applies to units and teams in organizations.Shockley-Zalabak, P., Ellis, K., & Cesaria, R. (2000). Measuring organizational trust: Adiagnostic survey and international indicator. San Francisco: IABC Research Foundation.This research report may be useful to graduate students and practitioners because it deals withwhat has been a long-time issue in internal communications and organizations: trust betweenmanagers and employees. The authors argue that trust is ―social capital‖ which has a direct effecton the organization‘s ability to successfully deal with crisis and change. In their research, theauthors found that trust directly affects the bottom line because it influences employee jobsatisfaction, productivity and team building. They also found that higher levels of organizationaltrust correlated with a lower incidence of litigation and legislation. Practitioners may benefitfrom a trust model the researchers developed, which includes the dimensions of communication
  47. 47. Employee/organization communications 47competence, reliability, concern for employees, openness and honesty and identification. Thereport is sold through IABC.Sinickas, A. D. (2005). How to measure your communication programs: A practical manual formaximizing the effectiveness of your messages and media. (3rd Ed.). San Francisco: IABCKnowledge Centre.This is a hands-on resource book and step-by-step guide for communicators to prepare andconduct focus groups, construct surveys, measure communication flow, plan and carry outcommunication audits, conduct content analysis and measure Intranets and web sites. Themanual also is a good introduction to the terminology of communication research andmeasurement. Sinickas is a seasoned professional who has conducted numerous measurementworkshops for IABC members and other practitioners.Smidts, A., Pruyn, A. T. H., & van Riel, C. B. M. (2001). The impact of employeecommunication and perceived external prestige on organizational identification. The Academy ofManagement Journal, 1-29.This research article has appeal for practitioners and academics who are interested in the subjectof employees and organizational identity. The researchers found that effective employeecommunication and a positive communication climate can strengthen employees‘ identificationwith organizations. Communication climate refers to how information is communicated, andorganizations can build positive communication climate by giving employees the opportunitiesto ―speak out, get involved, be listened to and participate actively‖ (20). The researchers alsodiscovered that internal communication affects organizational identity more strongly foremployees than perceived external prestige.
  48. 48. Employee/organization communications 48Williams, L.C. Jr. (2003). Communication research, measurement and evaluation: A practicalguide for communicators. San Francisco: IABC Knowledge Centre.This is a useful and insightful overview of measurement, evaluation and audience analysismethods that communicators can use to measure and demonstrate the value of their work to theirorganizations. The guide includes sample surveys and questionnaires, guidelines for interviewsand focus groups, directions for data analysis and some best practice cases of internalcommunication programs.Williams, P. (Ed.). (2008). Employee communication: The comprehensive manual for those whocommunicate with today‘s employees(3rd Ed.). Chicago: Lawrence Ragan.(http://www.ragan.com).This is the third edition of what was perhaps the first comprehensive manual written onemployee communications. The two-volume set contains diverse chapters which practitionersshould find helpful in their work. Volume one takes a strategic focus with chapters on researchand measurement, change communications, strategic planning, employee engagement,speechwriting, executive communications and gaining resources for employee communication.Volume two focuses more on professional skills, e.g., writing, developing F-T-F communicationprograms, using visuals, producing employee newsletters, using social media and so forth.7 Commentscelestine — August 20th, 2011 at 4:05 ami actually recommends these tips on effective communication
  49. 49. Employee/organization communications 49Doudly Elius — December 14th, 2011 at 3:18 pmI do appreciate to be learning Public Relations in your school and waiting for your answerpatiently.Thank you so muchKen — December 15th, 2011 at 5:58 amGood findings keep upKAMILYA SAFINA — January 11th, 2012 at 4:19 amI NEED INFORMATION ABOUT STAFF RELATIONS AND HOW TO MANAGEJEALEOUSY IN THE WORK PLACEEzekiel Maurice Sunday — February 18th, 2012 at 7:26 amThe material is quite interesting and useful.It has helped me to do my assignment on theimportance of communication in an organization.cleactgaicy — June 25th, 2012 at 8:45 amRegardless of whether we like this or not, social media is enjoying a massive part in the worksearch — as well as not just coming from a job seeker‘s stance. Most, it not exclusively,recruiters are integrating social networking platforms inside their candidate search, as are somemajor companies. With Seventy three percent regarding adults possessing and using anyFacebook user profile and an even more astounding 44 percent involving users much older than50 making use of social networking sites (according to recent data from the Pew Study Center),you will find that social media offers jutted its head into the job search in such a key way.
  50. 50. Employee/organization communications 50Andrew Powell has been a expert planner for Seven yrs and have been writing awesome ideaswith Mining Jobs in Australia in part of his involvement with New Ideas Group ,a newinnovative team for developing individuals. Read more about her website to find out abouthis government jobs australia advice over the years.Tim Bradley — July 27th, 2012 at 2:12 amNo matter how I count the bullets, I only get 14 principles of successful internalcommunications. What am I missing? Also, in the introductory paragraph to the principles, in―some practices and principles which seem crucial,‖ shouldn‘t ―which‖ be ―that‖? Twoparagraphs above, I think ―adopt‖ should be ―adapt.‖ Everybody‘s an editor, right?

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