LEARNING OBJECTIVES
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LEARNING OBJECTIVES LEARNING OBJECTIVES Document Transcript

  • Robbins: Organizational Behavior Chapter Ten COMMUNICATION LEARNING OBJECTIVES After studying this chapter, students should be able to: 1. Describe the communication process. 2. Contrast the advantages and disadvantages of oral versus written communication. 3. Compare the effectiveness of chain, wheel, and all-channel networks. 4. Identify factors affecting the use of the grapevine. 5. Discuss how computer-aided technology is changing organizational communication. 6. Explain the importance of channel richness to improving communication effectiveness. 7. Identify common barriers to effective communication. 8. List behaviors related to effective active listening. 9. Contrast the meaning of talk for men versus women. 10. Describe potential problems in cross-cultural communication. CHAPTER OVERVIEW A careful review of this chapter finds a common theme regarding the relationship between communication and employee satisfaction—the less the uncertainty, the greater the satisfaction. Distortions, ambiguities, and incongruities all increase uncertainty and, hence, they have a negative impact on satisfaction. The less distortion that occurs in communication, the more that goals, feedback, and other management messages to employees will be received as they were intended. This, in turn, should reduce ambiguities and clarify the group’s task. Extensive use of vertical, lateral, and informal channels will increase communication flow, reduce uncertainty, and improve group performance and satisfaction. We should also expect incongruities between verbal and nonverbal communiqués to increase uncertainty and to reduce satisfaction. Findings in the chapter further suggest that the goal of perfect communication is unattainable. Yet, there is evidence that demonstrates a positive relationship between effective communication (which includes factors such as perceived trust, perceived accuracy, desire for interaction, top-management receptiveness, and upward information requirements) and worker productivity. Choosing the correct channel, being an effective listener, and utilizing feedback may, therefore, make for more effective communication, but the human factor generates distortions that can never be fully eliminated. The communication process represents an exchange of messages, but the outcome is meanings that may or may not approximate those that the sender intended. Whatever the sender’s expectations, the decoded message in the mind of the receiver represents his or her reality, and it is this “reality” that will determine performance, along with the individual’s level of motivation and his or her degree of satisfaction. The issue of motivation is critical, so we should briefly review how communication is central in determining an individual’s degree of motivation. You will remember from expectancy theory that the degree of effort an individual exerts depends on his or her perception of the effort-performance, performance-reward, and reward-goal satisfaction linkages. If individuals are not given the data necessary to make the perceived probability of these linkages high, motivation will suffer. If rewards are not made dear, if the criteria for determining and measuring performance are ambiguous, or if individuals are not relatively certain that their effort will lead to satisfactory performance, then effort will be reduced. So communication plays a significant role in determining the level of employee motivation. A final implication from the communication literature relates to predicting turnover. The use of realistic job previews acts as a communication device for clarifying role expectations (see the Counter-Point in Chapter 5). Employees who have been exposed to a realistic job preview have more accurate information about that job. Comparisons of turnover rates between organizations that use the realistic job preview versus either no preview or only presentation of positive job information show that those not using the realistic preview have, on average, almost 29 percent higher turnover. This makes a strong case for managers to convey honest and accurate information about a job to applicants during the recruiting and selection process. 212
  • Robbins: Organizational Behavior Chapter Ten WEB EXERCISES At the end of each chapter of this instructor’s manual, you will find suggested exercises and ideas for researching the WWW on OB topics. The exercises “Exploring OB Topics on the Web” are set up so that you can simply photocopy the pages, distribute them to your class, and make assignments accordingly. You may want to assign the exercises as an out-of-class activity or as lab activities with your class. Within the lecture notes the graphic will note that there is a WWW activity to support this material. The chapter opens introducing six recent airline disasters where poor communication resulted in deadly consequences. Obviously not every miscommunication is that extreme, however, poor communication can inhibit any group’s effectiveness. We spend nearly 70 percent of our waking hours in some form of communication— reading, writing, speaking, listening, etc. It is reasonable to conclude that one of the most inhibiting forces to successful group performance is a lack of effective group communication. CHAPTER OUTLINE Functions of Communication Notes: 1. Communication is more than merely imparting meaning. An idea, no matter how great, is useless until it is transmitted and understood by others. It must include both the transference and the understanding of meaning. There are four major functions of communication: 2. Control: • Communication acts to control member behavior in several ways: a. Organizations have authority hierarchies and formal guidelines that employees are required to follow. b. Informal communication also controls behavior. When work groups tease or harass a member who produces too much, they are informally communicating with, and controlling, the member’s behavior. 3. Motivation: • Communication fosters motivation by clarifying to employees what is to be done, how well they are doing, and what can be done to improve performance. • The formation of specific goals, feedback on progress toward the goals, and reinforcement of desired behavior all stimulate motivation and require communication. 4. Emotional Expression: • Communication provides a release for the emotional expression of feelings and for fulfillment of social needs. For many employees, their work group is a primary source for social interaction. 5. Information: • Communication facilitates decision making. It provides information by transmitting the data to identify and evaluate alternative choices. 6. No one of these four functions is more important than the others. You can assume that almost every communication interaction that takes place in a group or organization performs one or more of these four functions. 213
  • Robbins: Organizational Behavior Chapter Ten The Communication Process Notes: 1. Before communication can take place a purpose expressed as a message to be conveyed, is needed. (See Exhibit 10-2). • It passes between a source (the sender) and a receiver. • The message is encoded (converted to symbolic form) and is passed by way of some medium (channel) to the receiver, who retranslates (decodes) the message initiated by the sender. • The result is a transference of meaning from one person to another. 2. The communication model is made up of seven parts: the source, encoding, the message, the channel, decoding, the receiver and feedback: a. The source initiates a message by encoding a thought. b. The message is the actual physical product from the source. c. The channel is the medium through which the message travels. d. The receiver is the object to whom the message is directed. e. Decoding—the symbols in the message must be translated into a form that can be understood by the receiver. f. The receiver is limited by his/her skills, attitudes, knowledge, and social-cultural system, g. Feedback is the check on how successful we have been in transferring our messages as originally intended. Instructor Note: At this point in the lecture you may want to introduce the TEAM EXERCISE: The Impact of Attentive Listening Skills box found in the text and at the end of these notes. A suggestion for a class exercise follows the introduction of the material. Direction of Communication Notes: A. Downward 1. Communication that flows from one level of a group organization to a lower level is a downward communication. This is typically what we think of when managers communicate with workers. 2. Its purpose is to assign goals, provide instructions, communicate policies and procedures, provide feedback, etc. 3. It does not have to be face to face or an oral communication. B. Upward 1. Upward communication flows to a higher level in the group or organization. 2. It is used to provide feedback to higher-ups, inform them of progress, and relay current problems. 3. Examples of upward communication are: performance reports prepared by lower management for review by middle and top management, suggestion boxes, employee attitude surveys, etc. 214
  • Robbins: Organizational Behavior Chapter Ten C. Lateral Notes: 1. When communication takes place among members of the same work group, among members of work groups at the same level, among managers at the same level, or among any horizontally equivalent personnel. 2. Horizontal communications are often necessary to save time and facilitate coordination. In some cases, these lateral relationships are formally sanctioned. Often, they are informally created to short-circuit the vertical hierarchy and expedite action. 3. They can create dysfunctional conflicts when the formal vertical channels are breached, when members go above or around their superiors to get things done, or when bosses find out that actions have been taken or decisions made without their knowledge. Interpersonal Communication Notes: A. Oral Communication 1. Oral communication is the chief means of conveying messages. Speeches, formal one on one and group discussions, and informal rumor mill or grapevine are popular forms of oral communication. 2. Advantages are speed and feedback. A major disadvantage arises when the message must be passed through a number of people. This increases the potential for distortion. Instructor Note: At this point in the lecture you may want to introduce the OB IN THE NEWS: What’d He Say? box found in the text and below. A suggestion for a class exercise follows the introduction of the material below. OB IN THE NEWS -- What’d He Say? Larry Kinder, the global chief information officer of Cendant, remembers well the confusion he caused when he addressed some of Cendant’s 25 business unit leaders recently to talk about capital expenditures for technology. “I mentioned that we would be opening up Cendant’s technical architecture to wireless platforms,” says Kinder. The room fell silent. Architecture? Wireless platforms? Instead of asking questions to gain clarity, the business leaders incorrectly interpreted “architecture” to mean “infrastructure,” something completely different in technology vernacular. “They thought I was talking about something expensive,” says Kinder. However, Kinder was using the word “architecture” to refer to developing an overall strategy and design that did not involve big expenditures on new servers and software. His plan was to actually lower the cost of running the company’s network. Misunderstandings such as this are one reason why 30 percent of technology projects begun by companies in the U.S. are cancelled before completion, at a cost to the American economy of more than $75 billion a year. While jargon has always been a problem in organizations, the rise of computer and network-related technology has unleashed a tidal wave of techno babble that often confuses those who do not live and breathe the terminology. What, for instance, do the following terms mean: asymmetric digital subscriber line, dark fiber, dynamic host configuration protocol, enterprise information portal, ERP, M-commerce, replatforming systems, simple object access protocol, or zettabyte? Most chief information officers and technology executives understand these terms, but for others, it can be overwhelming. How, for instance, can a chief executive decide whether to invest in a “routing switch platform that has an MPLS enabled ATM core switch” if he or she does not understand those terms? Source: N. Hutheesing, “It’s All Geek to Me,” Forbes, September 10, 2001, p. 24. 215
  • Robbins: Organizational Behavior Chapter Ten OB IN THE NEWS -- What’d He Say? (cont.) Class Exercise: 1. Ask the students to do a web search on the terms listed in the article. A good search engine for this activity would be www.askjeeves.com . Have them print off what they found and bring to class for discussion. 2. Are these terms difficult to understand once you have seen the definition? Why do people use jargon? 3. Have the students (either in small groups or as a class) develop strategies for effectively communicating terms like these in meetings. For example, prepare a glossary in advance and put it up on the corporate server, distribute as a handout in the meeting, etc. 4. Have students write the strategies on the board—which ones are the responsibility of the sender? The receiver? Teaching Notes: A glossary of the terms can be found with the original article at http://www.forbes.com/best/2001/0910/024.html Some of the definitions taken from the article are as follows: ADSL Technology used to transfer voice and data over the same line Dark Fiber Fiber-optic cables that have been laid but are not yet being used DHCP A networking protocol that allows Internet addresses to by dynamically allocated to Windows PCs EIP A web site that offers data analysis tools ERP Software that connects a company’s internal computer systems with those of their suppliers M-commerce E-commerce via a wireless network SOAP A way for applications to communicate over the Internet regardless of the applications’ software or hardware Zettabyte IDC says that by 2010 companies will need a zettabyte (1 sextillion bytes) of disk storage. B. Written Communication: Notes: 1. Written communications include memos, letters, electronic mail, faxes, periodicals, bulletin boards, etc. 2. Advantages include that they are tangible and verifiable. A written record is available for later use. People are more careful when communication is via written word. 3. Drawbacks include: time-consuming, lack of feedback, and no guarantee of receipt. C. Nonverbal Communication: 1. We send a nonverbal message every time we send a verbal one. At times the nonverbal message may stand alone. They include body movements, facial expressions, and the physical distance between sender and receiver. 2. We use body language to convey a message and typically do unconsciously. 3. The two most important messages body language conveys is the extent to which an individual likes another and is interested in his or her views and the relative perceived status between sender and receiver. 216
  • Robbins: Organizational Behavior Chapter Ten Instructor Note: At this point in the lecture you may want to introduce the MYTH OR SCIENCE? – “It’s Not What You Say, It’s What You Do” box found in the text and below. A suggestion for a class exercise follows the introduction of the material below. MYTH OR SCIENCE? – “It’s Not What You Say, It’s What You Do” Actions DO speak louder than words. People tend to give greater credence to actions. The implication is that managers and leaders are role models. When words and actions diverge, people focus most on what they see in terms of behavior. There is an obvious exception to the previous conclusion. An increasing number of leaders (and their associates) have developed the skill of shaping words and putting the proper “spin” on situations so that others focus on the leader’s words rather than the behavior. Why people believe these spins when faced with conflicting behavioral evidence is not clear. Class Exercise: 1. Demonstrating this could be touchy, so monitor students’ discussion and reaction closely. The difference between what someone says and then does often generates strong feelings. 2. Begin by brainstorming with students an incident when they have experienced this dichotomy of communication and behavior. Some ideas: • A public event covered in the news that the student(s) followed—a politician saying one thing and doing another • Some campus news event involving students and/or administrators • A personal relationship where one party made some verbal claim but then behaved in a different way • An interaction with an authority figure—professor, boss, parent—where the authority figure made a verbal claim and then behaved in a contradictory way 3. Choose an event to discuss, or in the case of a personal event, one the student(s) are comfortable discussing. 4. If the discussion is about a personal event, ask students not to use names, and clearly ask the students for permission to discuss the event in front of the class. 5. First, ask for a brief description of the verbal communication, then the behavior. 6. Discuss how the two elements contradicted; what were the signs? 7. Ask how this contradiction made them feel, how it affected (affects) the relationship with the other party. A. Close with a discussion of how the situation could be rectified and why it is important for our verbal communication and behavior to match. Organizational Communication Notes: B. Formal Small Group Networks 1. There are three common small-group networks: the chain, wheel and all- channel. (See Exhibit 10-3) • The chain rigidly follows the formal chain of command. • The wheel relies on the leader to act as the central conduit for all the group’s communication. • The all-channel network permits all group members to actively communicate with each other. 2. The effectiveness of each network depends on the dependent variable with which you are concerned. No single network will be best for all occasions. (See Exhibit 10-4) 217
  • Robbins: Organizational Behavior Chapter Ten B. The Grapevine Notes: 1. A recent survey found that 75 percent of employees hear about matters first through rumors on the grapevine. 2. Three main characteristics of a grapevine: • First, it is not controlled by management. • Second, it is perceived by most employees as being more believable and reliable than formal communiqués. • Third, it is largely used to serve the self-interests of those people within it. 3. One of the most famous studies of the grapevine: • The approach was to learn from each communication recipient how he/she first received a given piece of information and then trace it back to its source. • It was found that, while the grapevine was an important source of information, only 10 percent of the executives acted as liaison individuals. • Two other conclusions: a. Information on events of general interest tended to flow between the major functional groups. b. No evidence surfaced to suggest that members of any one group consistently acted as liaisons; rather, different types of information passed through different liaison persons. 4. An attempt to replicate this study among employees in a small state government office also found that only a small percentage (10 percent) acted as liaison individuals. • This is interesting, since the replication contained a wider spectrum of employees. • The flow of information in the government office took place within, rather than between, functional groups. 5. The evidence indicates that about 75 percent of what is carried is accurate. 6. Research indicates that rumors emerge as a response to situations that are important to us, where there is ambiguity, and under conditions that arouse anxiety. 7. The grapevine is an important part of any group or organization’s communication network and well worth understanding. It identifies for managers those confusing issues that employees consider important and anxiety-provoking. 8. It acts as both a filter and a feedback mechanism, picking up the issues that employees consider relevant. 9. By assessing which liaison individuals will consider a given piece of information to be relevant, we can improve our ability to explain and predict the pattern of the grapevine. 11. Management cannot eliminate rumors, but it can minimize the negative consequences. Exhibit 10-5 offers a few suggestions for minimizing those negative consequences. 218
  • Robbins: Organizational Behavior Chapter Ten C. Computer-Aided Communication Notes: 1. Email: • Uses the Internet to transmit and receive computer-generated text and documents. • Has greatly reduced the number of memos, letters, and phone calls historically used to communicate among employees. The average employee receives 31 emails a day. • Benefits include: they can be quickly written, edited and stored, they are easily distributed, they are a fraction of the cost of printed communications. • Drawbacks include: information overload, the time to read excessive amounts of email, lack of emotional content. 2. Intranet and Extranet Links: • Intranets are networks that only organizational members can access. • Extranets are links organizations create to connect employees with suppliers, customers, and strategic partners. 3. Video Conferencing: • An extension of intranet and extranet systems. It permits employees in an organization to have meetings with people at different locations. Can be done in rooms with special cameras, or now via personal computer with camera and microphones. 4. Computer-aided communications are reshaping the way we communicate in organizations. Pagers, cell phones, and personal communicators allow employees to be available for and instant access to communicating with others. 5. Organizational boundaries are less relevant—employees can jump vertical levels within the organization, work from home, or be somewhere other than an organizationally owned facility. Choice of Communication Channel Notes: 1. People choose one channel of communication over another for several reasons. A model of media richness has been developed to explain channel selection among managers. 2. Recent research has found that channels differ in their capacity to convey information. Some are rich in that they have the ability to: • handle multiple cues simultaneously. • facilitate rapid feedback. • be very personal. 3. The choice of one channel over another depends on whether the message is routine or nonroutine. • Routine messages tend to be straightforward and have a minimum of ambiguity. • Nonroutine messages tend to be complicated and have the potential for misunderstanding. 219
  • Robbins: Organizational Behavior Chapter Ten Choice of Communication Channel (cont.) Notes: • Routine messages can efficiently be communicated through channels that are lower in richness. However, nonroutine messages can effectively be communicated only by selecting rich channels. 4. High-performing managers tend to be more media-sensitive than low- performing managers. Instructor Note: At this point in the lecture you may want to introduce the OB IN THE NEWS – Don’t Push E- Mail Beyond It’s Limits box found in the text and below. A suggestion for a class exercise follows the introduction of the material below. OB IN THE NEWS—Don’t Push E-Mail Beyond Its Limits E-mail is fine for some communications but it has its limitations. Unfortunately, many people are using it to convey messages that are best expressed in other ways. Relationships can suffer when people use e-mail as a substitute for face-to-face conversation or a phone call. For instance, one writer tells of communicating with an editor by e-mail about an article he had written. The relationship turned sour because each was taking the other’s comments as far more critical than intended. “We had to get offline and apologize,” says the writer. An expert on communication says, “There is a tremendous over-reliance on e-mail, which is leading to a lot of confusion, misunderstanding, anger, and frustration.” The “over reliance” factor is due to the popularity of the technology—for instance, in the United States, 55 percent of adults now use e-mail. The negative responses to e-mail are due to its inherent limitations and misuse. These include: Low feedback. Conversation is a give and-take exchange, but e-mail allows one to “talk” at length without any response. Reduced social cues. When we talk, we can hear the tone of a joke that might come across as stern on a computer screen. Emoticons can hint that something is meant lightly but cannot replace voice or visual cues. Excess attention. E-mail allows people to create carefully worded messages that can be interpreted as more formal than verbal messages. The same words expressed off-handedly in a verbal conversation often take on greater meaning and importance when read in an e-mail. Wordiness. E-mail allows the writer to go on forever, often confusing the receiver as to what is important and what is not. In face-to-face contact, senders get verbal and nonverbal cues—interruptions, quizzical looks, glassy eyes—indicating the message is getting too long. Source: Based on J. Kornblum, “E-Mail’s Limits Create Confusion, Hurt Feelings,” USA Today, February 5, 2002, p. 6D. Class Exercise: Email is so prevalent that people often take it for granted. The chapter raises several points, such as using the right channel, however, email etiquette and authenticity are also issues to consider. Here are discussion ideas on these issues: 1. Have your class do a web search on “netiquette” issues (or you can bring the results of a search to class). What issues does this concept raise for organizations? Note: Aside from using appropriate grammar, students should be aware that no email is private with an organization, and that email used to intimidate or harass another is often grounds for dismissal. 2. Go to http://urbanlegends.about.com/library/blhoax.htm to learn more about hoaxes and legends on the Internet typically spread through email. Students often believe at least some of them—but their real purpose is not to communicate useful information—it is to clog the system. The best way to remedy it is to delete them when received and never pass them along. 3. Never, ever respond to “spam” even when asking to have your name removed from the list. It confirms to the sender that he or she has a “good” email address and the address is sold to other “spammers” creating more unwanted email. 220
  • Robbins: Organizational Behavior Chapter Ten Barriers to Effective Communication A. Filtering Notes: 1. Filter refers to a sender’s purposely manipulating information so it will be seen as more favorable by the receiver. For example, telling the boss what she wants to hear. 2. The more levels in an organization’s structure, the more opportunities there are for filtering. Being reluctant to give bad news, or trying to please one’s boss distorst upward communications. B. Selective Perception 1. Receivers in their communication process selectively see and hear based on their needs, motivations, experience, background, and other personal characteristics. 2. Receivers project their interests and expectations into communications as they decode them. C. Information Overload 1. When the information we have to work with exceeds our processing capacity, the result is information overload. 2. The result is they tend to select out, ignore, pass over, or forget information. Or they may put it aside until the overload situation is over. The result is lost information and less effective communication. D. Emotions 1. How a receiver feels at the time a message is received will influence how her or she interprets it. Extreme emotions are likely to hinder effective communication. 2. During those times we are most likely to disregard objective thinking and substitute emotions forjudgments. Instructor Note: At this point in the lecture you may want to introduce the CASE INCIDENT—Have We Got a Communication Problem Here? box found in the text and at the end of these notes. A suggestion for a class exercise follows the introduction of the material. E. Language Notes: 1. Words mean different things to different people. English—our common language—is far from uniform in usage. 2. Individuals interpret word meanings different ways. For example, incentives and quotas are often perceived as implying manipulation causing resentment among lower levels of the organization. F. Communication Apprehension 1. An estimated five-to-twenty percent of the population suffer from communication apprehension. They experience undue tension or anxiety in oral and/or written communication. They may find it difficult to talk with others face to face or on the telephone. 221
  • Robbins: Organizational Behavior Chapter Ten F. Communication Apprehension (cont.) Notes: 2. Studies show those affected with communication apprehension avoid jobs where communication is a dominant requirement. 3. Managers need to be aware there is a group of people who severely limit their communications with others and rationalize the behavior telling themselves it is not necessary for them to do their jobs effectively. Current Issues in Communication A. Communication Barriers Between Women and Men Notes: 1. Research by Deborah Tannen provides important insights into the differences between men and women in terms of their conversational styles. What her studies show is: • Men use talk to emphasize status, while women use it to create connection. Not every man or woman, but “A larger percentage of women or men as a group talk in a particular way, or individual women and men are more likely to talk one way or the other.’’ • Communication is continually juggling the conflicting needs for intimacy and independence. Intimacy emphasizes closeness and commonalties. Independence emphasizes separateness and differences. • Women speak and hear a language of connection and intimacy; men speak and hear a language of status, power, and independence. • For many men, conversations are primarily a means to preserve independence and maintain status in a hierarchical social order. • For many women, conversations are negotiations for closeness in which people try to seek and give confirmation and support. 2. Male patterns: • Men frequently complain that women talk on and on about their problems. When men hear a problem, they frequently assert their desire for independence and control by offering solutions. • Men are often more direct than women in conversation. Men frequently see female indirectness as “covert” or “sneaky,” but women are not as concerned as men with the status and one-upmanship that directness often creates. • Men can frequently misinterpret women’s less boastfulness incorrectly, concluding that a woman is less confident and competent than she really is. • Finally, men often criticize women for seeming to apologize all the time. 3. Female patterns: • Women criticize men for not listening. Many women view telling a problem as a means to promote closeness. The women present the problem to gain support and connection, not to get the male’s advice. Mutual understanding is symmetrical, but giving advice is asymmetrical—it sets the advice giver up as more knowledgeable, more reasonable, and more in control. 222
  • Robbins: Organizational Behavior Chapter Ten A. Communication Barriers between Women and Men (cont.) Notes: • Women tend to be less boastful than men. • Women frequently use “I’m sorry” to express regret and restore balance to a conversation. It is an expression of understanding and caring about the other person’s feelings rather than an apology. B. Silence as Communication 1. Silence—defined as “an absence of speech or noise—can be interpreted as an “inaction” or non- behavior. However, it can be a powerful form of communication.” 2. It can mean someone is thinking, is anxious and fearful of speaking, and it can signal disagreement, dissent, frustration, or anger. 3. Silence is a critical element of groupthink. It can also be a way for employees to express dissatisfaction and “suffer in silence.” 4. Failing to pay close attention to silence can result in missing a vital part of the message. C. “Politically Correct” Communication 1. What words do you use to describe . . . ? The right answers can mean the difference between losing a client, an employee, a lawsuit, a harassment claim, or a job. 2. Our vocabulary has been modified to reflect political correctness, and more importantly, to be sensitive to others’ feelings. Certain words can and do stereotype, intimidate, and insult individuals. 3. There is a downside to political correctness: • It is shrinking our vocabulary and making it more difficult for people to communicate. To illustrate, these four terms have been found to offend one or more groups: Offending term substitute with Politically correct substitute a. death with negative-patient outcome b. garbage with post-consumer waste materials c. quotas with educational equity d. women with people of gender 4. The problem is that this latter group of terms is much less likely to convey a uniform message than the words they replaced. 5. Politically correct language is contributing a new barrier to effective communication. • When we eliminate words from usage because they are politically incorrect, we reduce our options for conveying messages in the clearest and most accurate form. • By removing certain words from our vocabulary, we make it harder to communicate accurately. • We must be sensitive to how our choice of words might offend others, but we also have to be careful not to sanitize our language to the point where it clearly restricts clarity of communication. 223
  • Robbins: Organizational Behavior Chapter Ten D. Cross-Cultural Communication Notes: 1. Cross-cultural factors clearly create the potential for increased communication problems. (See Exhibit 10-8). 2. Cultural barriers: • First, there are barriers caused by semantics. Words mean different things to different people. Some words do not translate between cultures. a. Finnish—the word sisu is untranslatable into English. It means something akin to “guts” or “dogged persistence.” b. English terms such as efficiency, free market, and regulation are not directly translatable into Russian. • Second, there are barriers caused by word connotations. Words imply different things in different languages. a. The Japanese word hai means “yes,” but may mean “yes, I’m listening,” not “yes, I agree.” • Third, there are barriers caused by tone differences. In some cultures, language is formal; in others, it is informal. The tone changes depending on the context. • Fourth, there are barriers caused by differences among perceptions. People who speak different languages actually view the world in different ways. 3. Cultural context: • Cultures tend to differ in the importance to which context influences meaning. (See Exhibit 10-9). • Countries like China, Vietnam, and Saudi Arabia are high-context cultures. a. They rely heavily on nonverbal and subtle situational cues when communicating with others. b. What is not said may be more significant than what is said. c. A person’s official status, place in society, and reputation carry considerable weight. • People from Europe and North America reflect their low-context cultures. a. They rely essentially on words to convey meaning. b. Body language or formal titles are secondary to spoken and written words. • Communication in high-context cultures implies considerably more trust by both parties. a. Oral agreements imply strong commitments in high-text cultures. b. Who you are—your age, seniority, rank in the organization— are highly valued and heavily influence your credibility. • In low-context cultures, enforceable contracts will tend to be in writing, precisely worded, and highly legalistic. a. Similarly, low-context cultures value directness. 224
  • Robbins: Organizational Behavior Chapter Ten D. Cross-Cultural Communication (cont.) Notes: 4. A cultural guide: • Assume differences until similarity is proven. • Emphasize description rather than interpretation or evaluation. • Practice empathy. Put yourself in the recipient’s shoes. • Treat your interpretations as a working hypothesis. Instructor Note: At this point in the lecture you may want to introduce the ETHICAL DILEMMA—Is It Wrong to Tell A Lie? box found in the text and at the end of these notes. A suggestion for a class exercise follows the introduction of the material. OR: Instructor Note: At this point in the lecture you may want to introduce the POINT–COUNTER POINT—Open Book Management Improves Bottom Line box found in the text and at the end of these notes. A suggestion for a class exercise follows the introduction of the material. QUESTIONS FOR REVIEW 1. Describe the functions that communication provides within a group or organization. Give an example of each. Answer – There are four major functions. • Communication acts to control member behavior in several ways. When work groups tease or harass a member who produces too much, they are informally communicating with, and controlling, the member’s behavior. • Communication fosters motivation by clarifying to employees what is to be done, how well they are doing, and what can be done to improve performance. The formation of specific goals, feedback on progress toward the goals, and reinforcement of desired behavior all stimulate motivation and require communication. • Communication provides a release for the emotional expression of feelings and for fulfillment of social needs. For many employees, their work group is a primary source for social interaction. • Communication facilitates decision-making. It provides the information. 2. Contrast encoding and decoding. Answer – Encoding—the process of using the code or group of symbols to transfer meaning, the content of the message itself, and the decisions that we make in selecting and arranging both codes and content. The source initiates a message by encoding a thought. Four conditions have been described that affect the encoded message: • Skill—one’s total communicative success includes speaking, reading, listening, and reasoning skills. • Attitudes—influence our behavior. We hold predisposed ideas on numerous topics, and our communications are affected by these attitudes. • Knowledge—restricts our communicative activity by the extent of our knowledge of the particular topic. • Our position in the social-cultural system influences our behavior. Your beliefs and values, all part of your culture, act to influence you as a communicative source. Decoding—the symbols in the message must be translated into a form that can be understood by the receiver. The receiver is limited by his/her skills, attitudes, knowledge, and social-cultural system. 3. Contrast downward with upward communication. Answer – Communication can flow vertically or laterally. Vertical communication can be either downward or upward. Downward communication flows from one level of a group or organization to a lower level. It is used to provide managers to assign goals, provide job instructions, inform employees of policies and procedures, and offer feedback about performance. Upward communication flows to a higher level in the group or organization. It is used to provide feedback to higher ups, progress toward goals and relay current problems. It also keeps managers aware about how employees feel about their jobs. 225
  • Robbins: Organizational Behavior Chapter Ten 4. What is nonverbal communication? Does it aid or hinder verbal communication? Answer – Nonverbal communication involves body language, and paralinguistics describes the nonverbal aspects of communication that encompass tone of voice, pacing, pitch and similar aspects that go beyond the spoken word. It has been argued that every body movement has a meaning and that no movement is accidental. The two most important messages that body language conveys are the extent to which an individual likes another and is interested in his or her views and the relative perceived status between a sender and receiver. The specific meaning of any single body movement may be unclear; body language adds to and often complicates verbal communication. Body language differs between cultures. If you read the verbatim minutes of a meeting, you could not grasp the impact of what was said in the same way you could if you had been there or saw the meeting on video. It is important for the receiver to be alert to these nonverbal aspects of communication. Look for nonverbal cues as well as listen to the literal meaning of a sender’s words. Be aware of contradictions between the messages. We misinform others when we express one emotion verbally but nonverbally communicate a contradictory message. 5. What conditions stimulate the emergence of rumors? Answer – Research indicates that rumors emerge as a response to situations that are important to us, where there is ambiguity, and under conditions that arouse anxiety. The grapevine is an important part of any group or organization’s communication network and well worth understanding. 6. What are the advantages and disadvantages of e-mail? Answer – Email uses the Internet to transmit and receive computer-generated text and documents. It has greatly reduced the number of memos, letters, and phone calls historically used to communicate among employees. Benefits include: they can be quickly written, edited and stored, they are easily distributed, they are a fraction of the cost of printed communications. Drawbacks include: information overload, the time to read excessive amounts of email, lack of emotional content. 7. What can managers do to improve their skills at providing performance feedback? Answer –The following four suggestions help a manager be more effective when giving performance feedback. • Focus on specific behaviors. Feedback should be specific rather than general. • Keep it impersonal. Feedback, particularly the negative kind, should be descriptive rather than judgmental or evaluative. • Make it well timed. Feedback is most meaningful when there is a short interval between behavior and feedback. • If negative, make sure the behavior is controllable by the recipient. Negative feedback, therefore, should be directed toward the behavior the recipient can do something about. 8. What does the phrase “sometimes the real message in a communication is buried in the silence” mean? Answer – Silence—defined as an absence of speech or noise—can be interpreted as an “inaction” or non- behavior. Not necessarily, however, it can be a powerful form of communication. It can mean someone is thinking, is anxious and fearful of speaking, and it can signal disagreement, dissent, frustration, or anger. Silence is a critical element of groupthink. It can also be a way for employees to express dissatisfaction and “suffer in silence.” Failing to pay close attention to silence can result in missing a vital part of the message. 9. Describe how political correctness can hinder effective communication. Answer – Politically correct language is contributing a new barrier to effective communication. When we eliminate words from usage because they are politically incorrect, we reduce our options for conveying messages in the clearest and most accurate form. By removing certain words from our vocabulary, we make it harder to communicate accurately. We must be sensitive to how our choice of words might offend others. But we also have to be careful not to sanitize our language to the point where it clearly restricts clarity of communication. 10. Contrast high and low context cultures. Answer – Cultures tend to differ in the importance to which context influences meaning. Countries like China, Vietnam, and Saudi Arabia are high-context cultures. They rely heavily on nonverbal and subtle situational cues when communicating with others. What is not said may be more significant than what is said. A person’s official status, place in society, and reputation carry considerable weight. 226
  • Robbins: Organizational Behavior Chapter Ten People from Europe and North America reflect their low-context cultures. They rely essentially on words to convey meaning. Body language or formal titles are secondary to spoken and written words. See Exhibit 10-9. Communication in high-context cultures implies considerably more trust by both parties. Oral agreements imply strong commitments in high-text cultures. Who you are—your age, seniority, rank in the organization—are highly valued and heavily influence your credibility. In low-context cultures, enforceable contracts will tend to be in writing, precisely worded, and highly legalistic. Similarly, low-context cultures value directness. QUESTIONS FOR CRITICAL THINKING 1. “Ineffective communication is the fault of the sender.” Do you agree or disagree? Discuss. Answer – If students take a sender focus, they will agree. If they take an active listening posture, they will disagree. The source initiates a message by encoding a thought. Four conditions have been described that affect the encoded message: 1) skill, 2) attitudes, 3) knowledge, and 4) our position in the social-cultural system influence our behavior. The sender’s beliefs and values, all part of culture, act to influence the sender as a communicative source. 2. What can you do to improve the likelihood that your communiqués will be received and understood as you intend? Answer – There are several things you can do. • Use multiple channels / Tailor the message to the audience / Empathize with others • Put yourself in their shoes / Practice active listening / Match your words and actions • Remember the value of face-to-face communication when dealing with change. • Use the grapevine / Use feedback As communicators, students need to also consider the following barriers to effective communication: • Filtering refers to a sender manipulating information so that it will be seen more favorably by the receiver. • Selective perception—The receivers in the communication process selectively see and hear based on their needs, motivations, experience, background, and other personal characteristics. • Information overload—Research indicates that most of us have difficulty working with more than about seven pieces of information. When individuals have more information than they can sort out and use, they tend to select out, ignore, pass over, or forget information. • Defensiveness—Engaging in behaviors such as verbally attacking others, making sarcastic remarks, being overly judgmental, and questioning others’ motives • Language—Words mean different things to different people. “The meanings of words are not in the words; they are in us.’’ 3. How might managers use the grapevine for their benefit? Answer – The grapevine is an important part of any group or organization’s communication network and well worth understanding. It identifies for managers those confusing issues that employees consider important and anxiety-provoking. It acts as both a filter and a feedback mechanism, picking up the issues that employees consider relevant. By assessing which liaison individuals will consider a given piece of information to be relevant, we can improve our ability to explain and predict the pattern of the grapevine. Management cannot eliminate rumors but they can minimize the negative consequences. Exhibit 10-5 offers a few suggestions for minimizing those negative consequences. 4. Using the concept of channel richness, give examples of messages best conveyed by e-mail, by face-to-face communication, and on the company bulletin board. Answer – Recent research has found that channels differ in their capacity to convey information. Some are rich in that they have the ability to: 1) handle multiple cues simultaneously, 2) facilitate rapid feedback, 3) be very personal. Exhibit 10-6 illustrates that face-to-face talk scores highest in terms of channel richness. 5. Why do you think so many people are poor listeners? Answer – It requires a focus on others. It requires effort; one has to pay attention. Few people are trained in active listening skills. 227
  • Robbins: Organizational Behavior Chapter Ten POINT—COUNTERPOINT – Open-Book Management Improves the Bottom Line POINT Open-book management (OBM) seeks to get every employee to think and behave like an owner. It throws out the notion that bosses run things and employees do what they are told. In the open-book approach, employees are given the information that historically was strictly kept within the management ranks. There are three key elements to any OBM program. First, management opens the company’s books and shares detailed financial and operating information with employees. If employees don’t know how the company makes money, how can they be expected to make the firm more successful? Second, employees need to be taught to understand the company’s financial statements. This means management must provide employees with a “basic course” in how to read and interpret income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements. Third, management needs to show employees how their work influences financial results. Showing employees the impact of their jobs on the bottom line makes financial-statement analysis relevant. Who is using OBM? More than 3,500 organizations, including Springfield Remanufacturing Corp., Allstate Insurance, Amoco Canada, Rhino Foods, and Sprint’s Government Systems division. Why should it work? Access to detailed financial information, and the ability to understand that information, makes employees think like owners. This leads to them making decisions that are best for the organization, not just for themselves. Does it work? Most firms that have introduced OBM offer evidence that it has significantly helped the business. For instance, Springfield Remanufacturing was losing $61,000 on sales of $16 million. Management attributes much of the company’s current success—profits of $6 million a year on sales of $100 million—to OBM. Similarly, Allstate’s Business Insurance Group used OBM to boost return-on-equity from 2.9 percent to 16.5 percent in just three years. Based on J. Case, “The Open-Book Revolution,” INC, June 1995, pp. 26–50; J. P. Schuster, J. Carpenter, and M. P. Kane, The Power of Open-Book Management (New York: John Wiley, 1996); and R. Aggarwal and B. J. Simkins, “Open Book Management—Optimizing Human Capital,” Business Horizons, September–October 2001, pp. 5–13. COUNTER POINT The owners of Optics 1 Inc., an optical-engineering company in southern California, with 23 employees and sales of less than $10 million a year implemented an OBM program. After a short time, the program was discontinued. Said one of the co-owners, “Employees used the information against me. When we made a profit, they demanded bigger bonuses and new computers. When I used profits to finance a new product line, everybody said, ‘That’s nice, but what’s in it for me?’ If your employees misinterpret financial information, it is more damaging than their not having access at all. I gave them general and administrative rates. Next thing I knew they were backing out everyone’s salaries, and I’d hear, “You are paying that guy $86,000? I contribute more.” As the preceding illustrates, part of the downside to OBM is that employees may misuse or misinterpret the information they get against management. Another potential problem is leaking of confidential information to competitors. In the hands of the competition, detailed information on the company’s operations and financial position may undermine a firm’s competitive advantage. When OBM succeeds, two factors seem to exist. First, the organization or unit in which it is implemented tends to be small. It is a lot easier to introduce OBM in a small, start-up company than in a large, geographically dispersed company that has operated for years with closed books and little employee involvement. Second, there needs to be a mutually trusting relationship between management and workers. In organizational cultures in which management doesn’t trust employees to act selflessly or in which managers and accountants have been trained to keep information under lock and key, OBM is not likely to work. Nor will it succeed when employees believe any new change program is only likely to further manipulate or exploit them for management’s advantage. Based on S. L. Gruner, “Why Open the Books?” INC., November 1996, p. 95; and T. R. V. Davis, “Open-Book Management: Its Promise and Pitfalls,” Organizational Dynamics, Winter 1997, pp. 7–20. Class Exercise: 1. Inc. Magazine has dozens of articles on Open Book Management. Visit www.inc.com and use their search feature on “Open Book Management.” This could be a lab activity or you can make copies of several articles to distribute to the class. 2. Break the students into small groups and ask them to do the following: • Once they have read the article, determine the method used by management to communicate the open book philosophy or process used. (If there is not one in the article, ask the student’s to develop one.) 228
  • Robbins: Organizational Behavior Chapter Ten • What results were achieved as described in the article? What elements of the communication process helped or hindered these results. • What negatives occurred (if any) or what negatives might happen in the future and how might they be prevented? • How did the results compare with the organizations mentioned in the POINT—COUNTER POINT case? • What conclusions can the students make concerning open book management after looking at these companies? TEAM EXERCISE – The Impact of Attentive Listening Skills Purpose: The objective of this exercise is to show the importance of listening skills to interpersonal success. Time: 30 minutes. Instructions: 1. Form groups by counting off by sixes. There should be a minimum of three students to a group and a maximum of seven per group. 2. Each group has 30 minutes to address the four questions below. • How do you know when a person is listening to you? • Describe a situation in which you exhibited outstanding listening behavior. How did it influence the speaker’s subsequent communication behaviors? • How do you know when a person is ignoring you? • Describe a situation in which you ignored someone. What impact did it have on that person’s subsequent communication behaviors? Teaching notes 1. The groups should begin by brainstorming answers, then narrow their selection to the three most significant answers. 2. Appoint one member of the group to transcribe answers on the board and another to tell the class why the group selected these answers. Source: Adapted from T. Clark, “Sharing the Importance of Attentive Listening Skills,” Journal of Management Education, April 1999, pp. 216– 23. ETHICAL DILEMMA—Is It Wrong to Tell a Lie? When we were children, our parents told us, “It’s wrong to tell a lie.” Yet we all have told lies at one time or another. Most of us differentiate between “real lies” and “white lies”—the latter being an acceptable, even necessary, part of social interaction. A recent survey of 10,000 people 18 to 50 years old provides some insights into people’s attitudes toward lying. Eighty percent described honesty as important, but nearly one quarter said that they would lie to an employer “if necessary.” More than 15 percent admitted to lying on a resume or job application. More than 45 percent said he or she would happily tell you a “little white lie.” Since lying is so closely intertwined with interpersonal communication, let us look at an issue many managers confront: Does a sound purpose justify intentionally distorting information? Consider the following situation. An employee who works for you asks you about a rumor she has heard that your department and all its employees will be transferred from New York City to Dallas. You know the rumor is true, but you would rather not let the information out just yet. You are fearful it could hurt departmental morale and lead to premature resignations. What do you say to your employee? Do you lie, evade the question, distort your answer, or tell the truth? In a larger context, where do you draw the line between the truth and lying? If you are in a managerial position, how does your answer to the previous question fit with your desire to be trusted by those who work for you? Source: Cited in “Who’s Lying Now?” Training, October 2000, p. 34. 229
  • Robbins: Organizational Behavior Chapter Ten Class Exercise: 1. Ask the students to list the possible responses to the case question and then list the consequences. For example: lie, evade, distort, truth. In the “lie” example, once the employee knows you have lied the consequence would be that she would probably not trust you again. 2. Do the ends justify the means? Are some consequences they have developed attractive and justify lying? Would you choose that as a solution to this dilemma? 3. If students haven’t come up with other alternatives than those listed here, suggest this one. Honesty. Simply tell the employee you are not able to respond at this time, however, as soon as you are able to. CASE INCIDENT—Do We Have a Communication Problem Here? “I don’t want to hear your excuses. Just get those planes in the air,” Jim Tuchman was screaming at his gate manager. As head of American Airlines’ operations at the Mexico City airport, Tuchman has been consistently frustrated by the attitude displayed by his native employees. Transferred from Dallas to Mexico City only three months ago, Tuchman was having difficulty adjusting to the Mexican style of work. “Am I critical of these people? You bet I am! They do not listen when I talk. They think things are just fine and fight every change I suggest, and they have no appreciation for the importance of keeping on schedule.” If Tuchman is critical of his Mexico City staff, it is mutual. They universally dislike him. Here’s a few anonymous comments made about their boss: “He is totally insensitive to our needs.” “He thinks if he yells and screams, that things will improve. We do not see it that way.” “I have been working here for four years. Before he came here, this was a good place to work. Not anymore. I am constantly in fear of being chewed out. I feel stress all the time, even at home. My husband has started commenting on it a lot.” Tuchman was brought in specifically to tighten up the Mexico City operation. High on his list of goals is improving American’s on-time record in Mexico City, increasing productivity, and improving customer service. When Tuchman was asked if he thought he had any problems with his staff, he replied, “Yep. We just can’t seem to communicate.” Questions: Students’ answers will vary. Ask them to come up with recommendations to meet Mr. Tuchman’s goals, yet respect the Mexican workers communication needs. 1. Does Jim Tuchman have a communication problem? Explain. • Yes, his communication is ineffective with his workers. They are not responding him and he does not seem to understand their style of work. 2. What suggestions, if any, would you make to Jim to help him improve his managerial effectiveness? • Become more culturally sensitive. Tailor his message to the audience. • Ask questions and Listen. • Develop another channel of communication other than screaming. 230
  • Robbins: Organizational Behavior Chapter Ten Exploring OB Topics on the World Wide Web Search Engines are our navigational tool to explore the WWW. Some commonly used search engines are: www.goto.com www.google.com www.excite.com www.lycos.com www.hotbot.com www.looksmart.com 1. You can become a better listener. The website http://www.coping.org/communi/listen.htm has a number of tips and exercises to get you to think about your listening skills. Print the page and complete the exercises under “listening for feelings” and bring it to class. Also jot down brief responses to one or two of the role-plays listed on the page. If there is time, we will complete some of them in class. 2. Listening requires more than a physical presence—it requires a mental presence too! Learn more about how to develop your skills as an empathetic listener at: http://crs.uvm.edu/gopher/nerl/personal/comm/e.html Write a short journal entry describing how you plan to further develop one technique listed in the article. 3. Are there do’s and don’ts for email? Learn more by doing a search on “netiquette” which are the courtesy guidelines of email. Print one of the better pages and bring to class along with an email you have sent or received recently. Take off the names of the parties in the email. In class, we will edit these email for breeches of Netiquette guidelines. 4. Organizational communication has been drastically changed by the introduction of modern technologies just in the last 10 years. However, it does not just happen. There must be support personnel and products to assist users with communication via technology. Go to http://www.databasesystemscorp.com/psccproducts.htm to explore one vendor’s products and services to support organizational communication. Write a short journal entry about what you learn from this web site. 5. Learn more about effective cross-cultural communication. Go to the web site http://www.nwrel.org/cnorse/booklets/ccc/ . The first four chapters are particularly interesting. Write a paragraph or two about what you learned from this page. 6. Open Book Management has worked for many companies. To learn more, go to Inc. Magazine’s web site and key in “pen book management” using the search feature. A number of articles are available for review. Additionally, the following web sites also have more information. Write a one page “summary” on what you learned. http://www.shrm.org/hrmagazine/articles/0296open.html http://www.nceo.org/library/obm_poolcovers.html http://www.nceo.org/library/obm_nceostudy.html 7. What is an intranet and how does it work? Chances are if you have not been on one here at school or at work, you will be in the future. Go to http://www.netxs.com.pk/intranet/index.htm for 231
  • Robbins: Organizational Behavior Chapter Ten a comprehensive look at intranets and organization who have put them to work to increase organizational effectiveness through communication. 232