Sherri has taught college business and communication courses. She also holds three degrees including communications, business, educational leadership/technology.
The Vital Organ of Management
Just as vital as your brain, heart, lungs, kidney, liver, pancreas, and spleen are to sustaining human life, communication is vital to management. Through the process of communication, organizational members will exchange information with one another in an effort to influence each other's thoughts, behaviors, or attitudes, and understandings.
Communication is the fundamental process a manager will use to plan, lead, organize, and control. Without communication, a manager would be unable to convey organizational needs, agendas, values, goals, authority, relationships, and any other related organizational factor.
Much like your vital organs, communication is necessary for all business activities in some form or another. Put simply, vital organs are necessary to sustain life in a human, and communication is necessary to sustain organizational success.
The Nature of Managerial Communication
Whether working for a manufacturer, restaurant, service firm, hospital, or software developer, somewhere between 70-90% of a manager's time is spent communicating. These figures are not surprising when one considers the vast amount of information a manager is responsible for within an organization.
A manager must be able to sort through this large storage of information to select the most timely and significant pieces; then he or she will need to determine how to distribute work among a diverse group of people. Contained inside this process are considerations, barriers, and challenges that impact the natural flow of information-sharing from manager to subordinates. Put simply, communication is not always easy for the manager.
The Importance of Effective Managerial Communication
Organizational decisions are highly dependent on the quality and quantity of information being exchanged. Poor or incomplete information can negatively impact a manager's ability to successfully make decisions. A subordinate will be unable to perform his or her job without accurate information relating to the work that needs to be completed, who is involved in the process, and when the deadline is.
A manager must first have a good understanding of the communication climate, or how communication is conducted within his or her organization. A communication climate that is open and clear tends to promote a higher level of productivity and job satisfaction, as opposed to a closed and ambiguous climate that typically results in low morale, productivity, and job satisfaction. An open and clear communication climate creates an understandable awareness of expectations and performance measurements for all employees.
A manager must be also aware of the cultural norms, both national and organizational, of communication among those with whom they communicate. Respecting the cultural norms for communication is important for understanding the preferred communication channels. For example, e-mail or instant messaging channels might be acceptable in organization A, but organization B prefers face-to-face channels. In addition to channel preference, space is also another cultural concern. Is your workplace set up to allow open flow of communication between members, such as what you would see with short cubicles, or does everyone have their own office, complete with four walls and a door? The sheer arrangement of employees will determine the acceptable level of casual communication among organizational members.
Once a manager understands the communication climate and culture, the next area a manager must recognize is the sender, receiver, and the purpose of the communication. The purpose of a manager's communication can be to present information, to gain information, to persuade, or for pleasure. Despite the purpose, as a sender, the manager must realize that his or her messages will always be filtered through the receiver's own perception and message interpretation, which can make it difficult to reach a shared understanding. The process is compounded when a manager is speaking to a group of individuals because of the diversity of possible perceptions and interpretations. To master these issues, effective communication must be applied to the managerial functions of planning, leading, organizing, and controlling.
Finally, a manager must also consider the content of the message, the channel (or means of sending information), the physical environment, and the time of the communication. As with the previous considerations to communication, the importance of these factors cannot be underestimated. What needs to be communicated, the best possible way to communicate the information, how private or public the communication needs to be, and what the preferred time to deliver the information is all need to be analyzed by the manager.
Effective Communication When Planning, Organizing, Leading, and Controlling
The ability to communicate well when carrying out the four functions of management is a critical managerial skill and foundational to effective leadership. No manager can successfully carry out these functions without being a good communicator.
Communication during planning requires a manager to gain information from a variety of internal and external sources.
Once information is gathered, the manager must then communicate those findings, determine the directorial configuration of staff, establish and maintain relationships, distribute resources, and clearly convey objectives and goals to subordinates all as a part of the organizing function.
Leading allows the manager to direct, control, and supervise employees. Communication is required for each of those actions.
Finally, a manager must control by communicating expectations and measurements relating to performance standards with his or her staff. The manager will evaluate, review, and report job performance, and, if necessary, take corrective and preventive actions. Communication plays a critical role in each of the functions of management, making it imperative for a manager to possess or improve on their managerial communication skills.
Let's review. Through the process of communication, organizational members will exchange information with one another in an effort to influence each other's thoughts, behaviors, or attitudes and understandings. Communication is also the fundamental process a manager will use to plan, lead, organize, and control.
Because organizational decisions are highly dependent on the quality and quantity of information being exchanged, a manager needs to practice effective communication in all facets of his or her job. To ensure effective communication, a manager must understand the communication climate and culture, factors surrounding:
- the sender, receiver, and the purpose of the communication
- the content of the message
- the channel (or means of sending information)
- the physical environment
- the time of the communication
The importance of these factors cannot be underestimated and must be analyzed by a manager before the communication begins. Much like your vital organs, communication is necessary for all business activities, and without it, there would surely be failure.
After watching this lesson, you should be able to:
- Define communication and understand how a manager uses effective communication in his organization
- Enumerate the variables that a manager must consider to ensure effective communication in his organization and explain why it is so vital that each of these considerations be accurately analyzed
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