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Leadership: Enhancing the Lessons of Experience, Research Paper Example

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Research Paper

Abstract

Management communication is necessary to ensure the strategic intent of the organization is effectively and efficiently disseminated throughout.  The ability to transfer the information from the senior level in a way that conveys the precise message that the leadership wants to express takes skills and abilities that encompasses many different communication methods, medium and delivery options.  In the business setting there is a certain hierarchy that facilitates the movement of the business but this same structure must also be deftly negotiated and understood in order to communicate successfully.  Sending, receiving and understanding the communication, as well as the feedback from the recipient, relies on the ability for the individuals within the communication cycle’s ability to hear, understand and acknowledge the correct intent of the communication.

Communication

Leadership can be described as “management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” This simple statement places the emphasis on how leadership is more than accomplishing goals and objectives but how those achievements are obtained and implemented while also imparting guidance and strategic intent throughout the process.  Leadership represents the ability to guide a group of individuals with initially separate and distinct goals into a concerted and synergistic focus toward the same objective (Zaleznik, 2008).  In essence, leadership is the ability to guide and direct while management is ensuring tasks are completed, checklists are checked and criteria for tollgates are accomplished.  In order to be a successful leader within an organization a key skill trait is the mastery of communication which in part includes multiple facets of running, managing and creating a successful environment from a leadership perspective.

Effectiveness Discussion

Communication is made up of multiple aspects which include: thinking, listening, speaking and non-verbal actions. Effective communication refers to delivery of undistorted information, with the delivery of the desired effect. Being effective communication is more than just sending and receiving an intended message but also choosing the right type of message as well as the appropriate channel of communication.  The desired information is interpreted between different parties and acted upon in the desired way. Communication is defined as imparting or exchanging information between two entities using a system of symbols, signs, or other behaviors (Shockley-Zalabak, 1999).  Within the scope of businesses communications are passed in multiple ways.  There are messages sent with intention of receipt by the receiver and messages that are sent without intention or purpose.  The results of these communications all depend upon the receiver.  This being said the actual message sent to the receiver goes through multiple areas that could alter the transmission.  These alterations are called noise.  The sender could send a message and while traveling through the communication medium it could be altered. An example of this is when a message is transmitted through a cellular device which is not transmitting with the appropriate signal. The verbal communications over the cellular device could be muffled or broken and misinterpreted by the recipient. If the communication medium does not interfere with the communication it could also be altered from the original state by the receiver. A typical example of this includes communication through email correspondence. The tone, inflection and other non-verbal gestures do not translate to the recipient in the email and the receiver could misinterpret the message. The next area is the feedback from the receiver to the sender. If the message is distorted or misinterpreted the receiver may provide the incorrect or unexpected feedback to the sender thus creating a conundrum for the entire communication process.

Within an organization, communication has an impact on employee relationships, both horizontally among employees and vertically through the chain of command. The impact from communication between employees can have varying effects on employee job performance. Communication within an organization takes different forms. Written forms include office memos and emails. Oral forms of communication include meetings and informal conversations among employees, and between employees and managers in the office setting. How this information is shared, both between employees and management, and between employee departments, are important to the performance of the organization. Effective communication is argued to be the prerequisite for good employee relationships and high performance within an organization.

Companies with good employee relationships and high levels of performance from their employees tend to have a core group of success factors. These factors include trust, motivated employees, and company loyalty. To maintain good employee relationships, trust must flow both ways, from the employees to management and from management to employees (Hughes, Ginnett, and Curphy, 2012). Both parties must not feel like anything is hidden from them and must be confident that conflicts will be resolved and their needs will be met in timely fashion and with sincere effort. Motivated employees are a result of reward systems, fair office interplay and promotion, receipt of benefits, and the belief that one’s company has a genuine interest in their wellbeing, both when at work and when away from work with their families. A high level of company loyalty is achieved in much the same way as employee motivation, as far as interest in the well-being of the employee and their family goes. A rival company may present with increased pay, rewards, and benefits, however if an employee feels that their current company truly has their best interest and the best interest of their family in mind, they are less likely to leave and more likely to remain loyal to the current company. All three of these factors have one prerequisite in common. It is effective communication. Effective communication is necessary to ensure each of these factors blossom to their full extent.

Effective communication begins between employees and management. The dynamic of the employee-boss relationship depends on the quality of the communication between employees and management. Effective communication can lead to good employee-boss relationships based on trust, motivation and loyalty, and through that to high performance levels. The quality of communication between employees and management depends in large part on the methods of communication used and timely sharing (Schmidt, 2009). Communication sharing between employees and management comes in the form of company policies, employee guidelines, rules for conflict resolution and for reporting policy violations, changes to policies, employee evaluations, job descriptions, and daily work instructions. If these communications and any changes are given in a timely, easy to understand way with the possibility of two-way communication for questions and suggestions left open, then it can be considered effective communication. It cannot be stressed enough that if employees feel that management puts in the effort to respond and inform them of issues, news and changes in a timely manner, then they will also feel valued by the management team. An employee who believes he or she is considered an integral part of the organization will be motivated to perform the best that he or she can.

The second communication area of importance within an organization is communication between employee departments. If communication from management has been effective, then interdepartmental communication should flow smoothly, without confusion. Each department will know their respective function and be able to choose which information needs to be shared to optimize company performance. Interdepartmental conflict will also be lessened or avoided completely, allowing all of an employee’s resources to be focused on performing their job function. Clearly outlined job functions and department responsibilities, as outlined by the organization’s management team, serve to clear away confusion that might surround decisions about what information belongs with which department. When departments are effectively defined, employees are able to pass information back and forth more efficiently to complete the job or task quickly. Conflict between departmental employees is lessened or eliminated with effective communication because each employee knows where to look for what type of information and what each employee is responsible.  Conflicts often arise when there is a misinterpretation of the communication.  These issues can explode exponentially if the core issues are not identified and addressed through appropriate communication methods.  Exchanging emails or text messages could ultimately worsen the situation due to the lack of communication etiquette or value provided by such means.

Situations and tension resulting from one employee mistakenly believing another is not doing their job or perhaps overstepping their job are going to be less of an issue. Information that might be shared between departments within an organization will vary according to industry. However some general types of information sharing between departments would include inventory data, policy changes, changes to the function of a particular department, and any information that affects the performance of another department. Here, communication can also be written, as memos, emails or data sheets, or oral, in meetings or informal talks at a desk.  Most of the communication efforts discussed includes how a message is sent but another vital part of communication depends on the recipient.  The receiver must receive the information and this includes taking an active role in their actions.  This includes becoming an active listener.  Active listening includes focusing on the sender’s message and engaging them while they speak. This is much easier in face to face conversations or meetings but also includes written and other non-verbal forms of communication. To fully engage the sender in non-verbal communication open ended questions can be ask and when the receiver garners enough information they can repeat and summarize what the sender has presented. This provides a full cycle from sender to receiver and back to sender with feedback to ensure the message was received and interpreted correctly.

Effective communication is argued to be the prerequisite for good employee relationships and high performance within an organization. The argument can begin and end with the overall effectiveness of the corporation.  Without verbal and non-verbal communication, including direct communication and feedback, the corporation will become ineffective and inefficient.  Effective communication between employees, customers and leadership is imperative to success in any venture a business undertakes.  When communication both between management and employees and between employee departments runs effectively, job functions and company tasks are better focused and result in higher performance. This is accomplished through feedback between entities in an organization.  An example of effective communication could come in the form of employee performance feedback.  Many companies perform employee appraisals and this time could be utilized to better the organization by providing meaningful and constructive feedback through verbal interactions between peers and supervisors as well as non-verbal communication such as written appraisal forms and memorandum of records.  By communicating effectively the employees understand the areas they are exceeding performance standards and those areas that could use extra efforts to increase their performance.

Focusing on effective communication and understanding each channel that the communication must pass will greatly increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the communications throughout the organization.  Confusion from mistaken communications are greatly lessened or eliminated. Employees feel valued by their co-workers, management, and the company itself, and display trust, loyalty, and motivation towards the company. Understanding the areas the employee excels and where the employee needs additional support can also not only increase the value of the employee but also help with career planning and setting the stage for the employee to excel in specific areas of their interests.  An employee with a high-level of trust, loyalty, and motivation will consistently perform their job function with a high-level of achievement, increasing the performance level of the organization.  An employee’s performance is based on the expectations of the leadership in the organization.  When an employee understands what he or she must accomplish their goals and objectives provide that line of sight to success.  This can only be accomplished through effect communication throughout the organization.

Effective communication in the business setting is essential for success.  It is also imperative for employees to understand how they are progressing and performing in the organization.  The successful cyclical nature of effective communication provides a 360 degree view into the employees form, fit and function within the organization.  It is up to the sender or in this case the leadership of the organization to choose the appropriate timing, method and feedback options to impart the information of performance to the employee.  Setting the stage for employee feedback is just as important as sending the message.  Leadership needs to ensure the risks of noise and disturbance to the communication are eliminated and an appropriate feedback method is established.  This will ensure effective communication through the chain of command and allow effective and efficient employee performance communication.

Communication includes choosing the appropriate media to convey a message, delivery of the message, receipt of the communication and a loop for feedback to confirm what was received.  The ability to effectively and efficiently manage these key areas within the communication lifecycle is imperative to management communications.  Business communication includes web-based, texts, email, instant messaging, video conferencing, static reports, dashboards, business forums, presentations, white papers and last but not least, face-to-face meetings.  Communication as a leader allows the thoughts, ideas and intent to be conveyed to peers, subordinates and leaders. An understanding on how communication is important to business success is vital because communication is the life blood of the business as a whole. Communication up and down the chain of command as well as cross-functionally builds stronger relationships and provides the highways for the vessel of information to travel.

References

Hughes, R., Ginnett, R., & Curphy, G. (2012). Leadership: Enhancing the lessons of experience. (7 ed.). Montouri, Amsterdam: McGraw-Hill/Irwin.

Schmidt, T. (2009). Strategic project management made simple. (1 ed.). Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Shockley-Zalabak, P. (1999) Fundamentals of organisational communication: knowledge, sensitivity, skills, values. Longman: New York.

Zaleznik, A. (2008). Managers and leaders: are they different? Cambridge, MA: Harvard Business Review.

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