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 Chapter 17 80

CHAPTER 17

MANAGING COMMUNICATION

CHAPTER OUTLINE

Do You Focus on What Others Say?


I. Communication Is the Manager’s Job
A. What Is Communication?
B. A Model of Communication
II. Communicating Among People
A. Open Communication Climate
B. Communication Channels
C. Communicating to Persuade and Influence Others
D. Communicating with Candor
E. Asking Questions
F. Listening
G. Nonverbal Communication
III. Workplace Communication
A. Social Media
B. Personal Communication Channels
New Manager Self-Test: Are You Building a Personal Network
C. Crisis Communication

ANNOTATED LEARNING OBJECTIVES


After studying this chapter, students should be able to:

1. Explain why communication is essential for effective management.

Communication is defined as the process by which information is exchanged and understood by


two or more people, usually with the intent to motivate or influence behavior. Communication
means to share, not just to speak or to write. This distinction between sharing and proclaiming is
crucial for successful management. Managers spend at least 80 percent of every working day in
direct communication with others. The other 20 percent of a manager’s time is spent doing
deskwork, most of which is also communication in the form of reading and writing.

2. Describe the model of communication.

Communication is usually complex, with many opportunities to send or receive the wrong
message. Two common elements in every communication are the sender and receiver. The sender
wishes to convey an idea or seek information from others, or to express an emotion or thought.
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81  Chapter 17

The receiver is the person to whom the message is sent. The communication process consists of
four steps:

The sender encodes the idea by selecting symbols to represent the message, which is the tangible
formulation of the idea that is sent to the receiver.

The message is sent through a channel, which is the communication carrier.

The receiver decodes or translates the symbols to interpret the meaning of the message.

Feedback occurs when the receiver responds to the sender’s communication with a return
message. Without feedback, the communication is one way; with feedback, it is two way.

3. Explain how an open communication climate and choice of a communication channel


influence the quality of communication.

Open communication means sharing all types of information throughout the organization, across
functional and hierarchical boundaries. In an open communication environment, people know
where they stand and what rules they need to play by. Open communication helps people accept,
understand, and commit to goals. People can see how their actions interact with and affect others
in the organization. And when people have access to complete information, they are more likely
to come up with creative solutions to problems and make decisions that are good for the
company.

Managers have a choice of many channels through which to communicate to other managers or
employees. Channels differ in their capacity to convey information. One approach of selecting an
effective communication channel is to interpret the emotions of the person who will be receiving
the message and then select the channel that will result in the best outcome. The type and amount
of information to be communicated also influences the selection of the communication channel.
The channels available to managers can be classified into a hierarchy based on information
richness. Channel richness is the amount of information that can be transmitted during a
communication episode. The richest channel is face-to-face talk and the leanest channel includes
bulletins and standard computer reports.

4. Clarify how communicating with candor, asking questions, listening, and nonverbal
communication affect communication between a manager and employee.

To influence and persuade, managers also have to be frank and straightforward about what they
want and need from others. Communicating with candor means being direct, honest, and clear
about what employees need to do to meet objectives, while also expressing respect for others and
not making people feel slighted, controlled, and exploited. Communicating with candor is a
confident, positive approach that lets others know exactly where you stand and what you are
asking of them. The appropriate use of a candid communication acknowledges the other person’s
perspective and opinion, yet is very specific about what the manager wants and why.

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Managing Communication  82

To have successful organizational conversations, managers need to learn to ask question. Most
managers do 80 percent telling and 20 percent asking, while it should be the other way around.
Asking questions can benefit both managers and employees in numerous ways, such as building
trust and openness between them, building critical thinking skills, stimulating the mind and a
chance to make a difference.

Listening involves the skill of grasping both facts and feelings to interpret a message’s genuine
meaning. Only then can the manager provide the appropriate response. Listening requires
attention, energy, and skill. A good listener finds areas of interest, is flexible, works hard at
listening, and uses thought speed to mentally summarize, weigh, and anticipate what the speaker
says. The listener is responsible for message reception, which is a vital link in the
communication process.

Nonverbal communication refers to messages sent through human actions and behaviors rather
than through words. Managers are watched and their behavior, appearance, actions, and attitudes
are symbolic of what they value and expect of others. Major parts of the shared understanding
from communication come from the nonverbal messages of facial expression, voice,
mannerisms, posture, and dress. Nonverbal messages convey thoughts and feelings with greater
force than do our most carefully selected words. When verbal and nonverbal messages are
contradictory, the receiver will usually give more weight to the nonverbal than to the verbal
message.

5. Describe the manager’s role in using social media to improve organizational


communication.

Social media is a group of internet-based applications that allow the creation and exchange of
user-generated content. It covers a broad number of applications including wikis, blogs, micro-
blogs, content communication, social networking sites, and virtual social networks. It is
reinventing how people in organizations communicate. The rapidly changing digital environment
is bringing sweeping changes to workplace communication. Use of email, Twitter, and Facebook
has increased dramatically just in the past few years. This significant increase in the use of social
media signals a growing appetite among users for instant access and immediate sharing of
information. Popular collaboration tools, such as podcasts, blogs, and wikis, are also opening up
opportunities for organizations to interact with employees and customers and improve
collaboration among teams. Managers can use new communication technologies in a wide
variety of ways to manage employees, connect with existing customers, reach new customers,
and enhance relationships with suppliers.

6. Explain the role of personal communication channels, including networks and the grapevine,
in enhancing organizational communication.

Smart managers consciously develop personal communication networks and encourage others to
do so. The value is that people who have more contacts have greater influence in the organization
and get more accomplished.

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83  Chapter 17

Smart managers also understand the company’s grapevine—the informal, person-to-person


communication network of employees that is not officially sanctioned by the organization. The
grapevine recognizes who’s connected to whom and which employees are key players in the
informal spread of information. It links employees, at all the levels of an organization, in all
directions. Grapevine rumors fill in information gap and clarify management decision. Its
accuracy and relevance to the organization are its key aspects.

Finally, written communication skills are becoming increasingly important in today’s


collaborative workplace. Managers who are unable to communicate in writing will limit their
opportunities for advancement.

7. Compare and contrast formal and informal organizational communications.

Formal communication channels are those that flow within the chain of command or task
responsibility defined by the organization. Organization-wide communications typically flow in
three directions: downward, upward, and horizontally. Downward communication is information
sent from top management to subordinates in a downward direction. The major problem with
downward communication is the distortion or loss of message content. Upward communication
includes messages that flow from the lower to the higher levels in the organization’s hierarchy.
Horizontal communication is the lateral or diagonal exchange of messages across peers or co-
workers. The purpose of horizontal communication is not only to inform, but also to request
support and coordinate activities.

Informal or personal communication channels exist outside the formal channels and do not
adhere to the organization’s formal structure. They coexist with formal channels but may skip
hierarchical levels, cutting across vertical chains of command to connect virtually anyone in the
organization. Three types of informal channels used in many organizations are personal
networks, the grapevine, and written communication

8. Summarize strategies for managing communication during a crisis.

A manager’s skill at communicating becomes even more crucial during time of rapid change,
uncertainty, and crisis. The manager’s ability to communicate effectively will determine how
effectively the organization survives the upheaval. Four primary skills or strategies for managers
to follow when communicating in a crisis include:
 Stay calm, listen hard.
 Be visible.
 Get the awful truth out.
 Communicate a vision for the future.

LECTURE OUTLINE

Do You Focus on What Others Say?

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Managing Communication  84

Managers face many distractions, which makes it hard to pay attention when someone is
speaking. Listening attentiveness prevents many communication mistakes. In addition, effective
managers learn the habit of inquiry, which means to ask questions to learn more about something
or to confirm their understanding. A combined score of 8 or higher suggests an excellent focus
on what others are saying.

I. COMMUNICATION IS THE MANAGER’S JOB Exhibit 17.1

Managers spend at least 80 percent of every working day in direct communication with
others. The other 20 percent of their time is spent doing deskwork, most of which is
communication in the form of reading and writing. Managers have the crucial role of being
communication champions. They gather information from inside and outside the organization
and distribute it to others who need it. Managers’ communication is purpose-directed; it
directs everyone’s attention toward the vision, values, and desired goals and influences
people to achieve the goals.

Managers facilitate strategic conversations by using open communication, actively listening


to others, applying the practice of dialogue, and using feedback for learning and change.
Strategic conversation refers to people talking across boundaries and hierarchical levels
about the team or organization’s vision, critical strategic themes, and the values that help
achieve important goals.

Managers use many communication methods depending on the purposes of the


communication and the audience. .

A. What Is Communication?

1. Communication is defined as the process by which information is exchanged and


understood by two or more people, usually with the intent to motivate or influence
behavior.

2. Surveys of mangers show that they consider communication as their most critical skill
and one of their top responsibilities. However, most managers revealed they need to
improve their communication effectiveness. Also, without feedback, managers can’t
respond adequately to problems or opportunities; their plans and decisions may be out
of alignment with employee perceptions and interests.

B. A Model of Communication Exhibit 17.2

1. Communication is usually complex, with many opportunities to send or receive the


wrong message. Communication is not just sending information, but sharing
information in a planned way. A manager who has the ability to deliver rousing
speech or write brilliant commentary, but who does not know how to listen, is not an
effective communicator. Two common elements in every communication are the
sender and receiver. The sender wishes to convey an idea or seek information from
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85  Chapter 17

others, or to express an emotion or thought. The receiver is the person to whom the
message is sent. The communication process consists of the following four steps.

a. The sender encodes the idea by selecting symbols to represent the message, which
is the tangible formulation of the idea that is sent to the receiver.

b. The message is sent through a channel, which is the communication carrier.

c. The receiver decodes or translates the symbols to interpret the meaning of the
message.

d. Feedback occurs when the receiver responds to the sender’s communication with
a return message. It enables the sender to determine whether the receiver correctly
interpreted the message. Without feedback, the communication is one-way; with
feedback, it becomes two-way.

Discussion Question #2: Describe the elements of the communication model in Exhibit 17.2.
Give an example of each part of the model as it exists in the classroom during communication
between teacher and students.

NOTES________________________________________________________________________
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______________________________________________________________________________

II. COMMUNICATING AMONG PEOPLE

Communications can breakdown if the sender and receiver do not encode or decode language in
the same way. Managers must understand how factors such as open communication climates,
communication channels, the ability to persuade communicating with candor, asking questions,
nonverbal behavior, and listening work to enhance or detract from communication.

A. Open Communication Climate Exhibit 17.3

1. Open communication means sharing all types of information throughout the


organization, across functional and hierarchical boundaries. In an open
communication environment, people know where they stand and what rules they need
to play by. Open communication helps people accept, understand, and commit to
goals. People can see how their actions interact with and affect others in the
organization. And when people have access to complete information, they are more
likely to come up with creative solutions to problems and make decisions that are
good for the company.

2. Managers can build an open communication climate by breaking down conventional


hierarchical and department boundaries that may be barriers to communication. Also,
they can take care to communicate honestly with subordinates; keep people posted
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Managing Communication  86

when things change in either a positive or negative direction; and help people see the
financial impact of their decisions and actions.

3. To achieve the advantages of open communication, managers should use the type of
communication network that maximizes employee performance and job satisfaction.
Centralized and decentralized networks are two types that managers can make use of.

a. In a centralized network, team members must communicate through one


individual to solve problems or make decisions. This type of network can be
effective for large teams because it limits the number of people involved in
decision making. The result is a faster decision involving fewer people.

b. In a decentralized network, individuals can communicate freely with other team


members. Members process information equally among themselves until all agree
on a decision. Decentralized communication is best for complex, difficult work
environment where teams need a free flow of communication in all directions.

B. Communication Channels Exhibit 17.4

1. The Hierarchy of Channel Richness. Managers have a choice of many channels


through which to communicate. Research shows that channels differ in their capacity
to convey information. Channels can be classified in a hierarchy based on information
richness. Channel richness is the amount of information that can be transmitted
during a communication episode. Channel richness is influenced by the following
three characteristics:

c. The ability of the channel to handle multiple cues simultaneously

d. The ability of the channel to facilitate rapid, two-way feedback

e. The ability of the channel to establish a personal focus for the communication.

2. Face-to-face communication is the richest medium because it permits direct


experience, multiple information cues, immediate feedback, and personal focus.
Telephone conversations are next in the richness hierarchy, and standard computer
reports are the lowest in richness.

3. Electronic messaging, such as e-mail, instant messaging, and text messaging, is


increasingly used for messages once handled via telephone. Because e-mail messages
lack both visual and verbal cues and don’t allow for interaction and feedback,
messages can sometimes be misunderstood. Managers often use this medium to avoid
the emotional discomfort of a real-time conversation, hiding behind their computers
to send rebukes or criticisms that they would never deliver in person. It is advisable
for managers to never use e-mail in the following circumstances:

a. When you are angry.


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87  Chapter 17

b. When your message may be misunderstood.


c. When you are cancelling or apologizing.
d. When you are rebuking or criticizing.

Discussion Question #1: What are the characteristics of an open communication climate?
Describe the organizational benefits of managers cultivating an open communication climate.

NOTES________________________________________________________________________
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______________________________________________________________________________

4. Selecting the Appropriate Channel. It is important for managers to understand that


each communication channel has advantages and disadvantages, and that each can be
used to communicate effectively if used appropriately. Channel selection depends
upon the message being routine or nonroutine.

a. Nonroutine messages typically are ambiguous, concern novel events, and have
great potential for misunderstanding. They are often characterized by time
pressure and surprise. Channels high in richness should be used for transmission
of nonroutine messages.

b. Routine messages convey information managers already agree on and understand,


such as data or statistics. They simple and straight forward. They can be
communicated through a channel low in richness.

5. The key is to select a channel to fit the message. The choice of a communication
channel can also convey a symbolic meaning to the receiver. In a sense, the medium
becomes the message. For example, face-to-face communication can signal that
managers care about their employees.

Discussion Question #4: One small business owner said that he had to teach his young
employees what a “dial tone” was. Do you have phone aversion? Do you think it is possible to
build a solid business relationship with customers using only text messaging, e-mail, and social
media?

NOTES_______________________________________________________________________
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C. Communicating to Persuade and Influence Others

1. Communication is used not only to convey information, but also to persuade and
influence people. For managers today the ability to persuade and influence others is
even more critical than communication skills, although it is important. Key points for
practicing the art of persuasion include the following:
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Managing Communication  88

a. Establish credibility.
b. Build goals on common ground.
c. Connect emotionally.
d. Use multiple media to send important messages.

2. To persuade and influence, managers must communicate frequently and easily with
others. Yet, some people find interpersonal communication difficult. Communication
apprehension is an individual’s level of fear or anxiety associated with real or
anticipated communication. With training and practice, managers can overcome their
communication apprehension and become more effective communicators.

D. Communicating with Candor

1. To influence and persuade, managers also have to be frank and straightforward about
what they want and need from others. Communicating with candor means being
direct, honest, and clear about what employees need to do to meet objectives, while
also expressing respect for others and not making people feel slighted, controlled, and
exploited.

2. Communicating with candor is a confident, positive approach that lets others know
exactly where you stand and what you are asking of them. The appropriate use of a
candid communication acknowledges the other person’s perspective and opinion, yet
is very specific about what the manager wants and why. Some valuable techniques for
communicating with candor include:

e. Use “I statements”
f. Stick to facts rather than judgments
g. Be clear, specific, and direct in your request

3. Communicating with candor is an important part of creating an open communication


climate. When managers communicate with candor, they encourage others to do the
same. In an organization where such communication is the norm, everything works
faster and better. When everyone feels free to open up and speak frankly, more people
get involved in the organization conversations leading to more ideas and faster
learning. Candid communication leads to genuine ongoing conversations and limits
common problems such as meaningless meetings, workplace incivility, and rancorous
silence.

Discussion Question #9: Suppose that you manage an employee who is spending too much time
using social media at work. The result is that he has missed three important deadlines in one
week. You are planning a face-to-face conversation to address this performance problem and
your goal is to communicate with candor. Using “I statements” as described in this chapter, how
would you begin this conversation?

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89  Chapter 17

NOTES_______________________________________________________________________
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E Asking Questions

1. The traditional top-down, command-and-control approach to organizational


communication is giving way to a more dynamic form of communication that is
characterized by organizational conversations involving a give-and-take exchange of
information. To have successful organizational conversations, managers need to learn
to ask questions. Asking questions can benefit both managers and employees in
numerous ways, including:

a. Building trust and openness between them


b. Building critical thinking skills
c. Stimulating the mind and give a chance to make a difference.

F. Listening Exhibit 17.5

Exhibit 16.4

1. Listening involves the skill of grasping both facts and feelings to interpret a
message’s genuine meaning. Listening requires attention, energy, and skill. Good
listening means shifting from thinking about self to empathizing with the other person
and thus requires a high degree of emotional intelligence. Some organizations have
created a culture that emphasizes active manager listening.

G. Nonverbal Communication

1. Nonverbal communication refers to messages sent through human actions and


behaviors rather than through words. It represents a major portion of the messages we
send and receive and consists of items such as facial expression, voice, mannerisms,
posture, and dress. Nonverbal messages convey thoughts and feelings with greater
force than do our most carefully selected words.

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Managing Communication  90

2. Nonverbal communication occurs mostly face to face. One researcher found three
sources of communication cues during face-to-face communication: the verbal, which
are the actual spoken words; the vocal, which include the pitch, tone, and timbre of a
person’s voice; and facial expressions.

3. When verbal and nonverbal messages conflict, the receiver will be confused and more
apt to believe the nonverbal. Nonverbal messages and body langue often convey our
real thoughts and feelings with greater force than do our most carefully selected
words. Managers can learn to coordinate their verbal and nonverbal messages and be
sensitive to what peers, subordinates, and supervisors are saying nonverbally.

Discussion Question #3: Lana Lowery, a regional manager for a 100-person inside sales staff,
notices that the team’s best performer is struggling. Her sales are down 20 percent from a year
ago, and she frequently arrives late for work, looking upset. Lowery needs to find out why her
performance is suffering. What advice would you give Lowery for communicating with this
employee? Which communication channel should she use? What would be the relative
importance of candor, listening, and asking questions? Explain.

NOTES_______________________________________________________________________
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______________________________________________________________________________

III. WORKPLACE COMMUNICATION

Another aspect of management communication concerns the organization as a whole.


Four elements of workplace communication for managers to master are (1) using social
media to improve internal and external communication; (2) using informal, personal
communication channels; (3) establishing formal communication channels; and (4)
developing strategies for crisis communication.
.
A. Social Media

1. Social media is a group of Internet-based applications that allow the creation and
exchange of user-generated content. It covers a broad number of applications
including wikis, blogs, micro-blogs (e.g., Twitter), content communication (e.g.,
YouTube), social networking sites (e.g., Facebook), and virtual social networks. It is
reinventing how people in organizations communicate.

2. Social media has been used for only two or three years for most companies, largely
for listening to customers, communicating with customers, and engaging employees.

Discussion Question #10: Describe specific ways that you might incorporate Twitter into an
organization’s crisis communication plan for customers. How about for employees?

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91  Chapter 17

NOTES_______________________________________________________________________
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______________________________________________________________________________

B. Personal Communication Channels Exhibit 17.6

1. Personal communication channels exist outside the formally authorized channels.


They coexist with formal channels but may skip hierarchical levels, cutting across
vertical chains of command to connect virtually anyone in the organization. Three
types of informal channels used in many organizations are personal networks, the
grapevine, and written communication

2. Developing Personal Communication Networks: Personal networking refers to the


acquisition and cultivation of personal relationships that cross departmental,
hierarchical, and organizational boundaries. Smart managers consciously develop
personal communication networks and encourage others to do so. The value is that
people who have more contacts have greater influence in the organization and get
more accomplished. Tips from one networking expert include:

 Build it before you need it. Managers should not wait until they need something
to start building a network of personal relations.

 Never eat lunch alone. Those who excel at networking are visible and connect
with as many people as possible.

 Make it win-win. Successful networking isn’t just about getting what you want;
it’s also about making sure other people in the network get what they want.

 Focus on diversity. The broader your base of contacts, the broader your range of
influence.

3. The Grapevine

a. The grapevine is an informal, person-to-person communication network of


employees that is not officially sanctioned by the organization. The grapevine
links employees, at all levels, in all directions. The grapevine will always exist in
an organization and tends to be more active during times of change, excitement,
anxiety, or sagging economic conditions.

b. About 80 percent of grapevine communications pertain to organization-related


topics, and 70 to 90 percent of the messages in the grapevine are accurate. Smart
managers understand the company’s grapevine. They recognize who’s connected
to whom and which employees are key players in the informal spread of
information.

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Managing Communication  92

NEW MANAGER SELF-TEST: ARE YOU BUILDING A PERSONAL NETWORK

Personal networks may help a new manager in the workplace. This exercise will help students
learn something about their networking skills.

Discussion Question #6: During times of significant organizational change, such as downsizing
and layoffs, the grapevine becomes more active as anxious employees share organizational news
and rumors. As a manager, what communication strategies would you employ during a time of
uncertainty in the workplace? What are the advantages and disadvantages of gossip during a
time of uncertainty?

NOTES_______________________________________________________________________
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______________________________________________________________________________

4. Written Communication

a. Written communication skills are becoming increasingly important in today’s


collaborative workplace. Managers who are unable to communicate in writing
will limit their opportunities for advancement.

b. Managers can improve their writing skills by following the four guidelines below.

● Respect the reader. The reader’s time is valuable; don’t waste it with a
rambling, confusing memo or email that has to be read several time to try to
make sense of it. Pay attention to grammar and spelling—sloppy writing
indicates that you think your time is more important than that of your readers.

 Know your point and get to it. To write effectively, know what your central
point is and write to support it.

 Write clearly rather than impressively. The goal of good writing for
business is to be understood the first time through. State your message as
simply and as clearly as possible.

 Get a second opinion. Ask someone you consider to be a good writer to read
formal communications before you send them. In all cases, read and revise
memos and e-mails a second and third time before you send them.
.
Discussion Question #5: Some senior managers believe they should rely on written information
and computer reports because these yield more accurate data than do face-to-face
communications. Do you agree? Why or why not?

NOTES________________________________________________________________________
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______________________________________________________________________________
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93  Chapter 17

C. Formal Communication Channels Exhibit 17.7

1. Formal communication channels are those that flow within the chain of command
or task responsibility defined by the organization. Within organizations,
communications flow mainly downward and upward; however, many organizations
emphasize horizontal communication.

2. Electronic communication such as e-mail and instant messaging have made it easier
than ever for information to flow in all directions.

a. Downward communication refers to messages and information sent from top


managers to subordinates in a downward direction. Common methods of
downward communication include speeches, videos, blogs, podcasts, and
company intranets. The major problem with downward communication is
information drop-off, the distortion or loss of message content. Information drop-
off can be reduced by using the right communication channel, consistency
between verbal and nonverbal messages, and active listening. Downward
communication encompasses these topics:
 Goals and strategies
 Job instructions and rationale
 Procedures and practices
 Performance feedback
 Indoctrination

b. Upward communication includes messages that flow from the lower levels to
the higher levels in the organization. Employees need to air grievances, report
progress, and provide feedback to management. Mechanisms for upward
communication include suggestion boxes, employee surveys, open-door policies,
MIS reports, and face-to-face conversations between workers and managers.
Barriers to accurate upward communication exist. Managers may resist hearing
about employee problems, or employees might not trust managers to push
information upward. Innovative companies look for ways to ensure that
information gets to top managers without distortion. Information communicated
upward includes:
 Problems and exceptions
 Suggestions for improvement
 Performance reports
 Grievances and disputes
 Financial and accounting information

c. Horizontal communication is the lateral or diagonal exchange of messages


across peers or co-workers. The purposes of horizontal communication are to
inform, to request support, and to coordinate activities. Horizontal communication
is particularly important in learning organizations, where teams of workers are
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Managing Communication  94

continuously solving problems and searching for new ways of doing things.
Horizontal communication includes:
 Intradepartmental problem solving
 Interdepartmental coordination
 Change initiatives and improvements

D. Crisis Communication

1. Recently, the sheer number and scope of crises has made communication a more
demanding job for managers. Organizations face small crises every day such as
charges of racial discrimination, a factory fire, or a flu epidemic. Acts of intention evil
such as bombings and kidnappings continue to increase in frequency.

2. Managers can develop four skills for communicating in a crisis.

a. Stay calm, listen hard. Good crisis managers don’t allow themselves to be
overwhelmed by the situation.

b. Be visible. A manager’s job is to step out immediately, both to reassure employees


and to respond to public concerns.

c. Get the awful truth out. Getting the truth out quickly prevents rumors and
misunderstandings.

d. Communicate a vision for the future. People need to feel that they have something
to work for and look forward to.

Discussion Question #7: Assume you manage a small online business that sells herbal
supplements. Without your knowledge, a disgruntled employee has posted damaging information
about your company in the company’s blog, including false information about dangerous
ingredients in your best-selling supplement. What specific steps would you take to minimize the
impact of this crisis?

NOTES________________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________________

Answers to End-of-Chapter Discussion Questions

1. What are the characteristics of an open communication climate? Describe the


organizational benefits of managers cultivating an open communication climate.

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95  Chapter 17

Open communication means sharing all types of information throughout the organization,
across functional and hierarchical boundaries. In an open communication environment,
people know where they stand and what rules they need to play by. Open communication
helps people accept, understand, and commit to goals. People can see how their actions
interact with and affect others in the organization. And when people have access to complete
information, they are more likely to come up with creative solutions to problems and make
decisions that are good for the company.

Managers can build an open communication climate by breaking down conventional


hierarchical and department boundaries that may be barriers to communication. Also, they
can take care to communicate honestly with subordinates; keep people posted when things
change in either a positive or negative direction; and help people see the financial impact of
their decisions and actions.

Centralized and decentralized networks are two characteristics of an open communication


that can make effective open communication climate.

In a centralized network, team members must communicate through one individual to solve
problems or make decisions. This type of network can be beneficial for large teams because
it limits the number of people involved in decision making. The result is a faster decision
involving fewer people.

In a decentralized network, individuals can communicate freely with other team members.
Members process information equally among themselves until all agree on a decision.
Decentralized communication is best for complex, difficult work environment where teams
need a free flow of communication in all directions.

2. Describe the elements of the communication model in Exhibit 17.2. Give an example of each
part of the model as it exists in the classroom during communication between teacher and
students.

The communication process begins with the encoding of an idea into a message, which is
then sent through a channel to a receiver. The receiver decodes the message to interpret its
meaning and may respond with feedback to the sender. In the classroom, encoding occurs
when the professor conceives of an idea and translates it either into spoken words or into
writing on the blackboard. The spoken or written words are the symbols that comprise the
message. The channel is the spoken voice that is heard by the receiver or the writing that is
interpreted visually by the receiver. The receiver decodes the symbols to interpret the
message. Feedback occurs when students ask questions. Noise occurs when the flow of
messages is disrupted. This could occur because someone is talking in the classroom, because
the professor does not speak clearly, or because the handwriting on the blackboard is
illegible.

3. Lana Lowery, a regional manager for a 100-person inside sales staff, notices that the team’s
best performer is struggling. Her sales are down 20 percent from a year ago, and she
frequently arrives late for work, looking upset. Lowery needs to find out why her
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Managing Communication  96

performance is suffering. What advice would you give Lowery for communicating with this
employee? Which communication channel should she use? What would be the relative
importance of candor, listening, and asking questions? Explain.

A face-to-face conversation seems to be the most ideal channel for Lowery to use to
communicate with her subordinate. Personal, individual feedback, whether positive or
negative, should always be communicated face to face if possible. This information-rich
channel allows for dialogue and nonverbal communication, both of which are essential for
successful feedback in any case, but especially when performance-corrective information is
being conveyed. Studies also show that face-to-face and telephonic are the two channels of
communications that are most commonly preferred when communicating difficult news,
giving advice, or expressing affection which is applicable in the given case.

Candor, listening, and asking questions are relatively important in making the
communication most effective. Communicating with candor will be a confident, positive
approach as this will acknowledge the subordinate’s perspective and opinion, yet at the same
time will help Lowery be firm and specific about what she wants and why (they are having
the conversation).

Listening would help Lowery grasp both the facts and feelings involved to interpret the
message’s genuine meaning; only then can she provide the appropriate response.

Asking questions will help build trust and openness between Lowery and her subordinate,
build critical thinking skills, and stimulate the subordinate’s mind giving him/her a chance to
make a difference.

4. One small business owner said that he had to teach his young employees what a “dial tone”
was. Do you have phone aversion? Do you think it is possible to build a solid business
relationship with customers using only text messaging, e-mail, and social media?

Students can offer their opinions about texting versus telephoning. More and more people
avoid using the telephone; however, there is also an increase in options in communication.
Many business websites offer customers the opportunity to complete the entire transaction
online or call a toll-free number to speak to a customer representative. Some businesses offer
a chat capability. It is advantageous for a business to offer personalized customer service over
the telephone for those who prefer to speak to a person. Also, there are customers who object
to entering credit card information online for fear of identity theft and prefer to give the
information over the phone.

5. Some senior managers believe they should rely on written information and computer reports
because these yield more accurate data than do face-to-face communications. Do you agree?
Why or why not?

Face-to-face communication is the richest medium. Telephone conversations are next in the
richness hierarchy, and standard computer reports are the lowest in richness. Ideally,
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97  Chapter 17

managers will use both face-to-face communication and computer reports to develop the
most complete and useful information. This can be done in a couple of ways. Managers can
gather accurate but impersonal data from computer reports and then meet face to face with
employees to learn about the “back story”—the history and nuances of the situation or
problem. Alternatively, they can meet with employees in person first to get whatever
information they can from them about the situation and then use the data to verify the factual
aspects of that information.

6. During times of significant organizational change, such as downsizing and layoffs, the
grapevine becomes more active as anxious employees share organizational news and
rumors. As a manager, what communication strategies would you employ during a time of
uncertainty in the workplace? What are the advantages and disadvantages of gossip during a
time of uncertainty?

During times of uncertainty, managers should use every communication channel they can to
help employees understand the facts and to ease their anxiety. Because the grapevine is
already highly active during these times, managers can take advantage of the grapevine by
feeding the information they want employees to hear into the grapevine. However, because
information passed through the grapevine is particularly vulnerable to distortion, managers
must also use more formal communication channels to ensure that employees have accurate,
truthful information to counter the distortions that occur in the grapevine. Gossip information
moves throughout the organization incredibly quickly, so it can reach a large number of
employees in a very short time, but it can also be rampant with distorted or even blatantly
false information, which must be countered with factual, accurate information through other
channels.

7. Assume you manage a small online business that sells herbal supplements. Without your
knowledge, a disgruntled employee has posted damaging information about your company in
the company’s blog, including false information about dangerous ingredients in your best-
selling supplement. What specific steps would you take to minimize the impact of this crisis?

Managers can develop four skills for communicating in a crisis. First, managers should stay
calm and listen hard. Good crisis managers don’t allow themselves to be overwhelmed by the
situation. Instead, they acknowledge the difficulty of the situation, but project hope and
optimism. Second, managers should be visible. A manager’s job is to step out immediately,
both to reassure employees and to respond to public concerns. In this situation, firing the
disgruntled employee and making it known that the employee has been dismissed is a
necessary part of that response. Third, managers should get the awful truth out—in this case,
the truth that a disgruntled employee posted false information. Getting the truth out quickly
prevents rumors and misunderstandings. Then, make sure the real truth gets out also, the truth
that your products are indeed safe. Finally, managers in a crisis situation must communicate a
vision for the future. People need to believe that the crisis has been managed, that appropriate
steps have been taken to ensure a similar crisis can’t happen again, and that the company is
moving forward with a positive outlook.

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Managing Communication  98

8. If you were asked to design a training program to help managers become better
communicators, what would you include in the program?

This question is designed to stimulate student thinking, and there is no single correct answer.
Students will want to consider many of the topics covered in this chapter including
communication channels, nonverbal communication, listening, and informal communications
such as management by wandering around. These topics would help managers understand
communication skills and acquire practice and efficiency with the techniques. The
communication-training program might also consider organizational barriers to
communication and how to overcome them. Students may have ideas of their own for
training managers in additional communication areas such as speech making, writing, using
organizational surveys, open-door policies, and other techniques for enhancing organizational
and personal communication.

9. Suppose that you manage an employee who is spending too much time using social media at
work. The result is that he has missed three important deadlines in one week. You are
planning a face-to-face conversation to address this performance problem and your goal is
to communicate with candor. Using “I statements” as described in this chapter, how would
you begin this conversation?

Students’ responses can vary. However, the statements or responses should focus on the
specific perception of the situation that they as a manager (i.e., “I”) have, how they feel about
it, and the effect it is having on them, rather accusing or blaming the employee.

10. Describe specific ways that you might incorporate Twitter into an organization’s crisis
communication plan for customers. How about for employees?

The rapidly changing digital environment is bringing sweeping changes to workplace


communication. Use of Twitter has increased dramatically. This significant increase signals a
growing appetite among users for instant access and immediate sharing of information.
Twitter opens up opportunities for organizations to interact with employees and customers
especially in a time of crisis. During a crisis, a manager should stay calm and listen carefully,
reassure employees and the public, tell the truth, and communicate a vision for the future.
This can be done through Tweets.

Apply Your Skills: Experiential Exercise

Personal Assessment of Communication Apprehension

If students are honest with themselves as they respond to this questionnaire, many if not most
will find they can assess their communication apprehension. Since communication is such a big
part of everyone’s life, it is easy to identify which situations produce communication
apprehension---public speaking, meetings, group discussions, and interpersonal conversations.
With awareness and practice it is possible to improve communication and reduce communication
apprehension.

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99  Chapter 17

Apply Your Skills: Small Group Breakout

Listen Like a Pro

Students are asked to form groups and, within their groups, form pairs of two. They then sit face
to face and each gazes into his or her partner’s left eye. Once they’re comfortable with eye
contact, one should describe an annoying experience to the other, while the first maintains eye
contact but does not respond verbally. Then, students switch roles, and finally discuss their
feelings during that part of the exercise. Students select another partner and repeat the exercise,
except that they now paraphrase the speaker’s story of annoyance. Finally, they select a third
partner and repeat the exercise, this time asking five questions during the speaker’s story. Then,
all students in the group discuss their experiences in the three scenarios.

Apply Your Skills: Ethical Dilemma

On Trial

1. Agree with Cathy Putnam. Despite your personal feelings, accept that Firoz Bahmani is not
capable of carrying out the accountant assistant’s responsibilities. Make the break now, and
give him his notice on the grounds that he cannot carry out one of the key stated job
requirements. Advise him that a position that primarily involves paperwork would be a better
fit for him.

This is a poor choice. Achieving and supporting diversity in a firm is not easy, but it is
essential in today’s world. There will always be cultural and language barriers when
employees of different nationalities are working together. Beatrice Werner believes Firoz will
eventually be an asset to the firm, and she should provide him the opportunity to grow and
learn.

2. Place Firoz with a more sympathetic account manager who is open to finding ways to help
him improve his English and has the time to help him develop his assertiveness and
telephone skills. Send Cathy Putnam to diversity awareness training.

This is probably the best option. Werner should place Firoz with another account manager
who is more tolerant and is willing to find ways to help Firoz develop his language skills. If
possible, she could lessen the manager’s caseload somewhat as well. Firoz appreciates the
job and seems more than willing to please; he is not going to resent strong guidance. In
addition, working with a more encouraging and supportive manager will help Firoz feel more
confident about his language skills, which will in turn help him be more willing to make the
necessary calls to customers and clients. Cathy’s comments suggest that she does not fully
embrace diversity. In fact, they betray a certain level of prejudice. Although she may resent it
initially, diversity awareness training might her be more accepting of others.

3. Create a new position at the firm that will allow Firoz to do the reports and reconciliations
for several account managers, freeing the account assistants to concentrate on public
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Managing Communication  100

contact work. Make it clear that he will have little chance of future promotion unless his
English improves markedly.

Sticking Firoz in a dead-end job that does not involve customer contact is a waste of his
potential, and Werner has already assured him of his opportunities for advancement.

Apply Your Skills: Case for Critical Analysis

E-mail Adventure

1. What is the underlying communication mistake in this case? Why do you think Howard
Tannenbaum sent those e-mails?

The underlying communication mistake in the case is the fact that Howard sent those e-mails
while he was bursting with anger, something that one should always avoid when using e-mail
as a communication channel. He should have probably waited till he cooled off his anger,
because increased anger can disable one’s ability to communicate effectively. Then, he would
have been more able to choose the most constructive way to convey his emotions, the fact
that he was upset.

Howard Tannenbaum sent those e-mails when he was angry and upset because of the breach
of product design information in the company. Tannenbaum was very passionate about this
product (a new line of toys); so, he was emotionally charged when the information about it
was leaked way before its completion, and suspected everyone in the company. Sending the
angry e-mails was his way of venting out his emotions.

2. How do you think Tannenbaum should have communicated his concerns about the
information link? Why?

Howard should not have sent those e-mails while he was bursting with anger. One should
always avoid using e-mail as a communication channel when he/she is angry. He should have
probably waited till he cooled off his anger, because increased anger can disable one’s ability
to communicate effectively. Then, he would have been more able to choose the most
constructive way to convey his emotions, the fact that he was upset.

A better communication channel should have been selected. Like, in this case, as the message
in the e-mail contains nonroutine messages, it involves great potential for misunderstanding.
Therefore, a rich communication channel, like, face to face should have been a better choice.
This will ensure that the employees hear the message in the most positive way. The visual
and verbal cues will allow for interaction and feedback, making the communication more
effective.

3. What should Tannenbaum do now to try to recover from the negative impact of his e-mails?
Suggest specific steps.

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101  Chapter 17

To recover from the negative impact of his e-mails Tannenbaum can probably arrange for a
face-to-face communication and meet all his subordinates in person in order to clear out the
misunderstandings, and apologize for it. Visual and verbal cues will allow for interaction and
feedback making the communication more effective. This might help him in restoring the
damaged relationship with them.

On the Job Video Case Answers

Intermountain Healthcare: Managing Communication

1. Intermountain Healthcare is a very large organization with thousands of employees. List at


least four methods it uses to communicate with employees. Why do you think this
organization feels the need to use so many different methods to communicate?

 Local representatives provide face-to-face communication with employees.


 Flyers and talking points provide written communication for employees
 Networking with peers provides information sharing among physicians.
 Website information provides core process documents that share goals with
employees

This organization is so large that the managers feel the need to repeat messages frequently,
using several methods of communication, to be sure that employees are well informed.

2. In the video, Fritz Grohn says that communicating with patients as they are being released
from the hospital is not always successful at first. Use this situation (a nurse discharging a
patient from the hospital after a surgery or illness) to describe the communication model, and
explain where the communication breaks down and why. How do Intermountain’s employees
overcome this problem to successfully complete the communication process with patients?

As illustrated in the communication model, effective communication is cyclical: a


sender and receiver exchange messages several times to achieve a mutual understanding.
Encoding and decoding sometimes can cause communication errors. A nurse encodes
instructions (message) when discharging a patient, but the patient does not always understand
(decode) the instructions correctly.. Individual differences, knowledge, values, attitudes, and
background act as filters and may create “noise”. This results in a communication breakdown
because patients can misinterpret a message. Patients have so much on their minds that they
cannot absorb all the discharge instructions. Intermountain’s employees overcome this
problem with feedback. They reinforce the discharge instructions. They are reassuring. They
encourage the patients to ask questions. They provide informational brochures.

3. How is Intermountain using technology to improve internal communication? Include at least


two examples described in the video in your answer.

Intermountain serves rural communities through 28 projects. Tele-Health and Tele-Critical


Care offer expertise to physicians in rural areas using online capabilities such as video-
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Managing Communication  102

conferencing. There is also a home-health service that allows mothers to see their babies in
Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) from home. This alleviates concern when premature
babies are required to stay in the hospital for an extended period of time. By having
computerized medical records, all physicians in the Intermountain system have access to
current patient records.

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