On average, most employees spend most of their time in the workplace. A significant time spent in this environment goes into communication. As they perform their daily duties, employees talk to clients, fellow workers and their bosses and having apt communication skills is therefore an invaluable asset to such an individual. This is the reason why communication has constantly been a burning issue in any organization. Management executives are always looking into new and effective ways to streamline communication throughout the workplace. In fact, communication is a key facilitator in numerous factors ranging from productivity to boosting employee morale.
Therefore, every necessary action needs to be taken to ensure that communication in an organization is effective. It is a fundamental concept to all managerial functions as it is a means of information transmission from one person to another in an understandable manner. In this light, effective communication poses a major challenge to managers since they are charged with the responsibility of disseminating crucial information to all subordinate workers. The result of effective communication from management is efficient and effective business performance.
Communication is defined as the process of creating and exchanging thoughts, ideas and emotions from one person to another. It involves understanding between the sender of these concepts and the receiver (Guo & Sanchez, 2005). Essentially, communication maintains healthy relations in the workplace. This makes it the cornerstone of trust establishment among teams which improves their productivity and performance. In this paper, the topic of workplace communication will be discussed comprehensively. Different applicable types of communication will be looked into besides discussing ways in which communication in the workplace can be improved to enhance organizational productivity.
Communication in the workplace
Categories of communication
Workplace communication is arguably the most important asset of business organizations. At the workplace, communication falls into two broad categories: external and internal communication (Thompson, 2002). Internal communication flows within the organization and happens among colleagues, workmates, supervisors and top executives. On the other hand, external communication involves flow of information outside an organization. This happens when organization representatives talk to respective consumers, clients, distributors and suppliers as well as other partners and competing organizations.
In its own right, external communication is a broader subject than internal communication. Either category requires a deep understanding to bring out the aspect of workplace communication. Nevertheless, it can be said that all communication originates from within an organization which makes internal communication very critical for business. This is because it has a direct impact on the reputation that a company has to external parties.
An organization can be viewed as a communication system. Consequently, communication flow comprises of two patterns. First of all, communication flows into and through the organization. This is governed by a formal command chain that exists through an established system of communication flow that consists of groups and teams. Departmental leaders work together to incorporate exchanged information into future corporate goals which are presented to management during organizational meetings. Secondly, some communication flows into and through a firm using informal and social patterns. Such patterns involve routine interactions amongst employees that are not formally predetermined by the organization.
These are basically the popular talks between employees; for instance, impromptu discussions in water coolers or employees lounges. Such conversations can occur over lunch breaks, in parking lots or during sales activities. In essence, formal and informal flows of communication in the workplace harbor a lot about what travels through an organization (Goodall & H. L. Goodall, 2009). The interrelation between the two channels of communication provides additional sources of information for decision making.
Types of communication
Various types of communication are used in the workplace to foster exchange of information. There are two major types of communication: verbal and non-verbal communication. Verbal communication may be in oral or written form. Oral communication involves the word of mouth. Here, people talk to each other either directly or indirectly through telephone and other communication media. On the other hand, written communication uses words but in written form. The written information may be on a paper, surface, or electronic media. The ability to convey ideas in written form is crucial in this form of communication. Written communication organizes ideas logically and it is preferred to oral communication at other times. Written ideas should be sent to appropriate parties.
Non-verbal communication means that words are not used to convey messages. For instance, facial expressions are used to express feelings about something. Gestures are also used to communicate specific messages. For example, holding up of the arm may tell workers in a team to stop or hold on their operation until further notice. Body language is also used to show attitudes and emotions. In fact, someone may not even be aware that they are conveying some information through body language. For example, opening our arms wide while putting a smile on the face may send warm signals to the people we are speaking to. Contrarily, if our heads are put down and eye contact avoided sends the signal that we are not interested in the people we are speaking to (Mehrabian, 2007).
Improving communication in the workplace
Different ways can be utilized to ensure improved and efficient communication in the workplace. For instance, setting a common vision ensures that team members are all working towards achieving a common objective. Managers should define visions and goals to their subordinate teams which relates directly to organizational strategy of innovation. In this light therefore, the team should be aligned to the expectations of the goals. Every individual should be aligned with regards to what needs to be accomplished in a project to achieve set goals.
Regular discussions can help eliminate wrong assumptions especially in the early stages. This helps everyone to understand their expected output throughout the project plan. Therefore, it is of critical importance that team managers communicate these requirements clearly, regularly and early enough. All messages must be clear and not ambiguous to promote understanding. Moreover, constant updates on project progress should be maintained and issues that crop up discussed as soon as they arise.
It is also prudent to make use of synchronous and asynchronous medium in the most appropriate way to provide effective feedback and discussions in both ways. Synchronous communication modes are basically telephone, video conferencing or instant messaging. Conversely, electronic mail (e-mail) and voice mail are asynchronous means of communication. Both methods are applicable for informative messaging to provide updates and reports on a regular basis. Most importantly, workers should be careful to avoid offensive or coarse language when communicating at the workplace. Dirty jokes should therefore be avoided as these may affect the effectiveness of their victims in the work environment. The workplace is meant to be safe, calm and conducive environment for professional or business progress and not a place to vent ones fury on others.
Usefulness of the information about communication in the workplace
Though I may not have had the chance to exercise communication skills in a workplace environment, as I have never worked in any organization, I believe that this information will be crucial to the growth of my career in future. Communicating effectively in the business environment will be important for the fact that I will be able to establish trust and professional relations with work colleagues and seniors. Additionally, it will help me become a better team player to contribute effectively to the achievement of organizational objectives and projects.
Moreover, understanding that people come from varying cultural backgrounds will boost my professionalism in dealing with individuals from diverse cultural groups. In fact, this is a critical factor of communication affecting the workplace (Cultural and Language Barriers in the Workplace, 2002). I could use this information to ensure that cultural differences do not negatively affect the interactions amongst team members in a group. This information can be factored into various teamwork processes such as decision making and sales activities.
Learning to speak and listen well is an important part of communication that will enable me to relate better with colleagues at the workplace. The knowledge that communication is a responsibility of every individual in the workplace is equally important. As a matter of fact, communicating the good and the bad as well will help me ensure that potential risks are avoided and not ignored. It helps to eliminate the vices that may negatively affect the performance of team workers. Giving feedback also ensures meaningful information processing in the organization setting. It will also be crucial that I establish mutual understanding to ensure that what I communicate is properly and accurately understood by recipients. That way, I can be a better team player, supervisor, project manager or even a business executive.
Summary and conclusion
In conclusion, communicating effectively at the workplace entails setting clear objectives for teams and ensuring that management keeps team members constantly informed about their expected output. Communication channels forms naturally as workers interact. However, this should be natured through meeting regularly for discussions to establish trust, identity and open communication. Communication improvement is a prerequisite for every organization. It is a key business driver although complex to achieve. It should not be ignored under any circumstances. By keeping the various guidelines in check, workdays may become more fulfilling for employees and will give a healthy boost to people's careers.