Is it just me or do you always think of the “telephone” game when communication in the workplace comes to mind? Often times, word spreads like a wild fire and next thing you know, the last person who hears the news interprets it a completely different way. This reminds me of the workplace since we spend the best hours of the day at work and before you know it, we are somehow “gossiping” while we communicate with other co-workers without even knowing it. Of course, the information passed along may only be as good as the source.
I read an article recently stating that almost 15% of work emails are considered “gossip” – “messages that contain information about a person or persons not among the recipients” (Gilbert). This may be useful because the firm may find out more about their employees such as them running late or feeling sick, but may also be negative because negative information about the company may be talked about and spread outside of management team.
Effective communication within the organization is not just downward (flow of communication from superiors to subordinates) or upward (flow of communication from subordinate to their superiors), but laterally as well. Although downward communication can give management feedback on how employees are performing and upward communication allows management to know how employees are feeling, communication should not just flow in this way. A lateral flow of communicating (being able to communicate with peers at the same level and management at different levels) is important to encourage team building and openness within the workplace. I remember how scary it was to approach and communicate with my manager when i worked in retail. It always seems as if managers are always “scary” or “intimidating” at first. Is this just me again? Nonetheless, at least that feeling of intimidation lasted for a good two months or so until I’ve learned to open up and build a good relationship with them. With a lateral flow of communication, it will minimize the “telephone game” effect of how information is passed out. Getting information directly from anyone within the organization (whether they are in management or a peer) will enable everyone to build better relationships and be more productive in working together. I believe that it is also an effective way to communicate using various channels, especially with the way technology is moving lately, electronic communication can be effective as well. Everyone is getting more busy so it is faster and more convenient. Here is another great article from time magazine explaining how to use electronic channels as an effective way to communicate.
It is important to be attentive on how we communicate within the organization or the receiver may not receive the message in its fullness – depending on the clarity and articulation of how it is conveyed (selective perception).
To all my fellow visual learners out there, here is an awesome video I found on organizational communication in a lot more detail and animation. I definitely learned a lot and gained some insight:
Georgia Institute of Technology. (2012). Have you heard? Nearly 15 percent of work email is gossip. Retrieved June 11, 2012 from http://esciencenews.com/articles/2012/06/06/have.you.heard.nearly.15.percent.work.email.gossip
Management Study Guide. Communication Flows in an Organization. Retrieved June 11, 2012 from http://www.managementstudyguide.com/communication-flows.htm
TIME WORLD – Bill Gates’ New Rules. (1999). From Business @ The Speed of Thought: Using a Digital Nervous System, by Bill Gates. Copyright 1999 by William H. Gates, III. Published by Warner Books, USA. Retrieved June 12, 2012 from http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2040466,00.html
What is effective communication?. (2012). What is effective Communication? Retrieved June 11, 2012 from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e5oXygLGMuY