Alison Jackson has been appointed as the new receptionist; she started working three weeks ago. Alison is has the right capabilities for her job, and possesses the essential communication skills. But in the recent days, problems have started surfacing, that are causing communication gaps and inefficiencies within Brownlee & Smith. Thus there is a certain need to improve some aspects in the way Alison handles her responsibilities. The aim of this report is to provide a focus on some key issues related to communication and its flow in the company furthermore this report provides some helpful recommendations and possible solutions for those problems.
“Nothing is so simple, that it cannot be misunderstood”-(Freeman Teague, Jr.).
The above statement suggests that if the communication is not effective then it has adverse effects on the functioning of a firm. The problems that do not allow proper flow of communication within an organisation are known as barriers to communication, a communication barrier is anything that disturbs the communication process. These barriers are highly prone. They cannot be completely eliminated, but they can be minimized, these barriers if exist within an organisation can lead to inefficiencies and may lead to development of serious issues that harm the management of the firm. Therefore the identification and rectification of such communication barriers and problems becomes very important (Seunghwan, 2010).
In order to understand the barriers to communication, first of all the process of communication has to be clearly understood. Communication is the process by which a message/information is sent and received, from the sender to the receiver. But the problem is not just to communicate, but to communicate effectively (Schatzman,2002).
The process of Communication:C:UsersChiragDesktopCommunicationsProcess.gif
In the process of communication, the sender has an idea/information/message, which he transmits to the receiver through different mediums capable of being perceived by the receiver. The receiver then takes the message interprets it and then responds with a feedback. The process of communication is not said to be complete unless and until a respond is obtained from the receiver.
“The communication process is successful only when the receiver understands the message as intended by the sender” (Guffey et.al, 2009).
. The problems that do not allow proper flow of communication within an organisation are known as barriers to communication.The barriers/hurdles to effective communication cannot be completely eradicated, but can be minimised to a great extent to allow effective communication.http://t2.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQo_d13KYsBhgdI8GP0TTtJu6oTIrDiEG4-gj6e_JgdYMXsINs1
There are various types of communication barriers, some of which are discussed here:
Interpersonal barriers are those barriers that arise within the sender and the receiver, for e.g. if in a discussion, one person is biased towards topic being discussed, then the outcome of that discussion will be affected by that factor itself that it was biased.
Emotional barriers like strong feelings of hatred, anger, etc damage the interaction between the sender and the receiver in numerous ways.
Organisational barriers occur in the case of large work units, a very good example is when the message has to be passed on through a long chain of command and by the time the message reaches the end receiver, it gets highly distorted.
After understanding the barriers of effective communication the problems of communication and related issues in the case of Brownlee & Smith can be identified. And their possible solutions can be suggested.
Related issues and Recommendations:
Unpunctuality in communication:
In the second week of her work, Alison addresses a girl who was there for an interview with Freda Watkins, but being unaware of her arrival, she asked the girl to be seated in a nearby empty office, Alison does contact the general office if they were aware of the interview that was set up for the girl and is informed that they have no idea about it. Alison fails to inform Freda about the arrival of the girl to be interview immediately, and eventually forgets about her presence. 45 minutes later the girl storms out, blaming the inefficiency of the firm. Thus here it is very clear that Alison must have immediately informed Freda, as she was expecting that girl for interview as that might have prevented this situation from occurring. Information if not delivered at the right time is useless; there are obvious instances of this fact that can be highlighted in the organisation. The simplification of the interviewing process is thus necessary to avoid similar trouble in future.
Difficulties in prioritising important issues:
In the second week, when a client who had an appointment to see James peters was kept waiting for 25 minutes, because she accidentally sent a sales person to see James Peters who had no prior appointment. For communication to be carried out effectively, the information and issues have to be identified and prioritised as per its importance. So that urgent and important issues are dealt with initially, and then the lesser important ones are communicated. But there have been certain drawbacks in prioritising information by Alison.
Record of communication is to be maintained:
Alison is not able to clear up the packages of stationary that were delivered by the delivery man earlier in the day, rendering that space useless and an important client is left standing, and is highly displeased with her approach. A record of all past communication must be maintained, as it aids in future reference. If a record is not maintained then some crucial information may be forgotten or misplaced, which in turn results in inefficiency. In order to avoid this problem, a log book reflecting the day’s events must be event and also a ‘To-do’ list can be helpful to avoid piling up of tasks and prevents information from being misplaced.
Lack of Visual aids, markings and signs to communicate basic information:
There was a long queue on the entrance road as the delivery man had parked the vehicle right in front of the gate and it was preventing other vehicles from accessing the entrance, also when she escorted one of the clients to the partner’s office, which was some distance from the entrance, she left the reception desk unoccupied for sometime while she actually took longer than intended to return. That left the two clients unattended at the reception while she was away from her desk. The workplace must be marked with clear and visible room allocation maps, and signs giving directions as it prevents confusion and is a self-explanatory form of communication. If every person coming into Brownlee & Smith is to be assisted with locating the right room in the office, a lot of Alison’s time will be wasted and will cause undesirable delays at the reception. In practice there must have been clear instructions regarding the parking policy at the entrance to prevent such miscommunication. And a simple room allocation map might have solved the problem of finding the right room.
Implementation of effective telecommunication:
Alison keeps an important clients’ call waiting which sets the client off, and points out that fact to Roger Brownlee, also Freda was displeased with how Alison handled the situation. A code of conduct must be implemented in context to the answering of telephone calls and the way clients’ queries are addressed. A formal tone for answering and short and to the point replies are expected without long delays. Also important phone calls must be answered first. Thus a telephone log book must be maintained, clearly mentioning the names and numbers of important clients who must be put through immediately to their respective departments.
The above recommendations were helpful in solving the current issues at Brownlee & Smith in short term furthermore in order to improve the overall communication structure and its flow, some long term strategic measures could be taken by the organisation, the suggestions are as follows:
Transparency in communication is a key factor to overcome barriers; communication must be visible and accessible. For effective communication, there must be an atmosphere of trust and fairness in the organisation. Also reducing the hierarchical levels within the organisation, and increasing the co-ordination among the various departments by encouraging two-way communication reduces flaws in communication by a great extent. To avoid inefficiencies, the communication process must be speeded up (Williams, 2007).
Hence to sum it all up, if the above suggestions if implemented, will help Brownlee & Smith achieve efficiency and growth.
Roger BrownleeOrganisation Communication Chart
Sr. Secretary 4
Sr. Secretary 3
Sr. Secretary 2
Sr. Secretary 5
This organisation communication chart depicts the flow of communication in Brownlee & Smith; it explains the relationships between the various hierarchical stages within the organisation, and the way they communicate.
Starting from the Top, Roger Brownlee; the senior partner shares direct downward communication with the partners George Smart, James Peters, etc and Alison Jackson; the receptionist/telephonist. One interaction problem faced here was when Alison kept an important client waiting, when he needed to speak to Roger Brownlee, and Roger was highly displeased with that incident.
The other partners, George Smart, James Peters, etc are in direct link with Roger Brownlee, Marjory McLean and the other senior secretaries, and Alison Jackson. The problem faced at this stage of communication was when Alison sent a salesperson to see James Peters, and kept a client who had an appointment to see James Peters waiting for almost 25 minutes.
Marjory McLean and the other four senior secretaries are in direct communication with Freda Watkins and Alison Jackson.
Freda Watkins the Office manger shares direct communication with the Marjory McLean and the other senior secretaries, the Record assistant Karen Graham who reports only to Freda Watkins, the clerical staff/general secretaries, and Alison Jackson. Communication was disrupted here when Alison failed to inform Freda about a girl whom she had called in for an interview, and she walked off after being kept waiting for 45 minutes by Alison as she had forgotten that the girl was there to see Freda Watkins.
The Clerical staff/general secretaries communicate directly with Freda Watkins and Alison Jackson.
Theoretically there are four directions i which communication flows in an organisation, namely
Upwards: “this refers to communication that travels from staff member to leader. This is necessary not only to determine if staff members have understood information sent downward but also to meet the ego needs of staff.” (Canary, 2011)
Downwards: “Traditional views of the communication process in any organizations have been dominated by downward communication flows. Such flows transmit information from higher to lower levels of the organization.” (Canary, 2011). Downward communication is generally used for the purposes such as explaining procedures, job instructions, strategic implementation and providing feedback of performance.
Horizontally: “Horizontal communication involves communication among persons who do not stand in hierarchical relation to one another. While recent trends to flatten organizations have enhanced the importance of horizontal communications”(Frank1984).
Diagonally: “Diagonal communication refers to communication between managers and workers located in different functional divisions” (Wilson 1992)
“Feedback is receivers response of the message, feedback tells the source how the receiver has interpreted each message, the message which conveys lack of understanding is known as negative feedback on the other hand positive feedback indicates that the receiver has understood the source’s message” (Kushal,2004)
The main function of a feedback system is to be able to interpret and decipher the messages communicated by the first communicator in a way that the intention and meaning is easily understood by the receiver.
There are mainly five categories of feedback as identified by Carl Rogers (1959). These five categories are listed below according to the manner and frequency that they might occur in everyday conversations.
“Evaluative: When a listener makes a judgment about the worth, goodness, or appropriateness of the other person’s statement.
â€¢ Interpretive: Paraphrasing – attempting to explain what the other person’s statement means.
Supportive: Attempting to assist or bolster the other communicator.
â€¢ Probing: Attempting to gain additional information, continue the discussion, or clarify a point.
Understanding: Attempting to discover completely what the other communicator means by his statements.” (Rogers, 1959)
An example of feedback in the case of Brownlee & Smith is when Alison contacts the general office, regarding the girl to be interviewed by Freda Watkins, the general office tells her that they had no idea about it, but Freda probably had been scheduled to see that girl, here the response of the general office is the feedback to Alison’s message.
Negative feedback indicates that the message has not been clearly understood by the receiver or there is a disagreement. It can also be expressed in oral, written, verbal or gestural form. A negative feedback is more likely to be accepted if it is in a critical form, rudeness must be avoided otherwise it may lead to a conflict.
Positive feedback indicates that the message has been clearly understood by the receiver in its intended meaning. It is generally expressed wither either verbally, in a written format, for example replying to an e-mail or in gestural form by nodding the head to signal yes. Positive feedback is more effectively and accurately perceived than negative feedback.
A memorandum, also known as a memo is used for the internal communications in an organisation. It is a type of letter which is devoid of the usual formalities like the salutation, complementary close, etc. And also a memo is more concise and ‘to the point’ than the letter. It always assumes a formal tone. The memo is used for the exchange of information, making requests and to give instructions. In short it refers to the internal communications in an organisation which deal with business only
Date: 24 March 2010
From: Management Consultant
Subject: Guidance regarding meetings.
This is in response to your request for guidance regarding how meetings must be lead and the documents that are to needed to hold an effective meeting.
Managing the meetings:
Meetings should be held for an objective/purpose. The purpose of the meeting must be clear in the mind of the organiser, so that only target personnel are invited to the meeting.
The objective of the meeting, and the goals that are to be achieved by the end of the meeting must be specified to the personnel attending the meeting at the beginning of the meeting. The meeting may be held for discussions or decision making regarding any particular topic. Also the topic in discussion must not be very broad, as it may lead information overload and all the sub topics might not be covered during the meeting.
The venue of the timing, and the time at which it is to be held and who is supposed to attend it should be notified to everyone in the form of a notice or a circular.
An agenda must be sent out before the meeting is held, it is a plan or a list of the discussions to be carried out in a meeting the meeting, and helps them to prepare themselves accordingly.
Active participation of the participants of the meeting is crucial, and everyone must get a chance to put their point forward, live interaction and sharing of opinions is important for a successful meeting. Also proper time management must be kept in mind, the person leading the meeting must make sure that all the topics to be discussed in the meeting are carried out in the predetermined frame of time decided for the meeting.
For every topic discussed and every decision made in the meeting, notes and record must be maintained, so that transparency regarding the decisions is upheld. A person must be appointed to take down the notes for the meetings.
After the meeting, minutes of the meeting, summarizing the important points and highlights of the meeting must be sent to all the participants as a follow up action.
Here, I am providing the examples of the documentation I have discussed in the memorandum:
An agenda is a plan or a list of the discussions to be carried out in a meeting. It provides the participants to get an idea about the matters to be discussed in the meeting, and helps them to prepare themselves accordingly. The agenda is therefore a very essential document in a meeting. The format, structure and the content of an agenda may vary according to the type of meeting to be held.
A model agenda for a meeting can be prepared in the following manner.
Agenda of Meeting
The agenda of the meeting to be held on Saturday 27 November 2010 at 12.30 pm in Roger Brownlee’s office will be as follows:
Discussion regarding the communication problems being faced.
Resolving of the Conflicts arising out of miscommunication.
Lack of punctuality in delivering messages.
Reasons for increasing dissatisfaction among clients.
Suggestions for improvement/action plans by the members
Close of the meeting.
Minutes of the meeting:
Minutes provide an overview of the meeting, it provides the list of persons attending the meeting, the discussions and decisions made in the meeting, and the responses of the participants on various issues.
Discussion & Decision
Unpunctuality in communication
Messages to be communicated on time
04 December 2010
Prioritising important issues
Important messages and information to be delivered immediately
04 December 2010
Record of communication not being maintained
A log book of daily activites is to be kept
04 December 2010
One of the major problems faced by the employers relating to interpersonal problems is ‘communication’. This problem of communication can be solved by trying to understand the communication process first and afterwards trying to improve it. This would provide the managers with a skill for communicating more effectively. Identifying the relevant barriers to communication is always the vital first step in order to minimise the impact that they may have. “It’s not always easy and often takes a lot of determination. But making an effort to remove the obstacles – tangible and intangible – that stand in our way can be the key to building relationships that really work.” Eric Garner
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