The success of any business depends on efficient and effective communication. It takes place among business entities, within organisation and between group of staff, owners and employees, service providers and customers and also between people within the organisation.
Communication is a means of transmitting information and making oneself understood by another or others. It is a major challenge for managers because they are responsible for providing information, which results in efficient and effective performance in organisations. It is important in building and maintaining relationships in the workplace. (Kristina L. Guo and Yesenia Sanchez, 3/9/2005)
Effective communication within the healthcare setting is essential to facilitate improvements in the exchange of information between team members. It resolves communication misunderstanding or conflict and creates harmony by bridging communication gaps that create conflict. It also reduces mistakes and results in improved client safety, improved quality of care and enhanced staff morale and job satisfaction.
The first section of this unit we will understand the importance of effective communication in management by explaining the relevance of communication cycle for effective communication by understanding the process, by selecting an appropriate tone, language, and level of formality, and by assessing the effectiveness of verbal and written communication methods within own organization.
The second section we will be able to develop effective communication skills as a reflective manager by developing a set of criteria to evaluate one’s own ability to communicate effectively. This will also demonstrate owns verbal and written communication skills by collecting and analysing feedback using questionnaire. Finally, identify strengths and areas for improvement.
The Importance of Effective Communication in Management.
In healthcare, effective communication within the organisation is important to perform their role effectively and appropriately. Team members require communication skills, from listening and negotiation, to goal setting and assertiveness, and being able to use these skills in any situation.
Explain the relevance of the communication cycle for effective communication in management.
In today’s business climate communication is a means of support of every organisation. Effective communication is a vital component of organisation to accomplish its purpose, goals and objectives. Managers and leaders need strong communication skills for many reasons because it helps them to perform their jobs and responsibilities for the growth and success of the business.
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Communication is a process which involves individual’s participation in transmitting the information within the communication cycle. By understanding the steps in the communication process it leads to effective communication. For example, in our organisation effective internal communication is important in attending the employees and employers concerns. Exchanging of ideas, information, plans, decisions and proposals keeps everyone involved within the organisation and increases motivation to perform well, increases commitment and it also makes better relationships and understanding between managers and staff, colleagues and individual within the organisation and outside it.
The Shannon-Weaver model (1949) is typical of what are often referred to as transmission models of communication. Their main concern was to work out a way in which the channels of communication could be used most efficiently. It involved breaking down an information system into sub-systems so as to evaluate the efficiency of various communication channels and codes. They propose that all communication must include six elements source, encoder, channel, message, decoder and receiver. (Dalecarnegie.co.uk, 2012)
To start a communication process there should be a source who encodes the message and transmits it through a channel then the receiver decodes the message and give feedback if the information has been understood or not. This process help communication to be effective and the communicator become aware or recognise a problem in transmitting the message.
Stages of Communication Process
The source plans the message by knowing what the message is, how to convey and who will receive the message. The source uses the KISS (“Keep It Simple and Straightforward”) principle because the simple the message, the more the impact it can have.
This is the process of transmitting the information that the recipient can easily understood like for example by choosing the right words, grammar and punctuation, body language and tone of voice. When encoding the message whether you speak or write, cultural or language barrier should also be consider because it can cause miscommunication so this should be address in advance.
In sending message it is important to convey the best communication channel such as verbal including face to face meetings, telephone, videoconferencing and written including letters, emails, memos and reports. (Mindtools.com, 2012) In delegating simple task or direction using email is practical but if it is sensitive task or issues, it is better to communicate face to face or by phone so that if there is question it can answer straight away.
This process is how you receive or interpret the message like for example when reading a message you should take time to read it carefully and avoid distraction. When giving instruction active listening and paying attention to the speaker is important.
Every individual have different reactions when receiving message so you keep in mind their ideas and feelings can influence their understanding of the message.
This is essential part of communication process because it provides information if the receiver understood the message and if you find misunderstanding there is an opportunity to send the message again.
This is the situation in which the message being delivered. This may include the surrounding environment or culture and so on.
Managers need proficiency in delivering and receiving information. It is their responsibility to maintain effective and efficient communication process within the organisation. They are responsible in early detection of communication barriers, the causes and takes preventive actions to avoid those barriers. There are some barriers that affect the flow of communication, hence making communication ineffective which includes perception, language differences, information overload, time pressure, distraction or noise and emotional state.
The importance of selecting an appropriate tone, language, and level of formality in management communications.
Effective communication is important in an organisation because it creates mutual understanding environment between the management and employees. It also helps in increasing the employee’s productivity.
Managers have different ways of communicating. The many styles include selecting appropriate language, tone, and level of formality. As a manager, when communicating with the staff tone of voice, language use should be courteous and professional at all times and it should convey strength and confidence so that your staff are more likely to agree or accept the message. However, you must not be overconfident or arrogant so that your employees feel at ease and connected to you. As being professional managers also need to use appropriate language in the workplace. It is important to refrain from using slang, bad grammar, or sloppy and discriminatory or derogatory language.
As a manager, you should also be an assertive communicator so that you are effective at stating thoughts and feelings in a clear and respectful manner, deal problems without violating or insulting others. As an assertive communicator calm body language, self control and active listening is also important.
In writing letters, memos, reports and other instructional documentation the written word or using appropriate language tone is important aspect of communicating the desired message and of achieving the purpose of the document, thus it will help the reader to engage what the message being meant for.
The effectiveness of a range of verbal and written communication methods within your area of the organisation.
Effective communication not only by managers, but also their staff is important in achieving organisational success. Managers need effective communication skills so that they can help staff to develop their communication skills either verbal or written communication because when team members within the organisation are able to communicate effectively with each other and with people outside, they are much more likely to perform well. It is also needed to increase efficiency, customer satisfaction and quality improvement.
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In the organisation the important component of the communication process is selecting the appropriate communication channel. It is the means by which messages are transmitted. There are two types of channels, the verbal and non-verbal communication. Verbal communication is spoken messages that we share with others such as organisational meetings, handover and telephone. Within my own organisation as a healthcare setting we ensure that we speak clearly and concisely using a KISS (“keep it simple and straightforward”) principle in a friendly and professional manner to our leaders, clients, and colleagues. Written communication which includes reports, memos, emails and forms we make sure that it is simple and easy to understand, avoid slang and discriminatory language. Written documentation is important in monitoring client’s condition and reporting of incident and accident within the organisation and by giving regular feedback to staff performance such as appraisal and supervision. However, staff appraisal and supervision can also be given by verbal communication or face to face meeting.
Non-verbal communication is sharing information without using words to encode messages. According to Stella Ting-Toomey, nonverbal communication can be used in conjunction with verbal communication or alone. Nonverbal signals can help you relate to someone on a deeper level than verbal communication is able to do on its own. Using nonverbal communication allows you to complement, emphasize, substitute and contradict the meaning behind verbal communication. (Alia Butler, 3/06/2010). Nonverbal cues such as facial expressions, body language, gestures, eye contact can be powerful tools to successful communication skills, thus making your communication more effective. According to Help Guide, effective nonverbal communication will allow you to read the emotions and feelings others are not expressing verbally. It will help enhance others’ trust and demonstrates interest in the topic and makes others know you care. (Alia Butler, 03/06/2010).
Developing Effective Communication Skills as a Reflective Manager
Develop appropriate criteria to evaluate own ability to communicate effectively.
To be an effective manager or communicator within the organisation you must talk with your staff with clear, concise, accurate, well planned communication. Hence, in order to develop effective communication skills as an aspiring manager, it is important to evaluate own ability to communicate with the following set of criteria which can serve as a tool to improve effectively.
Criteria 1: Speaking – This criterion assesses one’s ability to communicate effectively with accuracy and fluency in formal and informal settings. It is important to use precise vocabulary and intonation to express meaning and show great fluency and ease of speech with confidence and competence. The speaker must explain complex matters in detail and comfortably discuss a variety of topics concretely.
Criteria 2: Writing – In writing memos, email and reports, it is important to demonstrate a high degree of control of grammar, spelling, and punctuation in both general and professional vocabulary. It is essential to carry out formal writing to address issues in a highly conceptualised fashion and ability to explain complex matters.
Criteria 3: Listening – This criterion assesses the ability to comprehend speech in a standard dialect on a wide range of familiar and less familiar topics. It is also important to understand not only what is said but sometimes unspoken and indirect information, tone and point of view and can follow persuasive arguments.
Criteria 4: Reading – It is important to understand a wide variety of texts from both familiar and unfamiliar subjects including professional, technical, academic and literary. The readers ability to understand text that use precise, often specialised vocabulary and complex grammatical structures is also assess in this criteria.
Collect and analyse feedback on own verbal and written communication skills.
Feedback is any information that individual receive about their behaviour or performance. It can be in the form of questionnaires, surveys and group interaction. As a tool, in order to assess and analyse one’s ability to communicate effectively the statement below provides various feedback from a participants through their own observation if one is expert at different channels of communication using the above criterion as a guide.
27% of the respondents think that the speaker is able to explain the idea for them to easily understand while others are not satisfied with the explanation. However, 13% of the respondents believe that very often the speaker help them to understand the concepts of discussion.
33% of the respondents often understand the information they received, other 13% said only rarely. On the other hand, 20% of the respondents said very often and 27% sometimes understand the message that being sent to them. It also shows on the pie chart below that 7% of the respondent hasn’t received detailed information for easy understanding.
33% and 27% of the respondents believe that their perceptions have been notice because it is important within the organisation that others point of view being heard; I believe in the saying that “two heads are better than one” while 20% very often take notice of their views. However, 13% said rarely and 7% said not at all.
Evaluate own communication skills as a manager, identifying strengths and areas for improvement.
As an aspiring manager, it is important to evaluate own communication skills to be effective at all points in the communication cycle and be comfortable with the different communication channels such as verbal, non-verbal and written. In order to evaluate own communication skills a self-evaluation was done using the above communication quiz to find out the areas for personal development and improvement.
After identifying the strengths and areas for improvement a SWOT analysis illustrated and examined the opportunities that will help focus on the strongest and face the threats that might possibly encounter.
- Written communication quite good
- Willing to learn
- Lack of confidence
- Introvert person
- Self criticism
- Get distracted by too many things
Further learning development techniques such as speech classes or workshops.
Education and research
- Losing drive
- Poor communication and support
- Lack of time and finance to access development opportunities
- Work/study balance could become imbalance as career grow
The above table (SWOT Analysis) is a simple tool of how one can provide a wider picture with more information to work with or on. Through some feedback from others like for example generating questionnaires above one can derive information and responses according to strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats that can affect managing communication within the workplace. It is also can be used in planning personal and professional development.
The personal professional development plan is a process that recognised the opportunity for individual growth by reviewing, planning and taking responsibility of learning and understanding how to achieve goals by setting time frame to complete.
In managing communication within the organisation it is important to identified areas for improvement and by developing personal professional development plan it gives the opportunity to develop communication skills in order to be an effective communicator. As an aspiring manager, development opportunities provide knowledge and skills to support work role and career progression and it also develop personal attributes such as confidence to communicate.
In conclusion, managing communication in the organisation is important so as to perform basic functions. Managers should be an effective communicator with level of fluency and professionalism and must aware of the communication cycle to achieve team goals. Effective communication within the workplace like in healthcare setting will keeps the team involved in the delivery of care which increases commitment to the organisation and it make a better relationship and understanding within the team. Effective communicator understand the communication process using the appropriate communication channel such as verbal, non-verbal or written communication and discover barriers and determine effective preventive steps to avoid those barriers. In addition, in communication cycle it is essential to get regular feedback, this also helps evaluate and improve communication process and helps used as a basis to develop personal and professional development plan which in turn identify strengths and weaknesses and highlighting opportunities for improvement.
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