Organising and Managing for Performance
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Insights of informal communication- Motivation for team building and Managerial decision-making?
In an organization, team building is a challenging task. It takes lot of time and money to get a team to coordinate for the success of the organization. But can we make a successful team in an organization thorough the informal communication? Does informal communication motivate the team member and increase the efficiency of the work? Does informal communication plays major role in organization decision making? This case study is all about does informal communication has been used as the effective tool in the organization for building the team.
Informal communication can also be known as Grapevine communication, Gossip. Informal communication has received the importance in relation to its role for both the Individuals and groups, which includes the issues of social comparison, identity, and reputation ( Dunbar, 1996, cited in Michelson,G et.al 2010).This is the easiest way to circulate the information among the employees in the organisation. This type of communication does not have any standard format; it can be through any medium among the employees in an organisation such as email, mobile phone, social network and word of mouth. 70 to 80 % of the communication in an organisation is through the informal communication. This influence of gossip among the peers in an organisation is very high. This form of communication can be helpful to one group and same can be harmful to other group. (Beersma B & Van Kleef G A, 2012)
In addition to its diffusion across different disciplinary areas, gossip also connects well with extant theoretical perspectives. For example, social exchange theory, attribution theory, cognitive dissonance, uncertainty reduction theory, it can all be invoked to explain why and how individuals might engage in gossip and deal with internal conflict about participating in gossip. (Michelson,G et.al 2010)
In an organisation, gossip also plays as one of the motivational factor among the employees.
“Work motivation is a set of energetic forces that originate within as well as beyond an individual’s being. It is a psychological process resulting from the reciprocal interaction between the individual and the environment that affects a person’s choices, effort, and persistence.” Latham & Ernst (2006, p.181)
Gossip is a kind of storytelling which engage the people to ask the scope of questions: what gossips about other, who to whom, what, how, and why and also explores where and when gossip might occur? This form of communication is unmanaged and no records in the organisation. This way of communication is through word of mouth or written text which shows the opinions, emotions, beliefs and attitudes about the person organisational life and work experience. Therefore it will be usually talked within the small group with whom the gossiper trust, which helps in improving the group dynamics. A gossip also plays a vital role in maintaining the relationships among the individuals in the team in which it influence about who gossips to whom and what subject and what the effects on the individual or group. In some situation, gossips are accepted as the exchange of information among the individuals which can be used as the attention seeking, creating the self-image and promoting the self-interest through social comparing. (Ben-Ze’ev, 1994 cited in Michelson,G et.al 2010).
Rumour research suggests that rumours (a related type of communication), which are transmitted through gossip, are more likely to occur when anxious individuals find themselves in conditions of environmental ambiguity. Situations of organizational change are often used to illustrate how such environmental uncertainty shapes the frequency and nature of both rumour and gossip. Rumor and gossip are interrelated yet conceptually different as illustrated by the following metaphor: Rumours are speculations that arise to fill knowledge gaps or discrepancies. Additionally, it is suggested that rumours are motivated by a desire for meaning and sense making, whereas gossip seems to be motivated primarily by ego and individual status needs. This function differentiates rumour from gossip, which is meant primarily to entertain or convey mores. Gossip is a tasty hors d’oeuvre savoured at a cocktail party; rumour is a morsel hungrily eaten amid an information famine. (DiFonzo, Bordia, & Rosnow, 1994, p. 52 cited in Michelson, G. et.al 2010).
Through Formal communication, all the data’s and information will be recorded in an organisation and it will be tough for the employee to talk about his team member through this medium, where one will feel unsecured.
To get to know each other in the team better and create the bonding among the team members, most of the organisations arrange the weekend trip or party for their employees. In which people from different cultures join together to social life, which helps to break the barrier among the employees position in the organisation.
Gossip can also be destructive in the workplace. To add more features to the gossip, it has been featured within the organizational and management literature in any of the two ways mentioned below (a) coincidental to the mainstream disciplines and domains, materializing as a by-product (and even waste product) of inquiry into, for example, organizational culture, storytelling, and conflict or (b) as mentioned in the “popular management” literature, in which it is assumed that informal communication is not ethical to the work morale and productivity and it should not be encouraged in the work culture and therefore it is a problem to be managed in the organisation. (G Michelson et.al 2010)
The popular management perspective to some extent exemplifies a view of gossip associated with negative, pejorative, and trivial assumptions, sometimes seen as “women’s talk,” inauthentic discourse, to be discouraged or banned (Emler, 1994; Jones, 1980 cited in Michelson,G. et.al 2010)
Few years back in my organisation, MSN technologies, located in Chennai, India, in which I was leading the team of 8 members for a particular e-books conversion projects. My organisation, where we are IT and ITES solution provider. We also develop web tools and publication tools, eBooks conversion, digitalization process for the publication companies. This was my first experience in leading the operation team. I was also the managing partner of the company which gives me more responsibility in handling the team. This project was around 6 months and I went to various phase in building up the team in this 6 months. We recruited and trained the team. We use to communicate with all the 8 members very formally through the mail and group meeting. In which I used to communicate with the client end for the queries and project delivery on day today basis.
My team: My team consists of 8 people (Three men and Five Women) from different educational background, different states of India with different culture and Language. All eight members were new to the organisation. As this is the newly started company.
So it’s always challenging to work with the people from different work culture and challenging to lead the group of team as well.
Phase 1: At the Initial stage of the project, I allotted the work to the group and getting the hourly updates from them and I was working with the team as well but still I couldn’t able to get the quality expected by the client and I was in the verge of losing the project and business. In which my company will face the huge lose. I use to show the frustration and anger towards the team and I can’t able to find where the mistake is going on. We use to have 15 minutes of meeting every 4 hours in a day to get the feedback for the project. But in meeting most of the time only I will be giving the instructions and commanding the group. But still I couldn’t able to find the improvement in the project. But I could sense the some sort of tension and unrest going around the team and the organisation.
Most work relationships involve two different types of interaction task-related and social-interpersonal exchange. Better social relations result in more cooperation, better communication, and greater effectiveness. Managers and supervisors have to look after both task performance and the welfare of subordinates (Argyle, 1972 cited in Henderson M et.al, 1986 ).
Statement from Managing Director, Dilip Prabhakar, MSN Technologies, “ It was the first project from one the Top Publishing company, and the whole operation team is new to the company and he (Krish) got the major role to play in successful completion of the project. But our management was not satisfied with the working style and the way he was managing the team. He (Krish) said that, there is the unrest among the employee in allocating and completing the day-to-day task and team members are not comfortable to each other, in which the team communication was poor. So we decided for the team outing to improve the team stability and to get to know each other well. So that the bonding will be strong among the team members to work for our organisation.”
Group Outing: I organised the group outing on the weekend to make my team to free themselves from the office environment. We conducted lot of group tasks and getting to know the strength and weakness of every individual. At the end the team outing, team members came to know each other well and all having the different views on organisation and sharing lot of personal experience and helping each other in all the tasks. This group meeting outside the office breaks the barrier among the group. I took time to talk with each member of the group and now we came to know the strength, personal life of each member of the team. I came to know the individual problems of the team members facing in the company. There were few gossips going around the office. This helps me to know about the group strength.
Phase 2: I was trying to make change in my approach towards the team. I came to understand the strength and weaknesses of the individuals and personal characteristics among the each member in the group. So I tried to allocate the work among the group in which each individual are comfortable and easy to work. We played one of the games in team outing in which each member as to select the individual partner in the team to play that particular game, this makes easier for me to know about each member, with whom each one is more comfortable to work with. So I divided the operation team into three team such as Coding team, proofreading, and QC team in which I selected the team members in which each one is more comfortable to work. This change in the operations and task allocation among the team members helps the productivity of the project. This change paid off and the result was really satisfying by the organisation.
Statement from Pradeep, One of the Coding team member from my organisation,” Working with this organisation for the first few weeks was very difficult, as the entire team is new and we were given less information about the project and not sure about the task allocation to each other which makes us more difficult to understand our work. Initially, I was not feeling comfortable with my group as we had a fear factor among each person to convey the discomfort to the organisation. I also heard few gossips from the other employees about the team leader and other management members in the organisation. But our First team outing gives me the opportunity to break the fear factor and makes me easy to talk to my manager without any formal mail communication and it also gives me the opportunity to know about the each member of the team. After our first team outing, I could also feel the change in the management style in handling our group.”
Gossips encourage the development of social network among the team members and it also allows employees to understand and predict their boss personal characteristics and behaviour. This also helps the organisation to grow and used to ruin the competitors’ reputations. (Doyle, 2000, p. 8 cited in Michelson, G. Et.Al. 2010)
There are many number of ways in which the informal communication can be more significant in an organisation, group and individuals. One of the major factors of informal communication is its ability to provide more context-relevant information and through this medium of communication individuals relieve feelings of tension and anxiety, especially during the periods of organisational change.
Gossip helps in shaping and reshaping the meaning and enables the organisation culture and learning. Gossips can give voice and power to individuals in the organisation. (Ogasawara, 1998 cited in Michelson, G. Et.Al. 2010), for example, showed how women clerical workers in Japan were able to exercise some power over their male managers by virtue of their ability to influence the reputations of these managers through their gossip. Reputation was regarded as important by the managers because it had an impact on their future promotion prospects.
Organisation doesn’t have any rules for informal communication, however there should be rules among the team mates, supervisors and subordinates, in which cooperation, help and fairness should be strongly applied among team mates, and also supervisors should have the rules about consideration and skilful use of power, rules about using initiative and accepting orders and criticism to subordinates. (Henderson, M. and Argyle, M., 1986)
- There should be rules about equity and fairness in dividing the rewards if each member is seeking financial or other rewards for himself.
- Colleagues or peers, who are working in the organisation, may also be seen as friends.
- Individuals may often in need of advice and help. Work mate should always provide help to each other whenever it is needed so that work groups are more effective.
- If people do not sustain the positive relationships among others, that are to keep friendly terms on with one another, then cooperation in work groups is likely to fail.
- There also develop strong common interest. Its important factor for members in the team to be loyal to the group during the tough phase like even if it goes against the management directions in case of the output result. (e.g. Goldthorpe, Lockwood, Bechhofer and Platt, 1968 cited in Henderson, M. and Argyle, M., 1986).
- The manager or supervisor’s main role in an organisation is to manage and supervise effectively, which involves giving the proper guidance and instructions to his subordinates and organise the work effectively.
- Manager or Supervisor should also look after the welfare of his team mates
- Supervisors will be giving orders and subordinates are expected to carry their orders
- The manner of giving directions varies from authoritarian to democratic/ persuasive. There appears to be no general rule about this, since the preferred and most effective style varies with size of group, urgency of decisions, culture, and other variables. (Henderson, M. and Argyle, M., 1986)
Informal communication can be used as one of the effective tool by the manager for decision making in an organisation and for building the team and it also motivates among the individuals in the team. However, this also has negative impact on the organisation if it is not used in proper way by the team members in the organisation. Individuals may also follow from set of rules by themselves to have a healthy gossips and growth in the organisation.
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