Date: March 16, 2009
Company: SWxtreme Card designers
Manager: Shantal Whitey
Communication in the workplace is very essential as it enables employees to convey important messages with regards to their business operations and this enhances productivity in the workplace. When there are barriers to effective communication, consequently business operations will be affected. There is therefore a need to find ways of minimizing the risks and enhance an enabling environment that allows effective communication.
SWxtreme Card designers is a small business with three employees who are headed by its founder and manager Shantal Whitey. The business deals in making cards be it for business or any function for example weddings. They business is not restricted to designing cards but also deals with letter heads and related matters that it is able to do. I had the privileged of interviewing the manager; Shantal, to help me understand the communication problems that face small businesses and some of the ways that can be used to solve such problems in the workplace.
§ Communication styles
Since the organization is small, they usually relate among each other well as the manager though having an influential position is treated like the rest of the staff. Despite this factor, the top-down method is applied where the manager controls, coordinates activities and makes most decisions in the business organization. The decisions made therefore need to be passed down to the employees through an effective means of communication. The down ward –upward method is also used when the employees need to tell the manger important information with regard to the business or when respond to tasks they are given. These two ways are known as the vertical methods of communication. The horizontal way is seen when the employees interact among themselves while they work, solving disputes or just learning from each other.
§ Communication Technology in the workplace
The technology that is found within this business enterprise is not that complex. This is because what they deal with mainly requires simple computer software and their creativity. They therefore use mainly computers to communicate through messaging and chatting when they are busy. In addition, they also use mobile phones as it makes communication simpler.
§ Communication models
Internal communication can be at times complex but there are ways in which businesses have modified themselves to deal with the communication problem. Shantal talked about some of the models that are used in the work place to enhance communication. She said the model mainly used in this organization is the simple model sometimes known as the S-M-C-R model. In this model, there is a message which is to be sent, the sender and the recipient. The sender, who is the source, sends the message through a medium of exchange, and the receiver decodes the message upon receiving it. This model ensures that there is a chain of responsibility. This is because each person is actively engaged in the process and they have a role to play either as the sender or the recipient.
The technology and information model is also used. This is because it the various improvements in technology are used to better communication in the workplace.
§ Communication in the workplace
Shantal mentioned some organizational communication strengths that they have use and have helped them achieve positive results. All the employees as well as the manager meet twice a week to discuss various business matters and this gives them an opportunity to air their views and say what works or does not wok for them. This face to face interaction give spontaneous responses so a person can argue against or for what they think is right. This forum also allows them say what they have learnt and the new strategies they can use.
The use the mobile phones as well as e-mails has made it easier for everyone in the workplace to interact well especially in instances when they are not close to each other. B them working well, it has also enabled them to communicate better with their clients. The methods used for communication are faster and easier to use. In addition, when problems arise in the business, she usually calls the employees involved so that they can discuss the issue and find ways they will ensure that it does not happen again and this one on one talks help a lot as there are issues that cannot be discussed in a group.
Written communication is also used in the workplace and this includes the leaving of notes on the employee workstation when they are not in the office, notices in the notice board so that everyone is updated on what they are supposed to be doing and at what time, the monthly business plan is also used. This can be likened to manuals as used in big organizations. They basically contains information on the past months activities, the targets they have met and not met and what will be done in the near future. E-mail though electronic also used as a form of written communication. These forms of written communication have helped to keep track of the business organization as records are kept which are used as a source of reference material.
Other than using written and verbal forms of communication, non -verbal communication is also used. Non –verbal communication refers to the visual cues and gestures mostly, body signs which can be used to mean different things. In SWxtreme Card designers the workers relate in such a way that they will know when they have done something that has offended or pleased the other party. This is seen in the facial expressions and they can interpret the nonverbal cues. Therefore when a person does something wrong and they would like to avoid confrontation, they will correct themselves or ask for forgiveness.
As much as the organization has gained through the different form of communication, it has been faced by some limitations in the use of the different forms of communication. One of the weaknesses facing the company with regard to the use of telephones is that they are not reliable as sometimes one cannot reach the another person when they are out of the office maybe because the battery is low or there is no signal. This causes delays on delivering goods to clients and this affects the business. One of the problems that arise from the written forms of communication include is that sometimes the notices they keep can sometimes get lost and if they do no have ant back up, it will mean that they will have to start writing their plans all over again and this leads to amendments that may not correlate with the work they are doing.
The problems in the organization related to oral communication include: Once the office business meetings are over, nothing is usually written down and this at times creates problems for the business. Since they are not backed by evidence, an employee can claim that they have no recollection on what was said and this strains the nature of their business operations especially when misunderstandings arise. There are risks involved in telephone calls as sometimes family members and other strangers pick up the calls when something important needs to be conveyed at that moment and one cannot leave a message. Other barriers to effective communication include: “personality differences such that one cannot get whet others are saying or levels of stress which may be caused by problems at home or failure to meet personal goals (Gilbert 117).”
SWxtreme Card designers need to improve on the weaknesses that the organization faces. This it can do by keeping minutes of what they discuss in the business meetings because this will make it easier for them to keep track of their business activities. They also need to minimize on the use of telephone to convey important messages ad they should use more of e-mails in such circumstances.
Gilbert, M. Communication miracles at work: effective tools and tips for getting the most from your work relationships. Conari, 2002 p. 117