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| Nataša Centa

Communication and organization

What is communication and how does it flow through modern channels? In what ways have technologies changed the communication within organizations? For the better, of course.

Communication and organization

According to dictionaries, the term “organization” has several meanings:

  • The act or process of organizing or being organized. This is an activity where someone organizes a work process or the activity itself. Examples of use: organization of an event, work or exhibition, etc.
  • The quality or condition of being organized, i.e. systematic and efficient. This is a characteristic of the organization of work, production or activity. Examples of use: poor organization of work, good organization of health service, defense, etc.
  • Organization may also mean a group of people with a certain common goal or purpose. Examples of use: research organization, charitable organization, etc.

The concept of communication may mean:

  1. A means of exchanging and transmitting information. Examples of use: modern communications, visual communication, etc.
  2. The act of communicating by using various means of communication.

Communication is a fundamental characteristic of and prerequisite to the functioning of every organization as a community, or to organization’s operation. When sources of information are known and there are real people or organizations behind such information, the communication is formal, whereas informal communication is more like hearsay about some information, where no one is responsible for the information and its credibility.

As an organization is a community of people, communication flows both vertically and horizontally. In the case of informal communication, the superior usually informs subordinates about work processes and results, and from the other side, the subordinates inform the superior about the operation, and oftentimes act as some kind of espionage agents gossiping about other persons’ characteristics. In ensuring the quality of mutual relationships, which are fundamental to a good working climate, formal communication between people who feel respected and equal bears far greater significance.

The organization of work processes, i.e. the mode of activity expected to bring anticipated results, may vary greatly. To a large extent, it depends on the mode of communication between the people within the community. Below, three most common ways of communication are pointed out.

  1. Authoritarian or dictatorial communication creates a situation where employees feel exploited and abused. In such an environment, they are just a tool or thinking machines that have to perform their assigned tasks. The superiors in such an organization do not communicate with the subordinates, but only order them around and impose tasks on them. The employee is not aware of company's performance and does not know the results of one’s own work. The method of organizing and managing a company that lacks the communication between the management (executives) and those who carry out the work raises deep distrust and opens a wide field for distorted imagination, half-truths and untrue stories and information. Such an environment greatly promotes snitching and spying on each other. Distrust arouses fear, introversion and isolated relentless battle for one's own interests at the expense of others.
  2. Cooperative, democratic or self-management-style communication and organization of work create an environment where employees are interested in decision-making at all levels of work procedures and business operations. Everyone is interested in everything and responsible for all, which at the same time means that everyone is thinking only of their own interests and no one is responsible for anything. Although such type of communication and organization may seem to be completely unlike the dictatorial method, the two have many similar consequences. It is always possible to find “self-appointed coordinators” who seize every opportunity to plant distrust and fear by means of blocking the information and disseminating semi-truths or even false information. Allegorical parallels can be found in Orwell's “Animal Farm” where pigs climb to the top of the dominance hierarchy and become ruthless dictatorial authorities.
  3. Pyramidal and team-based communication and operation creates a positive work environment in the organization. Even though teams are managed from above, each individual or team is autonomous in the way the work process is carried out. At the same time, everyone is responsible for good execution of work entrusted to them. Information about work processes and results is available to every worker. Employees work together and communicate formally, while quite often also spontaneously. Of course, all information must be verifiable. Everybody should receive reliable information about good (or bad) work performance and business, and all employees should experience the results of their work.

Technical aspects of communication in the context of how the work is organized have been changing during the course of time. In the past, communication was based on simple technology:

  • by means of a radio announcement to the entire work force;
  • by organizing mass meetings attended by the entire organization's workforce. In such meetings, the management informed the workers about their decisions;
  • by means of one-on-one sessions to convey classified information and assign confidential tasks;
  • by means of a bulletin board/pin board used to post information that was oftentimes irrelevant (trade union notices), or to pin infinitely complex reports mostly read and understood by no one.

Communication means used today are based on current technologies, which include computer-aided communication devices. Thus, information can reach a wide range of people who are using the World Wide Web. Nowadays, it is common to use e-mail and social networking sites such as Facebook, Twiter, Linkedln and others. Using these, we can communicate with and inform the entire world public, specific groups of people, or individuals. Within a particular work group or social organization, we may use an internal network (intranet) and HR information systems.

Intranet may be regarded as a kind of radio announcement or electronic bulletin board used to establish communication with the entire employee group. The advantage of intranet over regular bulletin board/pin board is that information can be viewed at one’s own pace, at chosen time and place, multiple times. Parts or entire information can be highlighted, copied, transmitted or printed. The employer may even enable employees to view notices posted on the intranet from home via secure internet connection. Where organization’s intranet is in place, employees cannot say that they have not been notified about a specific thing.

Personnel records comprised in a contemporary HRM solution include information about each employee. The employer or the head of the HR Department enables employees to access their own personnel file through a secure internet connection. Thus, everyone can view and keep track of their own data, such as:

  • of overtime hours worked,
  • days of leave,
  • medical examinations carried out,
  • completed training and validity of certificates,
  • payments for social security, health insurance and pension plan,
  • contributions for family members.

Based on their rights and role in the company, the management or people who are required to administer employee data can access employee data (e.g. no. of days of leave, no. of overtime hours worked, validity of certificates).

When communication between the management and employees during the course of an Annual Performance Appraisal Interview is stored in electronic form, it is easier to manage than were it printed on paper and stored in personnel files. Access to the information about employees’ skills and competencies is easier, thus facilitating the decision-making regarding whom to entrust with which task or whom to sign up for additional training, etc.

The most important qualities of every communication are truthfulness, sincerity, benevolence and honesty. Information must always be true. Half-truths and false information are, in the long run, always devastating to the individual and the whole collective. Good communication straightforwardly creates an environment in which half-truths and false information can find no place.

The information must be beneficent and useful to an individual and the organization as a whole. If communication is not beneficent and useful, the person spreading it should ask themselves what makes them act with bad intentions, causing harm to others and the organization.

The information must be necessary. Any failure to convey such information would cause harm. Spreading of empty words and heaps of unnecessary information reduces the value of communication. Getting the information must be better than not getting it.

The thoughts below are not an invention of the third millennium. They are ascribed to Socrates who lived 2600 years ago.

One day someone comes running to Socrates: “Hey, Socrates, did you hear about what that friend of yours has done? I should tell you immediately.”

“Wait a minute,” Socrates says. “The story you are about to tell – did you put it through the three sieves?”

“Three sieves?" asks the other one.

“Yes, my dear friend, the three sieves. Let's see whether the story you are about to tell can pass through the three sieves. The first sieve is the sieve of truth. Did you examine whether all that you want to tell me is true?”

“No, I overheard someone talking about it and…”

“Ah, well, you surely used the second sieve. This is the sieve of good. The thing you want to tell me – is it at least good, it not entirely true?”

An uncertain answer followed: “No, quite the contrary…”

“Ah,” Socrates interrupted. “Let's take the third sieve and ask then is it necessary that you tell me what you are so excited about?”

“Well, not really necessary…”

“Well then,” Socrates smiles, “if what you want to tell me is neither true nor good or necessary, let it remain untold, don't bother me with this and just forget about it!”

Source: internet, Three Sieves of Socrates

Client statement

"Revoz has been working together with Četrta pot, d.o.o. for many years, primarily in the field of Access Control. As part of our internal “Digital HR” program, we extended our existing IT system in the past year. We introduced an employee management system KADRIS 4, specifically, the digital module to manage medical examinations. The project started with a detailed process analysis in the beginning of January, and was completed in July. Our partner, Četrta pot, recognized our wishes and we were for the most part able to find together a good compromise between our needs and the features supported by the IT solution. The majority of our special requirements were identified in the beginning phases of the project, nevertheless, during the testing phase there were some modifications, which our partner implemented promptly and accurately. The project was implemented quickly as the organization and resource availability was ensured from both partners. The final solution, the digitization of medical examination planning and management, facilitated the work of organization unit managers and heads of departments in in our company," says Daniel Brulc, HR Administration & Payroll Manager, Revoz.

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Author

Nataša Centa, BSc in Education, Mathematics and Physics, expert in HRM digitization by means of modern IT-solutions, Product Manager at Četrta pot, d.o.o., Kranj


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