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Report On The Development Of An Effective Strategy For Communication

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Report on the Development of an Effective Strategy for Communication

The purpose of this report is to outline the various methods of communication available to organisations and the main problems encountered in the communications process and to detail how the members of an organisation can deal with them.

Introduction

Communication is the process by which ideas, information, opinions, attitudes and feelings are conveyed from one person to another (McClave, 1997: 2). The ability of the members to communicate effectively is fundamental to the success of the organisation and as Chester Beatty stated, "communication is the lifeblood of any organisation".

The communications process encompasses a continuous two-way cycle of events (Figure 1) (McClave, 1997: 2, Stanton, 1996: 1). The process is initiated when the communicator encodes information and transmits it to the recipient using a communication medium. The recipient listens and decodes the information. The next stage of the cycle occurs when the recipient provides feedback to the communicator on the information received. The provision of feedback involves the recipient encoding information and transmitting it i.e. the process of communication is recommencing. At all stages of the cycle, noise may act as a contaminant and interfere with the efficacy of the process.

Figure 1. The communications process (adapted from Stanton, 1996: 1)

Noise

The objectives of effective communication are linked to each stage of the cycle. Regardless of the nature of the information being communicated, the objectives always remain constant (Stanton, 1996: 1):

i. Information is conveyed by the communicator and received by the recipient.

ii. The recipient understands the information.

iii. The recipient is persuaded to accept the information.

iv. Changes occur as a result of the communication of information.

The fulfillment of these objectives is dependent on a variety of interlinked components, such as purpose, perception, context and medium. Any change in one component will have a follow through effect on the other components within the process. For example, the purpose of the communication will affect the medium used. The medium used will influence the context in which the message is conveyed and this in turn will influence the way the recipient perceives the message and the feedback they give to the communicator.

To achieve these objectives there are four main forms of communication available to organisations (McClave, 1997: 6):

* Written e.g. letters, reports, memoranda.

* Verbal e.g. conversation, interview, meeting, presentation, oral briefing.

* Non-Verbal e.g. non-verbal, diagrams, charts, photographs, models.

* Electronic e.g. video, telephone, facsimile, email, internet.

The choice of medium will depend on the content of the message, the complexity of the message and the feeling that is to be conveyed in the message (McClave, 1997: 5). Additionally, it will depend on whether the communication is deliberate, spontaneous or unintentional (McClave, 1997: 3). Deliberate communication involves planning into the actual form of the communication, the target audience, the medium, for example. Spontaneous communication normally takes the form of conversation. Unplanned communication may often be a result of body language.

As with any process within an organisation, there are always obstacles that must be overcome in order to achieve its objectives. The range from socio cultural through psychological to organisational barriers (John Grehan, DBS, 2003)

i. Socio cultural barriers

Socio cultural barriers may arise from the structure of the organisation (McClave, 1997: 28). More traditional organisations tend to operate a closed culture where managers and employees seldom interact and communication is official in the form of memoranda, meetings and presentations. This type of environment may lead to apathy amongst staff as they have less input into the decision making in the organisation. In a more open culture, there is regular informal communication between management and staff with the loss of formal communication mediums. In an effective organisation there will be equilibrium between the level of formal and informal communication processes.

Barriers may also occur when different cultures, for example, race, religion or professional background, fail to integrate within an organisation (John Grehan, DBS, 2003). The quality of the communication process may be jeopardised by language differences. Furthermore, the use of jargon particular to a profession will exclude those who are not familiar with the colloquialisms.

ii. Psychological barriers

Psychological barriers refer to problems in the communications process arising from individual personalities (John Grehan, DBS, 2003). Staff members may be ineffective listeners or have poor memories thereby resulting in misinterpretation of the message and poor feedback to the communicator (McClave, 1997: 15). Recipients may filter the information and only remember what is pertinent to themselves (John Grehan, DBS, 2003). Other personality issues include emotions within the organisation. Strongly held beliefs may contaminate the communications process to such

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