Communication in Organizations Term Paper

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Communication in Organizations

Define organizational culture and provide analysis of organizational culture relating to role, power, people and task culture as discussed by Charles B. Handy (1994) "Understanding Organizations"

Organizational culture is many things including the values and behaviors an organization and its members adopt to create the environment in which they work. Researchers have struggled for decades to define organizational culture as one thing or another. They have also worked diligently to define what skills or components are necessary to promote a successful 'culture' within an organization. To understand how organizational culture can benefit any enterprise one must first define organizational culture.

Organizational culture is defined differently depending on who you talk to. There are several consensus opinions however about what organizational culture includes. Organizational culture includes the morals, values, beliefs and strategies a firm and its employees or managers adopt to conduct business successfully (Bonache & Cabrera, 1999). To that extent organizational culture is something that members of the organization create internally based on the needs, wants and wishes of people working within and managing the organization.

Some refer to organizational culture as a "phenomenon" that helps define leadership within an organization but also helps manipulate, change and mange the organizational environment (Schein, 2005). Culture includes valuable ingredients including an organizations customs, the rights it affords its employees and the language, traditions and behaviors displayed within an organization that dictate an organizations day-to-day relationships (Schein, 2005). This suggests that organizational culture isn't something that simply 'is' but rather is something that occurs within an organization. Culture is an animate entity if you will created from people and leaders and preserved over time in a productive (and sometimes less than productive) way. When organizational culture is 'productive' a business thrives; when culture is negative or lacks support or cohesiveness however eventually it will fail.

Organizational culture often evolves and defines an organization by settling what an organization will focus on. Culture also defines what is important to an organization, how an organization may react to a given situation and what actions members should take under certain conditions within the organization (Schein, 2005).

Mangers play an important role in developing organizational culture, as do teams and individual employees. Handy (1994) suggests that all managers have a distinct role in organizational leadership, to help motivate, empower, role play and provide guidance for work groups. Managers according to Handy must develop and reward people while structuring and designing their work in a manner that prevents social or political conflicts and provides a culture conducive to production and achievement. People, power and management are all related to organizational culture. Successful organizations according to Handy are those that understand the people working within them and their motivations (Handy, 1994).

Organizational culture can do many things in an organization include assign power to one or more people or groups within the organization and define what tasks within the organization take priority over one another. Culture can also help organizations adopt a mission and strategy that is multifunctional, or that serves the purposes of the entire organization from the bottom up (Schein, 2005; Handy, 1994). Organizational culture also enables goal creation of strategies and objectives that achieve the collective goals of the group, based on consensus and shared idealisms about what needs to be accomplished (Schein, 2005).

Task culture is often defined by an organization's overall culture. People are assigned tasks and job roles based on the relative merit they assign their job role and their perceived role and place within the organization (Schein, 2005). This can vary depending on the leadership style adopted within the organization and the basic organizational structure available in a given environment, which often dictates how much power one group or individual has in the organization over another. People's roles, tasks and the power they have within the organization as well as their influence on leadership or their ability to lead depends in part on the organizational culture. In an environment where each person in the organization functions as a cohesive and egalitarian group, the organizational culture supports knowledge sharing and improved productivity and success. Members of this environment are much more likely to realize their strategic objectives and goals than in a situation where communication and synergy among group members is lacking.

In the past researchers have examined organizational culture to define what techniques are necessary to create a strong culture within an organization (Bonache & Cabrera, 1999). Ultimately what makes an organizational culture strong is an organizational culture that supports collaboration, knowledge sharing and knowledge integration at all levels of the organization (Bonache & Cabrera, 1999). When an organizational does not support the power or empowerment of people within it, then tasks cannot be delegated correctly and production often ceases or falters. Within an organization culture must supremely support knowledge sharing and communication among varying levels for an organization to succeed regardless of the industry.

Identify the effects of organizational culture on communication skills within a hospital environment.

Organizational culture is reliant on communication. One can simply define a successful culture as one that promotes knowledge sharing and communication effectively. Within a hospital environment a positive and collaborative organizational culture can stimulate open and productive communication, thereby increasing employee productivity and attainment of organizational goals. Communication skills are not necessarily something that comes naturally to any organization, including a hospital environment, whether communication is vital to the organizations success. Therefore the organizational culture if strong must support knowledge sharing and development of communication skills among all members to ensure the strength and productivity of the work environment.

Without an organizational culture that supports communication at all levels, health care staff and administrators are more likely to interpret situations or their environment in general as "volatile, fast changing, tempestuous, uncertain and predictable" to a point far greater than reality presents (Hargie & Tourish, 2004: p. 2). Humans often take events out of context, creating crisis when one does not need to exist. When presented with an environment that does not foster open communication, people must come to their own conclusions or suppositions about a situation, which can be harmful particularly in a healthcare environment.

Research over the last two decades has shown that within organizations with strong cultures, employees talk about culture. They also take part in meetings and other workshops specifically dedicated to culture and cultural changes (Hargei & Tourish, 2004; Stiles, 1999). In these organizations culture is an every day reality and necessary or vital to the livelihood of the organization. Things that can promote a positive organizational culture include "charismatic leadership, entrepreneuralism, vision, values and the rites and rituals of corporate workplaces" (Hargie & Tourish, 2004: 207). A strong culture is often a key indicator that communication will occur often and effectively in any environment, and is an important predictor of business success (Hargie & Tourish, 2004).

A strong organizational culture encourages staff in a hospital environment to create order and engage in social and professional discourse. A culture that is strong allows individuals to express their misgiving and establish order, as well as encourages people to seek out others and prioritize communication as vital to the organizations well-being. Within organizations. Culture can stimulate effective knowledge sharing and encourage socialization and shared ideologies.

Also within organizations are multiple voices; researcher suggests that an organizational culture can promote communication practices that encourage interaction among diverse members of the organization (Hargie & Tourish, 2004). Communication is particularly difficult however to preserve in a health care organization. Within hospitals and among medical teams however communication is often essential to the organization's well-being and ability to manage and care for patients suitably (Seeger, Sellnow & Ulmer, 2003). Therefore it is more important for communication skills to be highlighted, taught and encouraged.

Seeger, Sellnow & Ulmer (2003) suggest that without a strong organizational culture a "crisis" can occur within organizations with communication and work. The researchers define a crisis as the result of "unanticipated, complex and long-term interactions between social, psychological and cultural factors" combined with other standardized or structural elements (p. 5). Further the researchers suggest that within organizations facing crisis a reduced capacity to manage complex and diverse systems exist (Seeger, Sellnow & Ulmer, 2003).

Outline ways in which organizational communication could be heightened within a hospital, including the specific actions required, the people who will take these actions and the relevance of these proposals to organizational culture.

Organizational communication within a hospital can be enhanced using various actions. Most important for all levels of the organization is attention to quality controls that dictate how well communication is perceived and how important communication is in the hospital environment. There are many programs that can promote organizational communication in a hospital or healthcare setting. One program that organizations can adopt includes installing or adapting a Total Quality Management program to not only improves communication but also organizational profitability (Hargie & Tourish, 2004:3). Total Quality Management programs inspire organizations to achieve their best technically and culturally. Principles of TQM can be roughly…[continue]

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