Communication Management and Change Term Paper

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Communication Management and Organizational Change

Communication management in the organization and most specifically in the organizational change environment is critically important. The work of Heathfield entitled "Communication in Change Management" state that it is impossible to "over-communicate when you are asking your organization to change." (2011, p.1) According to Heathfield, there are four critical components of effective communication as follows:

(1) The person sending the message must ensure that the message is presented clearly with great detail and that the message be perceived as containing integrity and that the message be authentic;

(2) The individual reading the message must make the decision to listen and to ask questions to ensure clarity and finally must trust the message's sender;

(3) The method of delivery must be chosen as appropriate for the context and for the needs of the sender and receiver of the message;

(4) The message content must resonate and connect with the pre-formed beliefs of the individual who is receiving the message. (Heathfield, 2011, p.1)

The communication plan should contain the following elements:

(1) Consistent and frequent communication through multiple channels;

(2) The communication is complete and quickly reported;

(3) Time is provided for questioning and clarifying the information and input is allowed;

(4) The vision, mission, and objectives of the organizational change is clearly communicated. (Heathfield, 2011, p.1)

Theoretical Definition

The work of Preston Ni (2007) entitled "Communication Success with Four Personality Types" reports that there are four personality types when it comes to communication including the following: (1) Relater-Supporter; (2) Initiator -- Cheerleader; (3) Analyzer- Investigator; and (4) Driver-Leader. (Ni, 2007, p.5) The dominant traits of each type of communication personality are the following:

(1) Relater-Supporters -- have the tendency to be 'nice', supportive, nurturing and friendly;

(2) Initiator-Cheerleaders -- have the tendency to be energetic, motivating, persuasive and fun;

(3) Analyzer-Investigators -- have the tendency to be detail-oriented, task-driven, analytical and matter-of-fact; and (4) Driver-Leaders -- have the tendency to be powerful, achievement conscious, control oriented and productive. (Ni, 2007, p.6)

Practical Example

An example of positive communications in organizational change is the case of NCR and what was a 2005 change in CEOS. Six key lessons that were learned during this leadership change including the critical need to communication the vision with as many stakeholders as possible. Stakeholders are stated to include "employers, customers, analysts, investors, the community, and the media." (Huf, nd, p.8) Engagement of employees is stated to keep those employees "focused on their work" which enables the ongoing execution of the plan, provision of quality goods and services; and which serves to keep all shareholders in the process happy.

Outline of the Paper

This work in writing addresses the communicative practice and that which characterizes successful organizational change communication as well as examining what constitutes problematic communication in the organization. Finally, this work addresses the needs for change in the ways that organizations communicate or their failure to communicate change to stakeholders of the organization.

I - Communicative Practice

The work of Flock (2008) relates that communication "is a critical issue in any aspect of corporate life. This is even more accurate in times of great organizational change." (p.2) Flock reports the work of Blake and Mouton who witnessed communication as being "the foremost barrier to corporate excellence" in a 198-company survey that took place in Japan, the United States, and Great Britain 3 decades ago. (1968, p.4 in Flock, 2008, p.2) In fact, Flock states that the most "pressing organizational challenges" including those of "leadership, empowerment, shaping organizational culture, building effective teams and managing change -- hinge on communications activities." (2008, p.2)

Communication is defined by W. Charles Redding as "those behaviors of human beings or…those artifacts created by human beings which result in 'messages' (meaning), being received by one or more persons. The sender or their intent is not significant in this definition. In addition, communication occurs when someone derives meaning from words, actions, or silences, or interactions of any kind including signals outside of conscious intent. The perceiver then, is the significant element in communication. The degree of credibility of our communications originates in the sense maker of our message -- the perceiver. The perceiver ultimately determines the messages communicated." (Flock, 2008, p.2)

It is stated in the work of Waltslawick et al. As follows:

(1) Meanings are not transferred -- they are created in the minds of the perceivers;

(2) Anything is a potential message;

(3) The message perceived is the only one that counts;

(4) Interpersonal messages have 'content' and 'relational' components;

(5) Communication interaction can be either symmetrical or complementary;

(6) Effective communication is hard work. (cited in Flock, 2008, p.2)

Flock asks the question of how organizations might "establish history of 'square dealing' that inspires a culture of trust?" (2008, p.2) It is related that the work of Kilman "stresses the importance of changing culture by changing cultural norms. (1989, p.56-75 cited in Flock, 2008, p.2) According to the work of Flock, it is unfortunate that the majority of companies are in the "unenviable position of having to change in order to develop the capacity for change. They need the very qualities that are absent in order to achieve these same qualities. They need to behave in ways that they have never behaved before in order to generate new behavior." (2008, p.3) Specifically the corporation would have to take the following actions:

(1) Minimize time spent in formal planning and minimize action time;

(2) Worry less about organizational charts and structure and more about how work gets completed regardless of formal structures;

(3) Give up artificially inflating achievements, and be concerned about and expand on how what degree of legitimate results were achieved; and (4) Terminate efforts to shift blame and take ownership of measured outcomes for the sake of continuous improvement. (Flock, 2008, p.3)

This type of change is one described by Flock as "monumental…but quite necessary to be able to change processes, pricing, brands, products, and services more quickly than a competitor. Change demands credible communication for corporate survival." (2008, p.4)

The work of Dave Ulrich describes these capacities as "rapid-learning" or the organizational ability to "generate and generalize ideas with impact, to create and disseminate ideas with speed and rapidly transfer knowledge through technology, forums, best practice studies, workshops…" (1997, pp.194-195 cited in Flock, 2008, p.4) The work of Kotter reports a strategy that has been designed to raise the level of urgency in the organization and it is reported that Kotter's design is inclusive of "widespread communication of a need to change or crystallizing a crisis point." (Flock, 2008, p.4) Included in Kotter's techniques are the following:

(1) Crate a crisis by allowing financial loss, exposing weakness, or allowing errors to blow up instead of saving the day at the last minute;

(2) Eliminate perks or other obvious examples of excess;

(3) Set productivity and consumer satisfaction targets so high that business as usual won't fly;

(4) Send more data about weak degrees of performance or consumer satisfaction compared to competition;

(5) Insist that people communicate regularly with dissatisfied consumers, venders, or referral sources;

(6) Stop "happy talk" in newsletters and speeches and promote frank discussion of corporate problems;

(7) Flood the information loops with the opportunities at hand and the company's inability to capitalize. (Flock, 2008, p.5)

Flock reports that these examples serve to emphasize the "traditionally unrecognized fact that raising the urgency level can only catapult corporations into productive change through credible communication. The pipeline transmissions of old in no way approach the high impact of these tactics on implementing change." (Kotter, 1996, p. 44 cited in Flock, 2008, p.5) Motivation and action can be fostered in the organization through the creation of stories that contain the elements stated as follows:

(1) A case for change;

(2) An idea where the organization is headed; and (3) Actions for getting there. (Flock, 2008, p.5)

Flock reports that the stories are "developed from the manager's teachable point-of-view. Stories that are linked to experience contain four specific elements stated as follows:

(1) Ideas -- that create value for the customer and linked to the market place;

(2) Values -- articulate and shape values that support business ideas;

(3) Edge- about making tough yes-no decisions, no waffling about people, products, businesses, customers and suppliers, make decisions based on insufficient data;

(4) Energy -- perceived messages stir people towards action regarding change and transition, face-to-face and through wide spread organizational efforts. (Flock, 2008, p. 6)

Flock reports that once a story has been chosen that has a focus on the "need for breakthrough performance in an increasingly competitive world" that Royal Dutch/Shell crated a workshop that involved top executives of the company being requested to pen their resignations from the 'old' Royal Dutch / Shell to submit to the chairman of the company. It is reported that upon having reviewed the "unsettling and eye-opening experience of reading their letters aloud it was the start of each executive internalizing a story for the case for…[continue]

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