- Slides: 56
Internal communications Beril Akıncı VURAL
Internal communications �Internal communication examines communications with a company’s employees. �Good internal communications is necessary for effective external communications. �Internal communications is related to the goals of the organisation and its stage of development.
The necessity for good internal communications While most of the issues discussed so far concern publics external to an organisation, one of the most important groups of stakeholders is a company’s employees.
�Good internal communications may not just be about differentiating your company in terms of consumer branding. �According to a survey of 275 analysts and portfolio managers by Ernst & Young in 1998 which found that investors base their decision to buy or sell stock in a company on nonfinancial as well as financial performance.
�‘Investors’ perceptions of improvements in areas such as corporate strategy, innovation and the ability to attract and retain talented people can have a major impact on the share price. �A study by the Journal of Marketing stated that 68 per cent of customers defect from an organisation because of staff attitudes or indifference.
�Employees are not an homogeneous stakeholder group, but consist of workers, management and board, who perform different functions within the organisation, such as production, administration, and services. �Communication operates in many ways within an organisation, flowing downwards from senior directors and management to workers, upwards from the shop floor, and between groups and individuals.
The goals of employee communication ‘The goals of employee communication are to identify, establish and maintain mutually beneficial relationships between the organisation and the employees on whom its success or failure depends.
Four stages of employment where effective communication is vital: 1. The start – attracting and inducting new employees 2. The work – where instruction, news and job related information should be disseminated. 3. The rewards and recognition – promotions, special events, awards. 4. The termination – breakdown of equipment, layoffs, dismissals.
�Communication should work towards achieving the organisation’s objectives. �Employee awareness of operations, problems, goals and developments will increase their effectiveness as ambassadors, both on and off the job. �Asking for input to improve how things are done will encourage them to participate in the organisation.
Good internal relations impacts on the bottom line. Top management must support schemes to involve employees and take their opinions on board. The most common failing in employee communication is that it is too busy selling a management view downward. It neglects to stimulate an equivalent upward flow.
The four eras of employee communication 1. The era of entertaining employees (likened to press agentry) in the 1940 s, to convince them that the organisation was a good place to work. 2 The era of informing employees (like the public information model) in the 1950 s. 3 The era of persuasion in the 1960 s (two-way asymmetric). 4 The era of open communication (two-way symmetric).
The central role of employee relations based on symmetrical communication for a participative management culture is essential to a democratic organization.
The best 21 st century ‘learning organizations’ value and capture the intellectual and imaginative resources often lying dormant in their workforces.
In-house public relations specialists need to ensure that they have enough authority and influence to ensure that strategic plans and policies work through from the CEO to individuals at all levels of the organization.
The principal strategic HR theories, models, plans and policies are complementary to those of public relations. They often require senior public relations managers to work closely with senior HR managers, especially in areas such as employee relations, collective bargaining disputes and other legal affairs.
Formal and Informal Communication �Formal communication firstly as: ‘concerned with the flow of information through the autorised channels in the organization’. �This definition covers downward and upward communication and also some of the network patterns we cover.
�Informal communication is concerned with the flow of information outside of the authorised channels in the organization. �This definition grapevine. also covers the so-called
Vertical Communication �Communication in an organization can be either vertical or horizontal. �Vertical communication can occur either downward or upward communication and is usually formal. �Vertical communication concerns the passing of commands down the way and the flow of control information up the way.
Vertical Communication Downward Communication five categories: �job instructions �job rationale- explains why a task is being performed �information about procedures and practices �feedback to subordinates �indoctrination of goals- mission
Downward Communication �Consider a typical organization chart that lays out diagrammatically the authority and reporting relationships between people in the organization. �It is often the first thing that is given to a newcomer upon arrival. �Vertical communication is typically through this hierarchy.
Vertical Communication Downward Communication Managing Director Production Director Factory Manager ‘A’ Factory Manager ‘B’ Sales Director Factory Manager ‘C’ Figure 9: Typical organization chart Sales Department
Downward Communication �The first thing to note is that the majority of downward communication is one-way in nature. �It assumes that all operations can be carried out by following a systematic series of rules and directives sent down through the hierarchy.
Vertical Communication Downward Communication original message (100%) Layers of Organization Final message Information loss Figure 10: Downwards information loss Source: Adapted from Fisher, 1993, p. 38
Vertical Communication Upward Communication goes from subordinate to superior as one of the forms: � about him or herself, performance and problems � about others and their problems � about organizational practices and policies � about what needs to be done and how it is to be done.
Network Patterns Decentralized networks Circle Figure 11: Decentralized networks Comcon
Network Centralized Patternsnetworks Y Wheel Figure 11: Centralized networks Chain
�The chain, Y and wheel represent centralized networks, that is, control information flows to a central point where decisions are made. �These decisions are then disseminated out from this central point to the other members who are, in effect controlled from the center. �Communication is usually formal.
�The circle and comcon networks are decentralized. �Communication flows between group members for the purposes of sharing information, achieving co-ordination and expressing feelings. �Control is not held by any one member; members are free to make their own decisions. �Communication is often informal.
Advantages of centralized networks: �good for simple tasks �fast �strong leadership can be demonstrated Advantages of de-centralized networks: �better for complex tasks requiring multiple inputs from members �involves people in decisions and gives them ownership
Horizontal (Lateral) Communication �This communication route involved people on the same hierarchical level- their ‘peers’. A B Gang Plank E C D F G Figure 12: Fayol’s gang-plank
�It has been estimated that two-thirds of communication flow occurs informally in this way. �The purpose of horizontal communication is primarily to co-ordinate work, formal activities, goals and objectives of a particular sub-unit or department.
Horizontal (Lateral) Communication Direct Peer Contact Figure 13: Informal communication Source: Mintzberg, 1979, p. 51
Horizontal (Lateral) Communication Direct Diagonal Contact Figure 13: Informal communication Source: Mintzberg, 1979, p. 51
Horizontal (Lateral) Communication Override of Scalar Chain Figure 13: Informal communication Source: Mintzberg, 1979, p. 51
Horizontal (Lateral) Communication Figure 14: Documents of the formal system versus verbal information of the informal system
Horizontal (Lateral) Communication Figure 14: Documents of the formal system versus verbal information of the informal system
Information Channel RICH Information Richness Face-to-face discussion Highest Telephone conversations High Written letters/memos (individually addressed) Moderate Formal written documents (unaddressed bulletins or reports) Low Formal numeric documents (printouts, budget reports) Lowest LEAN Source: Adapted from Daft, Richard L. , and Lengel, Robert H. “Information richness: A new approach to managerial behavior and organization design. ” In Barry M. Staw and Larry L. Cummings (eds. ), Research in Organizational Behavior, vol. 6. Greenwich, Conn. : JAI Press, 1984, 191– 233.
The Grapevine �The term grapevine is often used to describe the way in which ‘interesting’ bits of information travel informally around an organization, for example, what the next pay rise is going to be, who is getting promoted or sacked, whose wife is expecting a baby, if that important contract has been secured, etc.
�The grapevine is an extremely fast communication channel. �It does not respect hierarchies or departments with the result that within a very short space of time, many people in the organization are aware of the message. �Studies have shown that the grapevine is often highly accurate.
Four ways in which the grapevine could operate �Single strand represents the ‘Chinese whispers’ type of chain in which information is passed oneto-one down a line, the message is liable to distortion at each stage. �Single strand was singled out as being the most inaccurate because of this distortion.
�In the gossip chain, one person is actively on the look out for messages and then tells everyone. �The probability chain starts with someone who has a message but only delivers it on an ad hoc basis, depending more or less upon whom he or she happens to be in contact with. �The cluster chain is more selective; an individual will only pass on messages to a select group or ‘cluster’, one of whom might then become the message source for subsequent clusters. �Sometimes different ways were used depending upon the perceived importance of the information.
The Grapevine K D C B A Single Strand D B C E F G H I A Gossip Figure 15: Types of grapevine chains Source: Davis, K, 1953
The Grapevine J C E H K B I I G F B A D J Probability Figure 15: Types of grapevine chains Source: Davis, K, 1953 C D F A Cluster
The Grapevine Advantages �Fast �Informs a large number of people �Often highly accurate Disadvantages �Single strand prone to distortion �Can supply rumours and incorrect information
COMMUNICATION AS A CORE COMPETENCY It is interesting to see how few academic texts on human resource strategy include communication as a key boardlevel competency. Strategic HR planning, policy making and practice tend to be discussed in relation to recruitment and selection, performance appraisal, assessment compensation, training and development, succession and career profiling, job design and evaluation.
An experienced public relations practitioner could argue that this is why so many large scale change programmes fail, including business process reengineering and total quality management programmes. The role of public relations in helping organizations to change and to sustain new behaviours is nearly always underestimated.
COMMUNICATING CHANGE Large-scale change internal communication programmes must address short-term critical issues which in turn must be faced and understood by all managers. At the same time, global and long-term business communication programmes must demonstrate sensitivity to the needs of individuals.
Nine key motivating forces at such times, in which public relations clearly plays an important role. These are: 1. political forces; 2. economic forces; 3. cultural forces; 4. mission and strategy; 5. organization structure; 6. how human resources are managed in terms of flexibility, quality, commitment and strategic integration; 7. stakeholders’ interests; 8. community relations; 9. union relations.
All internal communication relies on basic principles of public relations, which include clearly defined stakeholders’ groups, both formal and informal, plus appropriate channels for information delivery (one-way) and symmetrical communication (two-way).
Three-phase communication change strategy
The corporate message must be consistent but may have to be transmitted in different ways to these different groups, whether they are performing inhouse or as outsourced labour, such as associates or consultants. A symbolic approach to decision making sees change as a process of developing myths, metaphors, rituals and ceremonies to cope with the uncertainty and ambiguity that planning and control measures cannot cope with.
Communication is the essential leverage and link for any decision making, given that employees and managers will have participated in the decision-making process to ensure the change is ‘owned’ and can thus be successfully operationalized. Another key area familiar to public relations consultants will be the concept of ‘commitment’, based on attitude, behaviour and exchange, as a means of achieving flexibility and change.
There are three principal public relations processes which involve communication expertise and organizational behaviour: • quality assurance through communication audits; • expediting core values as manifested by the mission and ethics statements; and • managing new and more democratic systems of worker control through strong leadership and transparent consultation based on sound communication processes.
COMMUNICATION AS TEAM EFFORT Strategic internal communication, as part of an overall public relations strategy, is a dynamic operational process linked to the business plan through some or all of the following professional activities. These should be carried out in conjunction with core human resource activities, probably in the following order, and prioritized according to circumstances:
�Establish and target formal and informal internal groups. �Plan an integrated communication programme. �Communicate effectively by word and deed through line management. �Manage strategically around size, geography and international issues at home and overseas. �Assess the competitive environment. �Make every employee accountable through understanding of public relations and communication know-how. �Decide the value and function of all publications. �Establish fair and just employee communication channels, from induction to retirement or redundancy.
�Organize efficient monitoring and management of noticeboards and electronic messaging. �Maintain suggestion schemes through a rewarding opencommunication culture. �Incorporate crisis management techniques into headquarters record systems, computer networks and commonsense face-to -face briefings. �Strengthen corporate identity and reputation by providing internal and external information. �Clarify the relationship and boundaries between external and internal communication, the dual role and the capacity of those responsible to handle the delicate balance. �Explain policy rules and regulations and be able to talk to people at all levels. �Monitor attitude through communication audits. �Evaluate corporate vision regularly with short-term aims.