ORGANISATION BEHAVIOUR Case study: Bridging The Two Worlds – The Organizational Dilemma What are the barriers to effective communications in Aluminium Elements Corp and how were they addressed? What would you do differently? GSM 5101 Organizational Behaviour Page 2 1. 0 INTRODUCTION Communication refers to the process in which information is transmitted and understood between two or more people. The word “understood” is emphasized because the transmitting of the sender’s meaning to other people is the essence of good communication.
In the model of communication, there are various channels and barriers (noise) that can become the factors of communication effectiveness. 1. 1 Introduction to communication Figure 1 Communication Model Figure 1 refers to the communication model. Firstly, communication starts when a sender has a message which he intends to send to the receiver. The sender will encode the message and transmit the message. In this process, sender will choose the channel of GSM 5101 Organizational Behaviour Page 3 communication through which the message is sent to the receiver.
These channels may include voice, body language, the social media, electronic gadgets, and so on. However, ‘noise’ may occur during the transmission of message and this can become barriers to the communication. These barriers can be psychological, social or structural and can affect the clarity of the intended message. When the receiver receives the message from the sender, he will decode the message in order to understand it. If the receiver wishes to respond the message, the same communication process will take place. Either way, the ‘noise’ will negatively affect the meaning of the conveyed message. . 2 Case summary The case describes the experience of William Todorovic who was just appointed as the manager of AEC’s customer service group. More specifically, this case describes the communication problem that existed between different departments in AEC i. e. the company management, office staffs, and shop floor workers. Firstly, the shop floor workers appeared to be less friendly with the office staff and the company management because they felt that both the office staff and company management do not care about their feelings and opinions.
This can be seen in the way the management excluded the shop floor workers in the daily production meeting, and the fact that the management have their own separate lunch rooms, bath rooms, and enjoy other perks that the shop floor workers do not have. These seemed to have negatively affected the relationship between the floor workers and the office staff. Besides that, the communication between the top management and the shop floor workers was also not really effective.
William’s superior, George, for example, do not like to confront one of the shop floor worker, John, directly, and instead, he sent a long memo to John that was difficult for him to understand. Another machine worker, Tony, has certain ideas about the office staffs. He thought that the office staffs only cared about schedules but not the shop floor workers. GSM 5101 Organizational Behaviour Page 4 William was trying to address these problems by listening to the shop floor workers and try to understand their requests and demands.
This seemed to have a positive effect whereby, the employees became friendlier and began to accept William as one of their own. Members of other departments also began to rely on him to deliver messages to the shop floor workers. Meanwhile, John has made a significant contribution in the improvement of the scheduling job on the one related to the aluminium slitter. William had made this known to George, his superior. William has also suggested that they should award some sort of promotion to John. George decided that John should attend a management skills seminar which meant that John he would promoted.
However, John misunderstood the decision by George and thought that the management did not appreciate the result because they sent him to a seminar to improve his performance. He was very upset and ready to quit from AEC. 2. 0 BARRIERS OF EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATIONS IN AEC Effective communication is a sharing process which involves the first party sending a message that can be easily understood by to the second party. However, there are some barriers that may influence the effectiveness of communication which may result in misunderstanding or misinterpretation.
In the case study of AEC, William Todorovic has discovered several barriers to the effective communication between the employees in the organization. 2. 1 Imperfect Perception There were different perceptions between the management and the floor staff. For example, the floor staff thought that the management were unaware of the problems at the floor and were too self-centered that they only cared about their schedules, issuing orders and making demands. GSM 5101 Organizational Behaviour Page 5 As for the management, they thought that they did not have anything to learn from floor employees.
Such perception has made them hardly understand the real process in finishing orders and this has created a gap between the management and the floor staff. 2. 2 Poor selection of medium to communicate Choosing the right medium or channel for communication may affect the effectiveness of the transmitted message In AEC, the management has used memos to communicate with the shop floor employees. This was in fact, a one-way communication because after the memo was sent out no further clarification was made by the management, and no feedback was obtained from the shop floor employees.
This means that the management would not know whether the staff actually understood what they were expected to deliver. As we can see, George was actually surprised when he found out that John was upset when he received the memo following his accomplishment. The latter misunderstood the intention because the medium used in this communication was usually used to deliver ‘bad news’. William also found that shop floor employees were not accustomed to talking with the management and office staffs.
This was because, any verbal communication that occurred between them would be one-way and consisting of orders and demand by the management. Furthermore, shop floor employees have not been invited to join the daily production meeting unless there was a specific issue that necessitates their attendance. This is also a kind of one way communication because the management did not “hear” the real issues from the production. In fact, the production meeting was held without the production members. GSM 5101 Organizational Behaviour Page 6 2. 3 Information overload
Each people have certain level of information process capacity which is the amount of information they can process in a fixed unit of time. When the information a receiver received is more that his process capacity can hold, he may misinterpret the message from the sender. For example in the case study, William found that John found George unpleasant because George always wrote long and complex memos to shop floor employees. John could not understand the memo because of the information overload in the memo. 2. 4 Work space design Work space is another communication barrier in the AEC organization.
As indicated in the case study, the lunchrooms and washrooms facilities were exclusively for the management and the office staff. Such work space designs did not encourage both shop floor employees and the management ; office staffs to mingle with each other. This explains why the employees were surprised when they saw William, their manager, not having lunch in the office lunchroom. 3. 0 HOW THE BARRIERS WERE ADDRESSED After William understood the problem between the management and shop floor employees, he came out with some solutions to overcome the problems.
Below are the actions taken by William in trying to solve the problems. 3. 1 Mingling with shop floor workers In order to address the barriers of communication in AEC, William had spent more time mingling with the floor employees. He always had his lunch at the lunch area at the floor. GSM 5101 Organizational Behaviour Page 7 William also visited the shop floor frequently. This was because by doing so, he was able to talk with the floor employees and share their views and problems. Indirectly, William could discover the real situation in the organization from that department.
Besides that, William has allowed the shop floor employee, i. e. John to decide on the scheduling of jobs. Being an experience aluminum slitter, John probably knew better on the operations of the floor job. This was evidenced through his suggestion that William was be able to reduce the new work order turnaround from four to five weeks to a single day His actions have encouraged two-way communication which helped to improve communication effectiveness between the management and the shop floor workers. 3. 2 William as a messenger
When the relationship between William and the shop floor workers became closer, the staff from other departments came up to him and asked him to relay messages to the shop employees. This was because William spoke the same “language” with them. Since then, William became the “middle man” between the management/office workers and the shop floor workers. This approach could improve the effectiveness of communication because the requests from the management could be transmitted to the shop floor workers through William. Limitations
However, there are several of limitations in using a messenger as a channel of communication between the two parties. Firstly, William’s job will be overloaded because members from other departments relied on him to relay messages to the shop floor employees. Besides that, William may transmit the wrong message to shop floor employees if he did not understand the message well. Moreover, this method may not fully solve the communication problem because if William leaves the company, the situation will resume. GSM 5101 Organizational Behaviour Page 8 . 3 Listening feedback from shop floor employees William always walked around to find opportunities to talk with shop floor employees. As described in the case study, he has to have an open mind when listening to them, identifying their problems and hearing new ideas from them. Such approach helped to improve the effectiveness of communication because the management not only can identify the real problem at production side, but also be exposed to new ideas from the employees. 4. 0 WHAT COULD BE DONE DIFFERENTLY?
After identifying the barriers of communication between AEC’s management and the shop floor employees, and what they did to address the problems, we have come out with more suggestions to further reduce the barriers and improve the effectiveness of the communication. 4. 1 Encourage two-way communication between management ; bottom-line employees Communication barriers in AEC organization are mainly cause by lack of two-way communication. Through this method, more effective communication can be achieved because the sender will receive feedbacks from the receiver.
In this way, the sender can identify whether the message he sent is understood by the receiver correctly or not. For example, the management of AEC can invite shop floor members to join their daily production meeting because shop floor members know the production well. They can raise the production problem to management directly in the meeting. Management people also can announce their plan ; management objectives / targets directly to the shop floor employees. Communication will be more effective when both parties understand each other and this can be done if the two-way communication is implemented correctly.
GSM 5101 Organizational Behaviour Page 9 4. 2 Redesign workspace The AEC workspace design has also been a barrier to effective communication because both management and shop floor workers have separate lunchroom and washroom. This will limit the chances for both parties to meet with each other. AEC can redesign the workspace by allowing the shop floor employees to use the same lunchroom and washroom used by the management/office staff. Such arrangement will increase the familiarity between the management and the shop floor employees as there are more chances for the two to meet more often.
This in the long run will improve the communication between the staff in the company. 4. 3 Make the content of the management memo clearer Memo is one of the channels of communication within the AEC organization. Shop floor worker John, always complained that the company vice president, George, sent long and incomprehensible memos to him. In order to let John understand well the memo, George can reduce the unnecessary content in the memo and thus, make the length of memo shorter. By right, a complement memo should not be long and complicated.
Besides that, the memo should be clearer to avoid misunderstanding. John may be confused by the content of memo because it did not state that he will be promoted and he was upset when he found out that he was told to attend a seminar. If the memo has stated this clearly, this wouldn’t be happen on him. 4. 4 Implement web based communication AEC can implement web based communication such as e-mail in their organization. They are several of advantages of using e-mail to communicate, for example it will save cost and time, and the information can reach to the right person.
More importantly, the e-mail can be used as a two-way communication because the receiver can reply the sender after received the e-mail. Management can give their orders to the shop floor workers and if the latter have any problem, they can raise it to the management through e-mail. GSM 5101 Organizational Behaviour Page 10 For example, George can send his complement memo to John by e-mail. If John did not understand the e-mail, he could reply the mail memo and asked George for clarification. 5. 0 CONCLUSION
After reading the AEC case study, we found that effective communication is very important in an organization. A company must use the correct communication channel within their organization to ensure that the right message reaches the intended recipients. However, there are various types of noises/barriers that may affect the communication process such as imperfect perceptual, inappropriate communication channels, information overload and workspace design. These communication barriers must be addressed promptly as they may hinder the company’s productivity.
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