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Innovations in Business Communication


By Chad Martin, Jason Baker, Troy Hayes, and Preston Davis

 

According to Dale Carnegie, author of the book "How to Win Friends and Influence People," 85% of success on the job is due to a person’s ability to lead people and personality. Only 15% of success is due to technical knowledge (Carnegie 18). Therefore, the ability to communicate with people is vital to business, and is essential in increasing a person’s success tremendously. In business, an organization’s success depends on communication as well.


Business communication has been changing over the last few decades. Business communication happens via person-to-person meetings, phone, mail, and memorandums. With the invention of the internet, there are many new ways to communicate in the twenty-first century. In an article written by Mark Ramirez about online communication, he states:


“Many companies are now doing the majority or even all their business online and foregoing the "Brick and Mortar" storefront. It is easy to see why that trend has happened. For one thing, the cost of setting up such a business is relatively inexpensive and easy. There is no need to pay for the overhead of a physical building. Also, the cost of maintaining a Web site is minimal. Moreover, the Internet provides a convenient and efficient way of marketing products. As more and more people are spending time on the Internet, the market of online customers continues to grow.

 

But when businesses shift from face-to-face customers to anonymous online customers, there is a loss of personal connection and trust. All the online spamming and scamming hasn't helped the matter at all. That has eroded the trust in E-commerce and the credibility of many” (Ramirez)

 

The goal of communication is to build up trust. As Mark Ramirez states previously the convenience and speed of communication today has eroded much of that credibility. The goal of this article is to address some of these issues and look at more innovative ways to communicate.


Ways we communicate in the Twenty-First Century


With businesses, there are two divisions of communication. These divisions are internal and external communication. Businesses use internal communication methods to communicate about day-to-day issues, disseminate corporate messages, and help to solve operational problems. External communication mostly deals with customers and public relations (MBWB).


Internal Communication Methods


Internal communications can take many different forms that include email, landline phones, memos, bulletins, verbal conversations, cell phones, postal mailings, and text messages. These methods of communicating can further be broken down into formal and informal systems.


Internal business communication is essential to an organization. Internal communication allows the employees to understand that companies expectations. This provides people with a specific direction that they can work towards, principles that can guide them and clearly defines the processes required to accomplish the job. This will in turn motivate the employees and boost productivity.


Traditional methods of memorandums are going to the wayside in the 21st century. Today the key word is collaboration. There are many ways to collaborate in the business today. One key method is through a collaboration website called in intranet. This type of website brings together many forms of web-based communication to allow a team or company to be more effective. This tool can bring together communications such as email, memorandums, blogs, shared documents, policies, and procedures, as well as business tools.


The intranet provides a way for employees to gain better access to more time-sensitive information. The intranet can end the paper trail of many office applications. Now that published information is on the intranet instead of printed in a company paper newsletter the employee can make faster decisions that are more informed. In summary, the benefits on an intranet include:

  1. Easy to set up and administer

  2. Open Architecture

  3. Universal interface

  4. Inexpensive

  5. Connects all operating system platforms

  6. Cost effective

  7. Faster access to information

  8. Better Decision making

  9. Build and share knowledge,

(Intranet Road Map)


External Communication


External Communication is customer driven. Without customers, businesses would not exist. William King, the director of Wholesale Dropshippers, states in an article:


When it comes to business communication, or for that matter, any aspect of the business, the most important thing is the customer. You need to ensure that you deliver what the customer wants. Even when it comes to things like marketing or advertising, you need to show what the customer appreciates and likes. Different customers accept different kinds of marketing. It all depends on you to ensure that via business communication, you are able to cater to the choices of a wide range of people. If you are able to master the art of impressing many people by various means, you will be able to take your business to the top. (King)

 

External communications are usually in the genre of advertisements and customer service. The methods of communicating could be phones, cell phones, email, radio advertisements, email advertisements, mailings, brochures, print ads, etc. In typical businesses, these different methods join together to send the “right” impression to the public.


Communication Barriers


According to Stephen Covey, communication is the most important skill in life to the point that we spend most of our waking hours communicating (Covey 237). Comparatively few people have had any training in the process of communication. The fact that few people have communication skills leads to barriers in effective communication. Often there are problems with the selected frame that organizations use in communication.


Barriers exist in both the structural and political frame settings. In the structural frame, communication is often very structured and rigid. The chain of command, also called downward communication, is usually the method by which information exchanges in the structural frame (Hershey 253). In the structural frame, communication is the method by which facts and information flows (Bolman 307). Communication that exists in the political frame often revolves around people that have some kind of power. Many managers use power to influence or manipulate others. This often leads to mental barriers that people create through chain of commands.


Many companies operate in the chain of command format. There are many communication barriers in this operation format. The first barrier in the chain of command format deals with feedback. There is no feedback in a one-way communication. Such a communication involves passing ideas, information, directions, and instructions from higher management down the chain of command without asking for a response or checking to see if any action has taken place (Small Business).


For communication to be effective, a two-way process must exist so the sender knows whether the receiver understands the message. The two-way communication process involves sending a message down the chain of command and transmitting a response containing information, ideas, and feelings back up the chain (Small Business).


Another barrier to effective communication is mental barriers between the hierarchical levels of management. The arrogance of the sender may impair the communication process. If the sender believes he knows everything there is to know about the subject discussed, he expects acceptance of his ideas or directions. If the receiver disagrees with the sender and so states, the sender will not listen to the feedback or will find it a challenge to his stated position (Small Business).


The sender may assume he is completely logical and rational - that his position is right and must prevail. This assumption may be false and no communication takes place. The sender may have some misconceptions, self-interests, or strong emotions about a particular idea or approach, of which he is not aware. However, these traits may be readily evident to the receiver, who may think the sender is hypocritical. This communication will fail, as will all future communications between this sender and receiver (Small Business).


Another common barrier to effective communication is the problem of verbosity (Davis 282). Words usually facilitate communication; however, improper use in given situations can create a communication barrier. It is imperative in the business world to become more concise. Many people believe that wordiness is a sign of knowledge or power, but is actually obscures the meaning of key points and distracts the listener (Davis 282). People who are more concise in meetings often are more influencing than those who ramble off on tangents.


Sharing information about goals and strategies is very important to the success of an organization (Manske 38). People need to know where they are going before they can make commitments about job performance. According to Manske, employees do not want a lot of formal communication, such as newspapers or letters from top management (Manske 38). Many people feel that these methods of communication create a wall between the employee and management.


Though many people believe that the situational leadership model is the most effective method of managing employees, certain communication barriers may arise. The most common barrier that will emerge is when a manager uses the wrong management style for an employee. For example, if a manager uses the participating style of leadership, but the employee is in the selling style, a communication barrier emerges. For this style of management to be effective, the manager must know the stage that the employee resides. Another example begins when a manager uses the delegating style for a new immature employee, yet the employee is not ready for that kind of responsibility. A communication barrier will emerge between the manager and the employee when performance standards fail to reach the potential.


Effective communication is the foundation for every organization. For communication to reach its potential, barriers need tearing down. Most successful organizations find ways to reduce common barriers within the organization. One way to break down these barriers is to analyze the flow of information.

 

Flow of Information


Information flows in and out of an organization much like the tides of the ocean; however, there is often a lack of periodic exactitude it sometimes comes and goes in bunches, other times it may feel like the company has fallen off the edge of the earth. It most likely consists of many different forms unlike the ocean, where each drop of water is pretty much like any other. Nevertheless, it still flows, and a manager’s job is to control and manage it to make it useful to them and the organization (Fyall).
Information Management (IM) is the collection and management of information from one or more sources and distribution to one or more audiences who have a stake in that information or a right to that information. Management here means the organization of and control over the structure, processing, and delivery of information (Dynamic Integration).


Information Management is often characterized by the phrase 'Getting the right information to the right person at the right place at the right time'. However, it does not address the question of what constitutes the 'right information'. Some can address this omission through the philosophy of Informational Management. Upper management often characterizes IM by the phrase, 'Knowing what information to gather, knowing what to do with information when obtained, knowing what information to pass on, and knowing how to value the result'. This identifies the 'right information' and the resulting whole solution is worth more than the sum of its parts (Dynamic Integration).


All the administrative and professional staff in an organization will need to use information to make better decisions. Once decided as to the kind of information each person or unit needs, one must determine the most efficient way to obtain and report that information. Information flow is the movement of information within an organization.


Information flow depends on several factors:

  • Who needs the information? Example: Detailed information on the project bank account should go to the finance manager.

  • How the information is used. Example: The program director may need to combine personnel and financial data to assess the cost-effectiveness of the services provided.

  • What level of detail is needed? Example: The sales manager may need very detailed information on the products sold to each customer.

  • What format is best to present the information (tables, charts, reports)? Example: The regional program director may require tables summarizing information on continuing users by district, in order to compare users among the region.

As information moves from one user to another, the amount of detail provided and the format of the presentation will change. These changes in detail and format (words, numerical tables, charts, or graphs) should correspond to the needs of the user and the level at which the information will be used (MERC).


Within any organization information falls within one of two categories: Performance and Operational.
Performance information is important for planning and evaluating various programs and used to formulate the goals and objectives of a program and later to determine the results and impact of that program. Selecting the right performance information is important because different departments can have different goals and objectives.


Operational information is used to assess how well a program is functioning. It provides information on the use of time, people, money, and other material resources. Having timely, accurate, and complete operational information allows one to identify quickly any problems that might prevent them from achieving their objectives (MERC).


With so much information potentially available, how does one know which information to choose? In principle, since the purpose of IM is to help make better decisions, the information chosen links directly to the decisions made. However, in practice, it is impossible to predict in advance all the decisions a manager will have to make. There will always be many important decisions that one will not be able to anticipate. Therefore, rather than trying to identify all the specific decisions, a more practical approach is to think about the types of decisions that are currently being made. For these types of decisions, information that helps determines whether one is achieving the kind of results they expected (ACMM).


A large part of a manager’s work is the management of information and the flow of that information – making sure that people receive the information they need and that all incoming information is sent to the appropriate people in a timely manner. Managing the information flow effectively is the first step toward improving coordination within any organization (MERC).


In the course of a working day, a manager will receive information, produce new information, and transmit all or some portion of this information to others. Some of this information comes through relatively formal channels, such as reports, official letters and documents, and other more personal and informal channels, such as meetings, telephone conversations, or a passing remark in the office, clinic, or corridor. A manger must constantly evaluate the importance of the information they receive and determine who else needs to be informed, how that information is going to be used, to what level of detail will be necessary, and what type of format this information will need to be presented in (SBHC).


These are critical steps towards developing an effective flow of information within an organization. The success of any manager, and the success of the organization they work for, will greatly depend on their ability to ensure that pertinent information is provided to the appropriate people in a timely manner, whether these people are within their own organization or an organization they may or may wish to do business with (SBHC).


Innovations in Communication


Communication in the twenty-first century has changed significantly in the past ten years due to the growth and influence of the internet and the capabilities within companies to communicate immediately. Communication in the post-modern world has changed from the past in which individuals are not concerned with the mundane day-to-day activities rather people are developing methods of self-actualization and spirituality. The need to communicate effectively is a necessity in today’s culture to ensure that to whom the communication is directed they feel a sense of involvement and participation. The old inter-office memorandum distributed throughout the office and await responses would not effectively work with today’s immediate action e-mail and instant messages. According to Lee Hopkins, two methods will ensure effective communication within today’s society. The first is to read the “Clutrain Manifesto” which discusses the understanding of keeping human dialogue within internet communication. Secondly, it is the responsibility of the communicator to find new ways of conversing with audiences (Hopkins “Post”). There are many new innovative ways to communicate to your target audience whether it is customers visiting a website or interoffice communication.


Prior to discussing what innovations are available, for communication the environment in which today’s society communicates is complex. The many cultures and nations that are involved in communication today are immediate that it ever has before due to the development of the internet. Keeping the human voice within internet communication is a difficult task. The cluetrain manifesto is a thesis of ninety-five standards which if followed will alleviate the possibility of losing the human aspect of communication. Although there are some skeptics of the rules, in which the authors of those theses are concerned. John Dvrorak a renowned innovator of internet communication warns those confined to a cult type communication in which everyone conforms to one type of communication (Dvorak). Keeping communication human is not setting boundaries because if inspired by humans it will change continually.


One of the innovative ideas has spawned from the instant messaging but in addition to the instant communication there is a log of conversation added. This type of tool called "blogging" in which an internet or intranet site is set-up where conversation can be held between multiple people. These blogs, viewed by all involved and set to specific projects in order to keep the flow of communication specific. The main idea behind inter-office blogging is to facilitate focused business communication (Boothby). All too often meetings can start out on one particular issue and spawn into this sounding board for ideas and solutions for topics dealt with at another occasion. This is why the facilitation tool of blogging can assist in alleviating such problems. The blog sites will keep everyone in the loop as well as inform those who have not had the opportunity to contribute.


Podcasting is another innovation of communication that allows those who are involved in office operations from satellite locations. With the use of the internet in business operations, the pages and training materials that are kept in files are too large to print off and take with employees to their workstations and homes. The podcast is a what Lee Hopkins calls his “mobile university” which enables employees to download a podast of meetings and training sessions to electronic devices which they can take with them anywhere (Hopkins “Business”). The need for a mobile office is most necessary in today’s office environment in which satellite locations in employees’ homes and international sites makes it almost impossible to have regular meetings and training sessions.

 

WORKS CITED


Bolman, Lee; Deal, Terrence. Reframing Organizations. Jossey Bass. 2003.

Boothby, Rod. “How to use Blogs in the Workplace” Innovation creators Jan. 21,2007, http://innovationcreators.com/wp/?p=302


Carnegie, Dale. How to Win Friends and Influence People. New York: Pocket Books, 1936.

Davis, Brian. Successful Manager’s Handbook. Personal Decisions,inc. 1989.

 

DeBono, Edward. “New Business Ideas: To search …” Thinking managers Wed. Dec. 1, 2004 http://www.thinkingmanagers.com/management/new-business-ideas.php

 

Dynamic Integration Online. Information Management. http://www.dynamicintegration.net/information_management.

 

Dvorak, John C. “Cult of The Cluetrain Manifesto” PC Magazine Feb. 22, 02 http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,4149,91590,00.asp


Fyall, Michael.When Project Information Flow Becomes Turbulent: Toward an Organizational Reynolds Number. August 2002. http://cife.stanford.edu/online.publications/TR138.pdf.

 

Hersey, Paul. Et all. Management of Organizational Behavior. Upper Saddle River: New Jersey. 2008.

 

Hopkins, Lee. “Business Communication Solution: Intranet Pod Casting” Better Communication Results 2002-2008 http://bettercommunicationresults.com.au/business_communication_solution_intranet_podcasting.html

 
Hopkins, Lee. “Effective Communication Methodologies” Better Communication results 2002-2008 http://bettercommunicationresults.com.au/effective-communication-methodologies-post-modernity.html


King, William. Internal and External Communication Approaches for Business. 22 April 2008: 29 July 2008. http://www.amazines.com/article_detail.cfm/472371?articleid=472371.

 

Manske, Jr, F.A. Secrets of Effective Leadership. Columbia, Tn. 1990.

 

Ramirez, Mark. Better Online Communication Makes Business Sense. 29 July 2008. http://www.businessknowhow.com/internet/communication.htm.

 

Small Business Help Center. Information Flow. http://www.helpbizowners.com/technlgy/techinfo.htm.

 

The Manager’s Electronic Resource Center, Moving And Using Information In Your Organization,
http://erc.msh.org/mainpage.cfm?file=1.0.htm&module=info&language=English.

 

Information from Websites - Unknown Authors.

  1. http://www.acmm.org/structure.php.

  2. http://www.belgotec.com/personal-business-skills/personal-skills-m8k.htm.  July 25, 2008

  3. “There are Many Ways to Communicate within a Company.” Modern Business World Blog. 5 June 2007: 29 July 2008. http://www.themodernbusinessworld.com/2007/06/there-are-many-ways-to-communicate.html.

  4. “Intranet 101 Article” Intranet Road Map. 2009: 29 July 2008. http://www.intranetroadmap.com/article1.cfm.

 

 

 

Communication

 

Lisa Eldridge, Portia Shanks, and Brian Brewer (TNU 2007) 

 

Poor communication can make any situation worse.  According to an article from www.mindtools.com,  “when official communication channels are shut down, communication does not stop.  In fact, it can often increase.  This communication can be full of rumor, innuendo, inconsistencies, half truths, and exaggerations.” (Par, 1)  This type of communication hurts employee moral and the quality of work will not be as efficient.  The best approach is to be honest with employees and keep them informed.  To prevent communication from shutting down we need to try to improve our communication technique.  When people are communicating they are not only talking, but also have to listen.  When you give someone an answer, do not ramble and speak meaningless terminology, give them a straight and honest answer.  In her article “A Crash Course in Communication,” Sarah Fenson gives some tips to help in this situation:

 

  1. You do not have to have all the answers.  It is ok to say, “I don’t know.

  2. Look for common ground instead of focusing solely on differences.

  3. Work to keep a positive mental focus.

  4. Understand that most people, including you, have a unique, often self-serving, agenda.

  5. Improve your listening skill. Most people think they listen well, but the truth is that most of people do not listen at all—they just speak and then think about what they are going to say next. (1)

When communicating with people, it is not necessary to try to impress them with your vast knowledge of terminology.  In Thad Peterson’s article “What Your Words Say About You” he agrees, “This doesn’t mean you should try to grandstand by using fancy words for the mere sake of demonstrating your intelligence” (par, 4) If someone does not understand what your saying you can not get your point across.  This causes confusion and frustration.      

 

A web article “Good Communication Starts with Listening,” by Nancy Foster suggests “to be a good listener, we must first pay attention.” Foster says that, “research shows that about 85 percent of what we communicate is non-verbal” (Foster, par 3). Posture, physical movements, and eye contact tell the speaker how well one is listening. In addition, if you fake interest, the speaker will know. Brief responses like “I see,” nodding, and asking open-ending questions encourage the speaker to continue. Foster says, “Knowing when to be silent can be a powerful tool” (Foster, par 10).

 

According to McKay, Davis, and Fanning, authors of Messages, “Being quiet while someone talks does not constitute real listening. Real listening is based on the intention of four things: understand someone, enjoy someone, learn something, and give help or solace.” The authors state, “Pseudo-listening often masquerades as the real thing” (6). People pseudo-listen for many reasons, some reasons are to show interest so the speaker will like them or to seem polite. Another is buying time to form your next comment (6).

 

Art Italo of Italo Consulting states that, “Good communication is the foundation of a good […] relationship” (Italo, par 1). In his article, “Effective Communication With Clients,” he covers some topics to aid in communication. According to Italo, “It is estimated that only about 60 percent of spoken information is accurately received” (Italo, par 4). Part of the reason is that the listener makes assumptions. Often the listener is simply not paying attention or is preoccupied. Italo discusses the power of questions, “Questions are the key to taking control of a conversation” (Italo, par. 8). He suggests listening carefully then asking relevant questions, and to not get defensive.

 

Varieties of barriers cause communication misunderstandings. One of those barriers is presupposition, which is a background belief. There can be a communication breakdown when the communicator’s presuppositions are unknown to each other. Often the same words have different effects on different people. For example, the words “republican” and “democrat” mean different things to different people (Work).

 

Effective communication is a combination of speaking and listening. This is critical for a team to reach goals effectively. Creator of WORDpower, Marian York, states that, “the ability to listen affects the bottom line as well as teamwork and performance.” York says, “Accuracy is essential to effective communication,” and that “leadership begins from the inside out” (York).

 

In the textbook Management of Organizational Behavior the topic of “active listening” is emphasized regarding its significance. The skill of active listening is imperative for a manager or leader to have. “A manager may spend as much as 75 percent of work time in face-to-face communication. As much as half of that time may be spent listening” (305). C Glenn Pearce agrees on the importance of listening, “The ability to listen effectively is a predictor of managerial success” (306). Active listening is a skill that will require practice in order to obtain. People’s physiological makeup is often an obstacle to effective listening skills. During a conversation the mind is often tempted to wander, therefore missing key parts of the entire conversation. The cause of this physical obstacle is explained in the textbook. “We speak at an average pace of 125 words per minute, but our brain is able to listen at a speed of 400-600 words per minute. Because the brain can listen faster than we can speak, a “listening gap” occurs for the averageperson” (305). Due to this physical barrier, managers should remain aware of this situation and focused on the conversations in which they are participants. The positive effects of a leader’s active listening are summed up by the textbook, “Through effective, active listening, the leader can develop better relationships between management and staff, can increase the establishment of clear and concise goals that are understood by all, and can decrease the chance of clear communication misunderstandings progressing to complex and costly problems” (306).

 

 

Works Cited

 

Foster, Nancy. “Good Communication Starts With Listening.” The Collaborative Law Institute of Texas. 4 April 2007.  <http://www.collablawtexas.com/article_good_communication.cfm>

 

Italo, Art. “Effective Communication With Clients.” Italo Consulting. 4 April 2007. <http://www.mindspring.com/~italco/com.html>

 

McKay, Matthew, Martha Davis, and Patrick Fanning. Messages. California: New Harbinger Publications, Inc., 1995

 

Work 911 Communications. 5 April 2007. <http://www.work911.com/communication.htm>

 

York, Marian. “Seven Keys to Successful Communication.”  Word Power. 4 April 2007. <http://www.mywordpower.com/phprint.php>

 

“Communication in a Crisis.” Mind Tools. 2006. 11 July 2006 <www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newLDR_77.htm>.

 

 Fenson, Sarah. “A Crash Course in Communication.” The Daily Resource for Entrepreneurs. 2000. 4 July 2006. <http://www.inc.com/articles/2000/08/20000.html>.

 

  Peterson, Thad. “What Your Words Say About You.” Monster. 2006. 24 July 2006. <http://interview.monster.com/articles/words1/>.

 

Hersey, Paul, Kenneth H. Blanchard, Dewey E. Johnson. Management of Organizational Behavior. 8th ed. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc. 2001

 

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Innovative Resources and Systems, a Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business. 

 

Our goal is for all we do to be Christ-centered and consistent with Judeo-Christian values.

 

"Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism."

George Washington, Farewell Address, September 19, 1796