Why the resources for communication at the individual level?
Communication can lead to employee performance when is successful or it can put distance between performance and employees. Bidirectional horizontal and vertical communication is the display of a transparent work, when conducted effectively. Ineffective communication creates a vicious circle that requires serious efforts in order to be fixed.
Ineffective communication starts with an initial misunderstanding of the message that is being transmitted. In this stage, the employees cannot fully or correctly decode the information received. The causes for the incident may vary, from the channel through which the message is being transmitted, the formulation, the content or the transmitter. No matter the cause, the results are similar and are manifested through the lack of comprehension. Messages require a reply or an action that can be passive or active, but when there is no comprehension of the message, replies or actions will not follow and there will be no continuity after informing takes place.
The second stage of such a circle consists in the recipient’s confusion or anger with the fact that the message is not transmitted correctly or integrally. The anger generated can be transient, because it is an emotion of high intensity that fades shortly. However, decisions taken in such moments are influenced by high irrationality, based on angry thoughts. Some examples can be expressed by resignations or aggressiveness. On the other side, the employees’ confusion implies less intense reactions, but tends to persist for a longer period of time. This will stop the employee from successfully integrating within the organization and assimilating its mission, vision, values or changes.
If the second stage is not surpassed and the organization does not takes actions to remediate the created situations, or will even continue with similar unsuccessful means of communication, the concerned employees will pass into the next stage: blaming. In this phase, they will try to identify and point out guilty parties for the misunderstanding or lack of information. In this search, employees can blame the wrong parties, whom in turn will become angry for the unfair accusation. Blaming is a process that shows the need for the employee to receive a justification or an explanation for the communication issues.
When persisting into the blaming phase, either because the employees remain stuck on the negative aspects or because the organization persists into an erroneous communication system, employees will move from blaming to alienation. Alienation is the phase in which the employees do not identify themselves with the company anymore and do not consider that their place is within the organization. In the alienation phase, the employee loses his or her interest in trying to search for, or receive, the right information. They are no longer committed to their activity or the surrounding environment within the company. The alienation phase does not involve a specific manifestation of behaviors, but is more an accumulation of passive attitudes, lack of interest and estrangement.
In the alienation phase, if interaction for communication is not improved, the situation will escalate into the next phase of the ineffective communication circle, which is hostility. Through hostility, employees develop a shell, which empowers communication barriers and blocks the information, irrespective of the fact that, this time, communication is done effectively. Hostility can be expressed also towards other elements within the company and towards change. Such occurrences will become unproductive and inefficient for both parties. The employees will not find their place or a way to work, while the company cannot benefit from employee’s performance. Employee performance is directly affected, due to the fact that the initial loss of satisfaction related to communication gradually diminishes engagement. Given that engagement is proportional to one’s performance, the effect of the quality of communication becomes a point of interest when discussing individual performance.
- Conner, D. (2011), Four ways communication can build synergy in work teams
- Ceridian Corporation (2006), Communicating with employees
- Nova Scotia (2010), Internal communications it’s not rocket science!