Communication is an essential element for successful operations within an organization. The passage of information from one point to another in a firm has different channels. During this process, there are always numerous obstacles to successful communication. Ineffective communication can lead to the failure of a business, as not all stakeholders are informed on the next course of action in a timely manner. Therefore, it remains the role of management to identify these barriers to effective communication within the organization and determine appropriate solutions to the obstacles. An organization with a poor communication system registers interpersonal conflicts, low employee morale, and low productivity. This essay is going to describe a situation in which there existed communication problems. Then, it is going to present an in-depth analysis of this situation and, finally, provide effective solutions to the situation.
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Description of the situation
When I was at the University, the Director of Accommodation and Catering could send notices to all housekeepers through hard copy documents. University messengers could deliver these pieces of information at various offices of the housekeepers. The notices had information such as regulations that students must follow in the hostels, the procedure of admitting and clearing a student in and out of the hostels, and the closing and opening dates for the students. The housekeepers were people with low academic qualifications as compared to the director. Notably, their job requirements did not include basic computer skills. Therefore, they had to adjust to this new technology at the university communication system.
At one instance, the Director for Catering and Accommodation, under the request of the Registrar of Administration, decided to call an urgent meeting at twelve noon. Since it was an impromptu meeting, the director opted for emails as a quick means to communicate to the housekeepers. The director used technical terms that are only common in the legal field. The Registrar and the Director waited in the university meeting room for several hours as a few housekeepers kept streaming in the room. Surprisingly, the meeting failed to kick off since over 95% of the housekeepers did not turn up for the crucial meeting.
Analysis of the situation
This situation reveals an instance of communication breakdown among the University stakeholders, that is, the director and the housekeepers. Clearly, this obstacle is due to communication technology. The new technological applications made it difficult for the majority of housekeepers to receive the message for the invitation to the meeting. The housekeepers had been used to posters that university messengers could avail to their offices at any instance. This miscommunication can also be due to the use of a different mode of communication that most housekeepers had not been familiar with in their daily communication. Housekeepers lacked basic computer skills; this could have been the foremost contributor to miscommunication. Markedly, inadequate skills to handle the new technological devices like computers and cell phones have been a cause for ineffective communication in several organizations.
The Director of Accommodation and Catering did not consider this challenge when she/he opted to send the meeting invitation messages. In addition, the lack of personal contact during information delivery that always exists during notice deliveries could have made some housekeepers assume the message. In addition, the use of technical terms in sending the information could have posed an immense challenge of comprehension among housekeepers who had limited skills. The housekeepers had low educational knowledge and skills; therefore, we’re not specialists in the legal field. This caused problems in interpreting the message to those who could access emails. Obviously, this message proved vague to some employees due to the legal terms. This shows a lack of clarity in passing information from the sender to the receiver. With the ambiguity, different housekeepers had a different interpretation of the director’s message. Most of the housekeepers were unable to know the expectations of the director.
Solution for the situation
The first solution to this problem can be related to the inability of some housekeepers to access the message in the email. The director ought to have understood that not all the housekeepers are computer literate. As a result, she/he should have used all the available means of communication that could ensure that all the housekeepers attend the unplanned meeting. In this innovative world, technology drives every sector, the communication sector included. Therefore, the University ought to conduct in-house employee training on the new technological changes in order to keep them updated on these changes. This miscommunication led to time wastage and misuse of other resources, thus lowering productivity in the institution. The housekeepers should be updated on how to use emails as a means of communication. In this global and technological world, an organization that conducts effective training for its employees realizes abundant growth and proper use of resources. Once this is done, the information will reach all the housekeepers.
Moreover, the director should understand her/his clients, the housekeepers. The understanding involves their level of education, knowledge, and skills. This will enable the director to write clearly by using straightforward language to communicate with these clients. Further, a clarification should accompany any information that is sent to the housekeepers to ensure that they all comprehend the message and act in the right way. Additionally, the director needs to be straightforward in composing messages to communicate to the housekeepers and other stakeholders in the University, like the Registrars and the Vice-Chancellor. This will eliminate situations or instances of misunderstanding among the housekeepers. From another perspective, one can view the director’s selection of terms as a sign of arrogance and pride over his/her clients. For effective communication, the director should have a cordial relationship with the housekeepers. If this is not done, most housekeepers will develop a negative attitude towards the director, thus leading to prejudgements and disloyalty. This will directly affect the operations at the University.
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This communication problem can also be solved by the use of physical messengers. Since messengers were common in delivering information to the housekeepers’ offices, the director could have used them together in such an urgent scenario. The inclusion of messengers acts as back-ups to the already sent messages via emails. It is rare to have miscommunication in an organization if two different channels of communication are used in delivering the same information. Moreover, the university administration has to ensure that all the housekeepers have access to internet-connected computers in their offices.
Communication is effective in an environment free from obstacles that can alter the content of information. Organizations should understand the nature of their stakeholders and the communication environment in which they are located. This approach will enable organizations to identify some of the potential obstacles to communication and look into ways of mitigating the challenges. In a communication process, there are four main stages: sender, a channel for message transmission, receiver, and feedback. Managers should consider factors that can affect information transfer in all three stages.