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This essay look into the ethics of a communication processes and how they contribute to the modification of techniques used by groups in making decisions. It examines the problems associated with poor communication channels: clarity of the information, and their effects on group performances. According to the literature, these problems start when the people involved in a communication are giving unclear or incomplete information. In order to contest this self-destructive trend, the literature suggests that groups must pursue a change. Managers and employees alike must consider it a matter of urgency to improve their communication as an integral part of their pursuit of effectiveness. This is crucial because services to clients, just like production chains entirely depend on effective communication. Essentially, this course studies the relationship between communication systems and developments in society with special emphasis that any organization that ignores the quality of their communication is on its way to down fall.
- The Communication Process
Communication is the process by which people (Humans or other intelligent communicators) construct depiction of meaning such that other people can interpret those representations. Poor communication has created a generation of people who cannot change information they have into a form that can be understood by those they wish to communicate it to. Indeed, to combat this problem several groups like Dell and HP train employees on how to answer telephone calls more courteously and reply e-mails more effectively to communicate better with their customers.
In several instances, attempts to improve communication at one point have only complicated matters elsewhere. A perfect example is the use of jargons, which are a specialized terminology or language that members of a profession, occupation, or other group develop to improve communication among themselves-not their clients. For instance, a Pharmacist discussing with a nurse about customized dosage for a drug may prefer to use term like therapeutic window. The problem comes when they find themselves including such words in their conversations with patients.
Of integral value in defining the seriousness and perhaps the significance of information is the medium through which it is channeled. More often than not, we consider the medium that the receiver pays attention to more frequently or one that is appropriate for the kind of information we wish to send. It is purely a common sense question as to whether we should use face to face communication or adopt a written form. Moreover, non-verbal communications like facial expressions, body language or even dress code determine a lot about how the receiver interprets the message. For example, Steve Jobs had the re-known style of wearing a black tee shirt and jeans to his annual presentations at Apple's developers’ conference and you can imagine his followers were pretty relaxed with it. However, leaders generally seem to always wear good clothes that reflect their charisma, style, and physique and their subordinates perceive them so.
The receiver too must be able to interpret the message and respond accordingly so as to activate the feedback loop. This response must also be clear and conveyed in an appropriate medium, preferably that which was used by the sender. Maintaining an active feedback loop often means avoiding the use of jargon, poor handwriting, a lost cell phone, a heavy workload that delays a receiver reading a crucial progress report, a receiver's bad mood that leads to a message being misinterpreted, or even the operation of perceptual biases. These collectively form the major barriers to effective communication.
- Group Decision Making Techniques
Groups have developed current techniques in order to enhance their levels of performance, promote positive attitudes and avoid some of the potential crises of poor group decision making. Among these is brainstorming, which is basically a spontaneous participatory decision-making technique that groups generate a wide range of alternatives from which to make informative decision. In such sessions, members sitting around a table share their ideas in an open and free manner and all suggestions recorded for further deliberations if necessary. However, effectiveness of generating ideas in brainstorming sessions as compared to individuals working separately has been low due to production blocking when group members cannot give their full attention to generating alternative ideas either because they are busy listening to other members’ ideas or they forget some of their ideas as they wait for their turn to contribute.
In an attempt to eliminate the problem of production blocking, groups have adopted the Nominal Group Technique. In this technique, group members sit around a table and each given a certain amount of time (perhaps 20 or 30 minutes) to come up with ideas or alternative ways to respond to the problem and jot them down on a piece of paper. Because each member comes up with alternatives while brainstorming privately, production blocking is avoided. When the allocated time is up, all the individuals’ ideas are recorded and discussed one by one, raising objections where there is any till a decision is reached. This technique allows quick decision making, and consideration of all the ideas generated by the members. However, it is not feasible for complex decisions requiring the processing of large amounts of information or where all or most members are required to agree.
The Delphi technique where group members never meet face to face may be adopted. This may require that the leader describes the problem to experts and solicits their help by asking them to complete and return the questionnaires that he uses to compile the responses and sends a summary of them to all group members, along with additional questions that need to be answered to make an informative decision.
In addition, Total Quality Management is a set of practices that have been used to improve group’s quality productivity. This includes Benchmarking, which involves selecting a high-performing group or organization currently providing high-quality goods or services to its customers and using this group or organization as a model, and Empowerment which is defined as the aspect of giving lower-level employees the authority to make decisions and be responsible for their outcomes. Both work with equal success so long as employees and managers are made to change the way they think about decision making in that organization.
- Organizational Learning
For most organizations, decision making is a matter of luck and chance. However, more certainty can be injected through organizational learning. This can be achieved by managers seeking to improve the decision making ability of employees and enhance the organizational efficiency and effectiveness with time. Organizations often do this through exploration and experimentation of new ideas or exploitation and refining the existing ideas to maximize their potential as per the social penetration theory.
In order to create a learning organization, managers often promote learning at the individual and group levels.Some principles for creating a learning organization have been developed by Peter Senge and they include among others personal mastery to build organization’s core competencies, complex mental models that challenge them to find better ways to perform a task, team learning for purposes of synergy, building a shared vision and inculcate a systematic thinking. These are the values that would mark the beginning of organization’s journey to efficiency and effectiveness.