Neutral forms of interactions can occur to a certain extent in organizations. They are one of the forms that exist together with quality and destructive forms. Employees and managers have a different view of how these forms play out in organizations. Neutral forms are harmless as long as they don’t change into destructive forms. The likelihood that neutral forms would turn into something harmful increases with time.
For example, you send an email to your colleague, and you receive no response. No matter how many emails you send, there’s no response. Over time, you interpret your colleague’s inaction as ridicule – their inaction prevents you from accomplishing your task goals. Hence, a feeling of invasion develops. This no communication pattern is quite common in organizations. It’s what this article attempts to discuss.
How to Obscure or Invasive Forms Develop
Communication is the backbone of organization’s function. If relevant parties don’t communicate, or miscommunicate, disaster can happen. Conflicting parties rarely, if ever, communicate. When relations deteriorate between parties, then communication becomes difficult, especially if an intervention by a neutral party is absent. In addition, communication breakdown can occur if a situation or a party dissatisfies or threatens another party. When the relations between parties is tense, then interactions can be destructive.
If you come across such a situation, what do you do as a manager?
It’s incumbent upon you to act decisively. You need to identify the root cause of the problem. Many managers may be quick to disconnect the warring parties. However, disconnection is a treatment of the symptom – not the cause.
Low Quality of Communication
Employees of some organizations work in shifts or in different time zones. Moreover, culture, in terms of professional terminologies or unfamiliar communication patterns, can disconnect people. This disconnection can affect parties whose work depend on inputs of each other. For example, teams and work groups. Technology and removal of cultural barriers can enhance physical communication. In addition, redefining boundaries to make them clearer can help to improve the quality of communication, but it can lead to an increase in rigidity.
Sometimes, work can be challenging or burdensome. With heavy workloads, it can be quite challenging to respond to every request by clients or colleagues. The solution to workload lies in its cause. However, you can explain to your workmates what causes delays and the consequences of your actions, such as ridicule and unresponsiveness.
Respect is one of the cornerstones of synergy. Disrespect or disinterest, especially toward the personal or professional needs of workmates, can work against efforts to create synergy.
A Decrease in One-way Communication Patterns
One-way communication is common in organizations, especially if hierarchy is in place. Senior managers use it to send a message that doesn’t require the input of the subordinate. And so, you’ll find this pattern in work processes, orders, commands, or other urgent interactions. One-way communication is in place for a good reason. They assist the management to structure and fix work processes, as well as handle repetitive occurrences.
For example, in an insurance organization, each claim category must have a clear structure to ensure reliable use. The process of structuring is very detailed, but requirements must be clear to the user. Procedures aren’t meant to be changed often, but they can be amended with inputs from employees. However, when the amendment is in effect, the procedure remains in force, and the employee can do nothing to change it.
If an organization doesn’t involve employees in drawing up a new procedure, then feelings of invasion can develop. This can prevent the management from assimilating the new successfully across the whole organization. Employees reject and stop using the procedure, because they may perceive it as unnecessary, unfair, incorrect, harmful or unsuitable.
For example, consider a case of a Chief of Staff issuing orders to the field officers. The orders come from top down to the bottom. Yet, the field officers view it as “so much nonsense”. The topmost decision-making organ hasn’t involved the subordinates in the process. And so, to them, the orders don’t make any sense, because they don’t take into account the real-time experiences of the recipient. In such a situation, it can be difficult for the field officers to assimilate the order. And so, it goes “the orders weren’t followed.”
It’s good to involve all parties in the draft process. As some real-life examples indicate, the field officers can implement the order before it even comes into effect. Nonetheless, one-way communication is effective in instances of urgency whereby involving employees isn’t possible, because of little time.
Experience indicates that one-way communication patterns can link up with no communication. The latter is worse, because it discourages feedback or communication; hence, it creates a perception of unfairness. Feelings of disconnectedness can arise if the employee perceives the organization as distant. The employee feels that the organization doesn’t listen. These feelings can also amount to obscurity or invasion.
When you discover that your employees have developed this feeling, it’s important to act urgently to improve communication. Your measures can prevent an onset of invasion or obscurity interactions.
Moreover, employees, when they feel that the organization no longer listens to them, “play dumb”. They resign to the idea that their efforts to get the organization to listen to them can’t be successful. And so, a once-vibrant employee becomes dull – less productive. The employee works to keep their job – to meet the organization’s minimum standards of excellence. The result is low motivation and reduced output. You can’t expect much creativity or innovation from a lowly motivated employee. This can hurt the organization, which operates in a highly competitive environment.
Neutral forms can become harmful if you don’t do anything to address them over a long time. No communication, or hierarchical communication patterns (one-way), can result to feelings of unfairness or obscurity. These feelings can, in turn, change into invasion interactions. The consequences of invasion are low output and motivation.
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