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Effective communication throughout a workplace is an essential ingredient to align people’s efforts towards achieving organisational goals. Yet it seems that ‘communication problems’ are continually mentioned as one of the main difficulties for most organisations. 

Your boss, the CEO of ABC Company, has asked you to prepare a report investigating the question: 'why managers should make effective communication a priority'? In so doing she expects you to examine four issues: 


1. Crisis communication and the development of communication strategies to protect the reputation of the organisation in a crisis. 

Working in groups of four, each student will write on one of these four workplace communication issues. (Please note: depending on final student numbers there may be groups of three or five. In the case of a group of three students write on three of the four issues. In the case of a group of five a fifth communication issue will be presented). 

Please follow these guidelines to complete the assessment: The assessment task comprises two parts: 

1. one group-based report comprising per individual per section (representing 20% of the final grade); and 

2. group-based activities focussing on:

the completion of a team contract; the organisation, structure and editing of the actual report; 

The Importance of Communication in an Organization

Communication is a process for the transmission and understanding of information between two or more parties (Keyton 2017 p. 501). The organizational aspects of communication have increasingly become a strategic issue which is important, which emphasizes the importance of effectively adjusting communication for the target group of choice. In communication, information flows through channels which are different, and between a receiver and sender, including conforming of a message and disturbance elements. Information receivers and senders usually create a picture labeled profile, with the sender including the stakeholder who is sharing the information. Non-verbal messages are also included in the communication, including pictures, symbols, and logos. In the process of communication in organizations, few barriers exist, which are mostly referred to as “noise” (Salem 2008 p. 336).  These include an overload of the information, distortion in perspective, languages, cultures, filtering, and differences in perceptions. The paper seeks to establish the crisis of communication in organizations and the development of communication strategies to protect the reputation of the organization in a crisis.

Crisis Communication and the Importance of Communication in an Organization

Three different crisis clusters which exist as presented in the Situational Crisis Communication Theory (SCCT) include the intentional cluster, the accidental cluster, and the victim cluster. The organization is not attributed to the crisis caused in the victim cluster but rather viewed as a victim. Additionally, the organization is linked to the cause of the crisis in the accidental cluster, although stakeholders view it as unintentional. Moreover, in the intentional cluster, the organization is directly linked to the crisis cause which is considered deliberate.

Communication is a major function in the management of businesses and involves the process of transmitting plans, opinions, thoughts, ideas, and information within the different organizational parts. Effective communication facilitates the smooth running of an organization and is required for various aspects and in various levels of the organization. Without effective communication, employees would send and receive misleading information which might affect the services and products offered by an organization. Poor services and products will lead to the dissatisfaction of customers which will consequently lead to reduced revenue for the company (Alt?nöz 2009 p. 220).

Managers cannot get the work done by employees unless there is effective communication of what is to be done. Many problems in management and conflicts between employees and managers arise due to poor communication. In addition, communication is vital for the motivation of employees, which can significantly improve their performance and morale in carrying out their duties in the organizations. Faulty and inappropriate communication among employees or between subordinates and their managers is a major contributor to low morale and conflicts in the workplace. Effective communication also helps in the maintenance of a good organizational relation hence fostering increased production at a low cost through the encouragement of suggestions and ideas from employees and their implementation (Holten & Rosenkranz 2008 p. 29).

Crisis Communication and the Importance of Communication in an Organization

In addition, communication assists workers in the effective submission of suggestions, grievances, comments, and work reports. Organizations should have speedy and effective communication procedures and policy so as to avoid distortion of facts, confusion, and misunderstandings, hence establishing harmony among departments and concerned people. Written communication should be concise, purposeful and clear with correct words, in order to avoid confusion and misinterpretation of the intended message. Communication which is written provides permanent records for reference in future and offers the employees opportunities of including their suggestions and comments in writing. Furthermore, communication can assist companies in implementing an easy product launch. Through email subscriptions, organizations can store customer data, hence it would be easy to introduce new services and items (Blaschke, Schoeneborn & Seidl 2012 p. 880). An organization drafts a single email about a new product or service, and the email will be delivered to all subscribed consumers instantly.

Furthermore, business communication assists in product and service surveys which are critical for organizations to understand the needs of their customers and understanding the areas which need to be improved. Social networks can also be used by businesses as platforms for conducting surveys which assist the company in getting quick responses and saving the company time and money (Huang, Baptista & Newell 2015 p. 52). Moreover, businesses can socially interact with customers through the creation of business pages for communication with their followers. Improved effectiveness of communication including video conferencing enables managers and employees to have a meeting while on different geographical locations. Moreover, digital networks have improved the effectiveness and efficiency of communication through printers and phones which allow for the real-time exchange of files through the use of broadband transmissions and satellites. 

Communication strategies to protect the reputation of the organization in a crisis

The reputation of an organization is widely recognized as the most valued resource. However, communication crisis or unpredictable events can damage the reputation of the organization and therefore measures should be put aside for controlling and maintaining an organizational profile. According to Coombs (2013 p.262) evaluation of communication crisis history, type and prior relationship reputation assist the organization in predicting the reputational threat level and the way in which organization publics’ attributes crisis responsibility and perceived the crisis. Furthermore, the Development of communication strategies in responding to a crisis can limit and repair the damaged reputation of an organization although this consumes time and resources. The communication strategies that protect the organization reputation include; denial response crisis strategies involving attacking the user and scapegoat. Diminish response crisis strategy involving excuse and justification, rebuild response crisis strategies involving compensation and apology and bolstering response crisis strategy involving ingratiation corrective action, reminder and victimization.

Communication Strategies to Protect the Reputation of the Organization in a Crisis

The denial communication strategy is used by the organization in the attempt of rejecting the connection between an event suitable for rumors and the organization. The strategy challenges the crisis as management argues about the rumors being false and there is no crisis caused by the organization. Further research by Sheldon and Sallot (2008 p.28) has shown that denial crisis strategy helps in the establishment of crisis frame and if the crisis is, rumor and organization not directly involved it dispelled and both media and stakeholders accept there is no crisis and therefore no reputational harm can be done. In response to the denial strategies, the organization usually attacks the accuser and crisis manager confronts the people claiming the organization is not compliant.

Diminishing crisis strategy minimizes the apparent damage triggered by the crisis as it claims the situation is not that bad as being publicized. However, the strategy has a drawback of online media and news media arguing in contrary to the organizational statement leading to emergency and spread of information that can spoil the reputation of the organization (Utz, Schultz, and Glocka  2013 p .40). In this situation, crisis manager can develop excuse strategy in an attempt to minimize organizational responsibility by claiming the organization was unable to control the occurrence of events that triggered a crisis and deny the intent of doing harm. Furthermore, diminishing crisis strategies protects the reputation of the organization by brainwashing the public or groups involved in spoiling the organization reputation and convincing them about what organization have done to control the situation. Furthermore, diminishing crisis strategy should be used when there are minimal attributions of crisis responsibilities, which are coupled with negative prior relationship reputation, and history of similar cases (Claeys, Cauberghe and Vyncke 2010 p. 256).

The Rebuild crisis strategy protects the organization reputation by offering the material or symbolic help to the victims. In most cases, the strategy is used for reputations that possess serious threats to the organization. For example, the occurrence of intentional crisis that is believed to have unfavorable performance history (Coombs 2010 p.111). In the cases of intentional crisis, the organization tries to rebuild its name by using full apologies and compensation strategies, which are appropriate for this situation. The compensations offer gifts or money to the victims while in apology crisis manager asks shareholders for forgiveness and indicate that the organization takes full the responsibility for the crisis. Therefore, managers should prioritize effective communication since once information has widely spread its heard to convince people despite the implementation of these strategies.

Conclusion

The Report has acknowledged that Reputation threats occur due to the communication crisis situations. The emergency of forums, wikis, blogs and social media websites like Facebook, Twitter, have significantly led to the increase in potential reputation threats that are faced by organizations as unfiltered information flow becomes dimensionally uncontrollable in the social world. Factors that influence organizational reputation include openness to customer attacks like in the social media a single comment or post can have a significant impact on organizational reputation. Jacob (2012 p.259) has shown that prevention of organizational reputation from threats is through identification of communication crisis types and looking for crisis response strategies. The relationship between crisis response strategies and crisis responsibilities determines how the reputation of the organization is influenced by different factors. The strategies identified are grouped in a cluster to provide the organization with alternatives to handling crisis. Furthermore, it is important to use the necessary strategies but not over accommodating strategies as this can worsen the situation.

References

Alt?nöz, M., 2009. An overall approach to the communication of organizations in conventional and virtual offices. International Journal of Social Sciences. 3rd ed. Turkey: WASET, pp.217-223.

Blaschke, S., Schoeneborn, D. and Seidl, D., 2012. Organizations as networks of communication episodes: Turning the network perspective inside out. Organization Studies. 7th ed. U.S. A: Sage Publishers, pp.879-906.

Claeys, A.S., Cauberghe, V. and Vyncke, P., 2010. Restoring reputations in times of crisis: An experimental study of the Situational Crisis Communication Theory and the moderating effects of locus of control. Public Relations Review, 36(3), pp.256-262.

Coombs, W.T., 2010. Conceptualizing crisis communication. In Handbook of risk and crisis communication U.S.A Routledge (pp. 111-130).

 Coombs, W.T., 2013. Situational theory of crisis: Situational crisis communication theory and corporate reputation. The handbook of communication and corporate reputation. U.S.A University of central Florida pp.262-278.

Holten, R. and Rosenkranz, C., 2008, December. Communication in Organizations: The Heart of Information Systems. In Workshop. Sprouts: Working Papers on Information Systems. Vol. 8. United States: AISNET, p. 29.

Huang, J., Baptista, J. and Newell, S., 2015. Communicational ambidexterity as a new capability to manage social media communication within organizations. The Journal of Strategic Information Systems. 2nd ed. U.S.A: Elsevier, pp.49-64.

Jacob, C.K., 2012. The impact of financial crisis on corporate social responsibility and its implications for reputation risk management. J. Mgmt. & Sustainability, 2, p.259.

Keyton, J., 2017. Communication in organizations. Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior. 4th ed. U.S. A: Sage Publishers, pp.501-526.

Salem, P., 2008. The seven communication reasons organizations do not change. Corporate Communications: An International Journal. 3rd ed. United Kingdom: emeraldinsight, pp.333-348.

Sheldon, C.A. and Sallot, L.M., 2008. Image repair in politics: Testing effects of communication strategy and performance history in a faux pas. Journal of Public Relations Research. 1st ed. 21(1), pp.25-50.

Utz, S., Schultz, F. and Glocka, S., 2013. Crisis communication online: How medium, crisis type, and emotions affected public reactions in the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. Public Relations Review. 1st ed. USA: Elsevier pp.40-46.

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