Internal communication and staff morale

This paper shall deal with the aspects of internal communication within a workforce, and also discuss the issue of staff morale. The main objective of this essay shall be to identify the different forms of internal communication, how effective they are, and relate this back to the effect it may have on both employers and employees. In turn, this shall relate back to the notion of staff morale and motivation. Due to staff morale being heavily related to motivation, this issue shall also be discussed, in relation to theorists such as Maslow, and his ‘Hierarchy of Needs’. When discussing staff morale, a definition shall first be given, and then different methods and different forms of staff morale shall be analysed.

According to Lasswell, (1948, p. 50), communication is “Who says what in which channel to whom with what effect”. Every type of action that a manager takes with his/hers employees, involves communication in some way. There are many different forms of internal communication that managers can encompass within the workplace, such as interpersonal and organizational. Interpersonal communication refers to communication between two or more people, and can include methods such as face-to-face communication, telephone, meetings, fax, electronic mail or even through teleconferences and voice mail.

Organizational communication includes people, patterns, networks, etc. Within organizational communication, comes two sub-groups, consisting of ‘formal communication’, and ‘informal communication’. ‘Formal’ refers to communication, that “follows the official chain of command or is part of the communication required to do one’s job” (Robbins and Coulter, 1996, p. 293). They argue that any communication that takes place within the work force is classified as ‘formal’. ‘Informal communication’ is information that is not communicated through the company’s hierarchal structure.

Examples of this may be, when colleagues talk to one another in an informal manner, for example in the staff room, or outside of working hours. This process of ‘informal communication’ is beneficial in two main ways. It firstly enables employees to satisfy their needs for social interaction, and can also improve an organisations performance, by creating more efficient, faster and more enjoyable channels of communication.

Taylor (1993, p. 109) argued that different forms of internal communication include memoranda, notices, meetings and house journals. She goes on to discuss that “horizontal communication takes place regularly between people on the same level…”. This is vital in any successful organisation. For example, if communication was to breakdown from either party, this could cause the eventual downfall of the company.

Although this may be an extreme example, other issues that could arise through lack of communication, include de-motivation of the workforce, employees feeling neglected, therefore leading to low staff morale. Another major concern that could arise is that of confusion and disorganisation within the workplace. If matters of the workplace are not communicated efficiently, effectively and quickly, this will end in problems and concerns, not only for the employer, but also the employee.

Robbins and Coulter (2002, p. 282), argue, “Managers need effective communication skills…Ineffective communication skills can lead to a continuous stream of problems for a manager”. This quotation suggests, as discussed above, that if communication skills are not dealt with in a well-organized and professional way, then this can lead to, as quoted by Robbins and Coulter, ‘problems for managerial staff’.

It is not only ineffective communication skills that can de-motivate staff etc, but the ways in which communication is delivered and received is also vital. Taylor has come up with a ‘checklist’ of six items, to determine ‘effective communication’ in the workplace: 1. Think clearly: This refers to the communication being sent in a clear and concise manner. It is important to ‘think before you speak or write’ when communicating 2. Listen intelligently: Communication is not just about speaking or writing your message, it is also about listening to your recipient. Taylor suggests that to make communication more effective when writing it down, try reading your message out loud and listening to it as if you were the receiver.

3. Select appropriate media: When considering what form of media to use, it is important to choose the appropriate form of communication in conjunction with your ‘desired objective’. 4. Timing and place of communication: Take into consideration when and where the communication process should take place. This is very important, as it can affect the disposition of employees and employers. 5. Using appropriate language: Taylor argues that it is important to use words and phrases that the recipient will be familiar with. Do not use words that may confuse them, as this may agitate the colleague, or make them feel inadequate.

6. Obtaining feedback: Once communication has reached employees, it is crucial to obtain feedback. By doing so, employers can maximise their opportunities of even better communication next time round. By obtaining feedback from employees, it shall make then feel like their opinions matter and that their views are taken seriously by senior staff members. (Taylor, 1993, p. 5) Here, Taylor is arguing that effective internal communication is all about understanding what is being sent to your employees. She argues that when a message is sent, it should be received in a way that it was intended to be received, i.e. without any misunderstandings. By doing this, she argues that it leads to better communication channels between all parties involved.

The concept of communication is not only imperative between people on the same level but also between directors for example, and office/floor workers. Communication that flows ‘downwards’ is referred to as communication that is passed on from management staff to staff lower down in the hierarchy. ‘Upwards’ communication is when communication is passed on efficiently to members of the management team, from workers of a lower level. This gives employees the chance to express any concerns, problems, anxieties that they may have, through the main communication channels. This is very important in an organisation, as it gives employees the chance to have their say, without any worries that they may be frowned upon by management staff.