Understanding the Communication Process in the Workplace
Understand the nature and importance of the communication process in the workplace
1.1 Explain the importance of effective communication in the workplace (8 marks)
Communication is used on a daily basis whereby colleagues take the time to speak or listen to each other either by oral communication or through means of technology. Effective communication not only helps to build trust and create good working relationships but also helps to motivate the team as a result of high levels of morale. If the work environment has low levels of conflict the team are more likely to have higher levels of productivity as they will feel motivated to work together towards achieving their common goal. If there is a breakdown in communication there is a potential for numerous issues to arise due to misunderstandings as a result of miscommunication.
1.2 Describe the stages in the communication cycle (8 marks)
The communication cycle is a two way exchange where an individual conveys information to another individual through various means of communication in a bid to receive an appropriate response. Firstly the individual will make an assessment of what they are trying to find out. They will then compose a message before sending across to the receiver using the appropriate method. Once the message has been sent, the receiver will then interpret that information and respond accordingly. If the response has not addressed what the sender intended to receive, the sender should consider why this has occurred and what they need to do to improve communication.
1.3 Identify possible barriers to communication in the work place (8 marks)
In any workplace, barriers in effective communication may occur. In large organisations where time is often of the essence a typical reason for a breakdown in communication is a result of the sheer volume of departments/offices and therefore communication from team to team or from senior management has the potential to become distorted very easily. The language that is used could also act as a potential barrier ie certain technical words may not be understood by everyone. Subsequently colleagues may interpret the message in different ways and may only see/hear what they want to. Certain colleagues may not have the confidence to raise their concerns and work relationships could be affected as a consequence.
1.4 Explain how to overcome a potential barrier to communication (8 marks)
To overcome potential barriers of communication it is important that all individuals assess their own communication skills and make a conscious effort to practise communication with their colleagues. By simplifying language used so that it is comprehendible to everyone will help ensure that the recipient always interprets the message correctly. When listening to someone this should be done attentively so that feedback can be made. By ensuring that technology is not the only means of communication, team meetings should be encouraged to promote the opportunity for everyone to have their chance to have their say even if they do not have the confidence to speak up in the meetings, they could send an email with their view prior to the meeting for another colleague to bring up.
Understand the methods of communication
2.1 Describe the main methods of written and oral communication in the workplace and their uses (12 marks)
Within an office environment in the financial sector the main method of written communication is via email. This form or communication is used to summarise or initiate an action by passing on a message with a single click of a button to both individuals or to groups of recipients. This method is also a key way in distributing various policy changes, forthcoming events or general notices.
Oral communication is the transfer of information using the method of speech. There are two types of oral communication; formal and informal. An example of formal communication would be the presentation of a new policy by senior management. In comparison the more commonly used on a daily basis would be informal methods of communication that include face to face conversations or telephone calls.
2.2 Identify the main advantages and disadvantages of written methods of communication (12 marks)
It is said that most organisations use emails as their preferred method of communication because they are a quick, efficient and inexpensive method of being able to pass on information. As the emails are sent via a server, all messages are stored allowing the sender/recipient to be able to reference back to past emails at any time. However, although emails have their advantages they can be considered as an impersonal method of communication and recipients may not always understand what is being asked and therefore wrong interpretations could lead to misunderstandings and potential errors may arise. Another method of written communication is use of an old fashioned letter. This has somewhat been displaced by the use of an email however is still used when documents need to be signed and sent back. This method can be time consuming to write up and have the potential of getting lost easily.
2.3 Identify the main advantages and disadvantages of oral communication (8 marks)
When time is of the essence oral communication is usually the preferred method of communication as it is by far the quickest and has the option to be spontaneous. This method does not require any writing/typing and therefore any language barriers can be significantly reduced. Either by face to face or over the phone this form of oral communication is a more personal approach and therefore enables better relationships to be built amongst colleagues. However, if the message is conveyed using the wrong tone of voice, it may be perceived and interpreted wrongly and therefore result in misunderstandings. Oral messages can also be forgotten easily unless recorded and therefore tasks set using oral communication may start going wrong as the staff cannot refer back to the objective set like they can if it was sent via an email.
2.4 Identify how non-verbal communication can influence effectiveness of oral communication (8 marks)
When orally communicating, non-verbal communication signals play a key part in how effective the speaker is in presenting the message across to listeners. For example during a presentation it is common for the speaker to make eye contact with their audience in order to engage them. They may make different facial expressions depending on what they are talking about ie smiling when something is perhaps associated with a spot of humour. They may also make hand gestures to express themselves and adapt their body movement’s posture according to the situation.
2.5 Explain the value of feedback in ensuring effective communication (8 marks)
In order for the speaker to know that they have successfully sent the message to the listener it is essential for them to receive feedback. Feedback causes a loop to be created whereby messages go to/from the sender to the receiver resulting in new ideas being generated. After receiving feedback a plan of what is to be done next can then be established making the whole process continuous. Feedback does not necessarily have to be sent in the form of a message but could be observed as an activity.
Be able to assess own effectiveness in communication
3.1 Assess own performance in a frequently used method of communication (16 marks) – 350words
Within the financial industry where it can be a busy and hectic environment communication is key. Although I tend to use email as my preferred method, if there is an important message I am trying to convey I will tend to favour oral communication by picking up the phone or walking across to the person’s desk to discuss. As a marketing co-ordinator my role is to arrange complex schedules for both colleagues and clients. It is important for compliance reasons that all arrangements made with clients are kept on record and therefore the easiest method of communication is email. In regards to communicating with internal staff I asked my colleagues to assess my performance and one comment that was made was although my emails are always friendly and informative, it would be useful if I could also go directly over to team members such as the traders who may miss my emails due to the nature of their busy roles to help ensure that nothing is missed. As part of my role I have to contact the travel team on a regular basis to arrange marketing schedules abroad. As there are usually numerous options of flights and accommodation available I favour the oral communication method in the form of a phone call as it is quicker and easier for both parties to discuss all the options and book accordingly. I asked a member of the travel team for their feedback on my oral communication skills and they said that I am always clear and concise with my requests but it would be helpful if I could also send a heads up email prior to calling to give them a chance to look at options before I call. On an ad hoc basis I am required to present to colleagues regarding new marketing materials that are going to be published. I asked a colleague to think back to my last presentation a couple of weeks ago and asked her if she could remember my body language and how I presented the material. The one thing she did highlight to me was how I tend to talk quickly at the beginning and I use my hands to express myself a lot. However, she did say that was a good thing and I looked comfortable and professional in presenting when using these gestures.
3.2 Identify actions to improve own performance in communicating
Using the use of emails as my main method of communicating can be seen as impersonal as the client may interpret my email in a different manner to how I intended it to come across. Therefore going forward I could on occasions where appropriate make follow up calls to the clients to give them that sense of being looked after. As highlighted by the travel team when making calls to them to arrange travel schedules I plan to send an email request ahead of the call to give them a heads-up. In regards to improving my presentation skills I’m going to work on speaking slower at the beginning of a presentation and will perhaps practise in front of the mirror and assess how I conduct myself in terms of posture and gestures and work on accordingly.