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Understanding The Communication Process In The Workplace

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It is a known fact without communication, we cannot build good Business Relations with employees nor Customers in the Bank. Employees communicate with each other to get their jobs done. Supervisors communicate with their staff to run a business proficiently. There are so many benefits of effective communication like:

  1. Better rapport with Peers, and Subordinates in the Bank.
  2. Well aware of the organization or Departments updates.
  3. To restructure or switch roles in case of absence of few employees, so the other peers can take over work easily in someone absence.
  4. To give proper Guidance and scope of work of your Team in case you are managing a Team for a Department of a Bank.
  5. Well aware of Teams hard work, smart work, and properly appreciating and motivating them in case of a Team or Individual. A real example of that is my team under my supervision when they have been awarded the best team of the year for doing good job in achieving one of the biggest project in the bank. All that because of the team hard work and the effective communication that was among them and the trust that they build up among them and ultimately they could achieve this project on time and in effective way.
  6. To criticize someone in a professional way, and not degrade them, but criticize them constructively to motivate them.

Most important in communication is to build up trust with someone, either by giving them sometime, or calling them up, or chatting with them to help them out personally in their work or personal lives, and to understand each individual and address each other issues in a correct way to resolve them in timely manner.

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The Communication cycle expresses how the system of conveying and understanding messages operates. Any communication process shall have input, then process in order to have an output, that can be the simple explanation of communication process. I work in Internal Control Unit as Section Head of Monitoring and Compliance and I can give an example of my communication stages as follow:

Example: I have noticed that many staffs in Branches use or put wrong rates during the processing; my objective is to propose a control mechanism to minimize or prevent these input mistakes from happening. I can start with

  1. Plan: I need to gather information and have proper view on the situation and the problem after the analysis.
  2. Send: I start convey the problem and the subject through different mediums such as meetings or conversation and different media such as email to inform the concern to my Team Members asking for appropriate response and proposed solutions.
  3. The message I should encode or convey should be simple and direct as possible for the ease of understanding.
  4. Understand: The Team Members have read my message, understood it and have provided me with useful proposed controls to minimize the errors as detailed under:
  • Introduce override feature in the system to prevent the user from putting wrong rates.
  • Implement maker and checker mechanism to minimize the error.
  • Extract exception report for all transactions processed with abnormal rates and this report needs to be checked by the Branch Head at end of the day.

Reply /Decision: As Section Head, I have read their proposals; discussed them with the team member to select the best solution. Finally, I have replied on my team with positive feedback appreciating there work for giving me good and effective solutions. In summary, the line of communication between the Department Head and Team Members involves the following:

  • Thought process
  • Conveyance through appropriate medium or channel
  • Interpretation
  • Conversion
  • Response
  • Acknowledgement.

Communication Barriers are hurdles or problems that might arise during the communication process and ultimately prevent the exchange of ideas and thoughts. Such barriers are:

  1. Physical Barriers. Examples include closed Office doors in Banks, barriers in work place before reaching out to Management of blue collar workers, or if the high Level management is difficult to reach and is not in the proximity of the Team Members to sort the issues.
  2. Perceptual Barriers. The pre-judgemental thought of someone or something, will create a lot of Barriers, for example in a Bank, if you have a chain of Managers, and if one of them who is senior to you is not cooperative, then automatically you will have a Perception of the next level Manager will be the same which creates this Perceptual Barriers.
  3. Cultural Barriers. The Teams or groups in a company have their own set of cultures, which might prevent newcomers in a Team or group to be comfortable if the Team is not flexible in accepting different people of various cultures and backgrounds.
  4. Distance Barriers. Distance barriers in a large size organization include large number of departments and manpower areas that are physically separated into different offices or workplaces.

Ways of overcoming:

Physical Barriers.

The best way to overcome is to have closed proximity between a Team or Group, and also to avoid any closed Doors, barriers and multiple layers of communication between a Team.One example is to have your immediate Team on the same floor or same block to avoid delays in communication.

Perceptual Barriers.

To make everyone comfortable, and to guide them to have an open Mind and promoting positive Propaganda in the company, and not to have a pre conceived notion of anyone, and to have an open and non-Judgemental attitude towards your peers and colleagues. One example is to have a motivational and positive sign boards and create open discussions once in a week to let loose and be more connected personally as well.

Cultural Barriers.

The management to promote been acceptable and flexible to other cultures and people, and have an attitude to always learn new things in life and be accommodating as well.

One example is the Banking Sector, when a new employee joins a bank from a different culture and country, the multi-national banks are more open to different cultures and backgrounds to accommodate their clients and employees as well. The bank can also conduct induction course to the new foreigner employees to introduce them on the Bank policies and culture.

Distance Barriers:

It’s better to keep the departments that are working together like sales and leasing with the real estate management to be in the same workplace, while marketing and PR can be also working closely in order to avoid the barrier and miscommunication.

The main methods of written communication I am using in the Bank are:

Emails: For addressing individuals or a Group. In my workplace I am using mostly the email as the main method for communicating. I am using it a lot in communicating with Branches and departments for any non-compliance issues or discrepancies. The reason for using the e-mail is simply because it can be sent quickly, in instant, I can use it to attach any documents/proofs as support to my message, I can copy others on correspondences and I can even blind copy someone (BCC) if I do not want the receiver of the email to know that I am sending it to another person.

Notices: For addressing individuals or a Group, but this is mostly fading, as email is doing the same purpose.

Text Messages: For informal updates and quick updates on tasks and follow-ups like Quick Informal Meetings.

Company Procedures and Guidelines: Quick Guide for new and existing employees, so they know their rights and procedures for example someone who is travelling on Business Trip.

The main methods of Oral communication I am using in the Bank are:

  1. Individual or Group Meetings: To address important discussions, for example if we have new project, I always arrange for an actual group meeting pinpoints a time and place to have in-depth discussions and share ideas without other distractions or work getting in the way. Group meeting is good environment for encouraging teamwork between staffs and build trust between me and my subordinates.
  2. Telephone calls: For addressing very important concerns quickly, like a suspicious activity on your credit card.
  3. Seminars: For addressing new Programs and the activities for coming year in an Organization, like Budgets and Sales forecast for a Year.
  4. Voice chats: For informal updates and quick updates on tasks and follow-ups like Quick Informal Meetings.

The main advantages of written communication include the following:

  1. Effective way of presenting something complex and addressing serious concerns in a simple manner.
  2. Prevents wastage of time and Money.
  3. Accurate facts are presented as something is preserved and recorded.
  4. Useful in long term as we can use this as reference.
  5. There is less change of facts while something is written or recorded.
  6. Very useful tool using this in a commanding position.
  7. The Management Guidelines and Authority is maintained in written communication.
  8. Helps to maintain the image of both the person and the organization.
  9. The information and messages that are preserved can be verified easily.

The main disadvantages of written communication include the following:

  1. It is time consuming exercise.
  2. Useless for non-educated person, or who is not used to written communication.
  3. Delay in feedback, as it might take some time more time than expected to respond.
  4. Decision making is dragged.
  5. Sometimes the words used in writing vocabulary is complex and not easy to understand.
  6. It’s not flexible mode of communication as everything is preserved and recorded.
  7. It can be expensive if not used in effective way.
  8. Secrecy is not always possible to maintain through written communication.
  9. If there is no direct relation between the writer and the reader, writer communication cannot help to establish a direct relation between them.

The main advantages of oral communication include the following:

  1. More commanding and immediate feedback.
  2. There is more flexibility and also corrective action can be taken.
  3. It is motivational and one to one interaction.
  4. It maintains secrecy and avoids preservation and recording.
  5. Easy to handle and it helps in building the relationships.
  6. It is suitable for both literate and illiterate people.
  7. More reliable and persuasive because of having the opportunity of feedback and clarification.
  8. More useful in communicating message with groups at assemblies, meetings etc.

The main disadvantages of oral communication include the following:

  1. No records are maintained in certain situations.
  2. It is very flexible and easy to change words or facts.
  3. The subject can be deviated into other topics while discussing orally.
  4. There is no legal liability.
  5. It can create misunderstanding and change of facts.6. In certain situations, the decision making takes time in case there is a dispute.
  6. Unsuitable for lengthy message.
  7. Body language can be barrier in oral communication, for example if the Manager wants to convey difficult decision such as giving warning or dismissing the staff from his/her job. Statistics has proven that if body language does not match with word, then people will not believe the person word. So it’s very important that person body language (non-verbal communication) match or synchronize with his/her word to have effective communication.
  8. Non-verbal communication impacts how people understand, what you are attempting to convey, and their reaction corresponds to how you delivered your message. There are many non-verbal communication methods/skills can be used to aid the spoken words including:

  9. Eyes and Facial Expressions: for example, it is very useful during meetings or discussion by making eye contact during conversations and take care that the facial expression is one of alertness and caring. Although note an actual “facial” expression, head movements such as nodding are also important visual signs that lease people know you are listening, processing the information and care about what is being said.
  10. General Body Language: Crossing your arms over your chest signifies to a listener that you do not agree with them and you are closed off from what they are saying. Twiddling and moving around your legs while listening also imparts signs that you are not interested in what is going on. Keeping still while listening may not be easy, but it lets the speaker know that you care about what he/she is saying.
  11. Tone of Voice: it’s very important to have clear and correct tone of voice as it gives the opportunity to promote your best self and the authority you have. Your tone of voice could vary depending on the situation and the time wither using it for handing out praise or exercising discipline.
  12. Body Positioning: Body positioning differ than body movements. For example, even if the staff is sitting still but he/she leaning backwards in the meeting, this gives you the signal that he is not listening or in-disagreement with what you say. Leaning towards the person who is speaking while he is sitting gives the impression that staffs are paying attention to what you are speaking and they are engaged in the conversation.
  13. Symbols- Facial symbols and expressions like anger, contempt, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness, and surprise define the mode of oral communication with someone or a group of People. Depending on these expressions, we can change our oral communication mode to be effective. For example, talking to your Boss about a Performance raise or Salary Raise after not a successful Yearly Sales Analysis Meeting would not be ideal. “Feedback is the Breakfast of Champions” – this is what Ken Blanchard said. Which I totally agree with him; its fact that good feedback has impact to have effective communication. The value of feedback in ensuring effective communication can be seen in many ways:
  14. Positive or development feedback can reinforce positive behaviours that impact on the performance and the productivity of the staffs. For example, Oral constructive criticism of a Team Member by a Head of Department can motivate and make them more productive, efficient, and Proactive.
  15. Positive feedback help to eliminate the negativity and create healthy environment.
  16. Feedback is a never ending Learning Tool. It provides guidelines and direction to the staffs on how to identify their strengths and weaknesses.
  17. Feedback is a way of listening productively and building on this information and Data. For example, in banks, past recorded history of Payments and Credit of a customer can decide on his potential for loans and further access to other Products in the Bank.

A real example on the impact of negative/poor feedback in the workplace is when one of my subordinate promotion was overlooked for the third consecutive year, she confronted my Senior Manager including me since I am her Supervisor for giving her feedback that was not assertive enough. She wondered why she was not given this feedback earlier which led her to lose a promotion due to fostering the wrong idea about her professional self. As a result of that this has demotivated her and impacted her performance and productivity. This incident gave me a lesson on the importance of giving positive or development feedback and it should not have been ignored. First of all, I would like to briefly describe my role within BBK, I work as (Section Head – Monitoring & Compliance) in Internal Control Unit. I am responsible for developing and implementing the departmental internal control systems, policies and procedures. Identifying, mitigating and addressing control risks which may impact the achievements of the department’s objective to effectively, efficiently and economically manage its financial and related resources. Although in my job I am using many communication methods, but usually I am using the Mail and the Meetings as the main written and oral communication methods in my job. I have built my assessment on my performance using the above communication methods through collecting feedback from my manager, my colleagues and self-assessment. Also as part of my review of my methods of communication I have completed a questionnaire (see attached) which highlights my key strengths and key areas for development (this questionnaire also support my findings on AC 3.1).

To overcome my weakness in the Written Communication:

  1. Stop using the red flag and use this when it’s only urgent. Sending in each email with high-priority flag is very annoying and it’s not necessary.
  2. While formality remains crucial to professionalism in writing emails in the Bank, still being little informal will not hurt. This can be done by trying to start off my emails with polite and formal greeting such as Hello Mr. /Ms followed by the name of that person. This will help a lot in maintaining the professionalism and the respect in my emails.
  3. Stop using the abbreviations and shortcuts in the emails as its generally unprofessional in business. Always take the time to write the full words as this show the recipient that you’re taking adequate time to respond to his/her emails.
  4. There is nothing more frustrating and irritating that someone who is taking time to respond to your emails. So to overcome this problem I have to organize my email by prioritizing the important once that I have to respond and I can delegate my staffs to answer some of the emails that they can handle. By sending a quick response, I give the picture of being polite, well-mannered, and respectful.

To overcome my weakness in the Oral Communication:

  1. Try to train myself its fine to be wrong, no one is perfect and accept the criticism. Try to look at the picture from different angle that being defensive is useless, it consumes the energy and remind myself with the benefits of getting feedback even when I do not want it.
  2. I can improve my specking and voice through many mechanisms:a. Doing vocal exercises and this can be done by practising while looking at the mirror.b. Breath slowly while taking.c. Record myself to identify my weakness and strength points.
  3. Stop nodding my head while listening to the speaker and pay attention to my body language by observing everything I do and when I do it. Observation and awareness are half of the battel.

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