Explain why clear and effective communication is essential in the workplace
Communicating with one another is something we do in our everyday life. Effective communication in the workplace leads to beneficial encounters with others which helps in building and maintaining professional relationship among colleagues. This enable proper exchange of ideas among team members working on specific tasks or general organisational tasks.
Effective communications within the workplace helps in building a more cohesive and productive team. Organizations that clearly and openly communicate their visions and missions to employees tend to boost their morale as they develop a sense of belonging and assurance of job security. This will synergist productivity and enhance their attitude towards work.
There is transparency within an organisation whenever there is frequent effective communication with regards to current developments that may positively / negatively affect the organisation. This helps in gaining employees trust and loyalty, fosters the development of positive and healthy working environment. Keeping employees in the dark about issues that concerns the organisation only creates doubts, fear and panic thereby leading to decrease in productivity.
Effective communication in the workplace ensures that employees understand their roles and responsibilities, as well what is required of them during critical operations. e.g. MODEC expects all teams to hold daily meetings to discuss all activities that will be carried out during the day, give constructive feedbacks from the previous day activities, ask questions about the past or job at hand and emphasizes on the use of radio when working anywhere on the plant. This is done to prevent confusions among team members when working on the plant.
Outline the key stages in the communication process
Communication is the interaction process between two or more people in which there is exchange of information verbally or non-verbally.
During the ILM workshop, we were introduced to the components of communication process, the connection chain between the components, their precedence and how the process becomes incomplete when there is no feedback from receiver to sender to acknowledge receipt or what he/she makes of the message. The sender, message, encoding, channel / medium, receiver, decoding and feedback are the main components of communication process.
The sender is the one who generates the message. He / she also encodes the message, which is the conversion of thoughts into symbols or graphics and words to channel the message and the necessary expected response.
Medium of communication is the means of transferring the generated message to the receiver. The sender must ensure he / she selects the appropriate medium to transmits the message to right receiver. Medium used for communication can be in the form of writing / mails, oral / face to face / telephone, gestures etc.
The receiver is the one whom the message is channeled to or intended for. Upon receipt of the coded message, he / she must decode the message, which is the deciphering of codes or finding of meanings to symbols / graphics and words used by the sender in the message.
Feedback from the receiver is the final and an important component of the communication process where the receiver acknowledges receipt of the message and if he / she has clearly understood the message.
List potential barriers to communication and outline how these could be overcome
Communication Barriers Description Controlled by
Language & Accent Working with people whose language or accent you do not understand disrupts interaction leading to reduction in frequency of communication. The use of simple and plain common language. Also, people can talk slowly and calmly when the accent is the main barrier.
Lack of eye contact or inattention People may get distracted by what catches their eyes thereby drawing their attention away, they hear what is been said but not listening. Being focus with undivided attention when interacting or communicating with others.
Overloaded information & Too much talking Conveying excess information makes communication with others less effective as extra or vital points will be quickly forgotten or misunderstood. Useful details should be summarized but in a way that still conveys the vital message or information across.
Physical e.g. distance, medium & environment Coordinating with people at different places or continents on the same projects challenges the effectiveness and efficiency of the project.
Using ineffective means of communicating with others does not help as information may be misinterpreted.
Having conversation at noisy or uncomfortable environment will not enable effective convey of information as several key points will be missed or not heard. Use of face to face interactions over skype or setting up of virtual platforms to enable exchange of ideas.
Meeting at environmentally friendly or less noisy places to enhances effective communication.
Emotional, interpersonal Cont’d Peoples emotional state or relationship status with the communicator may hinder communication effectiveness. The receiver may misinterpret any information received as negative if he / she feels anger or bullying from the sender. When angry, it is advisable to excuse yourself from the communication process until you clearly arrange your views and points without irrelevant, hurtful and undue comments.
Be ready to accept imperfections and exercise patience when dealing with people.
Perceptual This happens when people underestimate others level of understanding thereby thinking they cannot understanding or be interested in the conversation. Try maintain eye contact, exhibit positive body language and provide credible evidence to support your claims.
Gender Many at times, people render unequal treatment to colleagues during communication as a result of their gender. Also, individuals tend to feel uncomfortable working or interacting with the opposite sex. This could be as a result of shyness or uneasiness. Diversity/fairness should be encouraged. Equality should be practiced, except in special cases where an individual may be excused from partaking in a communication due to illness etc.
Explain methods of communication and their best use when communicating with the team
In the course of our ILM workshop activities, the instructor introduced us to the various methods of communication. These include the formal, informal, visual and gimmick method of communicating.
The official ways of sharing information where the information are clearly and orderly arranged to meet standard or organisational policies are the formal method of communicating and can be orally delivered or in writing. This method is usually used during project team meetings, writing of official reports, team briefing, official telephone calls, business emails, job application, bank statements, organisational intranet system, etc. This method helps the sender in ascertaining the message is received by the appropriate person or targeted group.
Informal method of communicating is the relaxed or causal/unofficial way of conveying information to others. This method is normally attributed to societal or communal level of interaction among friends, family members, colleagues/co-workers, peers, strangers, etc. Informal method of communication can be in the form of phone calls, social media chatting, friendly emails to colleagues, chit-chat, waving, handshake, etc. This method of communication may also be done through gestures and can be used by leaders/managers to gain honest feedback, opinions, concerns and thoughts of team members or subordinates when used along with formal communication methods.
Visual communication is the use of symbols, signs, diagrams, graphic design, pictures/images, etc., to transfer an information. This method of communication relies on the use of sight and may be misinterpreted or a challenge to see when badly or poorly designed with unnecessary information. The use of properly designed visual aids when communicating helps in drawing the attention of the receivers and likely to be remembered. Some examples of where visual communication are used, that we learnt during the ILM workshop are tool boards, notice boards, church thermometer, call waiting, etc.
Gimmick method of communication is the use of eye catching symbols/drawings or designs on physical materials to convey an information. The main purpose of this method is to attract attention. Care must be taken when using gimmicks to communicate as it might be easily misinterpreted. Gimmicks are usually found on T-shirts, mugs, DVD’s, phone cases, mouse mats, office stationaries, etc.
Explain why it is important to have a record of communication
Records are essential due to what it might contain, as evidence to agreements, actions, decisions and history. In keeping records of communication, people remain accountable to they say, write or documents they affix their signatures on and the responsibility of upholding to what is expected of them.
Records of communications enables organisation in preventing the development of conflicts and denial between the organisation and its employees as well as among co-workers. e.g. In our line of work, technicians working on oil platforms are required to document any actions/tasks we undertake. This serve as an evident that, the task was carried in accordance to standard operation procedure and documents such permit to work, toolbox talks sheet, risk assessment and manual handling assessment were issued before performing the task.
Records of communication also enables organisation to track employee activities and performance thereby serving as supporting documents to undertake remedial/corrective actions when necessary. This prove the legality of such actions. Also, it helps in addressing employee complaints. e.g. MODEC has procedures in place that allows their employees to report near misses and incidents, which are kept as reference and to ensure appropriate control measures are put in place to prevent such future occurrences.
Outline the importance of keeping a record of oral communication
Oral communication is the verbal expression of ideas, opinions and transfer of information.
Revisiting – keeping records of oral communication enables easy revisiting in the event of doubt or discrepancies in critical and sensitive matters where vivid accuracy is required. e.g.
Oral agreements between two or more people with specific clauses should be recorded to ensure each party remains accountable. Therefore, in the event disagreements or conflicts the record can be revisited.
Evidence – records of oral communication can be used as legal evidence when handling conflicts. e.g. All police interviews may be recorded to serve as evidence, ensure there are no fabrication of stories later and ”hear say” during legal proceedings.
Describe methods of maintaining accurate records of electronic and oral communication
Electronic and oral communications can be effectively maintained through digitization. This involves the use of assigned hard drive or storage devices to store electronic communication such as emails, text messages and social media chats. Oral communications can also be recorded and converted into audio files to be kept on storage devices, cassettes, etc.
This method of maintaining communication records is much easier and safer as well as easily revisited when properly organized.
Also, there is the manual way of keeping records which involves the use of papers or document such as log sheets or operation sheet and maintenance sheets, this manual way of maintaining of records is time consuming and requires storage space as all document of records are filed and stored away physically. e.g. At MODEC, all operations and activities on the plants are manually recorded, stored and later converted into electronic files which are backed up onto storage hard drive or device.