Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Organisations: Systems of Human Interactions

If I think about my ‘engagement with employee engagement', I could say that this passion officially started with my first BA in Science of Communication (Italy, 2003-2006). Then I did the MA in Business Communication (Italy, 2006-2009), followed by a post-graduate certificate in Management Studies (UK, 2010) and a Certificate in Internal Communications (UK, 2011).
 
Well, I am so passionate about the subject that I cannot stay without studying it! The more I study the more I want to study it. I cannot explain it but I really want to study it forever!
In fact, last week I happily started a new course on the subject: the Diploma on Internal Communications and Employee Engagement at The PR Academy.
 
I have already been given a lot of material and resources to study and challenge my thinking on the topic.
Among them, is a book we have been using for the course titled “Auditing Organizational Communication” and edited by Owen Hargie and Dennis Tourish.
Below are my marginalia regarding a paragraph (‘Communication and the Motivation of Staff’) that you would find within the first chapter (‘Communication and Organizational Success’) of the book:
Why should an emphasis on RELATIONSHIPS have such a profound impact on people’s ability to perform the tasks for which they are hired, and on organisational outcomes?”
The explanation given by the authors is that “people do not set aside their normal human needs during working hours”. We”, continue the writers, “would need to stop viewing organisations as impersonal systems, to be manipulated into new forms exclusively at management’s will” (traditionally, communication tended to be viewed as a simple linear process in which a message was transmitted by a sender to a source, who then understood, internalized and acted on the message; in that context organisations were seen as having a taken for granted existence as material entities, separate and apart from their discursive constructions. This view was then challenged by a new research and ultimately, organisations emerged as being a “phenomenon that is produced and reproduced by the discursive interactions between organisational actors”).
The authors report that “organisations are systems of human interactions” and that “people carry their emotions and wider social needs into work with them”. They also discuss and share these in groups.
“Such needs”, suggest the authors, “must be addressed or they will become a source of dysfunctional”.
The authors continue by writing that “the quality of relationships with co-workers is crucial in determining levels of job satisfaction. Yet, this is far removed from the primary task-focused rationale that is generally the original spur for the creation of most organisations”.
 
Therefore, job satisfaction cannot be achieved by an exclusive emphasis on tasks.
Effective organisations must be aware of their members’ personal needs, and take care to nurture relationships at all levels”.
 
Communication is a vital means for furthering this objective:
Through opening the channels of communication people can articulate their needs, reduce uncertainty by gaining access to information, develop opportunities to influence the decision making process and satisfy the fundamental human need to make a difference”.
 
Effective communication promotes organisational cohesion and effectiveness because it answers to people basic motivational impulses (What’s In It For Me?- What’s In It For Us?).
 
“It appears”, write the authors, “that the commitment of employees to the enterprise is primarily engaged, in the first instance, by the amount of attention that is paid to their perceived needs”.
 
“Business success is vital for individual as well as societal wellbeing. However, in order to grasp this wider picture, the fundamental human needs that people bring into the workplace with them must be addressed”.
Ultimately, the authors add that “this also suggest that communication should be regarded as a competence of core management, underpinning the many people management skills that organisations are now battling to develop”.