How business organizations use written communications to effectively manage workplace

Abstract

Communication constitutes to a very important function in all business processes in any given organization. Organizational leaders spend a lot of time identifying the most appropriate mode of communication that can generate significant performance within the organization. This paper reviews how business organizations use written communication to manage workplace change. The report begins by identify the various objectives that drive organizational managers to use written communication. It also identifies the various written communication tools that organizational managers employ, including letters, emails and contracts. The report further highlight the various change processes where written communication in employed. A conclusion is then drawn to exhibit the important role that written communication plays in managing change within the workplace.

How business organizations use written communications to effectively manage workplace change

Introduction

            Communication, which defines the process of exchanging information with the aim of understanding as well as making oneself understood by others, is a vital function in all business processes. This is particularly the case among organizational managers as they are primarily responsible for providing important information that can promote efficient and valuable organizational performance. The process, which entails creation and transfer of thoughts, perceptions, ideas and emotions between individuals, is essential in maintaining effective workplace relationships (Zhang, 2009).

However, although organizational managers spend a lot of time sending as well as receiving information, it is obvious that effective and meaningful communication does not necessarily occur in all exchanges. For instance, when written information in the form of letters, faxes, memos as well as emails are sent to the recipient, it cannot merely be assumed that effective communication has taken place until appropriate information and understanding effectively passes between the involved parties. While making oneself understood is the primary intention for any communication process, organizational managers in different business organizations employ varying communication processes to realize this objective (Mclntosh, 2008). Most of them aim to employ the most effective mode of communication to be able to realize varying organizational objectives including managing workplace change as well as improving employee morale, performance and productivity. This paper evaluates how business organizations effectively use written communication to manage change in the workplace.

 

Effective use of written communication within business organizations to manage workplace change

            Effective communication within the workplace has increasingly become a central area of focus as organizational leaders seek to successfully implement rational workplace change. Although every business organization recognizes the need to impart proper change to improve their overall performance, most efforts to generate the desired change often fail. According to Allred (2015), most business organizations report that over one half of their workplace change programs do not reach their intended results. Poorly managed communication within the workplace has proven to be one of the factors contributing to such failures. Poor communication when implementing the change process attributes to rumors that heighten negative attitudes and subsequent resistance to change.

The important role that effective communication plays when implementing workplace change has been empirically proven and widely accepted among most practitioners. The empirical picture generated by these practitioners show that workplace change and effective communication are inextricably integrated processes. Research by Lynn (2014) has for example shown that effective communication positively contributes to various organizational outputs including job satisfaction, constructive employee behaviors and attitudes, commitment as well as performance. By contrast, poor communication attributes to negative results, including stress, dissatisfaction, mistrust, limited commitment and severance intentions, which may ultimately limit efficiency in promoting organizational change. As such, it is obvious that effective communication during organizational change reduces any possible resistance thereby allowing change efforts to be more productive (Allred, 2015).

Business organizations intending to enhance efficiency during organizational change employ written communications to convey information pertaining to the workplace change process. Dolphin (2005) defines written communication as any interaction between two or more individuals that employ written words. This type of communication has mainly gained popularity with rapid usage of computer systems and networks. As such, written communication has become an essential and most common mode of communication in an era that increasingly being referred to as the information age. The primary objective that organizational managers aim to achieve when employing the written communications is to inform organizational workforce about their tasks as well as the organizational policy issues linked to the workplace change (Ridder, 2013). Organizational managers further intend to use written communications to inform organizational members about the intended change as well as how this change is likely to alter individual employees’ work. Another proposition for using written communications in business organizations is to create a work-based community that can promote trust, loyalty, commitment as well as individual identification with the management and the larger organization (Lynn, 2014).

Organizational managers intending to communicate effectively varying aspects of change within the workplace employ various forms of written communications. Emails, which have primarily substituted the handwritten letters, constitute to the main form of written communication used within business organizations in effort to manage workplace change. As explained by Mclntosh (2008), email constitutes to one of the fastest way to convey information, which explains why it has become the most popular form of written communication. Most business organizations intending to communicate issues related to workplace change prefer this form of written communication because it is time saving and can be used to reach a wide range of recipients including employees and clients. However, this form of written communication may sometimes be annoying and unhelpful particularly when intended recipients ignore to read the encoded messages (Allred, 2015).

To ensure that this form of written communication serves the intended purpose in communicating issues related to workplace change, managers within business organizations try to devise ways to make communication through emails effective. One important way that business organization managers ensure that communication through emails is effective is by making them short, clear and specific. This strategy is particularly effective given the fact that most recipients tend to receive many emails and may not have enough time to read or even reply to them (Tucker, 2006). As such, keeping emails short and precise increases the chance to ensure that they are read while on the other hand limiting chances that the reader will press delete before reading the entire message.

Change managers also try to be prompt in replying to important emails, which shows that they care about the sender as well as the sent message. This is often the case even when they are not able to attend to an issue immediately, which helps them to portray an aspect of professionalism and attentiveness. This ensures that any information relating to workplace change is effectively exchanged and involved stakeholders are able to seek clarification in areas where they do not understand (Dolphin, 2005). Change managers further use plain subject lines to clarify to the recipients what the email is about. Since most individuals within the workplace receive a significant amount of emails, using clear and plain subject lines enables the change managers to notify individuals within the workplace on the need to open and read the email. This ensures that important emails related to workplace change are not ignored and hence all important information pertaining to the subject matter in question is effectively conveyed (Ridder, 2013).

Letters constitute to another form of written communication tool that change managers employ to convey important information pertaining to workplace change. Business organizations mainly employ this form of written communication to inform customers about the intended workplace change, which might subsequently impact their ability to access various products. Letters are particularly important because they help change managers to communicate to customers in a formal approach. While letters may sometimes prove ineffective in conveying the intended message, change managers within business organizations come up with strategies through which they can make communication through letters effective (Allred, 2015). Change managers intending to ensure that information relating to workplace change is effective often choose a professional letterhead when formally reaching clients. While business letter serves as a representation of the company, choosing a professional letterhead makes the communication tool to look distinctive as well as communicate the intended information in a clear and precise manner. Most of the written business letters used in business organizations usually have predesigned letterheads that change managers use to print different letters addressed to different clients (Tucker, 2006).

Effective communication using letters is further enhanced through using standard formats, which particularly entail the block styles. The text is usually single spaced and justified to the left with typical margins of about one inch all around the document. Change managers also employ a professional tone thereby avoiding any casual or chatty tone. Effective business letters employ an overall tone that is honest, courteous as well as confident. The tone also tends to be nondiscriminatory and uses emphasis as well as subordination in the most appropriate manner. Clear statement of the intended point is another aspect of effective business letters that change managers us to communicate issues related to workplace change. This aspect enables change managers to avoid any possible miscommunications that might render this form of written communication ineffective. As such, change managers intending to inform customers about the intended workplace change avoid industrial jargon, use concise language as well as employ active words that aid in holding the intended audiences’ attention (Dolphin, 2005).

Contracts as well as agreements are also widely used in business organizations instilling workplace change. This form of written communication is the most important and widely accepted in many business organizations and it entails different written communication tools including contracts, business licenses, agreements and letters of intent. This form of written communication is mostly applicable to employees, business partners and clients among other stakeholders. While it is not every written contract and agreement can ensure effective communication, change managers employ certain strategies that enhance efficiency when communicating using this form of written communication tool (Mclntosh, 2008).

Change managers aiming to use this written communication tool to manage workplace change often think through the entire life of the contract under different circumstances. For instance, change managers intending to use this tool hypothesize about the performance of the contract by determining about what would happen to it moment by moment. This enables the change managers to ensure that the contract has all the necessary rules and specifications enabling all parties to be conversant with how they should conduct their duties. Effective contracts may not set forth the specific steps that need to be followed when performing certain duties (Eckhouse, 2009).

However, they specify the contracted individuals, their obligation, the deadline for undertaking the obligation, the place of performance, how the obligation that should be performed and the type of benefit or remuneration involved in the performance. Such specifications in the written communication tool ensure that individuals experiencing change within the workplace are able to adjust their responsibilities to the address the new performance goals. Change managers intending to use contracts to manage workplace change also set involved parties rights as well as obligation in a clear and consistent manner. While a contract primarily sets forth the laws directing involved parties’ relationships, an effective contract should ensure that it sets the laws, rights as well as obligations in a clear and precise manner (Tucker, 2006). Change managers also ensure that these obligations and rights and uniformly and consistently outlined throughout the document. Change managers also employ acceptable language when drafting the contracts and ensure that it is consistent throughout the document.

While the various written communication tools may be intended to fulfill varying purposes, change managers try to effectively use them at different stages of workplace change to meet the overall goal in change management. According to Lynn (2014), change managers in business organizations use written communications during the unfreezing stage to prepare stakeholders within the workplace for the intended change. The main communication tool used at this stage is email, and it is often intended to prepare individuals as well as prevent any possible resistance to change. Although resistance may increase with increased impact of the intended change to the organization, effective communication using emails can help account for preliminary resistance to change (Selnow, 2007).

In preparing employees for change during the unfreezing stage, change managers use emails to communicate the main goal for change, what is going to happen as well as why it is important to convey it. In ensuring that communication about change during the unfreezing change is effective, change managers use emails to inform employees on the need for change by quoting the gap between expected and actual outcomes. If the expected change is bound to impact the entire organization, written communication normally comes from the top managers and it is often followed by question and answer sessions where employees can seek clarification (Ridder, 2013).

Written communication in business organizations is also used during the move stage when change is being put in place to inform involved parties about the various activities taking place within the workplace. According to Eckhouse (2009), most employees may not directly be engaged in the change process and hence may fail to know exactly what is going on. Written communication tools that include emails, memos and internal newsletters are often employed to inform employees on exactly what is going on. Written communication at this stage helps change managers to convey accurate information on what is happening, thereby limiting chances for uncertainties and rumors. Change managers also use written communication to inform individuals about their respective responsibilities in the change process, how the change might impact them and how they are expected to adjust to the new change (Selnow, 2007).

Written communication at this stage helps to dismiss any misinformation that might cause resistance to change. While change at this stage often has more tangible impact than the first stage, change managers try to be more specific when using written communications. As such, emails as well as contracts are only designed to suit specific individuals that the change managers wish to reach with specific information. For instance, change managers cannot press “send to all” when certain mails are only intended for a particular category of individuals (Lynn, 2014).

Written communication when managing workplace change is further employed during the refreezing stage particularly when change managers aim to establish structures and systems that support the new ways. Written communication at this juncture is primarily intended to answer employees’ queries, pertaining to efficiency, roles as well as rewards. At this point, communication role shifts from top management to a lower level of the leadership hierarchy where supervisory management starts communicating with the subordinate members (Allred, 2015). Emails constitute to the most reliable written communication tool used at this stage as information has to constantly flow in a solid and multidirectional manner. This ensures that employees have sufficient understanding of the individual implications that the intended change is bound to have. Following the inevitable misunderstandings that might arise at this stage, change managers mainly intend to use written communication to make public the overall success generated through the implemented change (Eckhouse, 2009).

Conclusion

            Communication constitutes to a critical factor in advancing any business venture in any given organization. Organizational managers often employ varying communication approaches to convey intended information to their respective audiences. Although not every communication approach can be deemed effective, written communications have particularly proven effective in managing various activities in business organizations. Change managers have specifically proven to employ written communications such as letters, emails, memos and contracts to convey important information about workplace change. The key objectives for using written communications in managing workplace change is to inform employees about the intended change, the need for such change as well as how the proposed change is likely to impact individual employee’s work. Written communications are often employed at different stages of the change process including the unfreezing, move as well as the refreezing stages.

References

Allred, A. (2015). Business Communication Course Redesigned: All Written and Oral Communication Assignments Based on Building Career Skills, Academic of Educational Leadership Journal, 19(1):871-909.

Eckhouse, B. (2009). Competitive Communication: A Rhetoric for Modern Business, New York: Oxford University Press.

Dolphin, R. (2005). Internal Communications: Today’s Strategic Imperative, Journal of Marketing Communications, 11(3):172-180.

Lynn, C. (2014). Written Communication Skills of International Business Persons, Bulletin of the Association for Business Communication, 57(4):91-145.

Mclntosh, P. (2008). Interpersonal Communication Skills in the Workplace, London: American Management Association.

Ridder, J. (2013). Organizational Communication and Supportive Employees,  Human Resource Management Communications, 11(3):172-180.

Selnow, G. (2007). Planning, Implementing and Evaluating Targeted Communication Programs: A Manual for Business Communicators, London: Quorum Books.

Tucker, M. (2006). Organizational Communication: Development of Internal Strategic Competitive Advantage, The Journal of Business Communication, 33(1):33-69.

Zhang, H. (2009). The Mediating Role of Organizational Justice on the Relationships between HR Practices and Workplace Outcomes: An Investigation in China, The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 20(3):676-693.