The Challenges and Opportunities for Communication: Ethical and Unethical Communication
Besides technological innovation, inspiring leadership, efficient management, well-informed marketing, and sound financial planning, successful leaders understand that communication remains the key to growth, progression, and the core of management. According to research, planning, organization, controlling, staffing, leading, and communication remain the center of primary management and the focus of successful leadership. Communication is the most vital component of human interactions, and it involves passing on ideas, thoughts, opinions, information, and plans between different levels of an organization. The outline and channel of excellent communication skills remain the most critical aspect of striving to master and improve on communication skills. The success of any organization is therefore directly proportional to the kind and type of communication established within an organization. Hence, both leaders and employees need to strive to develop a high level of business etiquette in taking on the challenges and opportunities that come with effective communication. Mastery of good communication skills and employment of ethical values during communication, therefore, remain the foundation of any successful company.
Functions of Communication within an Organization
Mastery of communication skills is and should be the most important aspect of business and an organization’s focus. Whether within the business sector, politics, military, sports, home, and in the education sector, communication promotes good relations and success. Leaders with good communication skills promote values that go beyond business or an organization’s focus. Within an organization, effective communication transverses all levels of management, employee, manager association, employee engagement and productivity, and strong customer interrelationship. Stevens (2008) maintains that leaders understand that to transcend the corporate ladder within an organization and achieve success, practical, ethical and compelling communication skills are required. Additionally, within an organization, unless the management strives for a cordial and clear information platform, many a time, poor results and strained relationships emerge. In fact, many challenges and problems arise due to poor or lack of efficient communication. An effective, effective communication prevents misinterpretation, reduced tensions between personnel, and improved interpersonal relationships (Ober, 2009).
According to Stevens (2008), communication is the tool for motivating, encouraging, and engaging with workers within an organization to achieve maximum performance. By laying down the expectations of the team and providing the framework for achieving success, communication enables managers and supervisors to achieve specific goals of a task. For example, by communicating with the sales team that with each sale of high 100 units, they receive a bonus of 10 percent, which helps them hit their targets and achieve the company’s sales goals. At the same time, communication enables the management to lay down control measures and regulations within the workplace. According to Cornelissen (2014), outlined human resource policies and laws help dictate the manner in which employees act and behave within the working parameters. A performance control measure helps employees have opportunities for promotion and remuneration increase. The human resource department uses these control measures to gauge and give employees job descriptions while at the same time regulating and controlling their conducts while undertaking their duties and responsibilities (Seeger & Ulmer, 2003).
Clampitt (2012) points to the fact that while communication helps, the management manages and controls the employees and lays down the ethical values within the workplace, it at the same time helps improve interaction amongst the employees and between the top management and the lower levels. It allows employees to formulate and form healthy relationship within the organization while at the same time helping employees resolve pertinent issues between them amicably. Trevino and Nelson (2010) maintain that communication remains the only tool for managing and running projects and in a training process. The employees and management interact socially at the workplace and outside the working environment. According to Trevino and Nelson (2010), it helps dispersal of information from one level to another through verbal and written forms. For example, a human resource manager or business owner may use a memo to communicate a given policy to the employees on a given agenda of the management or of the company. During business meetings, communication enables the top managers to formulate ways and means of improving the organization’s performance by laying down strategies that involve both the top management and the low-level employees (Putnam & Nicotera, 2009). It is achieved by way of having an open discussion and brainstorming during meetings in which all the stakeholders use the opportunity to put forth their ideas and plans for each department. Through such initiative, the organization finds a way in which information is passed from one person to another and in different forms and platforms.
Through all forms of communication and interaction within the workplace, feedback forms the only way in which communicators and top level management get back and implement given policies and decisions made. For example, if the sales department dispatches an employee to carry out a survey on the possibility of introducing a new product in the market, the sales managers expect a feedback on the same to establish a way forward for the introduction of the new product. Seeger & Ulmer (2003) argue that feedback, therefore, forms an integral part of achieving a given task within a business environment with the sole purpose of improving the organization’s performance and presence in the market. It thus enables employees to table their reports, views, opinions, and remarks to the top-level management. It, therefore, remains the mandate of the management to enhance and improve good communication skills to avoid misinterpretation, confusion, conflicts, and delays in the day-to-day administration of the employees (Ulmer, Sellnow, & Seeger, 2013).
Top-level managers, therefore, need to inculcate good communication etiquette, engage employees, and motivate them to enhance and improve their communication abilities to improve performance and work towards achieving the set goals. At the same time, the company also needs to foster strong interpersonal skills to increase confidence amongst the personnel to improve the interpersonal relationship with the aim of increasing productivity and information dispensation (Day, 2005).
Trevino and Nelson (2005) maintain that persuasion forms a paramount aspect of changing employee attitude, behavior, and opinion. For instance, at a time an organization plans to initiate change and adopt a different working plan or change of strategy, communication remains the tool to use to change their stance and get them adapt to the latest transformations. Many a time, employees resist change and remain adamant in moving ahead and changing to a new mode of operation. By the use of the three parts of persuasion, the management can change employee’s attitudes through emotional appeal and conviction to embracing the desired change. For example, by the use of emotional appeal, managers can persuade the employees through and by the use of logic and facts to accept a given situation and change their minds on the same. At the same time, persuasion can be used to convince employees to take a pay cut or early retirement in a situation in which the company is carrying out downsizing or eliminating some positions within the management.
Cultivating the Ethical Culture in an Organization
Brown and Treviño (2006) define organization as a set of beliefs, rituals, norms, values, myths, and language that dictates how employees and management think, react, and behave within the working environment. Organizational culture often dictates how employees and management relate, work, and perform. Within an organizational culture, there are factors such as socialization, communication, interrelationship, performance, leadership, ethical values, and historical background of the organization (Eisenbeiß & Brodbeck, 2014). While organizational culture is often taken for granted, many a time, it formulates and gives meaning to the universal aspiration and strategies of the company. The culture of an organization plays a very important role, such as promoting social unity, stability, performance, interrelationships, commitment, and shaping behavior. Additionally, it fosters good leadership skills and guides the organization to a common purpose (Trevino and Nelson, 2005).
Ethical culture entails the various features and elements that help the organization maintain ethical behaviors amongst all levels of management. To help steer the policies and goals of the organization, the top-level management of the company implements these elements and features. Ethics defines what is right and what is wrong. It concerns what is right versus what is considered bad, and supposedly, the elements of gray on white and black issues. Moral connotations arise from every action, decision, both off and on the job situations (Borgerson et al., 2009). Top-level managers often have the moral duty to do and encourage what is right at all times within an organization. Trevino and Brown (2004) argue that right and wrong conducts are often the product of multifaceted influences in an organization. The individual decision maker within an organization has the moral duty to have ethical values, moral principles, and personality characteristics that lean towards ethical conduct.
Within an organization, the scope to which culture encourages moral conduct and thwarts unethical behavior often dictates the level of success and achievement of the organization (Ihlen, Bartlett, & May, 2011). Additionally, it lays down the necessary structures needed to steer the company towards its goals and aspirations. Schlegelmilch and Pollach (2005) maintain that it calls upon the management of an organization to lay down manly virtues to promote ethical communication between employees and between the management and the employees. For example, failure to inculcate efficient communication amongst the employees is in itself a way of communication. For organizations, moral values of communication entail ethical considerations laid down to offer guidance towards effective communication. Ethical communication helps foster human dignity and worth amongst employees, promotes truthfulness, responsibility, respect, and integrity. It thus helps in taking into general account responsibility and caring for each other towards working in the interest of the organization.
Characteristics and Features of Ethical Communication
To classify communication as ethical and based on moral guidelines, it must convey the information at hand without causing offense. For instance, in a situation that a manager is correcting an employee, the manner in which the communication is carried out is critical to avoid insinuating harm or degradation. On the other hand, the communication needs to emanate from a well-established system (Palazzo, 2007). Additionally, maintaining a comfortable relationship with the audience builds trust as it helps in making an equal wavelength between the source of the communication and its intended audience. On the other hand, the ability to disseminate all the required information without holding back any part of the information is very important in conveying a professional and healthy image between the source of information and its intended audience (Johannesen, Valde, & Whedbee, 2008). According to Palazzo (2007), the above features help enhance and build on the ethical aspect of communication while maintaining a qualified approach to issues within the organization.
Importance of Ethical Communication in Organizations
Moral or principled communication within an organization involves dissemination of information that is accurate, credible, and honest. Other attributes of ethical communication involve maintaining confidentiality and avoiding speaking ill or others. According to Trevino and Nelson (2010), organizations that promote ethical communication believe in communication based on credibility, honesty, and the highest level of accuracy possible. Dissemination of deceitful and dishonest communication practices promotes lies and propaganda that in the long term is only disastrous to the organization (Palazzo, 2007). In many instances, such practices only result in unethical practices within the company and in most cases may lead to court cases and libel. Whoever makes a particular decision within an organization is often under the influence of the culture of the company. For instance, if it is in the practice of the organization for employees to seek the audience with the top management on pertinent and serious issues affecting them, then it becomes a feature and ethical way to instill good communication amongst the employees on such a move.
As a way of promoting teamwork, ethical communication promotes diversity, creativity, and critical thinking amongst members of a team or a given group of employees (Ardichvili, Mitchell, & Jondle, 2009). It encourages respect, diverse opinions, and tolerance towards balancing work and personnel relationships within the work environment. According to Meese and Ortmeier (2004), many employees within an organization desire reassurance, understanding, and constant appraisal to meet targets and fulfill the requirements of the organization. To help such employees, the use of ethical communication methods such as striving to understand from a different perspective and diversity of opinion is highly important. Meese and Ortmeier (2004) maintain that encouraging communication that is aimed at encouraging others, motivating, and empathizing with other employee’s plays a significant role in enhancing performance and productivity.
Kaptein (2009) argues that respect and understanding form a critical component of ethical communication. While it fosters good relations, it also helps in enhancing good relations amongst employees and the management. Honest and accurate communication enables the management to form a strong connection with the working staff. Organizations, therefore, encourage discussion that is productive, non-humiliating, and respectful and the one that addresses the immediate concerns of other employees and the organization.
Additionally, ethics in communication enhances trust and groundwork for understanding the expectation of the organization. These expectations are major issues to do with productivity, decision-making, the well-being of the employees, and establishing what is right and wrong. While it remains the mandate of the management to establish the boundaries between the two, ethical communication improves ethical standards required by the organization and by law. All the superior facets of ethical communication apply to written, verbal, and digital communication as outlined by the regulations of the organization. Moral standards in communication further enhance and establish a systematized standard of appraisal, which addresses how human actions and relations are established (Kinnick & Parton, 2005).
The success and foundation of an organization arise from good and ethical communication practices. The management of any given organization plays a very significant role in promoting the ethical culture more so within the organization and amongst the employees. While success is a different element altogether within an organization, communication remains the cornerstone of all leadership and management practices. The need to inculcate and build on good relations within the organization and with the public is the most important aspect of management practice in any organization. On the other hand, upholding ethical standards in communication helps an organization to set positive and constructive values aimed at improving productivity and performance amongst the employees. Not considering the context, ethical communication reflects the true image of an organization and the position the management chooses to build on its culture and values. For any organization that seeks to stand out ethically and socially, there is a need to prioritize ethical communication both within the organization and with its customers and the public in general. Practically, many consumers and companies prefer to engage with organizations that uphold ethical standards in their operation and management. On the other hand, highly productive employees work best in environments that promote good human relations and uphold moral values. Communication, therefore, plays a significant function in the wellbeing of an organization in addition to helping it establish healthy human relations based on sound moral etiquette such as respect and empathy.
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