Communication Processes Communication occupies up to 75% of every working day and can occur in verbal and non-verbal means (Fred Pryor, 2005). In order for an organization to be successful, it must demonstrate successful communication among staff members. Communication is considered to be successful when the desired objective is attained. All communication has a purpose, whether to inform, to convince or to serve some other purpose; communication is what ties all departments within an organization together. Without communication an organization is sure to fail. Within the University of Texas- University Health Services, one can observe several means of successful communication.
It is this form of communication that ensures quality patient care, happy students and happy staff members. Unfortunately, if one looked close enough he could also see unsuccessful communication taking place. This is where improvement is needed to ensure patients are taken care of properly, staff members remain happy and nothing is missed during patient care. One reason UHS has successful communication is because the managers take the time to ensure their staff members clearly understand the messages they are trying to send. Whether they send the message verbally or electronically, the managers do not assume their staff members understand the message. Instead, they follow-up with the staff to see if any clarification of the message is needed.
If clarification is needed, then further communication takes place. This cycle of communication usually occurs when new policy and procedures are sent out via email. The policies are sent as an attachment to a message that instructs the staff members to review the policy changes. Once the manager feels the staff has had an adequate amount of time to review the policy, he will then personally ask each employee if they understand the changes or if they have any questions. If there are questions the manager will take the time to answer them and then he will send out an additional email regarding the question and answer to the rest of the staff. This additional email ensures all staff members are completely informed.
According to shamanic teacher and healer Don Miguel Ruiz, one should not make assumptions (Four Agreements, 1997). When assumptions are made, mistakes or misunderstanding are likely to occur. This is evident at UHS when unsuccessful communication occurs. When the sender of a message assumes the receivers will understand the message completely, miscommunication can occur.
One recent example of this occurred between an employee from the benefits department and a nursing staff member. During communication via email, the benefit employee 'lined up the numbers' regarding the nurse's insurance premiums. The benefit employee assumed the nurse would understand what all the numbers represented; therefore, she did not follow-up with the nurse. When the nurse questioned the numbers, she emailed the benefit employee with her concerns. Again the benefit employee 'lined up the numbers with explanations' via another email.
After this went on for several emails, the nurse went to the benefit employee personally and asked questions face-to-face. The nurse explained that she did not understand the numbers and what they represented. Since the benefit personal worked directly with numbers everyday she easily understood what they represented. However, the nurse does not work insurance premiums on a daily basis and could not understand their meanings. Once the nurse explained her lack of understanding to the benefit personal they were able to sit down and further discuss the numbers.
In the end, successful communication occurred. The benefit employee realized how important it is to clearly explain the message she is sending and not to assume the receiver will understand. Regardless of the type of relationship one has with the receiver, it is essential that he is able to communicate effectively. This means one needs to know how to deliver a message and how to listen to someone else's message. If the communication is unclear then the necessary steps needed to clarify the message should be taken to improve the understanding. Improvements in communication will benefit all individuals involved, regardless of their position within an organization.
Managers must understand that some employees will be hesitant to communicate their needs or thoughts because of their relationship with the manager. In this situation, managers should provide the means of open communication whether through private conversations or emails. Furthermore, the managers should encourage the employees to express their thoughts and then supply them with positive feedback as needed. If managers understand the significance of successful communication and encourage effective communication among staff members, the organization and its employees will remain successful.