Course Manuals 1-12
Course Manual 1: Communication Meaning
You will be successful in many areas of life if you can master the art of effectively delivering and receiving messages. A person with effective communication skills can convey their message without misunderstanding, lowering the likelihood of errors and conflict. Effective communication increases your chances of getting exactly what you need.
But what exactly constitutes effective communication? The keys to effective communication are in the hands of both parties. The expresser must deliver messages clearly, and the receiver must pay close attention. When the correct purpose of the message is sent and understood, effective communication occurs. Active listening is required of both speakers and listeners.
What exactly is communication? Communication is the sending and receiving of information, which can take place one-on-one or in groups, and can take place face-to-face or through communication devices. Communication necessitates the transfer of thoughts or the encoding of a message by the sender, the person who initiates communication. This message is delivered to the receiver, a person who receives the message, and the receiver must then decode or interpret the message. This appears to be simple, but it is not.
Language is made up of symbols and signs that are unique to the culture that speaks and writes in that language. Effective communication necessitates the use of a common language and an understanding of basic concepts. It’s also important to remember that a receiver’s interpretation of what the sender sends out may differ from what the sender intended, which is less likely if the two share the same culture and language.
History of Communication
The evolution of communication technologies (media and appropriate inscription tools) has paralleled shifts in political and economic systems, and thus power systems. Communication can range from very subtle exchanges to full-fledged conversations and mass communication. The history of communication can be traced back to the origins of speech around 100,000 years ago. The use of technology in communication can be traced back to the first use of symbols around 30,000 years ago. Cave paintings, petroglyphs, pictograms, and ideograms are among the symbols used. Writing, as well as printing technology and, more recently, telecommunications and the Internet, were significant innovations.
Human communication began around 100,000 BC with the invention of speech. Symbols appeared around 30,000 years ago. Speech impurity facilitated the spread of ideas and eventually led to the development of new forms of communication, increasing both the range at which people could communicate and the longevity of the information. All of these inventions were founded on the fundamental concept of the symbol. The earliest known symbols for communication were cave paintings, a type of rock art dating back to the Upper Paleolithic period.
The next step in the evolution of communication was the creation of petroglyphs, which were carvings into the surface of a rock. It took approximately 20,000 years for Homo sapiens to progress from the first cave paintings to the first petroglyphs, which date to the Neolithic and late Upper Paleolithic boundaries, approximately 10,000 to 12,000 years ago.
It is possible that Homo sapiens (humans) of that time used other forms of communication, often for mnemonic purposes – specially arranged stones, symbols carved in wood or earth, quipu-like rocks, tattoos – but little has survived to modern times, and we can only speculate about their existence based on our observation of still existing ‘hunter-gatherer’ cultures such as those of Africa or Asia.
A pictogram (pictograph) is an illustration of a concept, object, activity, place, or event. Pictography is a type of proto writing in which ideas are communicated through drawing. Pictographs were the next step in the evolution of communication: the main difference between petroglyphs and pictograms is that petroglyphs simply show an event, whereas pictograms tell a story about the event, so they can be ordered chronologically, for example.
Pictograms have been used by various ancient cultures all over the world since around 9000 BC, when tokens marked with simple pictures were first used to label basic farm produce and became increasingly popular around 6000–5000 BC.
They served as the foundation for cuneiform and hieroglyphic writing systems, and they began to evolve into logographic writing systems around the same time.
Pictograms evolved into ideograms, which are graphical symbols that represent an idea. Their forefathers, the pictograms, could only represent things that looked like them: a circle could represent a sun, but not concepts like ‘heat,’ ‘light,’ ‘day,’ or ‘Great God of the Sun.’ Ideograms, on the other hand, can convey more abstract concepts.
Because some ideas are universal, many different cultures developed ideograms that are similar. In Native American ideograms in California, for example, an eye with a tear represents ‘sadness,’ as it did for the Aztecs, early Chinese, and Egyptians.
Writing (Early Scripts)
The earliest forms of writing were primarily logographic, with pictographic and ideographic elements. Most writing systems can be broadly classified into three types: logographic, syllabic, and alphabetic (or segmental); however, all three can be found in varying proportions in any given writing system, making it difficult to classify a system uniquely.
The first writing systems were developed roughly contemporaneously with the beginning of the Bronze Age in the late Neolithic of the late 5th millennium BC. The first writing system is thought to have been invented in prehistoric Sumer and evolved into cuneiform by the late 4th millennium BC. Egyptian hieroglyphs, as well as the untranslated Proto-Elamite writing system and Indus Valley script, date from this time period.
The first pure alphabets (properly, “abjads,” mapping single symbols to single phonemes but not necessarily each phoneme to a symbol) appeared in Ancient Egypt around 2000 BC, but alphabetic principles had already been incorporated into Egyptian hieroglyphs for a millennium before that (see Middle Bronze Age alphabets).
By 2700 BC, Egyptian writing had developed a set of approximately 22 hieroglyphs to represent syllables that begin with a single consonant of their language, plus a vowel (or no vowel) supplied by the native speaker. These glyphs were used to write grammatical inflections, loan words, and foreign names, as well as pronunciation guides for logograms.
Despite their apparent alphabetic nature, the original Egyptian uniliterals were not a system and were never used to encode Egyptian speech on their own. Some believe that in the Middle Bronze Age, around 1700 BC, an apparently “alphabetic” system was developed in central Egypt for or by Semitic workers, but we cannot read these early writings, and their exact nature remains unknown.
The oral tradition of storytelling dates back to various times in history and is one of the earliest forms of human communication. The evolution of oral communication can be classified according to historical periods. The complexity of oral communication has always been reflective of the time period in question. Verbal communication was never limited to one area; rather, it was and continues to be a globally shared communication tradition.  Song, poetry, and chants were some of the ways people communicated. People would gather in groups to share stories, myths, and history.
Oral traditions were also used by nomadic people to pass down stories about their people’s history to the next generation.
Nomadic tribes have carried the torch of oral storytelling. The Arabian nomads are one of many nomadic tribes that have used oral storytelling throughout history to tell their histories and the story of their people. Because of the nature of nomadic life, these people were frequently left without architecture or possessions to call their own, and they often left little to no traces of their existence. Poems written by these Arabic nomads are passed down through generations by specialists known as sha’ir. These individuals spread the stories and histories of these nomadic tribes, and often in times of war, these stories would strengthen morale among members of specific tribes.
Oral communication was and continues to be one of the best ways for humans to spread their message, history, and traditions around the world in its natural form.
Telecommunication – the transmission of signals over a long distance for the purpose of communication – began thousands of years ago in Africa, America, and parts of Asia with the use of smoke signals and drums. The first fixed semaphore systems appeared in Europe in the 1790s, but it wasn’t until the 1830s that electrical telecommunication systems appeared.
The Importance of Communication
Communication’s significance cannot be overstated. After all, culture, society, and civilization cannot exist without the ability to communicate with one another. Good communication prevents wars and misunderstandings, assists us in meeting our needs, establishes rules and laws that aid in the structuring of society, assists people in finding and keeping jobs, provides information and guidance, and passes down cultural traditions, norms, and values.
Two adages to remember when communicating:
• You can’t not communicate (that is, we are constantly communicating, even subconsciously).
• You can’t take back what you’ve said once it’s been broadcast into the universe (i.e., be careful how and what you communicate)
For all fields of endeavor, communication skills are more important than ever. Whether you’re an engineer or a communication scholar, mastering communication will undoubtedly be critical to your success. Because of their inability to communicate effectively, people with excellent technical skills frequently find themselves at a point in their careers where they are no longer promoted. Professors frequently tell anecdotal stories about students who were extremely successful in landing jobs right out of college but then struggled to advance into management and leadership roles beyond their technical responsibilities. This is because they lacked one fundamental skill that would have allowed them to stand out from the crowd: communication.
Case Study on Communication
According to a University of Texas at Austin study, we speak approximately 16,000 words per day on average. Nonetheless, we continue to misuse these words. In today’s world of cell phones, texting, tweeting, and emails, the need for effective communication has never been greater, because many people have forgotten what verbal communication is, let alone how to do it correctly. While it is critical to be able to communicate effectively through our devices, we must also remember how to speak professionally if we are to survive.
“One of the biggest issues in the last five years is employees e-mailing instead of going to talk with, or at the very least picking up the phone to call, the person they need to communicate with,” says Patti Wood, professional speaker, and trainer. “People don’t know how to make a request face to face, and they avoid difficult or emotional conversations.”
“I will have college audience members say, ‘how do I start [and end] a phone call?’” Wood says. “They don’t know the dynamics of that. It’s that turn taking and initiating conversation, [which] is a skill set that you learn over time.”
These issues are being recognized by the business and educational communities. In a Wall Street Journal article, General Mills stated that their 50 or so MBA graduates hired each year excel at data but fall short at communicating their market research.
Schools have heard this complaint and are now increasing, sometimes even doubling, their communication coursework, as the University of Pennsylvania has done.
Aside from the workplace and personal relationships, here are some additional reasons why communication is essential:
Making sure you express your wants, needs, and intentions clearly can help you a lot in life. It can be the deciding factor in salary negotiations or the trajectory of a friendship or relationship. Conflicts, arguments, and disagreements are frequently caused by a failure to communicate clearly. One reason communication is important is to avoid these misunderstandings.
If you’ve ever watched The Bachelorette, you’ll notice that the guys who get the most far are the ones who get to spend the most time talking with the woman. This is due to the fact that establishing a rapport with someone requires both talking and listening. Your relationship can be strengthened by getting to know each other and discovering similarities. This is true for anything in life: friendships, clients and more.
When you’re feeling overwhelmed, talking about your problems with friends can help you get things off your chest. This discussion will also assist you in seeing your problems from new angles.
People are more likely to listen to you if you communicate clearly. You will not only sound smarter, but you will also be able to communicate more effectively. And when others appreciate what you have to say, your self-esteem naturally rises.
You should be happier all around if you have better upward mobility in the workplace, stronger relationships, less stress, and more self-esteem.
Effective communication is a powerful tool and honing your skills will lead to a significantly more fulfilling life, both personally and professionally. Set yourself on the path to greater happiness and prosperity by pledging to improve your communication skills on a daily basis. You’ll be glad you did.
What is effective communication?
Many people are curious about what constitutes effective communication. There are several components to the answer. Effective communication means that your ideas and concepts are being heard and acted upon. It also implies that you can listen to, comprehend, and act on what others say. This is the definition of effective communication and how a department, team, or company achieves success by understanding and carrying out what needs to be done!
The difficult part about effective business communication is that people frequently do not realize they are not conversing clearly. Most people will tell you that they have excellent communication skills if you ask them. Misunderstandings, however, are common. As a result, you must identify and eliminate potential bad habits that will allow you to connect with others and convey your meaning more effectively.
What Is Today’s Definition of Effective Communication?
Because there are so many more ways to connect today, good communication is more difficult than in the past. You’d think that making your point would be easier, but that’s not the case. The options for texting, email, instant messaging, Slack, Teams, and cellular phones are numerous. Keeping track of and responding to so many sources complicates the process. Furthermore, the habit of multitasking has completely derailed good listening skills because people pay far less attention when attempting to do more than one thing.
With so many more ways to communicate, it is critical to choose your words carefully because they can be easily misinterpreted. If you’re unclear about a message, be sure to ask for clarification to avoid any confusion. Stay engaged and make sure to listen to understand.
Improved communication results in a variety of positive outcomes, including increased efficiency, more completed projects, and improved relationships. Effective communication is essential for collaborative work so that you can work through any difficulties as a team and emerge stronger. Workflow runs smoothly when everyone understands their own tasks and responsibilities. Furthermore, when employees feel safe speaking up and voicing their opinions, relationships improve, work ethic improves, and productivity rises.
Effective nonverbal communication skills are just as important as effective verbal communication skills. Active listening improves work culture, strengthens relationships, and increases employee effectiveness. Good listening skills ensure that departments work well both internally and with other departments. This is critical for ensuring that people feel heard and recognized.
Exercise 7:1: Pictionary
We will be recreating the pictograph era by playing Pictionary as a group.
The instructions for playing Pictionary are easy: All you need is a dry erase board, markers, and a list of words – use the Random Pictionary Word Generator by clicking the link below.
Objective:Become a more effective communicator by learning how to communicate with pictures only.
1. One player draws a picture without using any letters, numbers, words, gestures, or other cues.
2. Their partner (or a group) has to guess the word that the picture is supposed to represent.
3. Set a time limit, and the team that has the most correct guesses in that time limit wins!
Online word generator
Course Manual 2: Business Communication
We rarely think about how we communicate with others because it is such a natural part of who we are. This also applies to business communication. After all, organizations aren’t faceless entities, but rather groups of real people.
Effective communication has an impact on processes, efficiency, and every level of a business.
Organizations with connected employees experience a 25% increase in productivity.
How would a 25% increase in productivity affect your company’s success?
• Will your revenue increase?
• Improved customer service, and thus happier customers?
• Increased profits?
• All of the foregoing (and more)?
In this course, you will learn how to set up an effective business communication process within your organization.
What exactly is Business Communication? The Explanation
Business communication is the exchange of information between people both inside and outside of a company.
Employees and management interact to achieve organizational goals through effective business communication which are in alignment with the company’s mission. Its goal is to improve organizational practices and cut down on errors.
The significance of business communication can also be found in:
• Presenting alternatives/new business concepts
• Making plans and making proposals (business writing)
• Putting decisions into action
• Making decisions
• Order dispatch and fulfillment
• Selling success
• Meetings that work
The process of business communication underpins all organized activity in a company. This could range from managerial communication to vendor technical communication.
When communication breaks down, the company’s core systems are at risk of failing. According to data, 60% of internal communications professionals do not measure internal communications. Possible reasons include not knowing where to begin, what steps to take next, or how to calculate ROI.
***Consider this: Strong business communications in a company will almost certainly result in higher employee engagement.
Over a 12-month period, companies with an engaged workforce see a 19.2 percent increase in operating income. Those with low levels of engagement earn 32.7 percent less.
How much more successful would you be if your employees were more engaged?
And how can you ensure a business communication process that will allow it?
Types of Business Communication
Let us first distinguish the various types of communication that occur in a typical organization.
The first is internal business communication.
Internal business communication can take the following forms:
• Any communication from a subordinate to a manager is considered upward communication. Or from someone higher up in the organizational hierarchy.
• Anything that comes from a superior to a subordinate is considered downward communication or managerial communication.
• Lateral/technical communication: internal or cross-departmental communication among coworkers.
Then, there’s external business communication.
Any messaging that leaves your office and internal staff is considered external business communication. It entails dealing with customers, vendors, or anything else that has an impact on your brand.
All communication on this spectrum can be classified into four types of business communication.
Business Communication Techniques
When it comes to business communication, it is either verbal or written.
Furthermore, communication occurs in person/face-to-face or remotely.
Neither of these is better or worse for your company on their own; it all depends on the circumstances.
Written communication is excellent for keeping a paper trail of decisions and actions taken, as well as for developing strategies and plans. Verbal interactions allow for the instant generation of ideas and a more open flow of thoughts.
Some businesses have a single location. Some have offices in different time zones. Others are completely remote and lack a physical location (Buffer and Zapier are great examples of location-independent companies). These are the 5 business communication methods that apply to some, or all of the scenarios listed above:
1) Internet-based communication
This includes common communication channels such as emails and instant messaging apps (such as Slack, Hangouts, or even Nextiva Chat).
The advantages of emails and messages include the ability to lead private conversations in a busy office environment, as well as share a message with a large group of people—from a few to hundreds—at the same time.
2) Conference calls
Phones removed the geographical barrier to holding productive, fast-paced meetings. It allows for more effective idea exchange due to nonverbal communication (tone of voice) as opposed to written communication. Cloud phone systems can improve team collaboration and onboarding.
3) Use of video conferencing
Excellent video conferencing systems allow people in remote locations to hold meetings that are as close to in-person meetings as possible. They take phone meetings to the next level.
4) In-person meetings
In-person meetings can help a company move ideas forward quickly. According to research, in-person meetings generate more ideas than virtual meetings.
However, for effective meetings, a solid meeting agenda is required. 46 percent of employees rarely or never know what they should do next after a meeting.
5) Official documents and reports
A well-oiled business communication system includes the documentation of activities that affect other people and departments.
The ability to refer to a written document at any time reduces the possibility of confusion or disagreement and adds clarity to communication.
Meetings with larger groups are frequently conducted through presentations supported by reports and PowerPoint slide decks.
These are excellent for sharing new ideas in a way that allows for questions and clarifications.
7) Discussion boards and FAQs
An internal area where employees can refer to frequently asked questions on various departmental topics and ask new ones to make them more productive and up to date on a subject.
Internal and customer surveys are both excellent ways to collect feedback and ratings on important topics. Surveys promote a healthy cycle of feedback-supported improvements and open a channel of communication between all levels of an organization.
9) Customer service activities
This can include any type of customer service activity. Live chat support, customer relationship management (CRM) systems, the customer onboarding process, customer reviews, and other services are examples.
What Business Communication Methods Does Your Company Require?
The answer is largely determined by the size and preferences of your company. There is no one-size-fits-all answer. One thing is certain: you will set yourself up for success if you only use business communication methods that you require and will use.
As an example:
You want a forum board, so you and your team spend weeks researching and setting it up.
After a while, you realize that no one is using it because their team or documents provide them with answers faster. Unnecessary solutions have cost you both time and money.
Or you invest in a high-quality video conferencing system when all you really need is a dependable business phone system to run your remote meetings.
Web-based communication will be used by all businesses. All of the other methods, on the other hand, will be determined by the unique circumstances of each company. Take the time to consider the importance of each for your specific situation.
Problems That Can Be Solved Through Effective Business Communication
For teams, employees, managers, and executives to perform their jobs and fulfill their responsibilities, clear and effective business communication is essential.
Without the proper processes and tools in place, the flow of information is disrupted, leaving people in the dark. This can have serious ramifications for the company, ranging from dissatisfied employees and customers to lost profits.
The obvious overarching goal of a business communication process is the transparent flow of information. But what are some of the deeper issues that effective business communication solves?
1) Email overload, as well as a lack of daily productivity and clarity
Many people in the workplace are simply overwhelmed by the number of messages they receive in a single day. According to Phil Simon’s book Message Not Received, the average person receives 120 to 150 emails per day.
We frequently misplace or completely overlook important information. Companies can reduce digital distractions and create space for ideas and thinking by implementing a business communication system.
2) Communication silos, both horizontal and vertical
Teams and departments frequently fail to share critical information. When there is an issue within a team, there isn’t always an easy way to contact a department manager. These silos form quickly and often go unnoticed, but they are easily remedied with a communication plan in place.
3) Ineffective communication with remote employees
Working from home is here to stay. According to Buffer’s State of Remote Work report, the vast majority of employees would like to work remotely at least some of the time.
They rank collaboration and communication as the top three challenges of working remotely, demonstrating the importance of having the right communication systems in place.
4) Inadequate customer service
When an organization’s communication is poor, two things happen in terms of customer service. First, employees in customer-facing roles will lack the necessary information. Second, customers will have a negative experience if they detect low employee morale.
Indeed, one study discovered that improving employee attitudes affects customer satisfaction, which leads to an increase in revenue.
Your Business Communication Process
A strong business communication process is critical for the satisfaction of your employees and customers. This eventually leads to financial stability.
According to one study, 29 percent of employees believe their current internal communications tools are ineffective.
Here are a few of the reasons they gave:
Irrelevant information, exclusion, dishonesty, and a lack of access to critical information are all likely experiences shared by your own workforce.
(Studies from: https://pumble.com/learn/communication/communication-statistics/)
Proper communication within a business brings several benefits to the said business.
Studies, reports, and research show effective team communication positively affects employee productivity, retention, and trust.
Effective communication increases productivity
According to a McKinsey report, well-connected teams see a productivity increase of 20-25%.
This increase affects task work — CMSWire reports that 97% of employees believe communication impacts their task efficacy on a daily basis.
Moreover, a report by Think Talent shows that employees working in organizations with effective communication plans — ones that manage to minimize the silo effect and centralize communication — are 3.5 times more likely to outperform their peers.
Effective communication increases retention
According to the Bit blog, effective team communication, and the steps that lead to it, help businesses retain their top talent.
This employee retention increases 4.5 times, compared to businesses that lack effective communication in the workplace.
Effective communication facilitates trust
As showcased by Lexicon, a high percentage of more than 80% of Americans believe employee communication is crucial for developing trust with employers.
An article in the International Journal of Business and Management titled “Communication, Commitment, and Trust: Exploring the Triad” also connects trust and effective communication: Trust and commitment do not just happen; they are forged and maintained through effective communication.”. This finding was based on previous studies and data from an original survey that included 244 employees.
On the other hand, the lack of open and honest communication that facilitates trust tends to hurt employee morale — at least according to a third of employees who responded to one Accountemps survey.
According to a Salesforce study, 86 percent of executives, employees, and educators blame workplace failures on ineffective communication.
5 Steps for Establishing Your Business Communication Process
We can no longer ignore the impact of teamwork and chemistry on employee productivity, engagement, and advocacy. Here are some steps you can take to ensure a smooth business communication process.
1) Assess your current state of business communication and set objectives.
A business communication plan is required regardless of the stage of your company.
However, you will get the most out of it if you concentrate on the areas that need the most improvement right now and work your way down to all other areas later.
For example, the following could be some of the reasons your communication needs to be revisited:
• Employee dissatisfaction or turnover
• Outputs are lower than expected across the board.
• Rapid expansion results in information loss.
• Due to remote work, there is a lack of information transparency.
You may encounter more than one of these, or you may encounter a completely different scenario. Identify it and base your business communication process goals on it. For example, your objectives could be:
• A specific rate of employee turnover or satisfaction
• Rate of customer satisfaction
• Total number of completed projects
• The number of interactions that occur between departments
…and much more.
2) Identify your organization’s core groups and their relationships with one another.
Examine your organization’s structure and all of the groups involved in its ability to function.
Take note of any organization that relies on information to function. This should include the following:
• Departments are classified horizontally (operations, marketing, design, human resources, sales, customer support, finance, and more)
• Professionals in teams, team leaders, department managers, and executives are classified vertically.
• Customers, suppliers, partners, and others are examples of external groups.
From here, consider the ongoing work they do, and the results expected of them. Plan how they will communicate in order to complete their tasks.
Allow plenty of time for this task, depending on the size of your company. Some of the most important questions to answer are:
• Which teams and individuals must communicate with whom on a daily basis? What about once a week, twice a week, and once a month?
• What kind of communication occurs only when there is an ongoing crisis?
• How do managers and team leaders keep their departments moving forward? What is the procedure for reporting?
• Is there a knowledge library that could reduce the number of unnecessary meetings and conversations.
• Which projects and processes require approval from other employees? How are approvals requested and processed?
At the very least, these responses should provide you with an idea of how many emails, messages, phone calls, meetings, and documents are required for everything to happen within the time frame specified.
3) Specify communication methods
Next, select communication methods that align with your business communication goals as well as interactions between core groups in your organization.
Examine the list of communication methods we discussed earlier and make sure to include any that are unique to your company:
• Communication via the internet
• Telephone conferences
• Conferencing via video
• Meetings in person
• Official documents and reports
• FAQs and message boards
• Customer service activities
Which of these are required for your organization to achieve its objectives? What is optional and may face adoption resistance? Which ones put too many tools at risk and should be simplified?
Be honest with yourself about your specific requirements.
A five-person startup, for example, where everyone works in the same office, will most likely concentrate on:
• Communication via the internet
• Meetings in person
• Customer service
A fully remote 50-person company will devote more resources to:
• Conferencing via phone and video
• Document organization in order to meticulously track their processes.
A large global enterprise will almost certainly use all of the listed communication methods and will have dedicated teams for many of them.
4) Select the appropriate tools
There is no manual that specifies which tools are absolutely necessary for each task.
Gmail vs. Outlook Dropbox vs. Google Drive Nextiva Chat vs. Slack.
The battles continue, but your choice is entirely up to you and your workforce.
While we can’t just hand you a list of software tools and leave you to it, we can give you some pointers on how to choose the right tools:
• Use cloud storage to keep important documents and data safe. Enable automatic sync and backup to avoid human error and forgetting to save data manually.
• Use a single platform for email and calendar management.
• For chat messaging, use a single tool. If some people use Slack and others use Hangouts in their Gmail, it will cause friction and slow down communication.
• If many of your meetings are held remotely, invest in an easy-to-use, dependable VoIP phone system.
• Create brand and editorial guidelines that specify the tone of voice and how to use brand elements. This way, all communication, both internal and external, is unified.
5) Document the process
Finally, document everything you do throughout this setup and make it available to the entire organization.
This way, each employee can refer to a carefully crafted communication plan to determine the best course of action for the situation at hand.
The document will also assist newly hired employees in quickly grasping all of the tools and best communication practices.
Create a recurring calendar reminder for yourself and your team to go over the document once a quarter. This way, you can ensure that the plan is still serving its intended purpose and, if necessary, update it.
Communication is the foundation of your company’s success.
Poor communication exposes an organization to far too many risks to count.
Great communication, on the other hand, opens the door to exceptional employee and customer engagement. It results in greater clarity, more significant outputs, and increased revenue and profit.
What Is a VoIP Phone and How Does It Work?
Whether you already have a business communication system in place or are just getting started, remember to:
• Set and revisit your company’s communication goals based on the current state of communication in your organization.
• Identify everyone involved in the processes that allow your company to function on a daily basis. Analyze their communication needs and identify methods that allow information to flow.
• Look for the best tools and platforms to enable the methods you’ve identified.
• Share this configuration with the entire organization in a transparent manner.
As a result, you’ll see happy, productive people who are eager to work on projects and produce meaningful results for the benefit of all parties involved.
“An organization with excellent internal communication will run smoothly, allowing its members to progress toward a mutual goal, which will ultimately affect the quality of external communication.” ― Scribendi
Exercise 7:2: Pass the Hoop
What you will need:
• Hula Hoop
• Large space to gather
1. Having the group stand in a circle and hold hands.
2. One of the people in the circle has a hula hoop around their arm.
3. Now, try to pass that hula hoop all the way around the circle.
Objective: You can see what this activity works to strengthen, right? Certainly, teamwork, is crucial for any leader, as they’re not working in a vacuum. There’s problem-solving, too. But most importantly, communication, might be the most fundamental skill for any successful leader to have.
Course Manual 3: Conflict to Creativity
Many people will tell you that conflict is code-red for any organization in any industry, stalling projects and creating an uncomfortable environment for employees.
However, conflict is an unavoidable part of life. When cultures collide, opinions diverge, and priorities clash, tensions inevitably rise. Part of our success as humans can be attributed to our ability to effectively manage bad conflict and then transform it into creative conflict through great communication tactics. Correct, creative conflict.
According to research (see study below), dealing with conflict in a healthy and constructive way can result in better workplace outcomes and idea generation. You can actually drive more creativity, productivity, and efficiency for your company by tapping into the potential goldmine that is workplace conflict — but only if you do it correctly.
Case Study – Conflict and Creativity in Interdisciplinary Teams
Corresponding Author: Kevyn Yong, Department of Management and Human Resources, HEC Paris
Abstract: We examine the effects of conflict and conflict asymmetry on creativity in interdisciplinary teams. Testing our hypotheses on teams working on graduate-level nanobiotechnology projects, we found task conflict to have a positive relationship with creativity whereas relationship conflict had a negative relationship with creativity. Our results also revealed that relationship conflict asymmetry had a positive effect on creativity. Examining the two components of creativity separately, we found that relationship conflict asymmetry explained variance in the novelty component, whereas task conflict, team size, and functional diversity explained variance in the usefulness component.
Research advocates that interdisciplinary teams, comprised of specialists from different functional areas, possess the potential for creativity (Keller, 2000; Lovelace, Shapiro, & Weingart, 2001). Interdisciplinary team members can generate and exchange diverse ideas to develop solutions that are novel and useful, two components necessary for creativity (Amabile, 1996; Oldham & Cummings, 1996). This exchange of diverse ideas is purported to lead to creativity when team members engage in productive task conflict (De Dreu, 2006; Neale, Mannix, & Chen, 2006). Moreover, because relationship conflict has been shown to accompany task conflict (De Dreu & Weingart, 2003; Simons & Peterson, 2000), interdisciplinary teams that can enhance task conflict while keeping relationship conflict in check will be most creative. The link between any sort of conflict and actual creative outcomes, how-ever, has been difficult to clarify. To disentangle conflict types, researchers have been careful to link only certain conflict types to certain types of performance, such as quality of production or negotiated outcomes (e.g., De Dreu & Weingart, 2003). Here, we explore an alternative approach to addressing the conflict–creativity debate. We consider how conflict asymmetry as a property of the team might explain creativity in interdisciplinary teams. Rather than a focus on what is shared or similar within teams (e.g., Klimonski & Mohammed, 1994), a focus on what is dissimilar or inconsistent among team members has emerged in recent years (e.g., Cronin & Weingart, 2007). One of the most promising ideas in this approach is that members’ perceptions of conflict are asymmetric, and this asymmetry may explain important team processes and outcomes (Cronin, Bezrukova, Weingart, & Tinsley, 2011; Jehn, Rispens, & Thatcher, 2010). Conflict asymmetry refers to the degree to which team members differ in their perceptions of how much conflict there is in the team (Jehn et al., 2010). For example, although some members perceive a high level of task conflict within the team, others may perceive a low level; this dispersion of conflict perception is the team’s task conflict asymmetry. Previous work has drawn on shared mental models and collective cognition to understand and explain the effects of conflict asymmetry (e.g., Cronin et al., 2011). For instance, research on shared mental models has shown that consistency increases team performance (e.g., Marks, Sabella, Burke, & Zaccaro, 2002). To achieve superior performance, team members must share a common understanding of the information and goals of the team (Hinsz, Tindale, & Vollrath, 1997). However, it is not clear whether the same results will be found in interdisciplinary teams that may be more likely to experience conflict asymmetries due to their functionally diverse nature and whether these asymmetries are beneficial for interdisciplinary teams striving for creativity. To address this research question, we studied interdisciplinary teams work on graduate-level projects to design nanobiotechnology devices. We used online surveys to collect data on team conflict at different points during the semester and gathered expert ratings of creativity at the end of the project. In at CORNELL UNIV on March 6, 2016sgr.sagepub.com Downloaded from 268 Small Group Research 45(3) so doing, we contribute to the study of conflict and creativity by showing that both conflict and conflict asymmetry explain variance in creativity and have different effects on the novelty and usefulness components of creativity.
Creativity in Interdisciplinary Teams Creativity involves combining diverse perspectives to generate novel and useful solutions (Amabile, 1996; Sutton & Hargadon, 1996). Organizations often rely on interdisciplinary teams to work on projects that require creativity because such teams are equipped with a diverse pool of knowledge, skills, and expertise (Keller, 2000; Lovelace et al., 2001). Researchers in this area typically study interdisciplinary teams under the rubric of functional diversity (Bunderson, 2003), a phenomenon that has been studied in both the laboratory and the field. For instance, early research conducted on ad hoc laboratory teams demonstrated that expertise diversity improved problem solving (Hoffman & Maier, 1961).
Other research shows that team members with specific information (Gruenfeld, Mannix, Williams, & Neale, 1996) provide alternative perspectives that lead to novel solutions (Nemeth, 1986). Because interdisciplinary teams comprise members with more heterogeneous sets of skills, information, experiences, and social networks, they enjoy an enhanced capacity for creativity (Sutton & Hargadon, 1996; Taylor & Greve, 2006). Conflict and Creativity Functional diversity, however, also sets the stage for potential conflict (Pelled, 1996). As teams form and develop, members seek information about each other and demonstrate their own expertise and task competencies as they work to perform as a team (Gersick, 1988; Tuckman, 1965). In interdisciplinary teams, pride in one’s specialty can lead to protecting intellectual turf and the use of jargon can cause communication barriers between team members to the further detriment of team integration (McGuire, 1999). Moreover, social categorization can also lead to an us-versus-them mentality in which the forma-tion of subgroups can lead to exclusion and distrust (Mackie, Gastardo-Conaco, & Skelly, 1992). Thus, interdisciplinary teams must work through the conflict associated with functional diversity to realize their creative potential. Interdisciplinary teams focused on creativity must experience at least some degree of conflict to function successfully (Cronin & Weingart, 2007). Conflict emerges from different opinions and ideas that team members must share and combine to generate and select ideas as part of their creative process (Nijstad, Rietzschel, & Stroebe, 2006). Thus, conflict enables greater at CORNELL UNIV on March 6, 2016sgr.sagepub.com Downloaded from Yong et al. 269 consideration of the diverse perspectives presented by each team member. However, the type of conflict team members experience and the way they manage it are critical to their success. Specifically, team members must be able to distinguish between conflict that is task-focused and relationship-focused (Jehn, 1995).
Task (or cognitive) conflict is driven by differences in opinions or perceptions of the task being performed by the team. Moderate levels of task conflict have been shown to benefit team performance in various problem-solving and complex cognitive tasks (Jehn & Bendersky, 2003; Jehn & Mannix, 2001). In many cases, teams benefit from differences of opinion and improve their decision quality as members share and adopt each other’s perspectives (Schwenk, 1990). Research on the link between task conflict and performance in teams remains fraught with divergent findings. A large body of literature demonstrates a negative link between the two (see De Dreu & Weingart, 2003). However, other research has shown a positive link when factors such as positive team atmosphere (Jehn & Mannix, 2001), trust (Simons & Peterson, 2000), and conflict resolution strategies (Behfar, Peterson, Mannix, & Trochim, 2008) are in place. In addition, recent empirical work lends support to the proposition that task conflict will help some types of creative performance. For example, Matsuo (2006) found task conflict to positively affect innovation in Japanese sales departments, which in turn was related to increased departmental performance. De Dreu (2006) also found support for this notion by showing that a moderate amount of task conflict positively relates to innovation, where innovation is most often associated with the use-fulness component of creativity (Amabile, 1996). Thus, we expect creativity is best enhanced when task conflict is higher. Hypothesis 1a (H1a): Task conflict in interdisciplinary teams is positively related to creativity. In contrast, relationship (or interpersonal) conflict may include personality differences, annoyance, and hostility between individuals. Research has predominantly found relationship conflict to have a negative impact on performance (De Dreu & Weingart, 2003; Pelled, 1996). Team members experiencing relationship conflict can be distracted from the task at hand through an increased focus on interpersonal relationships rather than work-related issues and are therefore less cooperative and less likely to perform (Jehn & Mannix, 2001).
When members are focused on interpersonal issues, their willingness to work together for team goals may also be reduced (Jehn & Bendersky, 2003). This may be particularly true in interdisciplinary teams, where team at CORNELL UNIV on March 6, 2016sgr.sagepub.com Downloaded from 270 Small Group Research 45(3) members may be less affectively integrated (Cronin et al., 2011). Thus, we expect creativity is best enhanced when relationship conflict remains low. Hypothesis 1b (H1b): Relationship conflict in interdisciplinary teams is negatively related to creativity. This line of reasoning, however, assumes that all team members perceive the state of the team and its processes in the same manner (e.g., De Dreu & Weingart, 2003; Jehn, 1995). Yet social cognition research has long acknowledged that people have different experiences of the same reality (Searle, 1995). Management scholars have addressed these perception differences theoretically as well as empirically (e.g., Salancik & Pfeffer, 1978), but only recently have scholars begun to look at the impact of asymmetries on processes and outcomes in teams (Jehn et al., 2010; Weingart, Todorova, & Cronin, 2010). The question remains whether similarity in perceptions is beneficial for teams and their members, and on what types of outcomes. One perspective is that teams must have some level of cognitive integration—a shared representation of the task and the ability to incorporate and accept others’ perspectives—to reach optimal performance (Cronin et al., 2011). For instance, teams without cognitive integration are unable to use divergent information and as a result, performed less effectively (Cronin et al., 2011). Other work has seen mixed results. For example, Jehn and colleagues (2010) used a logic task to look at the relationship between conflict asymmetry, team performance, and self-reports of team creativity. They found that higher levels of relationship conflict asymmetry decreased objective performance in terms of errors on the logic task, but task conflict asymmetry had no effect on performance, although lower levels of task conflict asymmetry did increase self-reports of team creativity (there were no effects of relationship conflict on self-reports of creativity). However, creativity as a task outcome was not measured directly in this study because the task did not lend itself readily to an objective assessment of creativity. Therefore, it remains somewhat uncertain exactly how, and to what extent, conflict asymmetry is related to team creativity.
Although a large body of research has provided insights into how conflict fosters creativity in interdisciplinary teams, there is much we can learn about team creativity by also examining the asymmetric perceptions of conflict among team members. Specifically, our study shows that relationship conflict asymmetry is positively related to creativity and explains variance in the novelty component of creativity. That is, relationship conflict helps foster creativity as long as all team members do not perceive the same level of relationship conflict. This offers a solution to the challenge of fostering creativity by keeping task conflict high and relationship conflict low when task conflict and relationship are inextricably linked (De Dreu & Weingart, 2003; Simons & Peterson, 2000). More generally, examining the effects of conflict asymmetry on creativity in interdisciplinary teams offers insights into how team members perceive, understand, evaluate, and use functionally diverse knowledge to change their own and others’ thinking to generate new solutions that are both novel and useful.
So, how should you handle creative conflict in your organization? With excellent communication.
Here’s why effective communication can transform workplace conflict into a creative breakthrough.
If your organization has a communication problem, it is very likely that it also has a conflict problem. Even in the most transparent workplaces, disagreements are bound to arise, but leaders who fail to communicate with the rest of their team in a timely, complete, and accurate manner are only digging themselves a deeper hole.
As a result, open, immediate, thoughtful, and inclusive communication with and among employees is the key to unlocking the creative power of workplace conflict.
Here are 5 powerful ways to avoid conflict.
1). Open communication exposes problems.
By fostering an open communication culture in the workplace, you’re already laying the groundwork for creative conflict. Quick and casual communication channels, such as team messaging systems, can help your team feel more at ease communicating with one another on a regular basis, whether it’s about big things like major company initiatives or small things like changing the date and time of a meeting. Use these channels to share important news, documents, and ideas with your team, and encourage employees to respond honestly. Upload any relevant notes, questions, or documents to a centralized, easily accessible location, such as a team messaging solution, for your employees to review on their own time. You can overcome any communication roadblocks and facilitate a more productive discussion by providing employees with the distance and information they need to cool down their emotional responses and formulate a fact-based argument.
Employees are more likely to speak up when they notice flaws or holes in a project when they feel free to express their opinions, even if they are negative. Team messaging systems can be the ideal solution for offering constructive criticism and reaching more creative solutions for employees who are more introverted or who would benefit from stepping back and thinking more deeply about a topic.
“When the trust account is high, communication is easy, instant, and effective.” – Stephen R. Covey
2.) Immediate communication generates more creative and deeper ideas.
We’ve all had that nightmare roommate who refuses to do the dishes, pick up their clothes, or wipe their muddy shoes before walking on the carpet. We try to be polite at first. When it’s not our turn, we do the dishes or shampoo the carpet while they sleep on the couch. But after months of ignoring it, the minor annoyance grows into full-fledged resentment.
Whether that roommate is a friend, a spouse, or a child, the lesson here is that addressing conflict as soon as possible is critical to resolving the issue civilly. The same holds true at work. When tensions arise, communicate with your team as soon as possible. When half of your team is out of the country or working remotely and an issue arises, team messaging or video conferencing platforms are a great way to address the issue while it is still fresh in everyone’s minds. This will lead to more in-depth and productive brainstorming sessions, allowing you to delve deeper into the benefits and drawbacks of an idea before developing a business plan around it.
3.) Emotions are kept at bay by thoughtful communication.
You might be wondering what happens if the discussion gets too heated. Entering a difficult discussion before everyone has had a chance to learn the facts, digest the issue, and form a reasonable opinion can be a risky game. However, workplace conflict does not have to result in employees hurling their laptops across the boardroom.
When discussions are thoughtful, fact-based, and informed, workplace conflict transforms into creative conflict. Put the argument on hold for a while if it appears that employees’ emotions are clouding the discussion and preventing a timely resolution.
4.) Everyone is heard when there is inclusive communication.
“Two heads are better than one,” as the old adage goes. Teamwork is at the heart of innovation, and unless you gather all key stakeholders for an important discussion, you will never reach the creative depths that you have the potential to reach. Of course, reaching a consensus on a plan that works for everyone is a difficult process, and the only way to do so is to ensure that everyone is heard. Giving everyone the opportunity to speak can be difficult when your team is made up of introverts, remote workers, cross-functional stakeholders, and people at various levels of seniority.
Implement virtual communication tools, such as video conferencing platforms and team messaging systems, to reach employees who are unable to be physically present during discussions. These can help keep everyone on the same page by allowing you to receive comments and questions from members in different locations in real time. Some virtual communication tools enable you to host anonymous polls for a final decision, ensuring everyone’s honesty and fairness.
5.) Better communication turns conflict into a tool for success.
As Robert Townsend said, “a good manager doesn’t try to eliminate conflict; he tries to keep it from wasting the energies of his people. If you’re the boss and your people fight you openly when they think that you are wrong — that’s healthy.”
In other words, the world’s most innovative companies don’t fear conflict; rather, they embrace it. Great workplace communication allows you to challenge your employees and truly test their creative abilities. To summarize, the process for transforming workplace conflict into creativity is as follows:
Integrate honesty, civility, and open communication into the culture of your company.
When problems, disagreements, or weaknesses arise, act quickly.
Encourage your team to set aside their emotions, think deeply about a topic, and use data to back up their arguments.
Allow everyone the opportunity to express themselves, and when they do, listen!
Accept creative conflict in your organization by giving your employees the tools they need to communicate more effectively. In the end, this could mean the difference between disappointing business results and industry leadership.
Exercise 7:3: Let’s Face It
This exercise from The Big Book of Conflict-Resolution Games is about self-awareness. How large of a role does it really play, and how does it influence our communication?
There is no limit to the group size for this game, which requires only enough pens and paper for everybody. It doesn’t take very long, either, and can be played in as little as ten to twenty minute