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16.6: Summary

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    key terms
    The individual, group, or organization that needs or wants to share information with another individual, group, or organization.
    Interpreting and understanding and making sense of a message.
    Translating a message into symbols or language that a receiver can understand.
    Anything that interferes with the communication process.
    The individual, group, or organization for which information is intended.
    interaction attentiveness/ interaction involvement
    A measure of how the receiver of a message is paying close attention and is alert or observant.
    figurehead role
    A necessary role for a manager who wants to inspire people within the organization to feel connected to each other and to the institution, to support the policies and decisions made on behalf of the organization, and to work harder for the good of the institution.

    The Process of Managerial Communication

    1. Understand and describe the communication process.

    The basic model of interpersonal communication consists of an encoded message, a decoded message, feedback, and noise. Noise refers to the distortions that inhibit message clarity.

    Types of Communications in Organizations

    1. Know the types of communications that occur in organizations.

    Interpersonal communication can be oral, written, or nonverbal. Body language refers to conveying messages to others through such techniques as facial expressions, posture, and eye movements.

    Factors Affecting Communications and the Roles of Managers

    1. Understand how power, status, purpose, and interpersonal skills affect communications in organizations.

    Interpersonal communication is influenced by social situations, perception, interaction involvement, and organizational design. Organizational communication can travel upward, downward, or horizontally. Each direction of information flow has specific challenges.

    Managerial Communication and Corporate Reputation

    1. Describe how corporate reputations are defined by how an organization communicates to all of its stakeholders.

    It is important for managers to understand what your organization stands for (identity), what others think your organization is (reputation), and the contributions individuals can make to the success of the business considering their organization’s existing reputation. It is also about confidence—the knowledge that one can speak and write well, listen with great skill as others speak, and both seek out and provide the feedback essential to creating, managing, or changing their organization’s reputation.

    The Major Channels of Management Communication Are Talking, Listening, Reading, and Writing

    1. Describe the roles that managers perform in organizations.

    There are special communication roles that can be identified. Managers may serve as gatekeepers, liaisons, or opinion leaders. They can also assume some combination of these roles. It is important to recognize that communication processes involve people in different functions and that all functions need to operate effectively to achieve organizational objectives.

    chapter review questions
    1. Describe the communication process.
    2. Why is feedback a critical part of the communication process?
    3. What are some things that managers can do to reduce noise in communication?
    4. Compare and contrast the three primary forms of interpersonal communication.
    5. Describe the various individual communication roles in organizations.
    6. How can managers better manage their effectiveness by managing e-mail communication?
    7. Which communication roles are most important in facilitating managerial effectiveness?
    8. Identify barriers to effective communication.
    9. How can barriers to effective communication be overcome by managers?
    management skills application exercises
    1. The e-mails below are not written as clearly or concisely as they could be. In addition, they may have problems in organization or tone or mechanical errors. Rewrite them so they are appropriate for the audience and their purpose. Correct grammatical and mechanical errors. Finally, add a subject line to each.

    E-Mail 1

    To: Employees of The Enormously Successful Corporation

    From: CEO of The Enormously Successful Corporation


    Stop bringing bottled soft drinks, juices and plastic straws to work. Its an environment problem that increases our waste and the quality of our water is great. People don’t realize how much wasted energy goes into shipping all that stuff around, and plastic bottles, aluminum cans and straws are ruining our oceans and filling land fills. Have you seen the floating island of waste in the Pacific Ocean? Some of this stuff comes from other countries like Canada Dry I think is from canada and we are taking there water and Canadians will be thirsty. Fancy drinks isn’t as good as the water we have and tastes better anyway.

    E-Mail 2

    To: All Employees

    From: Management


    Our Committee to Improve Inter-Office Communication has decided that there needs to be an update and revision of our policy on emailing messages to and from those who work with us as employees of this company. The following are the results of the committee’s decisions, and constitute recommendations for the improvement of every aspect of email communication.

    1. Too much wordiness means people have to read the same thing over and over repeatedly, time after time. Eliminating unnecessary words, emails can be made to be shorter and more to the point, making them concise and taking less time to read.
    2. You are only allowed to send and receive messages between 8:30 AM east coat time and 4:30 PM east coast time. You are also not allowed to read e-mails outside of these times. We know that for those of you on the west coast or traveling internationally it will reduce the time that you are allowed to attend to e-mail, but we need this to get it under control.
    3. You are only allowed to have up to 3 recipients on each e-mail. If more people need to be informed it is up to the people to inform them.
    1. Write a self-evaluation that focuses specifically on your class participation in this course. Making comments during class allows you to improve your ability to speak extemporaneously, which is exactly what you will have to do in all kinds of business situations (e.g., meetings, asking questions at presentations, one-on-one conversations). Thus, write a short memo (two or three paragraphs) in which you describe the frequency with which you make comments in class, the nature of those comments, and what is easy and difficult for you when it comes to speaking up in class.

      If you have made few (or no) comments during class, this is a time for us to come up with a plan to help you overcome your shyness. Our experience is that as soon as a person talks in front of a group once or twice, it becomes much easier—so we need to come up with a way to help you break the ice.

      Finally, please comment on what you see as the strengths and weaknesses of your discussions and presentations in this class.

    2. Refer to the photo in Figure 16.2.1. Comment on the body language exhibited by each person at the meeting and how engaged they are in the communication.
    3. In the movie The Martian, astronaut Mark Watney (played by Matt Damon) is stranded on Mars with limited ability to communicate with mission control. Watney holds up questions to a camera that can transmit photographs of his questions, and mission control could respond by pointing the camera at a “yes” or “no” card with the camera. Eventually, they are able to exchange “text” messages but no voice exchanges. Also, there is a significant time delay between the sending and receipt of the messages. Which part of the communication process would have to be addressed to ensure that the encoding of the messages, the decoding of the messages, and that noise is minimized by Watney and mission control?
    managerial decision exercises
    1. Ginni Rometty is the CEO of IBM. Shortly after taking on the role of CEO and being frustrated by the progress and sales performance, Rometty released a five-minute video to all 400,000 plus IBM employees criticizing the lack of securing deals to competitors and lashed out at the sales organization for poor sales in the preceding quarter. Six months later, Rometty sent another critical message, this time via e-mail. How effective will the video and e-mail be in communicating with employees? How should she follow up on these messages?
    2. Social media, such as Facebook, is now widespread. Place yourself as a manager that has just received a “friend” request from one of your direct reports. Do you accept, reject, or ignore the request? Why, and what additional communication would you have regarding this with the employee?
    3. During a cross-functional meeting, one of the attendees who reports to a manager who is also at the meeting accuses one of your reports of not being fit for the position she is in. You disagree and feel that your report is a good fit for her role. How do you handle this?

    Critical Thinking Case

    Facebook, Inc.

    Facebook has been in the news with criticism of its privacy policies, sharing customer information with Fusion GPS, and criticism regarding the attempts to influence the 2016 election. In March 2014, Facebook released a study entitled “Experimental evidence of massive-scale emotional contagion through social networks.” It was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), a prestigious, peer-reviewed scientific journal. The paper explains how social media can readily transfer emotional states from person to person through Facebook’s News Feed platform. Facebook conducted an experiment on members to see how people would respond to changes in a percentage of both positive and negative posts. The results suggest that emotional contagion does occur online and that users’ positive expressions can generate positive reactions, while, in turn, negative expressions can generate negative reactions.

    Facebook has two separate value propositions aimed at two different markets with entirely different goals.

    Originally, Facebook’s main market was its end users—people looking to connect with family and friends. At first, it was aimed only at college students at a handful of elite schools. The site is now open to anyone with an Internet connection. Users can share status updates and photographs with friends and family. And all of this comes at no cost to the users.

    Facebook’s other major market is advertisers, who buy information about Facebook’s users. The company regularly gathers data about page views and browsing behavior of users in order to display targeted advertisements to users for the benefit of its advertising partners.

    The value proposition of the Facebook News Feed experiment was to determine whether emotional manipulation would be possible through the use of social networks. This clearly could be of great value to one of Facebook’s target audiences—its advertisers.

    The results suggest that the emotions of friends on social networks influence our own emotions, thereby demonstrating emotional contagion via social networks. Emotional contagion is the tendency to feel and express emotions similar to and influenced by those of others. Originally, it was studied by psychologists as the transference of emotions between two people.

    According to Sandra Collins, a social psychologist and University of Notre Dame professor of management, it is clearly unethical to conduct psychological experiments without the informed consent of the test subjects. While tests do not always measure what the people conducting the tests claim, the subjects need to at least know that they are, indeed, part of a test. The subjects of this test on Facebook were not explicitly informed that they were participating in an emotional contagion experiment. Facebook did not obtain informed consent as it is generally defined by researchers, nor did it allow participants to opt-out.

    When information about the experiment was released, the media response was overwhelmingly critical. Tech blogs, newspapers, and media reports reacted quickly.

    Josh Constine of TechCrunch wrote:

    “ . . . there is some material danger to experiments that depress people. Some people who are at risk of depression were almost surely part of Facebook’s study group that were shown a more depressing feed, which could be considered dangerous. Facebook will endure a whole new level of backlash if any of those participants were found to have committed suicide or had other depression-related outcomes after the study.”

    The New York Times quoted Brian Blau, a technology analyst with the research firm Gartner, “Facebook didn’t do anything illegal, but they didn’t do right by their customers. Doing psychological testing on people crosses the line.” Facebook should have informed its users, he said. “They keep on pushing the boundaries, and this is one of the reasons people are upset.”

    While some of the researchers have since expressed some regret about the experiment, Facebook as a company was unapologetic about the experiment. The company maintained that it received consent from its users through its terms of service. A Facebook spokesperson defended the research, saying, “We do research to improve our services and make the content people see on Facebook as relevant and engaging as possible. . . . We carefully consider what research we do and have a strong internal review process.”

    With the more recent events, Facebook is changing the privacy settings but still collects an enormous amount of information about its users and can use that information to manipulate what users see. Additionally, these items are not listed on Facebook’s main terms of service page. Users must click on a link inside a different set of terms to arrive at the data policy page, making these terms onerous to find. This positioning raises questions about how Facebook will employ its users’ behaviors in the future.

    critical thinking questions
    1. How should Facebook respond to the 2014 research situation? How could an earlier response have helped the company avoid the 2018 controversies and keep the trust of its users?
    2. Should the company promise to never again conduct a survey of this sort? Should it go even further and explicitly ban research intended to manipulate the responses of its users?
    3. How can Facebook balance the concerns of its users with the necessity of generating revenue through advertising?
    4. What processes or structures should Facebook establish to make sure it does not encounter these issues again?
    5. Respond in writing to the issues presented in this case by preparing two documents: a communication strategy memo and a professional business letter to advertisers.

    Kramer, Adam; Guillory, Jamie; and Hancock, Jeffrey, “Experimental evidence of massive-scale emotional contagion through social networks,” PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America). March 25, 2014;

    Laja, Peep. “Useful Value Proposition Examples (and How to Create a Good One), ConversionXL, 2015;

    Yadav, Sid. “Facebook - The Complete Biography,” Mashable, Aug. 25, 2006.;

    Felix, Samantha, “This Is How Facebook Is Tracking Your Internet Activity,” Business Insider, Sept. 9, 2012

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