Overcoming Communication Barriers in Organizations

Although all communication is subject to misunderstandings, business communication is particularly difficult. The material is often complex and controversial. Moreover, both the sender and the receiver may face distractions that divert their attention. Further, the opportunities for feedback are often limited, making it difficult to correct misunderstandings. The following communication barriers in organizations and ways to overcome them will be the main topic of this article.

1. Information Overload. Too much information is as bad as too little because it reduces the audiences ability to concentrate effectively on the most important messages. People facing information overload sometimes try to cope by ignoring some of the messages, by delaying responses to messages they deem unimportant, by answering only parts of some messages, by responding inaccurately to certain messages, by taking less time with each message, or by reacting only superficially to all messages.

To overcome information overload, realize that some information is not necessary, and make necessary information easily available. Give information meaning rather than just passing it on, and set priorities for dealing with the information flow. Some information isn’t necessary.

2. Message Complexity. When formulating business messages, you communicate both as an individual and as representative of an organization. Thus you must adjust your own ideas and style so that they are acceptable to your employer. In fact, you may be asked occasionally to write or say something that you disagree with personally. Suppose you work as a recruiter for your firm. You’ve interviewed a job candidate you believe would make an excellent employee, but others in the firm have rejected this applicant. Now you have to write a letter turning down the candidate: You must communicate your firms message, regardless of your personal feelings, a task some communicators find difficult.

To overcome the barriers of complex messages, keep them clear and easy to understand. Use strong organization, guide readers by telling them what to expect, use concrete and specific language, and stick to the point. Be sure to ask for feedback so that you can clarify and improve your message.

3. Message Competition. Communicators are often faced with messages that compete for attention. If you’re talking on the phone while scanning a report, both messages are apt to get short shrift. Even your own messages may have to compete with a variety of interruptions: The phone rings every five minutes, people intrude, meetings are called, and crises arise. In short, your messages rarely have the benefit on the receivers undivided attention.

To overcome competition barriers, avoid making demands on a receiver who doesn’t have the time to pay careful attention to your message. Make written messages visually appealing and easy to understand, and try to deliver them when your receiver has time to read them. Oral messages are most effective when you can speak directly to your receiver (rather than to intermediaries or answering machines). Also, be sure to set aside enough time for important messages that you receive. Business messages rarely have the benefit of the audiences full and undivided attention.

4. Differing Status. Employees of low status may be overly cautious when sending messages to managers and may talk only about subjects they think the manager is interested in. Similarly, higher-status people may distort messages by refusing to discuss anything that would tend to undermine their authority in the organization. Moreover, belonging to a particular department or being responsible for a particular task can narrow your point of view so that it differs from the attitudes, values, and expectations of people who belong to other departments or who are responsible for other tasks.

To overcome status barriers, keep managers and colleagues well informed. Encourage lower-status employees to keep you informed by being fair-minded and respectful of their opinions. When you have information that you’re afraid you boss might not like, be brave and convey it anyway. Status barriers can be overcome by a willingness to give and receive bad news.

5. Lack of Trust, Building trust is a difficult problem. Other organization members don’t know whether you’ll respond in a supportive or responsible way, so trusting can be risky. Without trust, however, free and open communication is effectively blocked, threatening the organization’s stability. Just being clear in your communication is not enough.

To overcome trust barriers, be visible and accessible. Don’t insulate yourself behind assistants or secretaries. Share key information with colleagues and employees, communicate honestly, and include employees in decision making. For communication to be successful, organizations must create an atmosphere of fairness and trust.

6. Inadequate Communication Structures. Organizational communication is effected by formal restrictions on who may communicate with whom and who is authorized to make decisions. Designing too few formal channels blocks effective communication. Strongly centralized organizations, especially those with a high degree of formalization, reduce communication capacity, and they decrease the tendency to communicate horizontally thus limiting the ability to coordinate activities and decisions. Tall organizations tend to provide too many vertical communication links, so messages become distorted as they move through the organization’s levels.

To overcome structural barriers, offer opportunities for communicating upward, downward, and horizontally (using such techniques as employee surveys, open-door policies, newsletters, memo, and task groups). Try to reduce hierarchical levels, increase coordination between departments, and encourage two-way communication.

7. Incorrect Choice of Medium. If you choose an inappropriate communication medium, your message can be distorted so that the intended meaning is blocked. You can select the most appropriate medium by matching your choice with the nature of the message and of the group or the individual who will receive it. Face-to-face communication is the richest medium because it is personal, it provides immediate feedback, it transmits information from both verbal and nonverbal cues, and it conveys the emotion behind the message. Telephones and other interactive electronic media aren’t as rich; although they allow immediate feedback, they don’t provide visual nonverbal cues such as facial expressions, eye contact and body movements. Written media can be personalized through addressed memos, letters, and reports, but they lack the immediate feedback and the visual and vocal nonverbal cues that contribute to the meaning of the message. The leanest media are generally impersonal written messages such as bulletins, fliers, and standard reports. Not only do they lack the ability to transmit nonverbal cues and to give feedback, they also eliminate any personal focus.

To overcome media barriers, choose the richest media for no routine, complex message. Use rich media to extend and to humanize your presence throughout the organization, to communicate caring and personal interest to employees, and to gain employee commitment to organizational goals. Use leaner media to communicate simple, routine messages. You can send information such as statistics, facts, figures and conclusions through a note, memo or written report

8. Closed communication climate. Communication climate is influenced by management style, and a directive, authoritarian style blocks the free and open exchange of information that characterizes good communication.

To overcome climate barriers, spend more time listening than issuing orders.

9. Unethical Communication. An organization cannot create illegal or unethical messages and still be credible or successful in the long run. Relationships within and outside the organization depend or trust and fairness.

To overcome ethics barriers, make sure your messages include all the information that ought to be there. Make sure that information is adequate and relevant to the situation. And make sure your message is completely truthful, not deceptive in any way.

10. Inefficient Communication. Producing worthless messages wastes time and resources, and it contributes to the information overload already mentioned.

Reduce the number of messages by thinking twice before sending one. Then speed up the process, first, by preparing messages correctly the first time around and, second, by standardizing format and material when appropriate. Be clear about the writing assignments you accept as well as the ones you assign.

11. Physical distractions. Communication barriers are often physical: bad connections, poor acoustics, illegible copy. Although noise or this sort seems trivial, it can completely block an otherwise effective message. Your receiver might also be distracted by an uncomfortable chair, poor lighting, or some other irritating condition. In some cases, the barrier may be related to the receiver’s health. Hearing or visual impairment or even a headache can interfere with reception of a message. These annoyances don’t generally block communication entirely, but they may reduce the receiver’s concentration.

To overcome physical distractions, try to prepare well written documents which are clear, concise, and comprehensive. When preparing oral presentations try to find a setting which permits audience to see and hear the speaker clearly.

Garden Greenhouse For a Real Budget

With the economy the way it is there are many people that would love to have the advantages of a greenhouse but do not have the money to invest in an expensive glass or plastic pane greenhouse. It's not that they do not want to get started growing as early as possible or extend the season as far into late fall and early winter as possible, it's simply a matter of money!

So for those who are financially challenged right now, I have a few ideas that you might kick around and see if any of these are capable. The first thing you can do is see if your community or city has a garden collective or co-op where you can garden, in other words, work in the greenhouse or garden and for that work, take home some of the food. This can not only be a great way to supplement your grocery list but you also are helping others.

Another way to get something going is to form a small co-op in your neighborhood and raise money to purchase a greenhouse so you can grow food year round. You will need to form this with trustworthy people and make sure the greenhouse is located on neutral ground, if possible so everyone can access it. You will also need money for water and heat so you do need to be prepared for these expenses. This can be a great way to add to your food source.

If you are not crazy about working with others in a co-op situation but would like the opportunity to grow with a garden greenhouse there are some very inexpensive greenhouses available. They will not be as sturdy and most likely will not last as long as some of the more expensive homes but they are good enough to last through several seasons in most climates.

Of course, use you head here. If you live in the Artic, these greenhouses will not do well at all. If you live in a semi mild climate and need to start seedlings early to get a good growing season or would like to extend the growing season into late fall, this might just be what you have been looking for. Most are also portable and can be used on decks and patios as well so measure and make sure they will fit before you order.

The basic lesson is if you really want what a greenhouse can give you, there are products on the market that could work for you. We all have certain things to overcome and, if the budget is your thing, there are decent green homes out here.

The Importance of Employment Tests

It is a known fact that the success of an employer and a company as a whole depends largely on the quality and reliability of its employees. This is the reason why employers must invest time and even money in the recruitment and interview process. Doing so would ensure that only the best possible candidate will be considered for a particular job.

When it comes to screening of potential employees, no other tool does it better than employment tests. These tests can measure what is called the KSA – knowledge, skills and abilities of the job candidates. Employment tests in this context are generally written or automated tests, but also include interviews, personality tests, skill tests, psychological tests, performance tests, medical examinations, agility tests, and so on.

A hiring process that is poorly designed is much like a recruitment process based on flipping a coin. Employers are well-aware that the impact of inefficient recruitment decisions can have costly and detrimental outcomes, which may include expensive training costs, decrease in overall productivity, increase in employee replacement, and increase in legal exposure.

Benefits of Efficient Assessments Incorporating assessment tests ensure that your company is making better hiring decisions. It can determine whether or not an employee can meet your criterion for maintaining high productivity. Consequently, pre-employment tests can reduce expensive and time-consuming recruitment steps by straightforwardly narrowing down the choices that will include only candidates who are best fit for the job. Because job fitting is greatly improved, this scenario can also increase the chances of retaining your employees for far longer periods of time. Furthermore, a well-developed pre-employment testing program can present a professional and positive image for your company, and will decrease the risk of hiring complaints.

Although pre-employment tests are basically a tool that protects employers, it can be just as important for them as for the applicant. It would be a shameful waste of time, effort, and even money to prepare for the responsibilities and challenges of a new job, yet find out later on that one is not capable of performing the tasks on hand and is bound for failure.

The benefits of pre-employment testing are endless. However, employers must know that these tests have certain limitations. For one, written tests must only measure skills that are important for the job description that a candidate is applying for. For this, employers must carefully design their pre-employment testing program. Pre-employment tests not properly designed may create an impression of being discriminatory, and this is something employers must avoid at all times.

Designing testing tools take time and experience. If these two are something your company does not have, you can easily find pre-employment testing software packages on the market. These pre-employment tests have been designed by professionals with expertise and experience in the field of recruitment, and thus can efficiently evaluate the general knowledge, office skills, personality, and so on, of a potential job candidate. There are various types of pre-employment test to choose from, and there will surely be one that best fits your needs as an employer.

Clearly, organizations that have a carefully well-developed testing program that best meets their exact needs will have competitive advantage. Employment tests allow employers to make the best hiring decisions and will consequently improve business revenue, productivity, and overall business outcomes.

The Difference Between Digital Books and Ebooks

Most people today, don’t know the difference between a digital book and an ebook. In fact, many people think they are one and the same. They couldn’t be farther from the truth. They are entirely different species of the same animal.

Digital books

Digital books, sometimes also called electronic books or PDF books, are scanned, digital facsimiles of standard printed, published books. You can think of them as enhanced copies of the actual hard or paperback books we have come to know and love.

When we are talking about the digital version of newer publications, they are pretty much identical to the original. When talking about old or even ancient publication, they are much better than any original you would find on the shelf of your local library. Since they are facsimiles of the original printing, this really increases quality and helps overcome the problems of many older books, such as yellowed pages, stains, see-through or onion skin type paper, colored paper, brown inks, etc. These are scanned pages, not ‘copied’ pages, and the quality of print truly represents a better quality than the print of the original book.

The great majority of digital books come in PDF format, though Amazon offers a Kindle edition, Mobipocket offers the MOBI version, then there is the plain TEXT format, as well as many others.

Digital books are usually far less expensive than their hard or paperback counterparts, and there are hardly ever shipping costs, unless they are delivered on a CD (Compact Disk).

Ebooks

Ebooks are digital books too, but they were designed and written for the internet. Many, if not most ebooks were never officially “published” at all, unless you count posting something on the internet as publishing.

Most ebooks were meant to be written quickly, with little or no expenses except for possibly distribution. The majority are short, almost always less than 100 pages, usually under 50 pages. Some ebooks are literally slapped together in a matter of hours. Often they are little more than several short reports combined together.

Many ebooks are self-help books, or manuals of some kind, though there are some eBook works of history and fiction to be found if you look for them. More often than not, they have little or no literary value, their intentions being the distribution of facts, instructions and/or ideas.

Sometimes you may come across the eBook version of a hard or soft cover book. It will even be called the “ebook version” of whatever book. But if you look closer, you will find that this eBook version is almost always far fewer pages than the original. You may as well call the “ebook version” the “condensed version” of the book.

Though you will find many ebooks in PDF format, much like digital books, but many come as various generic interactive applications. But don’t let the initial attraction of interaction fool you. Even if this sounds like high tech education at first, you will find that there is not much to the promise of interaction. It just disguises the fact that these books are short, technically no more than a few pages, with little to no real practical, and even less academic value.

Last but not least, ebooks are often free or cheap, though you will occasionally find some specialty instruction “programs” costing hundred of dollars.

Conclusion

Technically, ebooks are digital books, though practically there is a big difference. Personally, I usually prefer a digital book to its eBook cousin.

By Thomas A. Retterbush