Open Communication Within Organizations

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Open Communication Within Organizations

BBA 2026: Organizational Communication

Open communication within an organization is one of the most beneficial strategies that can be adopted by management. “What is Open Communication.” (n.d.) defines open communication as employees being encouraged to share their thoughts and concerns, both good and bad, without the worry of retaliation from management when the feedback is bad. Having management create an open-door-policy within their organization allows their employees to have the ability to communicate their ideas, beliefs, issues, and criticism without being punished or having their voice shot down by peers and never making it to the higher up management to begin with. Today, there are many companies who are having employee shortages due to the lack of communication between them and management, as well as not being heard regarding how they feel the company could run better. Without the positive feedback and their voice being heard, they leave and go to a company where they will strive and be grateful for their ideas. While reading many articles online that related to communication practices within organizations, I found many styles that worked, and did not work. Some of which had hostile environments with orders and demands and others with successful communications like the open-door policy, or also known as open communication. The article I found online is called,” Keeping management’s door open: How to establish an open-door policy that works.” I will be summarizing the key concepts of the article that pertains to open communication. I will also be analyzing the open communication strategy and stating how it could benefit within my organization, the United States Army.

The article, “Keeping management’s door open: How to establish an open-door policy that works,” written by Shenhar, A. (1993), states open communication, or open-door policy, is one of the ways organizations improve communication with employees, enhance trust and motivation, and reduce the need for unionization. There are many advantages and disadvantages that can come from open door policies. One of the advantages that are stated in the article is, an employee who is treated well, and who knows that personal problems will be taken seriously, will become a better motivated worker (Shenhar, 1993). An employee’s trust within their organization will give them strong motivation to keep pushing and working at their peak performance, while remaining loyal and satisfied that their needs or issues are being heard and taken care of. Another advantage within the article was where employees can voice their opinions about how the company is run and operated. Being able to go to management with problems, organizational based, without reprisal for the negative feedback they give is very important. When employees know they have a voice an actual stake in how a company is run, they tend to work harder and find ways to make their jobs easier. This boosts productivity from the employees as well as better practices company wide. The last advantage that the article states was, “an open-door policy is one of the most effective ways for companies to avoid unionization and reduce the risk of employees resorting to legal action. Legal actions taken by employees against their employer can be very painful and costly and can damage an organization’s image in both the public’s eyes and in the eyes of other employees. To avoid unionization, many organizations even establish union-like grievance procedures, which include, among other elements, an open-door policy. It has been found that companies with ineffective grievance procedures are often least able to resist unionization, while companies with no formal grievance procedures are more likely to have a portion of their workforce unionized than companies that do have formal procedures (58 per cent compared with 25 per cent). By contrast, when employees respect the company’s complaint resolution system, the likelihood of union organization and legal actions is much more limited” (Shenhar, 1993). This is meaning that their complaints being heard will limit the company’s legal issues. This will only work when the company responds correctly and efficiently with the complaints coming in. However, difficulties can arise with the open-door policy. Some are that when an employee comes into the office and the management looks busy or does not care enough to fully listen to the issues, then the employee will more than likely not come back to them again. This takes away from the whole open communication concept. Also, when management says their doors are always open, some do not mean it. They say it is open for all issues, but as soon as they walk in, they do not feel welcome and they feel the need to tell their immediate supervisors instead of management correcting the problem. Many times, the employees are complaining about how they are treated by their immediate supervisors. So, this will only worsen the problems at hand. This article is very descriptive with the statistics and details about how open communication can and cannot work. Everything must be in place for the full effect to happen and for organizations to successfully implement their open communication between them and employees.

Google is one of the companies that strives in their open communication practices. The article I found stated, “All-hands meetings are built around an open mic and unscripted Q&As with executives. A quarterly board report is presented to all employees. (How many companies would consider doing either?) For sharing and discussing information, there are about 87,000 Google Groups email lists organized around every kind of topic—both work-related and not so much. There are some 8,000 miscellaneous—famously, “misc”—discussions, devoted to everything from juggling and philosophy to rockets and “terrible-ideas-discuss” (Wickre, 2007). This is a great example on a company that fully utilizes open communication. Google takes the time to gather groups of employees to meet with the company executives and discuss everything, good or bad, with the company and what the employees would like to change. The executives are also open to hear the ideas of how to change the company for the better. To take it one step further, Google also created 87,000 email groups with both employees and management personnel for talking about whatever. This build bonds and trust and an overall better work environment. Companies that make their employees feel more like an extended family instead of a statistic, generate a higher productivity and pride in the work generated by their employees. Google is always changing with new technology being developed. These do not come from management and executives alone. Most come from the employee’s ideas on how to further develop the company and move them into the future. These are done by the benefits of open communication. Not all companies are the same, as I stated before, but Google has really taken this communication strategy to the next level. The article states, “It’s incredibly difficult to maintain a genuinely value-based culture in a place the size of Google. When a company has grown up to become a global brand, a verb, and is recognized as a “best place to work” year after year, it’s inevitable that things will continue to change” (Wickre, 2017). Because of the employee management relationship, the company continues to be on top as far as employee satisfaction, which in turn maximizes the organizations output of technology advancement. Google really is the epitome of open communication success.

The Army is an organization that has many different communication strategies, both good and bad. Really, it boils down to who is in your leadership and what unit you are in. Yes, the Army is an individual organization, but the units, leaders, and Soldiers are all different and think they have the best type of communication standards. The Army is everchanging in the fact of different generational leadership styles depending on how they grew up. Some of the “old” leadership styles are from the leaders brought up when the Army was more hands-on discipline and live by the “do as I say, not as I do” mentality. These are the toxic leaders that don’t adapt to the change in the Army focus. These will be the leaders who tell their Soldiers to do something, but when something isn’t done correctly, then punishment is done. This puts the Soldier down and they will be afraid push themselves because they do not want that to happen again. Then you have the newer leadership. These are the ones who help, coach, and mentor you to be better. When given a task, they do it with you to show that they are a Soldier too ad that teamwork will always benefit and cause a successful mission outcome. Implementation of the open-door policy, or open communication, will benefit all Soldier’s in the Army. This will allow new ideas to be brought forward and possibilities of how to go about an operation or mission. Now, some leaders will give the order, but not do the mission themselves. Without doing it, how can they make sure that the best way is being done? They can’t. When they don’t listen to the suggestions from the Soldier’s doing the mission, then the unit won’t better themselves and become a more advanced and efficient team. Leaders can really learn a lot from implementing the open communication method. When given the who, what, where, when, and why behind a task, Soldier generally will want to help and assist and will put their best work into the task, but when ordered to do something with no background information, then they do half of their work potential just to get it done and go home. Leaders and Soldier’s need to come together to help make the Army better. But, when you eliminate one’s voice, the possibility for organization advancement is not going to happen.

Open communication is vital in the success of organizations. Management must be able to listen to their employees and provide feedback now they receive issues or development improvements. One man in the company cannot make everything happen and they won’t know what the best idea is to run it properly. Employees also have ideas on what needs to be done through their experience and being hands on in the subject field. Management must be willing to adapt to change realize they their idea isn’t the only idea. Also, management is caught off guard when legal actions take place because they heard nothing of the issues the employees are having. This is because they are closed off and do not allow their employees to knock on their door to talk and discuss anything. Having the open-door policy, or open communication, will push the company to the next level. Even if the ideas are shot down, at least employees know they are heard, or need to do some more research before a change is implemented. Nothing but greatness comes from an organization’s open communication between management and their employees.

REFERENCES:

Shenhar, A. (1993). Keeping management’s door open: How to establish an open-door policy that works. Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 14(2), 8. Retrieved from https://search-proquest.com.libraryresources.columbiasouthern.edu/docview /226911688?accountid=33337

What is Open Communication. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.reference.com/business-finance/open-communication-499b2ec03ccee91f

Wickre, K. (2007). What Google’s Open Communication Culture Is Really Like. Wired, Backchannel. Retrieved from https://www.wired.com/story/what-googles-open-communication-culture-is-really-like/




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