CH 15 Interpersonal & Organizational Communication

Communication Defined: The Transfer of Information & Understanding
Communication—the transfer of information and understanding from one person to another—is an activity that you as a manager will have to do a lot of. Indeed, one study found that 81% of a manager’s time in a typical workday is spent communicating.

The fact that managers do a lot of communicating doesn’t mean they’re necessarily good at it—that is, that they are efficient or effective. You are an efficient communicator when you can transmit your message accurately in the least time. You are an effective communicator when your intended message is accurately understood by the other person. Thus, you may well be efficient in sending a group of people a reprimand by e-mail. But it may not be effective if it makes them angry so that they can’t absorb its meaning.

From this, you can see why it’s important to have an understanding of the communication process.

How the Communication Process Works
Communication has been said to be a process consisting of “a sender transmitting a message through media to a receiver who responds.” Let’s look at these and other parts of the process.
Sender, Message, & Receiver
The sender is the person wanting to share information—called a message—and the receiver is the person for whom the message is intended, as follows.

Sender → Message → Receiver

Encoding & Decoding
Of course, the process isn’t as simple as just sender/message/receiver. If you were an old-fashioned telegraph operator using Morse code to send a message over a telegraph line, you would first have to encode the message, and the receiver would have to decode it. But the same is true if you are sending the message by voice to another person in the same room, when you have to decide what language to speak in and what terms to use.

Encoding is translating a message into understandable symbols or language.

Decoding is interpreting and trying to make sense of the message. Thus, the communication process is now

Sender [Encoding] → Message → [Decoding] Receiver

The Medium
The means by which you as a communicator send a message is important, whether it is by typing an e-mail traveling over the Internet, by voice over a telephone line, or by hand-scrawled note. This is the medium, the pathway by which a message travels:

Sender [Encoding] → Message [Medium] Message → [Decoding] Receiver

“Flight 123, do you copy?” In the movies, that’s what you hear the flight controller say when radioing the pilot of a troubled aircraft to see if he or she received (“copied”) the previous message. And the pilot may radio back, “Roger, Houston, I copy.” This is an example of feedback, whereby the receiver expresses his or her reaction to the sender’s message.
Unfortunately, the entire communication process can be disrupted at several different points by what is called noise—any disturbance that interferes with the transmission of a message. The noise can occur in the medium, of course, as when you have static in a radio transmission or fadeout on a cellphone or when there’s loud music when you’re trying to talk in a noisy restaurant. Or it can occur in the encoding or decoding, as when a pharmacist can’t read a prescription because of a doctor’s poor handwriting.

Noise also occurs in nonverbal communication (discussed later in this chapter), as when our physical movements send a message that is different from the one we are speaking, or in cross-cultural communication, as when we make assumptions about other people’s messages based on our own culture instead of theirs.

Selecting the Right Medium for Effective Communication
All kinds of communications tools are available to managers, ranging from one-to-one face-to-face conversation all the way to use of the mass media. However, managers need to know how to use the right tool for the right condition—when to use e-mail or when to meet face-to-face, for example. Should you praise an employee by voicing a compliment, sending an e-mail, posting an announcement near the office coffee machine—or all three? How about when carrying out a reprimand?
Is a Medium Rich or Lean in Information?
As a manager, you will have many media to choose from: conversations, meetings, speeches, the telephone, e-mail, memos, letters, bulletin boards, PowerPoint presentations, videoconferencing, printed publications, videos, and so on. Beyond these are the sophisticated communications possibilities of the mass media: public relations; advertising; news reports via print, radio, TV, the Internet.
Media Richness
Media richness indicates how well a particular medium conveys information and promotes learning. That is, the “richer” a medium is, the better it is at conveying information. The term media richness was proposed by respected organizational theorists Richard Daft and Robert Lengel as part of their contingency model for media selection.

Face-to-face communication, also the most personal form of communication, is the richest. It allows the receiver of the message to observe multiple cues, such as body language and tone of voice. It allows the sender to get immediate feedback, to see how well the receiver comprehended the message. At the other end of the media richness scale, impersonal written media is just the reverse—only one cue and no feedback—making it low in richness.

Rich Medium: Best for Nonroutine Situations & to Avoid Oversimplification
A rich medium is more effective with nonroutine situations. Examples: In what way would you like to learn the facts from your boss of a nonroutine situation such as a major company reorganization, which might affect your job? Via a memo tacked on the bulletin board (a lean medium)? Or via face-to-face meeting or phone call (rich medium)?

The danger of using a rich medium for routine matters (such as monthly sales reports) is that it results in information overloading—more information than necessary.

Lean Medium: Best for Routine Situations & to Avoid Overloading
A lean medium is more effective with routine situations. Examples: In what manner would you as a sales manager like to get routine monthly sales reports from your 50 sales reps? Via time-consuming phone calls (somewhat rich medium)? Or via e-mails or text messages (somewhat lean medium)? The danger of using a lean medium for nonroutine matters (such as an announcement of a company reorganization) is that it results in information oversimplification—it doesn’t provide enough of the information the receiver needs and wants.
E-mail and Facebook and Twitter messages vary in media richness, being leaner if they impersonally blanket a large audience and richer if they mix personal textual and video information that prompts quick conversational feedback.
Communication Barriers
A barrier being anything interfering with accurate communication between two people. Some barriers may be thought of as happening within the communication process itself, as the table on the opposite page shows. It’s more practical, however, to think of barriers as being of three types: (1) physical barriers, (2) semantic barriers, and (3) personal barriers.
•Sender barrier—no message gets sent. Example: If a manager has an idea but is afraid to voice it because he or she fears criticism, then obviously no message gets sent.
•Encoding barrier—the message is not expressed correctly. Example: If your vocabulary is lacking or English is not your first language, you may have difficulty expressing to a supervisor, coworker, or subordinate what it is you mean to say.
•Medium barrier—the communication channel is blocked. Example: When someone’s phone always has a busy signal or a computer network is down, these are instances of the communication medium being blocked.
•Decoding barrier—the recipient doesn’t understand the message. Example: Perhaps you’re afraid to show your ignorance when someone is throwing computer terms at you and says that your computer connection has “a bandwidth problem.”
•Receiver barrier—no message gets received. Example: Because you were talking to a coworker, you weren’t listening when your supervisor announced today’s work assignments.
•Feedback barrier—the recipient doesn’t respond enough. Example: You give some people street directions, but since they only nod their heads and don’t repeat the directions back to you, you don’t really know whether you were understood.
1. Physical Barriers: Sound, Time, Space, & So On
Try shouting at someone on the far side of a construction site—at a distance of several yards over the roar of earth-moving machinery—and you know what physical barriers are. Other such barriers are time-zone differences, telephone-line static, and crashed computers. Office walls can be physical barriers, too, which is one reason for the trend toward open-floor plans with cubicles instead of offices in many workplace settings.
2. Semantic Barriers: When Words Matter
When a supervisor tells you, “We need to get this done right away,” what does it mean? Does “We” mean just you? You and your coworkers? Or you, your coworkers, and the boss? Does “right away” mean today, tomorrow, or next week? These are examples of semantic barriers. Semantics is the study of the meaning of words.

As global communications have become so important, so have semantic difficulties, which we may often encounter when dealing with other cultures. When talking on the phone with Indians working in call centers in India, for example, we may find their pronunciation unusual. Perhaps that is because, according to one Indian speech-voice consultant, whereas “Americans think in English, we think in our mother tongue and translate it while speaking.”

In addition, as our society becomes more technically oriented, semantic meaning becomes a problem because jargon develops.

Jargon is terminology specific to a particular profession or group. (Example: “The HR VP wants the RFP to go out ASAP.” Translation: “The vice president of human resources wants the request for proposal to go out as soon as possible.”) Another problem is the use of buzzwords, such as “leverage,” “interface,” or “circle back”—annoying words primarily designed to impress rather than inform. (Example: “Could you interface with that team on its ad campaign that’s gone viral, and then circle back with me? If we can leverage similar assets, we’ll have a game changer.”)

As a manager in a specialized field, you need to remember that what are ordinary terms for you may be mysteries to outsiders.

3. Personal Barriers: Individual Attributes That Hinder Communication
“Is it them or is it me?”
How often have you wondered, when someone has shown a surprising response to something you said, how the miscommunication happened? Let’s examine nine personal barriers that contribute to miscommunication.
Variable Skills in Communicating Effectively
As we all know, some people are simply better communicators than others. They have the vocabulary, the writing ability, the speaking skills, the facial expressions, the eye contact, the dramatic ability, the “gift of gab,” the social skills to express themselves in a superior way. Conversely, other people don’t have these qualities. But better communication skills can be learned.
Variations in How Information Is Processed & Interpreted
Zheng Yu, a young woman from China teaching her native language to students in Lawton, Oklahoma, was explaining a vocabulary quiz when a student interrupted: “Sorry, I was zoning out. What are we supposed to be doing?” Zheng repeated the instructions, but she was taken aback. “In China,” she said afterward, “if you teach the students and they don’t get it, that’s their problem. Here if you don’t get it, you teach it again.”

Are you from a working-class or privileged background? Are you from a particular ethnic group? Are you better at math or at language? Are you from a chaotic household filled with alcoholism and fighting, which distracts you at work? Because people use different frames of reference and experiences to interpret the world around them, they are selective about what things have meaning to them and what don’t. All told, these differences affect what we say and what we think we hear.

Variations in Trustworthiness & Credibility
Without trust between you and the other person, communication is apt to be flawed. Instead of communicating, both of you will be concentrating on defensive tactics, not the meaning of the message being exchanged. How will subordinates react to you as a manager if your predecessors in your job lied to them? They may give you the benefit of a doubt, but they may be waiting for the first opportunity to be confirmed in the belief that you will break their trust.
Oversized Egos
Our egos—our pride, our self-esteem, even arrogance—are a fifth barrier. Egos can cause political battles, turf wars, and the passionate pursuit of power, credit, and resources. Egos influence how we treat each other as well as how receptive we are to being influenced by others. Ever had someone take credit for an idea that was yours? Then you know how powerful ego feelings can be.

Big egos are certainly a factor when managers tune out workers’ ideas, a frequent employee complaint—and often they’re right, according to some research. “People in powerful positions, such as managers, tend to dismiss others’ advice when making decisions,” says one summary.

Indeed, people with high levels of power—motivated by feelings of competitiveness—tend to discount advice from experts and novices equally. (Individuals with neutral and low levels of power weigh advice from experts and experienced advisors more heavily than advice from novices.) Researchers found that women were more likely than men to take others’ advice.

Faulty Listening Skills
When you go to a party, do people ever ask questions of you and about who you are and what you’re doing? Or are they too ready to talk about themselves? And do they seem to be waiting for you to finish talking so that they can then resume saying what they want to say? (But here’s a test: Do you actually listen when they’re talking?)
Tendency to Judge Others’ Messages
Suppose another student in this class sees you reading this text and says, “I like the book we’re reading.” You might say, “I agree.” Or you might say, “I disagree—it’s boring.” The point is that we all have a natural tendency, according to psychologist Carl Rogers, to judge others’ statements from our own point of view (especially if we have strong feelings about the issue).
Inability to Listen with Understanding
To really listen with understanding, you have to imagine yourself in the other person’s shoes. Or, as Rogers and his coauthor put it, you have to “see the expressed idea and attitude from the other person’s point of view, to sense how it feels to him, to achieve his frame of reference in regard to the thing he is talking about.” When you listen with understanding, it makes you feel less defensive (even if the message is criticism) and improves your accuracy in perceiving the message.
Stereotypes & Prejudices
We discussed stereotyping in Chapter 11. A stereotype consists of oversimplified beliefs about a certain group of people. There are, for instance, common stereotypes about old people, young people, males, and females. Wouldn’t you hate to be categorized according to just a couple of exaggerated attributes—by your age and gender, for example? (“Young men are reckless.” “Old women are scolds.” Yes, some young men and some old women are this way, but it’s unrealistic and unfair to tar every individual in these groups with the same brush.)
Nonverbal Communications
Do your gestures and facial expressions contradict your words? This is the sort of nonverbal communication of which you may not even be aware. We discuss this subject in more detail next.
Nonverbal Communication: How Unwritten & Unspoken Messages May Mislead
“The best waiters know what type of service you prefer before you tell them,” says one report. It’s called “having eyes” for a table or “feeling” or “reading” the table—noting diners’ nonverbal communication: body language, eye contact, expressions, moods.

Nonverbal communication consists of messages sent outside of the written or spoken word. Says one writer, it includes such factors as “use of time and space, distance between persons when conversing, use of color, dress, walking behavior, standing, positioning, seating arrangement, office locations, and furnishings.”

Perhaps 65% of every conversation is partially interpreted through nonverbal communication, according to some experts. Others estimate nonverbal communication is responsible for as much as 93-95% of a message. Given the prevalence of nonverbal communication and its impact on organizational behavior (such as hiring decisions, perceptions of others, and getting one’s ideas accepted by others), it is important that you become familiar with the various sources of nonverbal communication. Indeed, this is particularly so when you are dealing with people of other cultures around the world, as we saw back in Chapter 4 in our discussion of cultural differences.

Six ways in which nonverbal communication is expressed are through (1) eye contact, (2) facial expressions, (3) body movements and gestures, (4) touch, (5) setting, and (6) time.

1. Eye Contact
Eye contact serves four functions in communication: (1) It signals the beginning and end of a conversation; there is a tendency to look away from others when beginning to speak and to look at them when done. (2) It expresses emotion; for instance, most people tend to avoid eye contact when conveying bad news or negative feedback. (3) Gazing monitors feedback because it reflects interest and attention. (4) Depending on the culture, gazing also expresses the type of relationship between the people communicating.

For instance, Westerners are taught at an early age to look at their parents when spoken to. However, Asians are taught to avoid eye contact with a parent or superior in order to show obedience and subservience.

2. Facial Expressions
Probably you’re accustomed to thinking that smiling represents warmth, happiness, or friendship whereas frowning represents dissatisfaction or anger. But these interpretations of facial expressions don’t apply across all cultures. A smile, for example, doesn’t convey the same emotions in different countries.
3. Body Movements & Gestures
An example of a body movement is leaning forward; an example of a gesture is pointing.

Open body positions, such as leaning backward, express openness, warmth, closeness, and availability for communication. Closed body positions, such as folding one’s arms or crossing one’s legs, represent defensiveness. Body movements can be extremely subtle; for instance, when we say, “I’m looking forward to … ,” guess which direction we tend to lean (if only very slightly)?

Some body movements and gestures are associated more with one sex than the other, according to communication researcher Judith Hall. For instance, women nod their heads and move their hands more than men do. Men exhibit large body shifts and foot and leg movements more than women do.

We need to point out, however, that interpretations of body language are subjective, hence easily misinterpreted, and highly dependent on the context and cross-cultural differences. You’ll need to be careful when trying to interpret body movements, especially when you’re operating in a different culture.

4. Touch
Norms for touching vary significantly around the world. For example, as we noted in Chapter 4, in the Middle East it is normal for two males who are friends to walk together holding hands—not commonplace behavior in the United States. In Latin America, there may be effusive hugging and kissing during a business deal.

Men and women interpret touching differently, with women tending to do more touching during conversations than men do. If women touch men, it is viewed as sexual; the same interpretation is made when men touch other men. Yet even handshakes and embracing seem to be changing, with the male handshake now evolving into a range of more intimate gestures—”the one-armed hug, the manly shoulder bump, the A-frame clasp with handshake in the middle, the mutual back-slap,” as one article puts it. Good teams tend to use touch more than bad teams do, according to some research.

5. Setting
How do you feel when you visit someone who sits behind a big desk and is backlit by a window so her face is obscured? What does it say when someone comes out from behind his desk and invites you to sit with him on his office couch? The location of an office (such as corner office with window versus interior office with no window), its size, and the choice of furniture often expresses the accessibility of the person in it.
6. Time
When your boss keeps you waiting 45 minutes for an appointment with him, how do you feel? When she simply grunts or makes one-syllable responses to your comments, what does this say about her interest in your concerns? As a manager yourself, you should always give the people who work for you adequate time. You should also talk with them frequently during your meetings with them so they will understand your interest.

The table below gives some suggestions for better nonverbal communication skills.

Communication Differences Between Men & Women
Do men dominate the top rungs of business in part because they exaggerate more? Men are said to be “overconfident” when recalling their past accomplishments—and are able to convince their peers to make them leaders—whereas women recall their accomplishments more accurately, putting them at a competitive disadvantage. At least that’s what one study suggests.

Men are also eight times as likely as women to bargain over starting pay. Indeed, says one account, “Women often are less adroit at winning better salaries, assignments, and jobs—either because they don’t ask or because they cave in when they do.” In other words, women need to hone their negotiation skills, or else they will fall behind.

Some possible general differences in communication between genders are summarized below. Note, however, that these don’t apply in all cases, which would constitute stereotyping.

How useful do you think these specific styles are in a managerial context?
Author Judith Tingley suggests that women and men should learn to “genderflex”—temporarily use communication behaviors typical of the other gender to increase the potential for influence. For example, a female manager might use sports analogies to motivate a group of males.

Linguistic Style
Deborah Tannen, by contrast, recommends that everyone become aware of how differing linguistic styles affect our perceptions and judgments. A linguistic style is a person’s characteristic speaking patterns—pacing, pausing, directness, word choice, and use of questions, jokes, stories, apologies, and similar devices. For example, in a meeting, regardless of gender, “those who are comfortable speaking up in groups, who need little or no silence before raising their hands, or who speak out easily without waiting to be recognized are more apt to be heard,” she says. “Those who refrain from talking until it’s clear that the previous speaker is finished, who wait to be recognized, and who are inclined to link their comments to those of others will do fine at a meeting where everyone else is following the same rules but will have a hard time getting heard in a meeting with people whose styles are more like the first pattern.”
Learning “Soft Skills”
Today there are executive-training programs designed to teach men the value of emotion in relationships—the use of “soft skills” to communicate, build teams, and develop flexibility. “The nature of modern business requires what’s more typical to the female mold of building consensus as opposed to the top-down male military model,” says Millington F. McCoy, managing director of a New York executive search firm

Interestingly, although men hold most of the top corporate jobs, when they want the advice of an executive coach—a trained listener to help them with their goals and personal problems—they usually turn to a woman. And, in fact, females always want another female as a coach. As a result, 7 out of 10 graduates of Coach U, the largest training school for executive coaches, are women. Because good coaches, says Coach U’s CEO Sandy Vilas (who is male), are intuitive communicators and have done a lot of personal development work, “that profile tends to fit women better.” Says Susan Bloch, who heads an executive coaching practice, “When a man is asked to coach another, they have a tendency to compete. Man to man, they have to show each other how great they are.”

Formal Communication Channels: Up, Down, Sideways, & Outward
Formal communication channels follow the chain of command and are recognized as official. The organizational chart we described indicates how official communications—memos, letters, reports, announcements—are supposed to be routed.

Formal communication is of three types: (1) vertical—meaning upward and downward, (2) horizontal—meaning laterally (sideways), and (3) external—meaning outside the organization.

1. Vertical Communication: Up & Down the Chain of Command
Vertical communication is the flow of messages up and down the hierarchy within the organization: bosses communicating with subordinates, subordinates communicating with bosses. As you might expect, the more management levels through which a message passes, the more it is prone to some distortion.
Downward Communication
Downward communication—from top to bottom. Downward communication flows from a higher level to a lower level (or levels). In small organizations, top-down communication may be delivered face-to-face. In larger organizations, it’s delivered via meetings, e-mail, official memos, and company publications.
Upward Communication
Upward communication—from bottom to top. Upward communication flows from a lower level to a higher level(s). Often this type of communication is from a subordinate to his or her immediate manager, who in turn will relay it up to the next level, if necessary. Effective upward communication depends on an atmosphere of trust. No subordinate is going to want to be the bearer of bad news to a manager who is always negative and bad-tempered.
Downward Communication:
Most downward communication involves one of the following kinds of information:
•Instructions related to particular job tasks. Example (supervisor to subordinate): “The store will close Monday for inventory. All employees are expected to participate.”
•Explanations about the relationship between two or more tasks. Example: “While taking inventory, employees need to see what things are missing. Most of that might be attributable to shoplifting.”
•Explanations of the organization’s procedures and practices. Example: “Start counting things on the high shelves and work your way down.”
•A manager’s feedback about a subordinate’s performance. Example: “It’s best not to try to count too fast.”
•Attempts to encourage a sense of mission and dedication to the organization’s goals. Example: “By keeping tabs on our inventory, we can keep our prices down and maintain our reputation of giving good value.”

Upward Communication:
Most upward communication involves the following kinds of information:
•Reports of progress on current projects. Example: “We shut down the store yesterday to take inventory.”
•Reports of unsolved problems requiring help from people higher up. Example: “We can’t make our merchandise count jibe with the stock reports.”
•New developments affecting the work unit. Example: “Getting help from the other stores really speeded things up this year.”
•Suggestions for improvements. Example: “The stores should loan each other staff every time they take inventory.”
•Reports on employee attitudes and efficiency. Example: “The staff likes it when they go to another store and sometimes they pick up some new ways of doing things.”

2. Horizontal Communication: Within & Between Work Units
Horizontal communication flows within and between work units; its main purpose is coordination. As a manager, you will spend perhaps as much as a third of your time in this form of communication—consulting with colleagues and coworkers at the same level as you within the organization. In this kind of sideways communication, you will be sharing information, coordinating tasks, solving problems, resolving conflicts, and getting the support of your peers. Horizontal communication is encouraged through the use of committees, task forces, and matrix structures.

Horizontal communication can be impeded in three ways: (1) by specialization that makes people focus just on their jobs alone; (2) by rivalry between workers or work units, which prevents sharing of information; and (3) by lack of encouragement from management.

3. External Communication: Outside the Organization
External communication flows between people inside and outside the organization. These are other stakeholders: customers, suppliers, shareholders or other owners, and so on. Companies have given this kind of communication heightened importance, especially with customers or clients, who are the lifeblood of any company.
Informal Communication Channels
Informal communication channels develop outside the formal structure and do not follow the chain of command—they skip management levels and cut across lines of authority.

Two types of informal channels are (1) the grapevine and (2) management by wandering around.

The Grapevine
The grapevine is the unofficial communication system of the informal organization, a network of gossip and rumor of what is called “employee language.” Research shows that the grapevine (1) is faster than formal channels, (2) is about 75% accurate, and (3) is used by employees when they are insecure, threatened, or faced with organizational change.

Of course, employee language—otherwise known as “gossip”—can be notoriously misleading and a great reducer of morale in a dysfunctional company.

Management by Wandering Around
Management by wandering around (MBWA)—also known as management by walking around—is the term used to describe a manager’s literally wandering around his or her organization and talking with people across all lines of authority.

Management by wandering around helps to reduce the problems of distortion that inevitably occur with formal communication flowing up a hierarchy. MBWA allows managers to listen to employees and learn about their problems as well as to express to employees what values and goals are important.

The use of computers and information technology, which has so dramatically affected many aspects of the workplace, has taken us beyond communicating into multicommunicating.

Multicommunicating represents “the use of technology to participate in several interactions at the same time,” in one explanation. Examples would be answering e-mail messages during a lecture, and texting during a dinner conversation or while participating in a group conference call.

Although multicommunicating sometimes enables us to get more things done in a shorter amount of time, there are times and places when it also can create miscommunication and lead to stress and hurt feelings. For example, texting and checking your-email while working with colleagues can be seen as not only annoying but insulting.

Digital Communication Technology & Workplace Behavior
Multicommunicating is an example of how the worldwide digital communication revolution affects how we act and interact in workplace settings—both positively and negatively.

The universal digital language of 1s and 0s gives us immediate access to unprecedented amounts of information and globe-spanning opportunities.

However, the very act of using technologies such as e-mail, texting, Facebook, and Twitter may influence the content of our communications. For example, researchers found that peers rate each other differently depending on the medium they use, with people being “far more likely to trash their colleagues via e-mail than when filling out a paper form,” according to a Fortune writer. Moreover, faster, far-flung digital communication doesn’t necessarily mean better communication. In one organization, for example, employees with the most extensive personal digital networks were found to be 7% more productive than their colleagues, but those with the most cohesive face-to-face networks were even more productive—30% more, in fact. Research on high-performing teams similarly found that effective teams had more face-to-face than digital encounters.

The “Always On” Generation
With the rise of the Internet has also come the rise of the “Always On” generation—or the Net Generation, Gen Y, the Millennials—88 million people born 1977-1997, the largest such cohort in U.S. history. The Always On generation is accustomed to spending 8 hours a day or more looking at various screens—on cellphones, on computers, on TVs—constantly busy with text messaging, e-mail, and the Internet.66 This generation is much more likely (83%) to sleep with their cellphone next to their bed compared with Gen X (born 1965-1980) at 68% and Baby Boomers (born 1945-1964) at 50%.

Hard on the heels of the Millennials is today’s young “iGeneration,” for whom technology is “simply a part of their DNA,” as one child psychologist observed.68 Indeed, if you are an 18- to 24-year-old, you generally watch the smallest amount of live TV (3½ hours a day) compared with any other age group, but you spend the most time text messaging (19 minutes a day) and watch the most online video (5½ minutes a day).69 The average teenager now sends a median of 60 texts a day (up from 50 in 2009).

In a few years, Millennials (Net Gen, Gen Y) will account for nearly half the employees in the world, and in some companies they already constitute a majority. Their outlook, therefore, is having a profound impact on the workplace, “bringing new approaches to collaboration, knowledge sharing, and innovation in businesses and governments,” says University of Toronto professor Don Tapscott, author of Grown Up Digital. Tapscott and his fellow researchers have identified eight norms for this generation.

What kind of attitudes, preferences, and expectations do Millennials have that employers have to take into account in managing them? Millennials exhibit a thirst for instant gratification and quick fixes and problems with focus and diminished attention spans, says one study. They also “place a strong emphasis on finding work that’s personally fulfilling,” says one article. “They want work to afford them the opportunity to make new friends, learn new skills, and connect to a larger purpose.” At least as important as compensation are six types of rewards, expressed in order as high-quality colleagues, flexible work arrangements, prospects for advancement, recognition from one’s company or boss, a steady rate of advancement and promotion, and access to new experiences and challenges. To deal with this cohort of employees, IBM advises managers giving feedback to be clear, keep it loose, promote a dialogue, and keep notes to make feedback sessions more constructive.

1.Freedom—the desire to experience new and different things. This norm, which takes precedence over long-term commitments, is expressed in a desire for flexible work hours and locations, to have a say in how things are done, and for freedom of choice.
2.Customization—the desire to have personalized products and choices. Customization covers everything from ring tone choices to Facebook layouts to lifestyle choices.
3.Scrutiny—not taking “facts” and authority figures at face value. Knowing that there is both treasure and trash on the Internet, this generation has learned to be skeptical, to check things out, to ask probing questions. Candor and straight talk are favored.
4.Integrity—trust in people, products, and employers is important. This generation cares about honesty, transparency, and keeping commitments—although they are elastic when it comes to pirating music and plagiarism.
5.Collaboration—relationships are of key importance. Members of this generation value volunteering, know how to work and play with others, and are eager to offer opinions and suggestions.
6.Entertainment—keep things moving and interesting. A job should be both challenging and fun, not a life sentence. For this multitasking generation, the Internet is not only a productivity tool and information source but also a personal communication device and “fun tool of choice.”
7.Speed—instant feedback is expected. Used to instant-feedback video games and nanosecond answers from Google, Millennials prefer rapid-fire texting, instant messaging, and Tweeting to the slower e-mail. This leads them to urge faster decision making and feedback on job performance.
8.Innovation—impatience for new and different user experiences. In the workplace, the traditional hierarchy is rejected in favor of work processes that encourage collaboration and creativity.
Digital Communication & the New Workplace: Videoconferencing, Telecommuting, & Teleworking
Digital communication has significantly altered the traditional linkages between work, place, and time. Let’s consider videoconferencing, telecommuting, and telework.
Fueled by recession-induced cutbacks in travel budgets, many corporations turned to videoconferencing, also known as teleconferencing, using video and audio links along with computers to allow people in different locations to see, hear, and talk with one another.

Videoconferencing does not beat face-to-face meetings for opening a relationship with a prospective client or closing a decision. Indeed, one study found that when a company reduces its travel budget for personal meetings, it loses both revenue and profits. In fact, if a company completely eliminated business travel, corporate profits could drop 17% in the first year, the study found, and it would take more than 3 years for profits to reach the same level as before. Still, meetings via videoconferencing certainly are better than no meetings at all.

Telepresence Technology
Many organizations set up special videoconferencing rooms or booths with specially equipped television cameras. Some of the more sophisticated equipment is known as telepresence technology, high-definition videoconference systems that simulate face-to-face meetings between users. Whereas traditional videoconferencing systems can be set up in a conventional conference room, telepresence systems require a specially designed room with multiple cameras and high-definition video screens, simulating “the sensation of two groups of people at identical tables facing each other through windows,” according to one report.

Clearly, telepresence technology can be quite expensive. Other equipment enables people to attach small cameras and microphones to their desks or computer monitors. This enables employees to conduct long-distance meetings and training classes without leaving their office or cubicle.

Telecommuting involves doing work that is generally performed in the office away from the office, using a variety of information technologies. Employees typically receive and send work from home via phone and fax or by using a modem to link a home computer to an office computer.

Among the benefits are (1) reduction of capital costs, because employees work at home; (2) increased flexibility and autonomy for workers; (3) competitive edge in recruiting hard-to-get employees; (4) increased job satisfaction and lower turnover; (5) increased productivity; and (6) ability to tap nontraditional labor pools (such as prison inmates and homebound disabled people).

About 24% of rural businesses and 35% of nonrural businesses in the United States currently allow employees to telecommute or telework. Telecommuting is more common for jobs that involve computer work, writing, and phone or brain work that requires concentration and limited interruptions. Although telecommuting represents an attempt to accommodate employee needs and desires, it requires adjustments and is not for everybody.

People who enjoy the social camaraderie of the office setting, for instance, probably won’t like it. Others lack the self-motivation needed to work at home. However, people like Sylvia Marino of Mill Valley, California, who for many years has been telecommuting 350 miles away with Santa Monica-based, which provides information to car buyers, find it a great way to sustain a career and still be with their children.

Recently, the term telework (or virtual office) has been adopted to replace the term “telecommuting” because it encompasses not just working from home but working from anywhere: “a client’s office, a coffee shop, an airport lounge, a commuter train,” in one description. “With cellphones, broadband at home, Wi-Fi, virtual private networks, and instant messaging becoming ubiquitous, telework has become easier than ever.”

Some of those who lack a conventional office may sign up for shared, or “coworking,” spaces, where they socialize around a coffeepot. Whatever the arrangement, employees in different locations and time zones can work simultaneously (called synchronous communication) and team members can work on the same project at different times (asynchronous communication).

The Downside of the Digital Age
It’s fair to say that the digital age has introduced almost as many difficulties as efficiencies into people’s lives. Describing them all would fill a book in itself, but here let us concentrate on just a few that managers have to struggle with. Some difficulties are those we mentioned earlier, such as the lack of focus brought on by the constant distraction of available electronic gadgets. Other problems are with security, privacy, e-mail overkill, and cellphone abuse.
Security: Guarding Against Cyberthreats
Security is defined as a system of safeguards for protecting information technology against disasters, system failures, and unauthorized access that result in damage or loss. Security is a continuing challenge, with computer and cellphone users constantly having to deal with threats ranging from malicious software (malware) that tries to trick people into yielding passwords, Social Security numbers, and financial information to deviant programs (viruses) that can destroy or corrupt data. According to the Norton Cyber Crime Report for 2011, 431 million adults worldwide were victims of cyber crime the preceding year, with the total cost of those crimes amounting to $114 billion.

The key to protecting digital communication systems against fraud, hackers, identity theft, and other threats is prevention. The table below presents some ways to protect yourself.

Privacy: Keeping Things to Yourself
Privacy is the right of people not to reveal information about themselves. Threats to privacy can range from name migration, as when a company sells its customer list to another company, to online snooping, to government prying and spying. A particularly aggravating violation of privacy is identity theft, in which thieves hijack your name and identity and use your good credit rating to get cash or buy things.

In some cases, Internet users are their own worst enemies, posting compromising information about themselves on social networking sites that may be available to, say, potential employers. Supposedly such websites have various options whereby users can choose who is and is not allowed access to their personal information, but Facebook, for one, came in for a good deal of criticism because it altered its privacy controls in such a way as to expose many of its members’ personal information online.

Interestingly, however, 18- to 29-year-olds have been found to be more likely than older users of social networks to keep a keen eye on their online profiles and who can access them—just the opposite of what many people expected.

E-Mail: Productivity Enhancer or Time Waster?
People tend to have a love-hate relationship with e-mail. We love that we can send and receive e-mail 24/7 from practically anywhere. But we hate the fact that the average worker receives 200 e-mails a day, according to some research. (But most people say they can’t keep up with more than 50.) Some other disadvantages of e-mail are that (1) there has been a decrease in all other forms of communication among coworkers—including greetings and informal conversations; (2) emotions often are poorly communicated or miscommunicated via e-mail messages; and (3) the greater the use of e-mail, the less connected coworkers reportedly feel.
Smartphones: Use & Abuse
Cellphones are now mostly smartphones that can text, access e-mail and web pages, view TV programs, and so on. They are so widespread that the majority of respondents in one survey said they would sooner give up their landline phones, TVs, the Internet, and e-mail than surrender their mobile phones. And as smartphones develop more features and make available more applications (“apps”), their importance will only increase.

Smartphone problems range from merely annoying (loud ring tones and loud conversations in public places) to unethical and illegal (sending pornographic photos and photographing restricted areas of materials) to deadly (distracting drivers from the road). One survey found that 78% of those interviewed said that people are less polite, courteous, and respectful in smartphone manners than they were 5 years earlier. Phone use by car drivers makes even young people drive erratically, moving and reacting more slowly and increasing their risk of accidents.

Social Media: Pros & Cons
Social media are Internet-based and mobile technologies used to generate interactive dialogue with members of a network. Two-thirds of online adults in the United States use social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, or LinkedIn—mainly, they say, to stay in touch with current friends (67%) and family members (62%) and to connect with old friends with whom they’ve lost touch (50%). Social media also is being used in business.
Some Business Benefits of Social Media
The essence of these technologies is connectivity, and social media enable businesses to connect in real time and over distances with many customers, suppliers, employees, potential talent, and other key stakeholders. We’ve seen such connectivity demonstrated in virtual teams and other attempts to redefine conventional organizational boundaries. Social media have also become contributors to what is known as crowdsourcing, the practice of obtaining needed services, ideas, or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people and especially from the online community, such as Facebook and Twitter users.
The Downside of Social Media
We already alluded to problems of privacy and security associated with information technology in general, and these certainly apply to social media. Some other drawbacks:

Distraction. “How have e-mail, social media, and other tools designed to organize information morphed into their own kind of relentless taskmasters?” asks one business journalist. Productivity guru David Allen, however, argues that technology isn’t the problem; it’s just that people let themselves be distracted because they’re not clear about their own goals.

Leaving wrong impression. Ill-advised tweets can lead to unpleasant consequences, as happened to musician Courtney Love, who was sued for defamation as a result of making derogatory statements about a designer in her Twitter feed. Twitter users need to think twice before spontaneously making an announcement or spontaneously responding.

Replacing real conversation. “Human relationships are rich; they’re messy and demanding,” says psychologist Sherry Turkle. “We have learned the habit of cleaning them up with technology.” But the little “sips” of online connection do not substitute for face-to-face conversation. “We think constant connection will make us feel less lonely,” she says. “The opposite is true.”

•Brand the product or organizational profile, but go light on sales messages. Follow the service standards of your organization.
•Use language relevant to your particular audience members and communicate with, not at, them. Show appreciation for them.
•Remember all wall posts are public. Don’t write anything not intended for public consumption.
•All updates should be relevant.
•Take customer-sensitive issues off Facebook, into a private sphere, online or offline.
•Ask questions on the wall posts, but follow up and respond to any feedback received.
Being an Effective Listener
Is listening something you’re good at? Then you’re the exception. Generally, people comprehend only about 35% of a typical verbal message, experts say. Two-thirds of all employees feel management isn’t listening to them. Interestingly, the average speaker communicates 125 words per minute, while we can process 500 words per minute.

Poor listeners use this information-processing gap to daydream. They think about other things, thus missing the important parts of what’s being communicated. Good listeners know how to use these gaps effectively, mentally summarizing the speaker’s remarks, weighing the evidence, and listening between the lines. Listening skills, incidentally, are particularly important when you’re communicating in the global culture.

Active Listening
Actively listening, truly listening, involves more than hearing, which is merely the physical component. Active listening is the process of actively decoding and interpreting verbal messages. Active listening requires full attention and processing of information, which hearing does not.
What’s Your Listening Style—or Styles?
To begin to improve your active listening skills, you should first try to determine your two or three dominant listening styles, of the following five styles:

Appreciative style—listening to be amused. An appreciative listener tends to listen for pleasure, doing easy listening and tending to tune out when there’s no amusement or humor in what he or she is listening to.
Empathic style—tuning into the speaker’s emotions. An empathic listener focuses on the speaker’s feelings, concentrating on what he or she sees as well as says and reading people’s body language and reactions.

Comprehensive style—focusing on the speaker’s logic. A comprehensive listener tries to determine the rationale of the speaker’s argument, preferring logical presentations without interruptions, focusing on relationships among ideas, relating messages to his or her own experiences, waiting until all the information is available before expressing opinions.

Discerning style—focusing on the main message. A discerning listener tries to determine the speaker’s main message and important points, often taking copious notes and concentrating hard on what the speaker says. Discerning listeners are good listeners and like information that flows evenly.

Evaluative style—challenging the speaker. An evaluative listener listens analytically, all the while formulating challenges to the speaker’s points, asking lots of questions (perhaps to the point of being interruptive), and sometimes tuning out the speaker and missing data. If evaluative listeners receive too much illogical information, they often leave.

Concentrate on the Content of the Message
Effective listening is a learned skill, but it takes energy and desire to develop it. Basically, however, it comes down to pay attention to the content of the message. Following are some suggestions for increasing your listening skills, which you can practice in your college lectures and seminars.
1.Don’t rush to respond. Don’t think about what you’re going to say until the other person has finished talking.
2.Judge content, not delivery. Don’t tune out someone because of his or her accent, clothing, mannerisms, personality, or speaking style.
3.Ask questions, summarize remarks. Good listening is hard work. Ask questions to make sure you understand. Recap what the speaker said.
4.Listen for ideas. Don’t get diverted by the details; try to concentrate on the main ideas.
5.Resist distractions, show interest. Don’t get distracted by things other people are doing, paperwork on your desk, things happening outside the window, television or radio, and the like. Show the speaker you’re listening, periodically restating in your own words what you’ve heard.
6.Give a fair hearing. Don’t shut out unfavorable information just because you hear a term—”Republican,” “Democrat,” “union,” “big business,” “affirmative action,” “corporate welfare”—that suggests ideas you’re not comfortable with. Try to correct for your biases.
Being an Effective Reader
Reading shares many of the same skills as listening. You need to concentrate on the content of the message, judge the content and not the delivery, and concentrate on the main ideas. But because managers usually have to do so much reading, you also need to learn to apply some other strategies.
Realize That Speed Reading Doesn’t Work
Perhaps you’ve thought that somewhere along the line you could take a course on speed reading. By and large, however, speed reading isn’t effective. Psychologists have found that speed reading or skimming may work well with easy or familiar reading material, but it can lead to problems with dense or unfamiliar material. For instance, in one study, when questioned about their reading of difficult material, average readers got half the questions right, while speed readers got only one in three.
Learn to Streamline Reading
Management consultant and UCLA professor Kathryn Alesandrini offers a number of suggestions for how managers can streamline their reading.

Be savvy about periodicals and books. As a manager, you should review your magazine and newspaper subscriptions and eliminate as many as possible. You can subscribe to just a few industry publications, scan and mark interesting material, later read what’s marked, and pitch the rest. Read summaries and reviews that condense business books and articles.

Transfer your reading load. With some material you can ask some of your employees to screen or scan it first, then post an action note on each item that needs additional reading by you. You can also ask your staff to read important books and summarize them in four or five pages.

Make internal memos and e-mail more efficient. Ask others to tell you up front in their e-mails, memos, and reports what they want you to do. Instruct them to include a one-page executive summary of a long report. When you communicate with them, give them specific questions you want answered.

Do Top-Down Reading—SQ3R
“The key to better reading is to be a productive rather than a passive reader,” writes Alesandrini. “You’ll get more out of what you read if you literally produce meaningful connections between what you already know and what you’re reading.”

This leads to what she calls a “top-down” strategy for reading, a variant on the SQ3R (Survey, Question, Read, Recite, Review) method we discussed in the box at the end of Chapter 1. The top-down system is shown below.

Being an Effective Writer
Writing is an essential management skill, all the more so because e-mail and texting have replaced the telephone in so much of business communication. In addition, downsizing has eliminated the administrative assistants who used to edit and correct business correspondence, so even upper-level executives often do their own correspondence now.

A lot of students, however, don’t get enough practice in writing, which puts them at a career disadvantage. Most will have to be able to write standout job-seeking cover letters to accompany their résumés and later to write winning business proposals.

Taking a business writing class can be a real advantage. (Indeed, as a manager, you may have to identify employees who need writing training.)
Following are some tips for writing more effectively. These apply particularly to memos and reports but are also applicable to e-mail messages.

Don’t Show Your Ignorance
E-mail correspondence and texting have made people more relaxed about spelling and grammar rules. Although this is fine among friends, as a manager you’ll need to create a more favorable impression in your writing. Besides using the spelling checkers and grammar checkers built in to your word processing program, you should reread, indeed proofread, your writing before sending it on.

Some other tips are shown at left.

Understand Your Strategy Before You Write
Following are three strategies for laying out your ideas in writing.

Most important to least important. This is a good strategy when the action you want your reader to take is logical and not highly political.

Least controversial to most controversial. This builds support gradually and is best used when the decision is controversial or your reader is attached to a particular solution other than the one you’re proposing.

Negative to positive. This strategy establishes a common ground with your reader and puts the positive argument last, which makes it stronger.

Start with Your Purpose
Often people organize their messages backward, putting their real purpose last, points out Alesandrini. You should start your writing by telling your purpose and what you expect of the reader.
Write Simply, Concisely, & Directly
Keep your words simple and use short words, sentences, and phrases. Be direct instead of vague, and use the active voice rather than the passive. (Directness, active voice: “Please call a meeting for Wednesday.” Vagueness, passive voice: “It is suggested that a meeting be called for Wednesday.”)
Telegraph Your Writing with a Powerful Layout
Make your writing as easy to read as possible, using the tools of highlighting and white space.

Highlighting consists of using boldface and italics to emphasize key concepts and introduce new concepts, and bullets—small circles or squares like the ones in the list you’re reading—to emphasize list items. (Don’t overuse any of these devices, or they’ll lose their effect. And particularly don’t use ALL CAPITAL LETTERS for emphasis, except rarely.)

White space.
White space, which consists of wide margins and a break between paragraphs, produces a page that is clean and attractive.

Being an Effective Speaker
Speaking or talking covers a range of activities, from one-on-one conversations, to participating in meetings, to giving formal presentations. In terms of personal oral communication, most of the best advice comes under the heading of listening, since effective listening will dictate the appropriate talking you need to do.

However, the ability to talk to a room full of people—to make an oral presentation—is one of the greatest skills you can have. A study conducted by AT&T and Stanford University found that the top predictor of success and professional upward mobility is how much you enjoy public speaking and how effective you are at it.

The biggest problem most people have with public speaking is controlling their nerves, since 46% of adults say the activity they dread most—exceeding housecleaning, 43%, and visiting the dentist, 41%—is public speaking (called glossophobia). Author and lecturer Gael Lindenfield suggests that you can prepare your nerves by practicing your speech until it’s near perfect, visualizing yourself performing with brilliance, getting reassurance from a friend, and getting to the speaking site early and releasing physical tension by doing deep breathing.
(And staying away from alcohol and caffeine pick-me-ups before your speech.) Some people find they do better if they stay away from their notes and just speak from the heart.

As for the content of the speech, some brief and valuable advice is offered by speechwriter Phil Theibert, who says a speech comprises just three simple rules: (1) Tell them what you’re going to say. (2) Say it. (3) Tell them what you said.

1. Tell Them What You’re Going to Say
The introduction should take 5-15% of your speaking time, and it should prepare the audience for the rest of the speech. Avoid jokes and such tired phrases as “I’m honored to be with you here today …” Because everything in your speech should be relevant, try to go right to the point. For example:
“Good afternoon. The subject of identity theft may seem far removed from the concerns of most employees. But I intend to describe how our supposedly private credit, health, employment, and other records are vulnerable to theft by so-called identity thieves and how you can protect yourself.”
2. Say It
The main body of the speech takes up 75-90% of your time. The most important thing to realize is that your audience won’t remember more than a few points anyway. Thus, you need to decide which three or four points must be remembered. Then cover them as succinctly as possible.
Be particularly attentive to transitions during the main body of the speech. Listening differs from reading in that the listener has only one chance to get your meaning. Thus, be sure you constantly provide your listeners with guidelines and transitional phrases so they can see where you’re going. Example:
“There are five ways the security of your supposedly private files can be compromised. The first way is … “
3. Tell Them What You Said
The end might take 5-10% of your time.

Many professional speakers consider the conclusion to be as important as the introduction, so don’t drop the ball here. You need a solid, strong, persuasive wrap-up.
Use some sort of signal phrase that cues your listeners that you are heading into your wind-up. Examples:
“Let’s review the main points …”
“In conclusion, what CAN you do to protect against unauthorized invasion of your private files? I point out five main steps. One …”

Give some thought to the last thing you will say. It should be strongly upbeat, a call to action, a thought for the day, a little story, a quotation. Examples:
“I want to leave you with one last thought …”
“Finally, let me close by sharing something that happened to me … ”
“As Albert Einstein said, ‘Imagination is more important than knowledge.'”
Then say “Thank you” and stop talking.