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Effects of Supervisor-Subordinate Communication

Effects of Supervisor-Subordinate Communication and its Relationship to Job Performance Albert McCrutcheon BUS 600 Management Communication with Technology Tools Lydia M. MacKenzie May 9, 2011 Effects of Supervisor-Subordinate Communication and its Relationship to Job Performance Having a workplace that is stress free and blissful or chaotic and miserable is ultimately determined by how effective supervisors communicate with their subordinates. Human communication is intricate, delicate, difficult and above all complex, and its success depends on the mindset or attitudinal set between both sender and receiver (O’Rourke, 2010).

To communicate well with subordinates comes down to an interaction between what supervisors think they said and what subordinates heard them say, which shapes the relationship between the two parties and ultimately depicts the effects of communication, whether negative or positive, in the workplace and its relationship to job performance. Even though supervisors may not please and keep subordinates happy all of the time and vice versa, effective communication can play a major part in the overall effect on negative and positive job performance and satisfaction in the workplace.

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Communication Types There are four main different types of human communication, but before we can understand the effects of communication on the workplace, we must have a basic understanding of the different types of communication which are verbal, non-verbal, formal and informal. Verbal communication is the most common form of communication where communicating involves using words and in some cases written characters (O’Rourke, 2010). The main segment of verbal communication is interpersonal communication which involves speaking directly to another person or a group of people (O’Rourke, 2010).

Since everyone interprets words and meanings differently, this form of communicating is quite complex. Non-verbal communication is the type of communication that involves all of the information we convey to others whether, consciously or subconsciously, without actually using any words. This form of communication is broken down into three basic categories, sign language, action language and object languages (O’Rourke, 2010). These three categories involve items such as gestures, body movement and objects ranging from clothing to artwork (O’Rourke, 2010).

Formal communication involves speaking to large and small groups to obtain some type of result or objective by utilizing suggestive persuasive techniques to sway receivers (O’Rourke, 2010). Informal communication, which is highly associated with interpersonal communication, is still bound by all the social norms of communicating but is mostly related to speaking off the cuff in a more heartfelt manner to achieve objectives (O’Rourke, 2010).

These different types of communication, though very different in their own right, play a major part in how we truly appreciate what people are trying to convey and helps to signify whether their words have any real value to the matter at hand. Negative effects of communication. Now since a basic understanding of the different types of communication supervisors use to interact with their subordinates has been detailed, we can move on to creatively look at solving or shall we say determining whether these types of communication play a role in the effects of job performance and satisfaction of subordinates in the workplace.

As we dig into this topic, we must understand the supervisor’s role in the workplace is to interact with a substantial number of people and shape how those people see, think and perform in correlation to the objectives of the business or organization. In order to achieve any of these tasks, a supervisor must understand fully that how they are viewed and respected by subordinates determine the outcome they will face. How a supervisor influences communication in their environment dictates behaviors, perceptions, interpersonal attractions and relationships (Lee, 1998). Supervisors who fail to excel at communicating effectively experience work hat does not flow in an orderly fashion, misunderstandings that could lead to delays, loss productivity, hostile work environments and high turnover rates (Lee, 1998). In a study conducted involving supervisor-subordinate conflicts, found that technical and administrative issues of disagreements between employees and their supervisors resulted from personality clashes or barriers to interpersonal communication (Evans, 1965). This study also showed that poor communication from supervisors caused effects on health and well-being, workplace burnout, psychosomatic complaints, impeded group performance and hindered job satisfaction (Evans, 1965).

More often than none, it seems that managers do not realize the importance of communication in the workplace and thus do not convey their ideas, organizational goals, employee duties, etc. very clearly, therefore resulting in detrimental consequences for businesses (Dogra, 2010). Positive effects of communication. Moving on to the flipside of poor communication and the negative effects it brings to the workplace and job performance, lets look at when a supervisor communicates effectively with subordinates.

Angela Glatfelter (2000) completed a study that proved a positive relationship between the two dimensions of interpersonal communication competence (appropriateness and effectiveness) and interaction involvement from supervisors proved to be predicators of job satisfaction and performance displayed by subordinates. When supervisors communicate effectively with subordinates, it creates an environment of free flowing easy correspondence between both parties which leads to job satisfaction, lesser workplace conflicts, and increases in productivity, secure work future and formation of relationships (Dogra, 2010).

If these components are in place, subordinates will feel empowered to perform their job duties and if unsure of them, will be responsible enough to seek direction from their supervisors. This will lead to subordinates working together with other subordinates as a team to achieve company objectives because they will be able to respond to one another objectively as a result of the positive environment they are in. By working together as a team will in turn evolve into an increase in productivity which will foster job security in the long run for both them and the company they work for.

The importance of effective communication can be summed up in two words, “job satisfaction”. If subordinates are happy working in their organization, supervisors will be happy which will ultimately lead to the security of the business. Measurement techniques. It is very easy to say communicate effectively and then believe all will be well in your business or organization. If it was that simple, every company in the world would be thriving with no issues. To accomplish such a feat, how well supervisors and subordinates communicate must be measured and any opportunities or inconsistencies must be addressed and fixed immediately.

Since supervisors are the gate keepers of their workplaces and the pressure for them to communicate well and frequently in their organization, the use of surveys to measure their current effectiveness can be very helpful (Sinickas, 2006, 2007). Surveys of manager’s communication competence can be even more useful when subordinates complete surveys regarding their own supervisor’s name to ensure the results are specific to an individuals training needs (Sinickas, 2006, 2007). To measure supervisory communication, one of two key measurement decisions must be addressed to give a conclusive measurement of effectiveness, absolute or relative.

An absolute measurement lets you know how good or bad the skill set is and a relative measurement ranks the order of the skills (Sinickas, 2006, 2007). Taking the findings of the measurement tools will help tailor the communication needs of supervisors to help build the effectiveness needed to get subordinates to perform with positive vigor. Another great measurement technique for the workplace is to implement the Negotiated Performance Appraisal (NPA) model which is designed to enhance supervisor-subordinate dialogue (Billikopf, 2010).

The NPA model was first applied in Uganda in 1996 and was originated due to supervisors feeling hesitant to share their true feelings, both positive and negative, with subordinates and subordinates in turn feeling unduly judged by their supervisors (Billikopf, 2010). The NPA model consists of the supervisor and subordinate completing several lists mostly focused on the subordinate’s performance. The lists are (1) what the subordinate does well, (2) areas the subordinate has improved in, and (3) what the subordinate still needs to improve on.

The subordinate also creates a fourth list based on questions posed by their supervisor: “What can I do differently as your supervisor, so you can excel in this job” (Billikopf, 2010). The NPA model enhances effective dialogue and reduces interpersonal conflict between supervisor and subordinate to lead them to a more conducive positive working relationship (Billikopf, 2010). Implementation strategy. To continue to achieve effective communication between supervisors and subordinates, implementation of behavioral patterns to achieve maximum results would be quite helpful.

Supervisors should take the necessary time to get to know their subordinates personally and professionally. By knowing how their subordinates like to be communicated to and how they react in different settings and situations can bridge a major gap in communication (Singer, 2010). Holding regular staff meetings to encourage input on various issues from staff can be a great way to improve communication. People tend to be more upfront and open when they feel their opinion is valued and respected (O’Rourke, 2010).

Implementing an “open door” policy where supervisors openly allow time in their busy schedules for subordinates to share their concerns and opportunities about troubling situations. This will allow the room for supervisors to build a healthy relationship with their employees (Singer, 2010). Scheduling regular employee reviews to discuss performance and opportunities allows subordinates to know exactly where they stand in relation to achieving job duties. This open and honest dialogue about performance builds trust amongst both parties (Singer, 2010).

All of these behavioral patterns and strategies will help engage supervisors and subordinates in healthy dialogue which will in turn build effective communication skills to allow for success in the workplace. The supervisor-subordinate relationship is one that is ever changing and must maintain consistency in an ever changing work environment. This kind of relationship like any other human relationship is subject to the highs and lows, wear and tear, and traditional strain coupled with the longing desire to be successful, must receive regular attention to survive.

Although general human communication is complex, these two populations are no different in the fact that they both want to be listened to, want to be valued, want their opinions on matters to be considered, want to be treated fairly, and want to be treated with dignity. Even though supervisors may not please and keep subordinates happy all of the time and vice versa, effective communication can play a major part in the overall effects on negative and positive job performance and satisfaction in the workplace. References Billikopf, G. (2010).

The negotiated performance appraisal model: Enhancing supervisor-subordinate communication and conflict resolution. Group Facilitation. 10(32-42). Retrieved from http://proquest. umi. com/pqdweb? did=2123390041&Fmt=3&clientId=74379&RQT=309&VName=PQD Dogra, A. (2010). Importance of communication in the workplace. Retrieved from http://www. buzzle. com/articles/importance-of-communciation-in-the-workplace. html Evans, W. M. (1965). Superior-subordinate conflict in research organizations. Administrative Science Quarterly, 10(52-64). Glatfelter, A. (2000).

The influence of supervisor’s interpersonal communication competence on worker satisfaction (Doctoral dissertation, California State  University, Fullerton, CA). Retrieved from ProQuest Dissertations and  Theses database. Lee, J. (1998). Maintenance communication in superior-subordinate relationships: An exploratory investigation of group social context and the “Pelz Effect”. The Southern Communication Journal. 63(2), (144-159). Retrieved from http://proquest. umi. com/pqdweb? did=28637557=4=74379=309=PQD O’Rourke, J. S. , (2010).

Management communication: A case analysis approach (4th ed. ). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Hall. Singer, A. (2010). Employee personality: Effective communication between supervisor and subordinate. Retrieved from http://www. buzzle. com/articles/employee-personality-effective-communication-between-supervisor-and-subordiante. html Sinickas, A. (2006, December, 2007, January). Measuring supervisor communication. Strategic Communication Management 11(1), 12-13. Retrieved from http://proquest. umi. com/pqdweb? did=1195795391=4=74379=309=PQD


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