Managerial Communication and Employee Interaction

Globalization is the name of an amalgamation of different cultures, values, principles, working environments, personal and ethical considerations. The working people are accordingly subjected to such differing environments depending upon the profile of their company. It is easy for an individual to get in sync with a compatriot co-worker, though there are differences amongst fellow citizens as well; it becomes quite challenging to work in an environment having workers and managers from different cultural backgrounds. The mutual adjustment, therefore, depends upon how the individuals perceive each other and their dependency on each other in the working environment.

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While companies prefer professionals from anywhere to pool their efforts for them, it has also become a requirement for such companies to take care of their workforce in the prevailing environment, where the individual has to learn some additional skills or manner to make adjustments. Companies help out the individual by way of providing adequate acclimatization training and refresher courses. Such training has become an integral part of managing diversity in the MNCs. Since the employees are located all around the globe, and they require frequent interaction as well, therefore, effective interaction amongst diverse workforce located at diverse places becomes all the more critical for the functioning of the company.

Effective interaction is possible only when each individual in the company is able to accept the diversity and communicate well with others around. In fact, now a debate has started whether the concept of ‘managing diversity; forms an alternative to ‘equal opportunities’ based on gender bias. In the UK, human resource practitioners and academics alike are becoming more aware of the emergence of managing diversity. Thomas1 (2000) argues that, with the growing number of mergers and acquisitions, workforce diversity will become more of a priority for organizations and, therefore, in the future, people will become clearer on what diversity is and how to manage it. Montaigne said2“The most universal quality is diversity.” Therefore, a proper understanding of diversity is vital for the implementation of projects, carrying out research works, meeting production targets, etc. It’s indeed a daunting task for any company to manage diversity while maintaining quality standards, strengths, and deadlines.

In the event of lack of communication and coordination, a situation may arise, leading to misunderstandings and miscommunication, which can cause and escalate the conflict. LeBaron (2003) has come out with two types of tools relating to communication. These are;

  • High-context and low-context communication: This refers to the degree to which speakers rely on factors other than explicit speech to convey their messages.
  • Individualist and communitarian conceptions of self and other: This approach is important for conflict resolution. In communitarian settings (sometimes called collectivist settings), the workers are trained to consider each other as part of a circle of relations.

The business case for managing diversity, therefore, offers a way to operate equal opportunities as a strategic issue, a core value linked to organizational competitiveness (Dickens 1994). Diversity not only comes in the form of culture and values, but it also consists of several other visible and non-visible factors, which include personal characteristics such as sex, race, age, background, culture, disability, personality, and work style.

Harnessing these differences is bound to create a productive environment in which everybody feels valued, their talents are fully utilized, and organizational goals are met. Therefore, the way to place this on the corporate agenda is to see the concepts as providing both tangible as well as intangible benefits, besides being socially and morally right. Higgs (1996) states that in addressing the issues relating to developing effective international management teams following areas should be considered:

  • Identifying the nature and implications of national cultural differences within the team.
  • Establishing a basis for building understanding and awareness of cultural differences and how they may be managed.
  • Formulating a framework for developing a high-performing team that takes account of cultural differences and leverages the diversity present in an international team.

Considering these factors, the underlying philosophy of managing diversity tends to imply that an organization can gain massive competitive advantage, resulting in enhanced performance with the help of satisfying human capital. It rests on the premise that the organization will be able to serve increasingly diverse customers, meet increasingly complex business and management problems by actively seeking and managing a diverse workforce (Stephenson and Lewis, 1996).

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In the era of globalization, when MNCs prefer to take advantage of multi-location facilities, lower costs of production, expertise from the world over, diversity is bound to be there at the workplace. It is for the organization to manage diversity by recognizing, appreciating, valuing, encouraging, and utilizing the unique talents and contributions of individuals from across a wider spectrum of society. In general, the individual makes efforts to have a better understanding by way of;

  • Being more competitive and well trained at the workplace. This helps in gaining psychological strength while dealing with the others around.
  • Seeking feedback. If the individual finds that he is able to communicate well with others and the company managers seem to rely on him for the tasks assigned to him, then the individual can be reasonably sure that diversity is being handled well by him. The feedback can also be in the form of management’s reactions and notices from time to time. A lot depends on how well the individual is able to analyze the feedback.
  • Sustained learning. Today’s competitive environment requires the individual to make adjustments with the working environment on a variety of issues, be it the salary structures, the organizational structure, the working days, the working time, the holidays, the grievance redressal, etc. These factors keep evolving depending upon the requirements of the business from time to time, which calls for the individual to keep track of such changing requirements and making appropriate adjustments. Skirmishes arising out of ‘discriminatory’ behavior often result in tensions amongst colleagues. Though there are federal laws in place, it is the human character and nature which has to do the implementation part.

In the coming years, this problem is bound to come out with many more challenging situations for MNCs. These corporations are supposed to foresee some such circumstances and then come out with suitable strategies to handle the issues. Some of the previous studies suggest that a group’s demographic composition tends to influence the communication between group members because people tend to communicate with those who are similar to them (Zenger and Lawrence, 1989).

This is, in fact, what we see in our daily routines, when group members, who perceive themselves as similar, communicate with each other more openly, while group members who are dissimilar tend to take time and efforts to make themselves comfortable with all the group members. Quite often, such a lack of communication and coordination leads to dysfunctional conflict having the potential for a decrease in overall efficiency and performance. Such diversities can often be observed in MNCs having stakes in as diverse places as the US and China or the US and India.

The IT era has made it almost mandatory for workers from diverse backgrounds to work together for the prosperity of the organization. Kaye and Taylor (1997) identified that cultural differences could affect the communication process by influencing a person’s perception. The language barrier is the most obvious factor encountered by Western expatriates while working in Eastern or South Asian nations.

Other factors like foods, ways to eat, the concept of personal space, etc., often result in stress because they may seem neither understandable nor ethically correct. But remedy seems to be available in making the best possible use of diversity together with the modern means of communication. Growth in Information Communication Technology (ICT) has made people dependent on the modern means of communication, thus creating an ‘information society’ in which social interaction becomes dependent on the use of such technology.

Moreover, with the advancement of communication technologies spread of globalization has become more prominent, and now it has replaced the word trans-nationalization. While trans-nationalization effectively meant cooperation and coordination between two or more countries, globalization works with the involvement of many countries in similar practices or trade. Economic activities have now dominated as the major players in deciding the policies.

References

  1. Dickens, L. (1994) ‘The business case for women’s equality: is the carrot better than the stick?’ Employee Relations 16(8).
  2. Higgs, Malcolm (1996). Team Performance Management. An International Journal Vol. 2 No. 1 1996. MCB University Press 1352-7592.
  3. Kaye, M. and Taylor, W. G.K., (1997), ‘Expatriate culture shock in China: a study in the Beijing hotel industry’, Journal of Managerial Psychology, 12 (8).
  4. LeBron, Michelle (2003). Web.
  5. Stephenson, K. and Lewis, D. (1996) ‘Managing workforce diversity, macro and micro level HR implications of network analysis’, International Journal of Manpower 17(4).
  6. Zenger, T.R. and Lawrence, B.S. (1989), ‘‘Organizational demography: the differential effects of age and tenure distributions on technical communication’’, Academy of Management Journal, Vol. 32.
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