Organizational Behavior: Communication Barrier


There are a number of barriers to good communication in organizations. Some of the communication barriers can be grouped to different groups such as physical barriers, system designed, attitude barriers, organization culture barriers, physiological barriers and presentation of information. This barriers can destroy sharing of information in the organization and reduce profitability by de-motivating employees a de-motivated employee will feel that his job is not satisfying his needs thus he will reduce productivity. In this company in question there are a number of barriers to effective communication within the organization.

Physical barriers normally occur where employees cannot reach each other physically. It may also occur when an employee is physically away from communication tool therefore relaying information to the head office becomes difficult. For example an employee who is marketing may go to a remote area to market a product and in the area there may be no communication tool and he cannot reach physically the head office. Physical barrier is one of the greatest hindrances to communication in organizations.

Another barrier that exists is process barrier which is caused by the process that is followed in the organization in passing the message for example there may be a process that should be followed in order for an employee to use a telephone line. In such a situation the employee may not be able to communicate with seniors or other employees. Emotional and perceptional barrier is one of the worst barrier in an organization. Emotional barrier usually emerges because of mistrust fear, or attitude of somebody. Because of fear mistrust or suspicion a person may be cautious in relaying information. This is worse and should not be encouraged in any organization. It is usually as a result of perception or attitude of somebody or something. The last form of culture of barrier of communication is language or cultural barrier. Language although taken as separate can be grouped as one because a person may want to say something in terms of his culture and the other culture does not allow. Always people act in a certain manner that is related to his culture. Therefore apart from the differences in language actions may also differ.

One of the barriers of communication that can be identified from the case study is a physical barrier. In this organization there are more that one hundred and five stores in 12 states and there is no proper connectivity that will allow the employees to communicate with the management easily. In the case we are told that Jeanne Lewis passes nearly every day in Todd Krasnow office in order to have a meeting. This was the immediate boss of he lady. Such kind of arrangement makes communication difficult to employees who are not serious to good performance.

Another barrier that has been identified as a source of poor communication in organization is organization culture. Organization culture has played an important role in ensuring flow of information is curtailed. The organization culture has been that the original members called senior positions and they believe they know what should be done because when Lewis tried to figure out the type of decisions he was going to make to change the organization culture, she had to console Krasnow. Again during the merger, organization culture plays an important role.

The last factor that I have identified towards effective communication is attitude of the seniors’ managers. The head of marketing has a very difficult attitude towards professional management because he believes that he knows everything. According to the case study it is described that he ran the marketing department “out of his head and his gut” because he had vast experience. An organization with senior managers of such kind of attitude will find it difficult to manager the operations of the organization if new dynamic employees join the organization.

The impact of each barrier of communication

Physical barriers have a lot of impact on the organizations existence. One of the impacts of this form of barrier is that the flow of information takes time to reach the employees and once it reaches the employees it may be distorted. Distorted information may cause disharmony in the organization which may lead to employees being dissatisfied with their work. This will affect the achievement of organization goals and objectives as well as killing morale of many employees and eventually may lead to high employee turnover.

This also may lead to organizational failure, if the information does not portray the true meaning. Secondly there may be a breakdown of the organizations systems which will contribute to failure.

Organization culture has many impacts on communication and if the information does not portray a good image of the sender they may be failure of command of chain among the employees. If the chain of command fails you will expect employees doing what they wish not due to employee empowerment but to failure of the system of communication. If the system of communication fails and chain of command is not followed, organization failure comes in. the organization should try to have a proper organizational culture that allows employees to freely communicate.

Lastly attitude as a barrier to communication has a devastating effect to the organization as compared to other system of communication. It is through attitude that organization succeeds or fails. If employees create a certain attitudes towards some subjects it will be very difficult for employees to be convinced to change. It will lead to personal conflict among employees and the seniors even towards customers. Take for instance in this case Krasnow, has an attitude that he can manage the organization because of his experience. This attitude is not good because modern management demands consultation before decision making which will affect the performance of others. This will cause employee de-motivation or dissatisfaction of their job eventually leading to job turnover.

Jeanne Lewis case

In order for Jeanne Lewis to be successive in communicating with her subordinates she must be ready to plan on how to maintain good communication with her employees. In order for her to be successive she should organize to have a regular staff meeting with her subordinates apart from receiving report every time they have work. She should also ensure employees are given adequate time to express themselves during meetings as well as when they are delivering reports. Employees should be empowered to make some decisions which are not technical such as giving them a range of discount they will offer customers.

She should get prepared to tackle employees’ queries in relation to the work they do in order to create confidence among her team. She should at times allow employees to have their own staff meeting, this will encourage them become responsible and air their views without fear.

The employees should also be given an opportunity to take further training as a way of ensuring they understand their jobs properly. The message should reach the employees promptly without delay such as through the use of fax, internet and live chats. Static information should be circulated at a different rate as compared to dynamic information that is information that is beneficial to both employee and organization. The lady should not allow rumour to circulate within the organization because rumours will destroy not only the morale of employ but include the organizations goals.

Ms. Lewis used consoled styled of communication in passing information to her subordinates. The subordinates were consulted in some issues before a decision was made on what was needed to be done in relation to the organization. Lewis through using this form of communication she avoided many problems that were related to the organization. She believed that the entire management of the organization will work together because he turned around the department of marketing by making employees believe that they were able to change. The reports that were prepared influenced her decision and this made employees support her position which led to the improvement of the organization. Many people who were in contact or interacted with her especially the senior guys believed that she was just a micro-manager who will not be able to manage an organization but to their surprise the method she used for communication helped her to continue managing the organization.

Ms. Lewis used indirect method in communicating to some subordinates while she used direct method in communicating to some employees. Indirect methods was employed by the use of reports which influenced her decision making process. Most employees realized that the report they prepared were quite influenced to her. Therefore the subordinates knew that it was important for them to produce good report which will propel the company to great heights. She considered talent of the subordinates. The message I will prepare for her that will be used will be direct communication as well as indirect depending the person communicating to. Direct communication will be to direct subordinates and indirect subordinates will get reports from Ms. Lewis.

The communication types that was employed by Ms. Lewis was written communication where reports were changing hands and this reports were mainly used for decision making. She organized her subordinates in a manner that they always prepared reports which gave first impressions and it was this report that was used in changing the way the organization was communicating initially. Although verbal communication was in place but it was not influential as written communication. Written communication is where a person passes information to another through written tools of communication. Written communication reduces communication problems such as distorted information and conflict of interest. The message reaches a number of people without being altered on the way. Therefore this method adapted by Ms. Lewis was good to the organization.

The main reasons why she selected this method for communication in the organization is the most appropriate in passing the information in most organizations. This method of communication does not in any way distort information that is passed by the senior person. The choice by Ms Lewis to use this method to pass the information to the employees using this type of communication is because the other alternative will have distorted the information and possible it could have created conflict among employees.

One of the variables that play shapes the organization is culture is gender. The organization before the arrival of Ms. Lewis had a culture where employees believed in men dominance. They also believed that the best performers were men but after the arrival of Ms. Lewis and she helped to change the organizations performance. The main factors that assisted Ms. Lewis to change organization was the mode of communication adapted in running the organization secondly it was how communication was handled and the free hand she was given in transferring employees of organization to different departments.


Ms. Lewis made various modifications to communication procedure used in the organization for example she used to figure out how much she was to push certain decisions until they are achieved. She wanted most employees to be involved in the running of the organization. Because she wanted all employees of the organization to be part of the company she modified decisions and took a tough stance towards employees of the organization.

The change in communication strategy actually was of paramount importance because it assisted employees understand the importance of being productive in the organization.


  1. Bovee, C.L (2003), Business Communication Today, 7th Edition, Pearson Education
  2. Kreitner R. and Kinicki A. (2003), Organizational Behavior, McGraw-Hill/Irwin
  3. Mullins L. J. (1999), Management and organizational Behaviors, 5th Prentice Hall

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