Communication management research paper


BUSINESS IDEAS

Not just talk.

Communication Management

The manager is very good at summarizing what we came up with and ensuring that everything is written down. The employees expressed the view that they had the opportunity to exert an influence and although they succeeded in doing so at workplace meetings in matters related directly to patient care this was not quite the case with regard to organizational issues.

Part of each meeting was dedicated to the specific interests of the employees although this particular session was organized differently. At some of the workplace meetings there was a round table discussion where each employee was given an opportunity to speak:. We have workplace meetings every week [ It works. Other workplace meetings had a specific item on the agenda that gave employees the opportunity to speak. This took place either at the beginning or at the end of the meeting. If this item was at the end, there could be a lack of time for every employee to speak:.

There are no exchanges regarding major problems, if you understand me. For us, the employees, there is time for questions at the end. First, the manager announces what information needs to be provided. Then it all depends on how much time we have because the reception opens at 8. A workplace meeting is also a means of developing competence, which is a function specifically requested by the employees. One approach is to share information and experiences from courses and seminars that people have attended.

Another way is to bring in professionals from within or outside the organization to talk. Employees from other wards could also be invited to the meeting to inform and enlighten their colleagues. Two major factors prevented attendance: working with patients and work schedules. The workplace meetings were sometimes seen as disrupting the work with patients and consequently attendance was not always prioritized by the employees.

Some of the meetings took place in inpatient wards and employees involved in the active care of patients came and went during the meeting. The managers pointed out that this is a normal phenomenon in wards of this kind. Due to work schedules that covered activities at all times of the day and night, and which sometimes extended across different wards, it was generally a problem for all the employees to participate in the workplace meetings at the same time. To alleviate this, the meetings were mostly scheduled for the afternoons to enable employees on both the day and night shifts to attend.

One important health-promoting action is open communication in a culture of free speech and discussion [ 6, 7 ]. In this study, vertical and horizontal communication in a large healthcare organization was evaluated from a European perspective, i. Their mandatory nature is based on binding labor agreements [ 12 ] although the format and local realization are decided by the management. The results from this study showed that although formal workplace meetings are mainly an opportunity for downward, one-way communication or information, they also permitted upward, two-way and multi-way communication where employees have the opportunity to influence the decisions that are being made.

It was particularly clear that functional influence was associated with the everyday work of the employees. This was not only expressed by the employees but was also observed. The results are thus in line with the aims behind a collective labor agreement, which recognizes workplace meetings as an essential part of the concept of a healthy workplace [ 12 ].

Variations in the format and implementation of the formal requirements were observed, which made it possible to conclude that the physical arrangements, duration, agendas and local culture had an impact on the experienced value of the workplace meetings. Observations made by the research team supported the claim that multi-way communication in a small or medium-sized group worked well. The results highlight certain factors that may hinder the communication process.

Journal of Communication Management

Firstly, the number of participants at the meeting may affect the upward communication flow. Meetings with large numbers of employees may restrict the opportunity for employees to speak. Secondly, there was a lack of techniques for enhancing dialogue. No technique was apparently used to stimulate dialogue during the meetings, such as dividing large groups into smaller groups. Thirdly, there were few dedicated rooms for meetings. Meetings arranged in rooms within the ward could make it possible for more employees to participate as there is a constant flow of patients and the employees need to be present in ways that differ from an outpatient department.

Employee / Organizational Communications

However, some of the rooms lacked optimal physical facilities for arranging meetings. An earlier study highlight that a lack of appropriate meeting facilities, such as suitable table arrangements, could impede meeting processes [ 17 ] and according to the present study it could impede the communication process.

Apart from the meeting facilities, having the right meeting environment would appear to be crucial [ 18 ]. A written agenda prepared in advance appears to be associated with perceived effectiveness [ 17 ]. An agenda with predetermined topics can be seen both as a constraint, compelling the participants to introduce topics in accordance with what is specified in the agenda, and as a resource that allows the agenda for the meeting to be worked through efficiently [ 19 ]. The results from the present study highlight factors that prevent people from attending, such as scheduling and ongoing patient care during the meetings.

Earlier studies also highlight the difficulty, particularly for physicians, to attend workplace meetings due to scheduling and operative work [ 20 ]. Several data collection methods were used to explore the workplace meeting as a forum for communication. However, there are limitations that should be taken into account when interpreting the results and these could be addressed in future scientific observation studies dealing with workplace meetings. Firstly, in the present study a two-way or multi-way communication flow consists of dialogue, discussion and debate and it may be more important to observe these categories separately.

Secondly, one observer may not be sufficient to cover the whole communication process — to study both verbal and non-verbal communication for example — and two observers could be needed to cover each aspect of the communication process. Although there are certain methodological limitations, the present study indicates that the semi-structured observation method modified from studies of managerial work [ 14, 15 ] would appear to be relevant for future studies aimed at observing communication processes.

For further studies, workplace meetings within a ward should be studied over time to identify a pattern in the communication flow. Furthermore, interviews should be conducted with both the manager and employees who participated in the observed meeting to obtain their views about the communication processes. Formal Swedish workplace meetings seem to offer potential as a setting for vertical as well as horizontal communication in the healthcare organization studied. However, a take-home message is that the outcome of the meetings is sensitive to the physical arrangements, the size of the group, lack of technique to stimulate dialogue and, above all, the culture within the unit.

For obvious reasons functional rather than structural discussions dominate the kind of session in a healthcare organization where care of patients is in focus. Nevertheless, the health-promotion value of workplace meetings is very clear. Workers seem to regard information and the potential to influence decisions about the development of the workplace as important.

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This would also affect the outcome of the care provided. The authors are grateful to the AFA insurance company for its financial support. They are also grateful to the managers and employees who participated in the study. National Center for Biotechnology Information , U. Work Reading, Mass. Published online Jul Author information Article notes Copyright and License information Disclaimer.

Received Jun 5; Accepted May 5.

Copyright IOS Press and the authors. All rights reserved.

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Keywords: Meeting, dialogue, workplace health promotion, qualitative method, hospital. Introduction An efficient team and a good organizational climate not only improve employee health but also the health and safety of the patients [ 1 ]. Methods 2.

Design The present study is part of a larger research project in which the overall aim is to investigate the process underlying the implementation of a workplace health promotion project in a healthcare organization. Setting and study sample This study was carried out at a Swedish hospital with approximately 4, employees. Data collection 2.


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Observations A strategic selection of medical and surgical wards was used. Table 3 Organization of the observed workplace meeting WM. Open in a separate window.

Introduction

Interviews with managers A semi-structured interview guide was used and notes were taken from interviews conducted with each of the ward managers responsible for the observed meetings in order to obtain information about the way the meetings were organized. Table 1 Characteristics of the study sample for the focus group interviews. Mirroring feedback seminars A seminar was organized with the participating ward managers where preliminary findings from the observations and interviews were presented in order to ascertain the views held by the managers.

Data analysis 2. Table 2 The predefined categories used in the semi-structured observation scheme. Qualitative data The qualitative data from the observations, interviews, focus group interviews and mirroring feedback seminars were analyzed stepwise using conventional content analysis [ 16 ]. Ethical aspects The data in this study were collected, analyzed and presented at group level and it is not possible to trace data to a specific individual. Results The empirical findings are presented stepwise.

Organization of workplace meetings The organization of workplace meetings varied between the wards, thus making it possible to assess the significance of the format. The communication process The communication flow was assessed as a vertical, one-way flow either downwards or upwards, or as a horizontal, two-way or multi-way communication flow. Table 4 Duration and proportion of time devoted to the various topics.

The views of managers and employees about workplace meetings Managers and employees agreed that the aim of a workplace meeting is to offer a forum for communication of information, employee influence and decision-making. Communication of information For the managers, workplace meetings are a way of disseminating information. Despite the amount of information communicated downwards, the employees requested more specific information about topics discussed at top management meetings and how decisions made at top management level would affect their particular working situation, such as management turnover and cutback demands: It would be interesting to hear more about what has been discussed at top management meetings about my ward and not just be informed about decisions.

Opportunity for employee influence and decision-making Both managers and employees regarded the workplace meeting as a decision-making forum. At some of the workplace meetings there was a round table discussion where each employee was given an opportunity to speak: We have workplace meetings every week [ If this item was at the end, there could be a lack of time for every employee to speak: [ Sharing knowledge and development of competence A workplace meeting is also a means of developing competence, which is a function specifically requested by the employees.

Discussion One important health-promoting action is open communication in a culture of free speech and discussion [ 6, 7 ]. Methodological considerations Several data collection methods were used to explore the workplace meeting as a forum for communication. Conclusions Formal Swedish workplace meetings seem to offer potential as a setting for vertical as well as horizontal communication in the healthcare organization studied.

Conflict of interest The authors have no conflict of interest to report.

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Acknowledgments The authors are grateful to the AFA insurance company for its financial support. Workplace health promotion: The role and responsibility of health care managers. Journal of Nursing Management ; 14 1 — Managers, workers, and organizations.

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