Communication

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Judith Dwyer defines communication as ‘any behaviour, verbal, nonverbal or graphic, that is perceived by another’ (2005, p.4), meaning that knowledge, feelings or thoughts are encoded and sent from at least one person and received and decoded by another. The process of communication within an organisation is intertwined with its leadership style. Leading is the use of influence to motivate employees to achieve organisational goals. Leading means creating a shared culture and values, communicating goals to employees throughout the organisation, and infusing employees with the desire to perform at a high level. Samson and Daft (2008, p. 12) believe that in order for management to successfully lead an organisation or employees, the way that they communicate with them must be effective and understandable. When analysed, communication models essentially illustrate different views of the processes by which people transfer meaningful information. Judith Dwyer further elaborates that they take the elements that are seen as most significant in a communication process and place them in an ordered pattern (2005, p.7). This said, their purpose is to explain and classify essential features and regularities in the communication process. Over time, these communication models have evolved and changed from their beginnings in the mid-twentieth century such as Shannon and Weaver’s ‘transmission’ model where communication was looked at as a process to the models that exist today, for example cultural models of communication that recognise that communicating effectively is more complex and challenging than simply identifying it as a process (Bowman and Targowski, 1987, p. 24). The organisation in focus is the Rail Corporation of New South Wales, or RailCorp. RailCorp provides metropolitan passenger rail services via CityRail and long distance services via CountryLink. The organisation is responsible for the safe operation, crewing and maintenance of passenger trains and stations, as well as owning and maintaining the metropolitan rail network and providing access to freight operators in this area (RailCorp Homepage). In terms of viewing the organisation from a communications point of view it can be seen as a mechanistic organisation. Communication is generally carried out in a highly structured way due to the nature of the work being undertaken by the organisation. This means that there are a considerable number of policies, rules, manuals, guidelines and job descriptions. The structure is essentially a hierarchical structure with a predominantly top down leadership, management and communication style typical of a government organisation. Recently, with the change in State Government, changes have also occurred on an organisational level within RailCorp. With these changes also comes a certain amount of hesitation and uncertainty when a large organisation with a deeply entrenched ‘culture’ is suddenly thrust into the spotlight with large scale change about to occur (Becker and Huselid, 2006, p. 899). This change is also reflected in the way communication is managed within the organisation among various organisational members as management can be unwilling to try to adopt different models of communicating due to issues with change management. A recent situation of unsuccessful communication that developed within the organisation was a directive that was filtered down from the Minister for Transport’s Office regarding the possible out-sourcing of the work that is currently being carried out by the Presentation Services Department within RailCorp. The message sent out by management was how good the work currently is being carried out by this department and whether it would be cost effective to contract these tasks to a private tender? The onus was on the members of this department (who had not been performing as well as other sectors within the organisation) to prove to management and ultimately the Government that they do a better job than...
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