The purpose of this paper is threefold. First, to investigate the interpersonal communication skills that human resource (HR) managers expect managers in supervisory positions possess. Second, to identify which of these skills HR managers expect managers use to engender subordinate commitment to the organisation. Third, the paper aims to investigate what interpersonal communication skills that enhance employee commitment to the organisation are most lacking in managers in supervisory positions.
Keyword(s): Interpersonal communications; Interpersonal skills; Job satisfaction. Introduction
Over the last three decades, studies on how to encourage organisational commitment have been of interest to researchers in the area of organisational communication (Buchanan, 1974; DeCotiis and Summers, 1987; Putti et al., 1990; Reichers, 1985; McGee Wanguri, 1995; Gaertner and Nollen, 1989). Researchers and professionals assume and investigations have confirmed that the way managers convey information to their staff has consequences on the attitudes they develop towards the organisation. Overwhelmingly, research espouses the positive organisational outcomes that committed employees bring to organisations. Committed employees are believed to be more productive and less likely to quit (Arnold and Mackenzie Davey, 1999; Arthur, 1994; Cohen and Hudecek, 1993; Somers and Bimbaum, 2000; Tett and Meyer, 1993), more dependable (Angle and Lawson, 1994), perform better (Suliman and Iles, 2000), produce more (Tjosvold et al., 1998) and are more involved (Brett and Stroh, 1997). The evidence overwhelmingly supports the idea that employee commitment is enhanced by general aspects of communication such as satisfaction (Varona, 1996), climate (Guzley, 1992; Van den Hooff and de Ridder, 2004), organisational information provision (Ng et al., 2006), relationships with upper-level managers (Putti et al., 1990) and quality of communication (Thornhill et al., 1996). In an era of apparent constant change and “erosion of corporate loyalty” interpersonal communication skills in managers are vital to promoting employee attachment to the organisation (Brunetto and Farr-Wharton, 2004) However, researchers have paid little attention to the interpersonal communication skills that managers need to enhance their subordinates' commitment to the organisation. The aim of this paper is to identify the skills human resource (HR) managers consider to be essential in effective interpersonal communication.
A popular view of communication is that it is the process by which information about policies, procedures, finance and customer feedback (Vandenberg et al., 1999) is conveyed to others in organisations. Yet, it is the medium of interpersonal communication or the content and quality of the messages we send to “initiate, define, maintain, or further a relationship” that determines the success of this process (Dainton and Zelley, 2005, p. 51). In other words, communication as “the process by which people interactively create, sustain, and manage meaning” goes beyond the view of communication as another managerial activity (or what needs to be done) to explaining the how of activities (Dainton and Zelley, 2005, p. 2). Interpersonal communication explains “the means” by which organisational activities, such as managing, controlling, planning, and leading are delivered. Downs and Adrian's (2004) model of communication draws attention to the processes of encoding (decide on what and how to communicate) and decoding (interpret message) while highlighting the filtering of messages which result in the interpretations of messages that are received. Here, the feedback loop that develops two-way communication between individuals demonstrates this to be more effective than one-way communication. It is this interpersonal...