An effective organization is the one that achieves success in the targeted area. It is conditioned by the organizational structure, people involved, and the way information is used within this organization. Information is the key concept in the success. However, information even transformed into knowledge is useless itself if it is not properly managed and delivered. Knowledge management and appropriately arranged organizational communications play a crucial role in the effectiveness of any organization. However, organizational communications can damage knowledge management within organization if they prevail over the knowledge management. In other words, when decisions start to be made based on unmanaged information, knowledge management within organization can be severely damaged.
Knowledge management is fundamentally a systematic approach for optimizing the access for individuals and teams within an organization to relevant actionable advice, knowledge, and experience from elsewhere. According to Dueñas (2011), “Knowledge management is about providing the right knowledge to the right people at the right time, and helping them apply it in ways that improve organizational performance.” Actionable is the crucial element for the knowledge management practice. If knowledge cannot be used, it does not have measurable value (CommGAP, 2010).
Organizations which are not yet applying knowledge management may be aware that they do not capture and reuse good or best practices, that they risk repeating the same mistakes, and that they are likely to lose what employees learn, but never share, about suppliers, customers, or competitors. The primary business problem that knowledge management is designed to solve is that teams and individuals are performing sub-optimally, because they do not have access to knowledge acquired through experience elsewhere. In addition, new endeavors and innovations may be impeded by lack of access to knowledge.
Knowledge management is nothing without the properly arranged organizational structure of communications. It is very important to deliver knowledge to the right people and in the right time. Dueñas (2011) defines communications as follows: “Communications involve the who, why, when, where, and how of conveying that knowledge.” In this case, the concept of knowledge communication gets new value within organization. It is “the (deliberate) activity of interactively conveying and co-constructing insights, assessments, experiences, or skills through verbal and non-verbal means” (Eppler, 2006).
In terms of management practice, only non-verbal means can be managed to the particular extent (Anaeto, 2010). Non-verbal communication usually presupposes utilization of various technical advancements of information technology era. Therefore, if the communication process is not controlled it has to at least be at monitored via logs’ review or other means. However, verbal communication cannot be managed anyhow (CommGAP, 2010). Thus, organizational communication process, which mostly based on verbal communication, can be a threat to the knowledge management process within such organization. It could happen because information becomes knowledge being transferred from mouth to mouth without any analysis and control from the appropriate specialists (CommGAP, 2010; Anaeto, 2010).
It is rather easy to illustrate this issue: an employee gives some kind of unconfirmed information to the colleague and this worker does something (calls customer, orders production, etc.) using inaccurate data. It could lead to unnecessary expenses, not to mention other more severe consequences. Therefore, it is very important to create such culture within organization that would promote incentives for participating in knowledge management (Anaeto, 2010).
The problem of today is that modern communication means facilitate unorganized communications within organization, and it can substantially influence knowledge management within an organization. However, information technology speeds up and facilitates the controlled spread and delivery of information for the knowledge management procedure as well. It means that information technology has unique meaning for both communication and knowledge management at the same time.
Considering the summary, it is easy to realize that knowledge management can be affected by inappropriately organized organizational communications. Therefore, the process of communications within organization should be controlled and organized according to the culture of this organization. The effective communication and efficient functioning of a company depend on knowledge management.
The need of effective communication skills becomes vital, when people require it the most – at the workplace. Usually, successful people are very skillful orators, charismatic, and open. Is it a natural gift or years of training? The answer to this question is a little bit different and not that definite. The confidence in one’s own words plays the main part in the outcome; natural talent and years of training only add smoothness and professionalism to the words these people say (Charvat, 2002; Mochal, 2006).
According to Anaeto (2010), “having utilized the necessary strategy for the planning of a better organization’s culture management, it is expected that effective communication will be evolved. An effective communication invariably means goal-directed communication, which should ensure the realization of the organizational goals and objectives.” It means that communication is utterly important within any organization, but it has to be based on the proper principles that do not damage knowledge management.
An organization is a complex, interconnected, and interdependent system of business processes that must be profitable (except non-commercial ones). Without a doubt, the role of man in different social processes occurring in a society is growing all the time as well as the importance of organizational behavior together with management of these processes. Organizational behavior is a study of actions that people make within an organization. The increase in quality of organizational behavior can improve the competitive ability of the company and its value on the market.
The most important actions in organizational behavior are three determinants of employee activity. Such actions are shown through productivity, absenteeism, and workforce fluctuation. It should not be forgotten that great deal of attention is paid to employees’ satisfaction at the workplace as it is a reflection of the employees’ attitude. With proper analysis of organizational behavior, better understanding as well as predicting and control of organizational behavior is possible (Charvat, 2002; Mochal, 2006).
One of the key components in every organization is communication and it can be observed at the level of group behavior. Better understanding of the communication effectiveness is of utter importance to the overall success of organization.
Business communication is commonly divided into the one within the organization, and the one outside it. In the organization, communication serves the function of connecting the employees of the organization so that mutual goals could be achieved.
Communication in the organization is important for several reasons. Namely:
- setting the company’s goals and carrying them out;
- working on the plans towards their realization;
- successful management of human and other resources;
- choosing members of the organization, following their progress and evaluating their performance;
- managing, setting motivation, and guiding employees as well as creating a healthy working environment;
- controlling realization of the projects.
Communication in the organization consists of two almost complementary systems – formal communication network and informal one (Charvat, 2002; Mochal, 2006).
Formal communication is a formal process of transmitting information in spoken and written form planned in advance, and it is adjusted according to the needs of the organization. The elements of the process of communication are as follows - the sender, the message, the medium, and the recipient. The sender is the source of the communication. He sends off the message to the recipient using a medium. Communication in organizations media includes different conversations, memos, printouts, schemes.
The Media depend on the content and the aim of the message, which the sender wants to convey to the recipient. Then the recipient tries to understand which message the sender wants to convey. A typical problem within the organization is when a recipient gets information overload, which leads to a burden, so therefore, it is important to select only the relevant information (Charvat, 2002; Mochal, 2006).
There are different directions of communication flow in the organization: upward communication, downward communication, and sideward communication. Upward communication goes up the official hierarchy, from the lower to the higher level in the organization. Information goes from the subordinates to the superiors. It is mostly used for sending information associated with the proposal system, employees’ opinion, work insight, attitudes, and problems of the employees. It is important that communication is free and unhindered as the main drawback of the upward communication is message filtering.
Downward communication goes from the higher to the lower levels in the organization. Usually it involves giving orders, broadening of ideas, and communicational knowledge. It is time consuming and its most usual problem is the loss or denying of information on the path through the chain of command; misunderstanding of the directions is quite common so, therefore, a backward connection has to be established in order to confirm the transmission of correct and full information. Sideward communication can occur in horizontal and diagonal way.
Horizontal communication happens among people of the same status within a department or among different working units. Diagonal communication appears among people of different status and there is no formal connection between people in the organizational communication system (Anaeto, 2010).
Forms of communication can be different: oral, written, and nonverbal.
Oral communication – the spoken word is the main code of the communication. Sometimes oral communication takes the form of formal and informal discussions. Usual channels of oral communication are phone, video, and face-to-face conversations. Oral communication has some advantages over other forms of communication, namely, the speed of conveying the information and feedback. Though there is a possibility that the original message can be distorted. The role of oral communication in the business world cannot be underestimated (Charvat, 2002).
Written communication is material if compared to the oral communication, it is much easier to verify the data. It takes up more time compared to the oral communication and there is no direct feedback. The written form of the communication is attached to some sort of technology, which enables us to convey the information (PC, paper, pen...).
Nonverbal communication includes such elements as facial expression, gesturing, tone of the voice, look, and appearance. Nonverbal form of the communication is often not taken into consideration if compared to the other forms of communication. Nonverbal communication supports other forms of communication; but sometimes the recipient may misconceive the message and misinterpret it (Eppler, 2006).
Besides the ways of communication that have already been mentioned, there are channels of information flow. Those are formal small group network and informal group network.
Formal small group networks can be of three types: chain network, circle network, and wheel network. The basic features of each network set the differences between them. Chain network of formal small groups usually follows the formal chain of command, whereas the circle network has the leader as the central person for conducting all communications within the group. The main characteristic of wheel network is its openness that enables the joint communication of all members of the group (Dueñas, 2011).
If one compares the networks in small groups according to the criteria of speed, accuracy, leader emergence, and member satisfaction, they can come to a conclusion that people have to wisely choose a particular form of the communication network depending on the aim they strive to achieve. If people need accuracy, then they should use the chain network. The small formal groups circle network is to be used if coworkers need great speed, accuracy, and high emergence of the leader. Wheel network is fast and enables high member satisfaction.
Informal communication in the organization, or grapevine, is a secondary and very complicated communication network that is based on personal contact, and unlike the system of formal communication, it does not follow a particular line settled in advance.
Since the importance of grapevine should not be underestimated, the managers should also acknowledge the informal communication systems in the organization, and use them for the welfare of their organization. The main features of grapevine are as follows. First, the management does not control it. Second, it seems more feasible and reliable to the employees rather than official notifications from the top management. It is also used for the self-interest of people within this grapevine.
Effective Team Leaders
Individuals become leaders in the process of the personal development, self-determination, and because of great desire to be someone special. The desire plays the major role in the process of becoming a leader. There are traits that distinguish a leader from other people. The first trait is integrity. It is important to make people believe that one’s own actions in pursuing own dream are motivated by proper motives and not just ego driven. The other one is the ability to understand people’s differences in order to use their uniqueness and individual skills to achieve goals. And the last one is positive mood in any situation to encourage and reward people but not just waste time telling what was done wrong (Slap, 2010).
Along with above-mentioned traits, a true leader should master a number of skills. They are as follows: effective communication, which is beyond the simple nice speaking and correct writing, this skill must make people clearly understand what and why they should follow the leader; motivation, which is the skill of persuading people to want to work at their best to achieve the goals, set by the leader; planning, which is the strategic distribution of time and resources; is too important for any leader to be able to see the most efficient ways to achieve the goals. These skills are crucial for any leader because lack of the communicative skill, the motivational skill, or the skill of planning can make people doubt in this person as a leader. A leader is an example to follow in the most cases, this is the model of behavior, and it should be nearly perfect to be called a true leader (Slap, 2010).
There are people in any organization, who perform their duties in ways different from most of the personnel. They influence the work of others by their inner energy, enthusiasm, they look for various, nonstandard approaches to solve the tasks and encourage colleagues to do the same, i.e. come out of the box, think and act wider, beyond the commonly accepted standards. These people are called value-added leaders and they are a very important part of any successful organization (Caraveli & Norris, 2006).
The concept of the virtual teams has emerged in order to satisfy the interest of the business community to the cooperation of a distance. According to Casey and Richardson (2006), a virtual team can be defined as “a team whose members use the Intranet, Intranets, Extranets, and other networks to communicate, coordinate, and collaborate with each other on tasks and projects even though they may work in different geographical locations and for different organizations.” In other words, this is a group of people that use their knowledge and experience in order to achieve common goals, physically being in different geographical locations.
It is easy to notice that virtual teams do not differ much from the concept of a traditional team. All people know that a traditional team can be defined “as a social group of individuals who are collocated and interdependent in their tasks. They undertake and coordinate their activities to achieve common goals and share responsibility for the outcomes” (Casey & Richardson, 2006). As one can see, the only difference is in the geographical location of the team members since virtual teams work on the same tasks and have the same goals and objectives as the traditional ones.
According to the needs in implementation of new team building concepts, organizations should be ready to make some changes in their organizational and technical structure. At first, of course, it is necessary to change technical equipment if needed. The bandwidth and speed of communicational channels play a crucial role in the efficiency of the virtual team collaboration, coordination, and correlation of activities (Beise, 2004; Kimball, 1997). Time coordination of different time zones, in which different team members could be located, is also necessary to consider.
Thus, the work hours and overall schedule of company’s activities need to be corrected accordingly. The social structure of the virtual teams should be taken into consideration as well because lack of face-to-face contact and limited interpersonal informal communication can create certain difficulties in the developing of good relationships between the virtual teams’ members (Beise, 2004; Kimball, 1997).
In case of implementing these changes, there is an opportunity to avoid main reasons of poor performance of such kind of teams. These reasons are communication and technical preparedness. Only communication can make a virtual teamwork efficiently. At the same time, if different team members are not able to work with the technical equipment of the same or at least similar level, the results of the collaboration could be poor. A company needs to provide the team members with the most convenient tools for communication so they could be able to discuss any situation or issue at any time. In addition, a company must provide the team members with the same equipment to eliminate the above-mentioned difficulties (Powell et al., 2004).
To sum up the above-said, one can conclude that organizational communications are vital for the appropriate functioning and effective work of any organization. Knowledge management is the key to the organization’s success. Organizational communications can be a threat to knowledge management if inappropriately organized; it can affect the success of the entire organization and its effective work. Information technologies influence both organizational communications and knowledge management procedures; this influence can be positive and negative at the same time.
As one can see, the key issue in the successful virtual team creation and management is based on technological achievements of modern time. Communication across the whole world is possible if the technology is at the appropriate level. The coordination and appropriate control of the work process and appropriate team management can be performed via the information technology usage only. Thus, the information technology makes team members and their superiors interdependent with each other. All team members are connected in the virtual team more than usual, because only full cooperation can be beneficial for the team and can make it efficient (Ocker & Fjermestad, 2008).
Such level of interdependency is created by the technology. According to the above-mentioned reasons, the communication between the team members must be organized at the most efficient level. The communication technology plays a crucial role in the created interdependencies. If the used technology solutions are at the high level, the communication is easy and simple, and then a virtual team will be solid and efficient. Deficits in the technology will create difficulties, misunderstandings, and eventually could break a virtual team (Ocker & Fjermestad, 2008).