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Wednesday, 27 November 2013 11:26

Communication in an Organization Featured

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Communication in an Organization


 Communication refers to the exchange and flow of information from one individual to another. Communication entails a sender sending information to the receiver. Effective communication happens only if the receiver comprehends the information the sender transmits.  Many problems experienced in the organization are as a result of poor communication between people which results to communication and affects the goals set. Communication plays an important role in occupational health and safety. Employees and leaders should have excellent communication skills in order to communicate   the occupation health and safety policies and information.   The excellent communication skills include active listening and talking skills. Employees are supposed to follow the information communicated to them.

  Effective communication between occupation health and safety professionals, employees and managers, is essential to ensure they understand each other and the message transmitted.  In addition, effective communication between the occupation health and safety professionals and employees and managers prevents accidents by ensuring employees get necessary occupation health and safety information. However, effective health communication is n a major issue in occupation health and safety, and this has affected the implementation of OSH components.  Communication in occupation health and safety is affected by silo culture, disaggregation and group think.   Organizations have different cultures and sub cultures that affect the behavior of employees and the performance of the organization. Silo culture is common in many organizations and it affects management of organizations and implementation of the OSH components by preventing effective communication.  Disaggregation of organizations also impacts occupational health and safety because of subcultures found in different departments and units created.  Group think affects the implementation of occupational safety and health components. Group think limits members from expressing their views and hence communication. Therefore, organizations should eliminate group think and silo culture to have effective communication and implement the OSH components.


Silo culture

            Culture plays an important role in an organization even in occupational health and safety as it impacts communication.  Culture refers to values, beliefs and attitudes shared by different people in an organization.   Organizational culture is a pattern of assumptions that are shared by all people in the organization. The beliefs, values and attitudes, determine how the organization functions.  The shared beliefs, attitudes, values and assumption influence behaviors of people in the organization.  Organizations have different cultures. Some organizations have a strong culture, and others weak culture. In a strong culture, important values in the organization are held strongly and shared by all employees. Members in the organization become committed to the organizational values when they accept them.  A strong organizational culture implies organizations in which values and beliefs are shared consistently throughout the organization.  Strong organizational cultures have an impact on behaviors of employees in the organization. Strong organizational culture is responsible for guiding behaviors (Brown, 1998).

                On the other hand, a weak organizational culture does not encourage shared organizational beliefs, norms and values.  Members in organizations having weak cultures find it hard to identify the organizational value and goals.   Different departments in the organization uphold various beliefs that are not in line with the main goals in the organization.  Weak organizational cultures have a bad impact on members in the organization.  The strengths of an organization depend on whether the culture is strong or weak. Organizations having a weak organizational culture have a silo culture.  Silo culture is a culture where different departments function with their own members and do not interact with other departments. The departments not willing to cooperate with other departments have their own culture.  Occupation health and safety professionals   promote silo culture, and this affects their ability to work with other members in the organization.  A silo culture is encouraged when employees are afraid of working with employees from other departments and the occupation health and safety professionals.  Silo culture is found in organizations that do not have a strong leadership. In addition, silo culture is found in organizations that do not have influential and effective leaders.  Silo culture has a negative effect on the organization and the implementation of the occupation health and safety   components (Moorhead & Griffin, 2011).    

 Silo culture is characterized by communication breakdown, politicking in areas that should cooperate and territorial behaviors. Silo culture encourages us vs. them climate in the organization.  The climate affects effective communication and affects the implementation of the OHS components.    The climate leads to minimal communication between different departments that should be communicating. Additionally, the climate hinders communication at all as nobody communicates and listens.  Silo culture affects the health of employees and also their safety as occupational health and safety professionals do not communicate the occupation health and safety policies as expected.  This was evidenced in royal Australian Air force between 1970s and 2000. More than 400 maintenance employees working in the Royal Australian Air force were exposed to chemicals after working on the fuel tanks of the fighter bomber aircraft. The workers became ill and others were injured. Investigation to the incident showed that employees was exposed to the toxic chemicals because safety routines were not followed.  The safety routines were not followed due to   a collection of mindsets and attitudes in the organizational culture. The organizational members had a can do attitude which affected their performance.  The attitude was a result of lack of resources and pride in their professional technical ability to avoid following rule and taking short cuts to achieve their goals. The accident could have been prevented by following the safety routine and also eliminating the silo culture (Sims, 2002).

                 Therefore, silo culture is detrimental the to promotion of occupational health and safety in the organization. Silo culture affects the communication of essential information regarding the safety and health of the workers and results to accidents.  Further, silo culture affects collaboration in the organization as employees are not able to work together as a team. Employees do not work and communicate with the senior management including occupation health and safety professionals (Champoux, 2010).   Managers should eliminate silo culture in order to promote effective occupational safety management.  Managers should promote effective communication between different departments. They should ensure no departments in the organization function independently so as to enhance safety of employees. In addition to that, managers should encourage effective communication between employees from diverse departments.  The employees should have outstanding communication skills including active listening and talking. They should listen to each other while communicating.  Communication between employees should not be stopped because of their roles in different departments.  Apart from encouraging communication between employees, managers should encourage communication between employees and the senior management or leaders to facilitate the management of occupational safety.  Communication between employees and managers should be two way.  Silo culture promotes one way communication where communication originates from the top management instead of employees. Two way communications will ensure communication originates from employees and top management.  This will ensure employees and managers listen to each other while communicating (Doppelt, 2012).

Group think

                 Group think is a psychological behavior that happens in a group in which need to have harmony and conformity leads to incorrect decision making.  Group think was developed by William Whyte in 1952 in fortune magazine.  William considered group think as a failure of man and not mere conformity. He considered group think as a rationalized conformity. That is an open and articulate philosophy that believes that values of a group are not expedient, but good and right.  Irving Janis conducted a study on group think theory.  Irving did not cite William but developed the term by analogy with double thinking.  Irving used the concept of group think to imply to a mode of thinking that people engage in when concurrence seeking becomes superior in a cohesive in the group and overrides appraisal of alternative actions (Pierson, 2009).

             In group think, group members try to minimize conflicts and reach a decision without evaluating alternative ideas. The group members isolate themselves from external influences.  Group members are supposed to be loyal by not talking about controversial issues (Eunson, 2012).  Group members are not supposed to provide alternative ideas so as to avoid conflicts.  Group think affects creativity of members and independent thinking.  Group cohesion, poor group structures and situational context determine whether group think will affect the decision making process (Firsyth, 2009).  Cohesion among the group members is important in group think as it ensures the group functions effectively.  Group cohesion is considered important than the freedom of expression of the members.  Structural faults like insulation of the group and failure to have impartial leadership affects group think and decision making (Baron, 2005). 

               Irving Janis identified various symptoms of group think.  Janis claims that group members believe that nothing wrong can happen within the group.  Also, the group members believe that the virtues of the group are superior to reproach. Moreover, members in the group categorize other people not members of the group differently. They consider their views unacceptable and hence do not consider their views when making decisions. The members are not supposed to give opinions that counter the opinion of the group (Hogg & Hains, 1998).  The group members also suppress their doubts and disagreements so as to agree on a particular issue. Group members are expected to act and reason in a similar manner, and this exerts pressure on them as they cannot behave and think differently.  The group is protected from external influence including information from outsiders (Doppelt, 2012).

             Group think affects communication in organizations and occupational safety management.  Group think leads to ineffective communication as members are not able to communicate effectively (Poole, Gouran & Frey, 1999).   Communication in a group should be effective to enable group members to attain the group goals.  Group members should have communication skills. They should communicate effectively with each other and employ skills such as active listening.  Each group member must be allowed to give his/ her views and the other members should actively listen to the members as they speak.  Group members should not be prevented from communicating their views regardless of how they affect decision making.   In addition, group members should understand each other to prevent conflict. They should understand the weaknesses and strengths of each employee.   However, group thinking suppresses communication among members (Tobias, 2006).  Group thinking suppresses the freedom of expression as members are not allowed to air their views even if they do not promote cohesion and not in line with the group decision.   Group thinking affects effective communication skills like active listening skills. Members do not actively listen to each other as they communicate, and this hinders members from expressing views that are not in accordance with the group goals and decisions. This affects the promotional of occupational safety and health.   Occupational health and safety professionals are unable to execute the components of OSH because of groupthink (Eaton, 2001). Group think hinders the professionals, employees and managers from thinking beyond their group and also accepting information from people outside the group. Group thinking affects collaboration between members of different groups in different departments as they do not welcome information and help from other members outside their groups.  Though group thinking eliminates conflict in groups, it has an adverse impact on the management of occupational safety and managers and employees should not promote group think.  They should encourage open and effective communication between members (Anthony, Mullen, Salas & Driskell, 1994).

Disaggregation in the organization

                Disaggregation in the organization affects communication and occupational safety management.  Disaggregation is common in many organizations.  Organizations have disaggregated for the past years. The organizations have downsized, refocused and disaggregated vertically to improve their performance and avoid hierarchy (Rios, 2012). The disaggregation has enabled organizations to take advantage of horizontal synergies without difficulties. Moreover, big organizations have disaggregated into smaller and independent units.  Small units and organizations have become the building blocks of large organizations.  The disaggregation is as a result of the advantages associated with small organizations.  The disaggregation has improved the operation and performance of organizations.   This is because organizations have disaggregated into different departments and units which perform different functions. Though disaggregation is vital in enhancing organizational performance, it has a bad impact on the promotion of occupational safety and health (Donaldson, 2010).

                Disaggregation affects occupational safety management as different departments have different cultures.  Employees working in the different units have diverse values, beliefs and assumptions that affect their behaviors and relationships. Silo culture in such units and departments affects occupational safety management. The silo culture affects communication between workers and managers.  Employees might feel afraid to communicate with each other and also managers.  This in turn, affects communication in the whole organization and occupational safety management.  Apart from the silo culture, group think in the departments and units formed affects communication and hence occupational safety management.  Group think affects open and effective communication as employees focus on maintaining cohesion instead of freedom of speech.  Employees in such groups are limited on what to say or convey regarding the group objectives.  Therefore, managers should eliminate silo culture in those units and departments so as to promote proper communication and occupational safety management.  Also, managers should eliminate group think so as to improve communication and occupational safety (Brown, 1998).    


             In conclusion, implementing occupational health and safety policies in the organization is crucial as it eliminates injuries and hazards. Organizations have integrated OSH policies and components in their strategies so as to enhance personnel safety. However, OSH management is difficulty in many organizations due to challenges they face. Factors such as silo culture, group think and disaggregation affect organizational management.  The factors have affected communication between workers and managers and hence management of the organization. Silo culture promotes ineffective and one way communication which impairs occupational safety and health management.  Employees avoid communicating with each other and managers and this hinders effective communication. Group think affects communicating as members do not communicate freely. Group members do not raise ideas and offer alternative solutions that affect the group objective and decision.  Hence, occupational safety and health professionals should understand how the factors above affect the performance of the organization and communication. This will enable them enhance their communication skills and eliminate barriers to effective communication. This will ensure the professionals communicate safety routines and information to workers.


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