1. What is social communication from an organizational perspective?Social communication can mean many different things depending on the context in which it is applied. But from an organizational standpoint, in particular, social communication refers to the way people working for a specific organization convey information to each other in the course of performing standard workplace functions and processes (Cismaru & Leovaridis, 2013). Generally, the attainment of production goals is largely pegged on the effectiveness of social communication. Organizational managers that communicate well with their superiors and other managers as well as their subordinates stand a good chance at building and maintaining productive work relationships, which culminate in organizational success and growth.
According to Kraut, Fish, Root, and Chalfonte (2002), communication can take either of the following two forms: informal or formal. Formal communication takes place where people use the prescribed channels and tools of communication to transmit messages to each other whereas informal communication is when those working for a particular organization communicate in a style that deviates from the standard protocols. A company secretary may be required to provide a written copy of the previous board meeting’s minutes to all board members before the commencement of a new meeting, for example. This would be a form of formal communication. But when his or her immediate superior asks for a quick verbal briefing of the minutes before heading to the next meeting, such communication would be deemed to be informal. Surely, informal communication may be interpersonal and spontaneous but its effectiveness as a tool for achieving organizational objectives should never be overlooked.
Even though formal communication exists as the primary line of communication within an organization whereas informal social communication lines are typically viewed to be subordinate, emphasis needs to be put on the effectiveness of the general communication system used by people. After all, people rely on good social communication to enhance cooperation at the organizational level and achieve the set production goals.
2. How can it lend itself to organizational development and improvement?
Every organization relies on its employees to ensure that organizational operations and activities are carried out in line with the set objectives, both short term, and long term. Stockholders normally seek the assistance of organizational managers and executives with a primary aim to maximize wealth. It is, therefore, the responsibility of the organizational heads to build and promote good work relationships among themselves and with their subordinates. At the core of organizational success is good communication. When those working for an organization are able to communicate with each other well, organizational inefficiencies will be reduced because the conveyed information can be acted upon at the right time and in an appropriate manner (Kraut et al., 2002).
Holten and Rosenkranz (2011) argue that how information channels are configured depends on self-constructing processes, which in turn rely on communication and people’s understanding of speech and language. This accentuates the point that social communication impacts the way people perform tasks and responsibilities bestowed upon them. When information is communicated in a manner that is clear and succinct to the recipient, positive outcomes will be experienced. This is particularly essential for knowledge-intensive organizations, which rely on their employees to be catapulted to greater heights of success: The most qualified and experienced staff members can be used to train and motivate their non-expert counterparts (Cismaru & Leovaridis, 2013).
3. What impact does social communication have upon organizational performance?
Social communication has a tremendous effect on organizational performance. With the advent of social media, organizations are now able to reach a greater multitude of people than in the past. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, blogs, and so on have become popular avenues for communicating to millions of potential clientele located around the world. In recent times, there has been the development of mobile phone apps that can be used to send the intended messages to several recipients simultaneously at the simple press or tap of a button (Isaacs, 2014). All these social media tools that can be used to improve organizational efficiency, and thus boost performance.
According to Treem and Leonardi (2012), the visibility of social media content can influence the following organizational performance parameters: work behavior, metaknowledge, communication network associates as well as preferences. Social tagging, for example, can influence the streams of activities within an organization by encouraging employees to behave in a unique manner. Likewise, allowing employees to send personal emails that have organizational logos and colors can make the employees conduct themselves in a manner that is congruent to the organization they work for. When members of staff develop a sense of belonging to the organization they represent, they will have a greater incentive to work more productively.
4. How can an organization begin to perform by concerning themselves with social communication in the workplace?
As earlier pointed out, any organization that wants to boost its performance should maintain good social communication. Social media presents immense opportunities for enhancing social communication. But for social media to be used as an effective tool for improving organizational performance, organizations should make sure to choose the right technologies (Macnamara & Zerfass, 2012). This requires an in-depth understanding of Internet-based social media tools and how each one works.
Generally, each technology comes with unique features that are meant to meet the needs of varied social groups. Organizational heads need to know the most convenient places to interact with their subordinates; the best sites are those where the largest numbers of targeted people can be found. Aside from that, it is important for organizations to provide content that is updated and can be scanned through easily. This is because online readers rarely have the time and patience to spend reading through lengthy posts and pages.
- Cismaru, D., & Leovaridis, C. (2013). Internal communication and social dialogue in knowledge-based organizations. Management Dynamics in the Knowledge Economy, 1(3), 459-479.
- Holten, R., & Rosenkranz, C. (2011). Designing viable social systems: The role of linguistic communication for self‐organization, Kybernetes, 40 (3/4), 559-580. Retrieved from doi.org/10.1108/03684921111133746
- Isaacs, D. (2014). Social media and communication. Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, 50(6), 421-422. Retrieved from doi: 10.1111/jpc.12555
- Kraut, R. E., Fish, R. S., Root, R. W., & Chalfonte, B. L. (2002). Informal communication in organizations: Form, function, and technology. Morristown, NJ: Bellcore.
- Macnamara, J., & Zerfass, A. (2012). Social Media Communication in Organizations: The Challenges of Balancing Openness, Strategy, and Management. International Journal of Strategic Communication, 6(4), 287-308. Retrieved from doi:10.1080/1553118X.2012.711402