Organizational communication is a very important aspect of working routine. When established properly, it benefits the overall atmosphere and eliminates conflicts and misunderstandings. In the sphere of working with people, like sales, social work, services, it is also crucial to communicate effectively with the customers, in other words, with people outside the organization.
When I had my first job experience as a sales employee, the lack of appropriate communication skills inhibited my successful start. Since this kind of job requires specific knowledge of communication with the customers, as a newly hired employee, I expected to receive a comprehensive introduction into the proper ways to communicate throughout the organization. However, the company failed to meet my expectations and did not include communication training in their new-hire orientation programs. Therefore, I had to struggle and overcome hardships in communication with the customers by myself, being forced to learn proper communication procedures without any assistance from my employer. Due to this experience, I understood that it is of no use to underestimate the value of communicative skills, especially when they constitute an essential part of the working process. In a situation when the results of your work depend on how well you communicate with your colleagues and customers, it is crucial to pay attention to special trainings and programs for new employees to present communication models and patterns suitable for the working environment.
To analyze this situation, I found myself in at the workplace, I have chosen to address some of the theories explaining organizational communication and persuasion since the main aim of sales is to persuade the customer to buy the product. Edgar Schein’s theory of organizational culture and leadership emphasizes the importance of the employees’ immersion into the culture of the company or organization to build a successful mechanism of group work. It focuses on shared beliefs and values among the collective and its impact on external adaptation, or interaction with the environment outside the group (in my case, customers) (Schein, 2004). Organizational assimilation theory of Frederic Jablin suggests valuable insights concerning the integration of newcomers to the organizational structure and culture, as it was in the situation with my first job. Moreover, it is directly linked with the uncertainty reduction theory that explains communication as a process emerging to reduce uncertainty or lack of information. The last theoretical concept, which can be used in the context of my experience in sales is theory of planned behavior. Communication with the customers is a highly standardized process, since sales employees should know and use specific communicational patterns, therefore, planning their behavior, and the customers as well have certain plans and expectations from the communication with the seller.
According to Miller and Jablin (1991), newcomers to a working environment experience surprise and encounter a high degree of uncertainty concerning their duties and functions. Thus, organizational structures should help new employees to assimilate and provide all the necessary information in order to reduce uncertainty. With constant communication with the leaders and colleagues and their informational support newcomers quicker overcome the first stages of integration into organizational culture and feel more confident and competent about their job. However, in my case, the company failed to provide an adequate transition into the working environment and the process of uncertainty reduction turned out to be stressful. At the same time, Miller and Jablin (1991) say that the feeling of “information deprivation” at the new workplace can be generated or at least enhanced by the newcomer’s inability to properly interpret the instructions. Nevertheless, the organization assimilation theory states that there is no doubt in the necessity of information for the new employees to perform their functions right. Without satisfying my attempts of information-seeking, the level of uncertainty kept rising and this caused more difficulties in managing communication with the customers. Schein’s (2004) perspective of organizational culture develops this thought and stands for a better understanding of the organizational culture by the employees and it positive impact on the communication between them and with the external environment. Since such integration is impossible without an introduction to the functioning of the organization, my first employer chose the wrong strategy by not providing sufficient training.
In my direct communication with the customers, it was important to attain an expected objective by the act of communication – namely, selling a product. Therefore, feeling uncomfortable and unconfident with the uncertainty left about the necessary communication norms and behavioral beliefs, I could not achieve a likely outcome from the external communication. As the theory of planned behavior states, “the more favorable the attitude and subjective norm, and the greater the perceived control, the stronger should be the person’s intention to perform the behavior in question” (Ajzen, 2006). Therefore, though my behavioral intention was strong and clear, the lack of organizational information resulted in the lack of perceived behavioral control, which impeded the successful performance at the workplace.