Academic journal article Journal of Positive Management

Influence of Superior-Subordinate Communication on Employee Satisfaction

Academic journal article Journal of Positive Management

Influence of Superior-Subordinate Communication on Employee Satisfaction

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

If we want something to happen in an organization, we must communicate. Our best inventions and intentions will not become a reality unless we communicate what we want. It is undoubtedly interesting for a communication scholar to research the relations between internal communication and other variables that influence the bottom line.

Companies are in business for profit. Both communication and job satisfaction are related to company's turnover. That is why the understanding of the impact of communication and job satisfaction on each other could have its consequence for the way the business is run.

Although researchers point out there is no consistent relationship between job satisfaction and individual performance (Kim, 2002), there is consistent evidence that low job satisfaction results in absenteeism, reduced commitment to organizations, turnover, and stress (Locke 1976; Tett and Meyer 1993; Brooke and Price 1989; Barling, Wade, and Fullagar 1990). Hence, it is important for researchers to clarify the factors affecting employees' job satisfaction in the organizational context.

This paper will try to sum up the recent research on the link between internal communication between superiors and subordinates and its influence on employee job satisfaction. The purpose of the paper is to identify possible implications for further research in that field in Poland.

Between the 1950s and 1970s the downward, top-down management focus shaped the majority of research about the communication in organizations. Despite the length of time spent on the examination of the superior-subordinate relations it still remains one of the major foci of interest in organizational communication studies. Since the 1980s the question whether a well-informed employee is a satisfied employee seems to have been answered. The contemporary research elaborates finer elements of that relation.

The article begins with a review of the literature on the communication process, and then moves on to the talk about job satisfaction. Next, it discusses the research on the internal communication between the supervisor and subordinate and its impact on job satisfaction. The final section of the article presents the implications of the findings and suggests further study in the field. The article will focus mainly on the most recent studies carried out in the last decade.

2. Communication

As with many words in English, communication has a variety of meanings. The first two definitions listed in the American Heritage® Dictionary serve to highlight a subtle but important distinction in usage:

1. The act of communicating; transmission.

2. a) The exchange of thoughts, messages, or information, as by speech, signals, writing, or behaviour;

b) Interpersonal rapport.

Although the second definition seems simply to elaborate the first, a significant difference separates the two. The first definition contains the transmission synonym that commonly underlies our use of the word. The second definition forms the focus of this discussion: the exchange of ideas.

The transmission approach to communication emphasizes the act of sending. We can transmit an electrical signal or a disease. When we focus on sending or transmission as a definition, we may assume that because of our actions we have communicated. However, there is no guarantee that the transmission was received, that the receiver knows it, or that it met our own expectations. When organizations experience a failure of communication, the fault frequently lies with the assumption that mere transmission is equal to communication.

All communication occurs at the level of an individual person. There are three basic methods of communicating: oral, written and non-verbal. Individuals speak, write, gesture; but more importantly, individuals interpret these signs and symbols. However, how a person engages in the process of communication changes depends on the circumstances and the others involved in the process. …

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