continuation of page 6. Triangle of Supervision
4.1. One side of the “Triangle of Supervision” is communication. In managing personnel, communication is the most important single skill because it is the foundation of understanding, the basis of transmitting management objectives, and the means of comprehending the Employee points of view
4.2.Communication in one form or other has been existing since beginning of the world and, at occasions, had been used very effectively. Allah Sub-hano-hoo wa Ta’ala has informed human beings about it’s importance at many occasions as revealed in Holy Quraan. In Surah “Shura” while describing qualities of wise people, it is written in verse 38 ” —- who (conduct) their affairs by mutual consultation —— “
While in verse 159 of Sura “Al-i-Imran” a command is given to Holy Prophet (may peace be upon him)
“—- and consult them in affairs (of moment) —“.
However, it was only in late twenties of 20th century that experts in personnel management visualized necessity for management and employees to be conscious of it’s quality, smoothness and accuracy and to be deliberate about making improvements. In more recent years increasing attention has been paid to getting suggestions processed through regular supervisory channels so that full participation of all is insured.
4.3. Communication may be divided into statement and interpreted reality. It can be illustrated by the joke. The joke itself is the statement and the point of the joke is the interpreted reality. However, the interpreted reality is such an individual matter that the same statement to ten different persons may evoke ten different interpreted realities.
4.4. Perceptions of communication vary according to the group involved as well as according to an individual’s frame of reference. The frame of reference of upper management, lower management and workers is quite different. This is bound to influence the perception of each group in communication. Management perceives conceptions through it’s own interests and values. What worker (the Employee) perceives in a message has a great bearing on his response. Past experience from all facets of living, that is, childhood, school, previous work and home along with past relations with the Supervisor affect his perception.
4.5. As the Employee sees his Supervisor walking upto him, question arises in his mind, “What have I done now ?”. or “Uh-oh, here comes another sermon on quality”. He expects a certain behaviour from the Supervisor because of the Supervisor’s role and because of conditioning from previous contacts. The manner of the communicator (frown or smile) is also an important factor. All this influences perception even though the Employee may be quite mistaken about the purpose of interview.
4.6. Communication figures prominently in all problems of human relations. Whenever there is conflict and lack of understanding among men, there is also failure to communicate. A great deal of wear and tear on human nerves is caused by the Supervisor’s inadvertant failure to tell the Employees why certain actions were taken.
4.7. Mostly, the causes of failure to communicate are inadvertent but in certain cases failure occurs due to mistaken assumptions of the Supervisor. For example, some Supervisors think that they are too busy to give more time to interview or to give any time at all. They pay superficial attention to upward communication and believe that downward communication is very important being their right of seniority.
4.8. Causes of Failure Many causes lead to failure of communication. I shall briefly describe only general causes. Individual instances of failure to communicate can be attributed to such a wide variety of sources that it would be impossible to document them.
4.8.1. Failure to be communicated with Many so-called failures to communicate are, in fact, failures to be communicated with. A person may communicate well and still cause frustration because he cannot be communicated with. Such communications are enjoyable only on a short term basis. A specific example is of Adolf Hitler. He communicated well with groups as well as with individuals. His ability to communicate inspired an entire race. He inspired able generals to attempt the impossible and pull it off. Stories abound of how Hitler, a corporal of non-descriptive back-ground, inspired aristocratic professional military men by the shear force of his personality to risk every thing for him. But he could not be communicated with. The story is told, it’s authority cannot be discounted.
4.8.2. Confidence in Subordinates Too often, management does not open up the overt channels or because it fails to take the employees into confidence, the informal channels, as a result, frequently convey misinformation rather than facts. Any group of people associated to get work done, automatically constitutes a kind of social organism that devices its own ways of keeping alive though exchange of intelligence as to “what is going on”. The answer to poor communication lies not in suppression of these natural, informal channels but in keeping a two way flow of information free of obstruction, thus reducing possibility of misinformation passing down the line.
4.8.3. Emotional Factors Emotions are a bar to understanding despite their sometimes constituting a necessary force in communications. Feelings distract the receiver’s attention and interfere with concentration. It can distort meaning so as to render the communication useless or worse. Fear, suspicion, hatred and jealously can blind either party’s eyes and close their ears. Moreover, distrust and lack of confidence lead members at all levels of an organization to share only minimal information with others. Effort must be made to keep away from emotions, jealously, likes and dislikes. So far as possible misunderstanding of the employee must be removed prior to communication.
4.8.4. Attitude of Supervisor The Supervisor’s own feelings affect the way he communicates, his manner, his approach, and the length of time he takes. His attitude towards the Employee, as well as the felt attitude of the Employee towards him, will also affect communication. Moreover, different personalities react to different persuasive appeals and to different types of people. For example, the authoritarian type of person is more likely to be swayed by some-one known to be powerful. More susceptible to persuasion are likely to be those low in self-confidence, those with strong feeling of inferiority, and the highly complex individuals who are also flexible. Those who are intelligent are likely to be persuaded by rational or logical argument. So the Supervisor is required to first study the Employees which, of course, takes time, but generally the logical course must be followed.
4.8.5. Consulting Subordinates The Supervisors pay superficial attention to upward communication but actually believe that downward communication is vastly more important. In ignoring the true concept of communication as being two-directional, the Supervisor invites inattention to his own problems. A natural tendency is to have little regard for the problems of those who have little regard for ours.
4.8.6. Echelons of Hierarchy Even when some persons are sincerely interested in two-way communication, social distance created by difference in rank is a hampering force. The greater the number of echelons in the organization, the greater the reluctance of the Employees to go to the Supervisor, and greater their difficulty in expressing themselves. This power-factor is why much criticized open-door policy fails, especially, in large organizations. The communication process is like a chain which is only as strong as its weakest link. It takes only one link to impair, distort, or prevent communication.
4.8.7. Evaluation of Subordinates Interviews generally fail because the Supervisor’s approach is one of blame or punishment, calling forth a threatened, defensive, hostile response by the Employee. He derives a feeling of superiority from making the Employees feel inferior, stupid or ignorant. Efforts to impress the Employee by knowledge or intelligence yield the same result in the Employee and cause him figuratively to ‘leave the communication’. Too often the Supervisor is afraid that, if he gives up the floor, he is giving up control of the situation when actually he is probably bringing the interview back into focus so far as the Employee is concerned. In these situations of superior dominance, the Employee has a feeling of frustration caused by lack of opportunity to express his own views. He is sure that his views are not wanted and would not be considered if given.
For Leadership see page 6c