Personality and Communication Affect on Supervision Term Paper

Pages: 20 (5219 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Communication

PERSONALITY & COMMUNICATION: AFFECT ON SUPERVISION

Imagine that you are sitting in a room with three other people: a convicted serial killer, an eccentric scientist, and a four-year-old child. If you had to choose one, which one would you pick? Which qualities would you automatically associate with each individual? Which one do you think you most closely identify with? If this same situation were applied within a group of people sharing the same characteristics, the answers to each question would still vary. The reason for the difficulty in getting a clear answer is that there are so many differences among members of the human race. Human beings not only come in many shapes and sizes but also behave in very complex ways. Of the more than five billion people who presently inhabit our planet, no two are exactly alike.

Apart from the same bodily organs and systems, it is hard to imagine what "human nature" the three individuals identified above have in common. Such differences are often referred to as our personality traits. The meanings of personality, as described by several of the recognized theorists in the field, are as diverse as the differences in the human race. One philosopher has described personality in terms of self, or an organized, permanent, subjectively perceived entity which is at the very heart of all our experiences (Rogers, 1951). Another has proposed that life proceeds in terms of a series of psychosocial crises, with personality a function of their outcome. (Erikson, 1982). Yet another has viewed personality as a complex pattern in which person, behavior, and situation continually influence each other (Bandura, 1982).

These varied interpretations of personality seem to indicate that the meaning of personality in terms of a psychological perspective signify an essential aspect of an individual. Research has constantly shown that individual behavior and oral communication affects others and can influence the actions of others. Different people have different communications skills, as one individual might have a personality that lends itself to effective interpersonal communication with others and another may exhibit personality traits and characteristics that negate effective interpersonal communication. Researcher have used studies on personality traits to analyze the supervisor-employee relationship. Many different approaches have been taken to effectuate a successful supervisor-employee relationship through the study of personality and communication.

Managers have traditionally spent the majority of their time communicating in one form or another, such as the common employee meeting, memos, and reports. This fact lends support for the idea that an important part of their work is communication. This is especially true now that service workers outnumber production workers and research as well as production processes emphasize greater collaboration and teamwork among workers in different functional groups. As a result, communication practices and technologies have become more important in all organizations, and have become the most important in knowledge-intensive organizations and sectors. The study of organizational communication is not new, but it has only recently achieved some degree of recognition as a field of academic study. It has largely grown in response to the needs and concerns of business.

The first communication programs were typically located in speech departments, but most business schools now include organizational communication as a key element of study. The study of organizational communication recognizes that communication in organizations goes far beyond training managers to be effective speakers and to have good interpersonal communication skills. Interpersonal theory asserts that the client will "live" his or her maladaptive interpersonal style within the counseling session. This phenomenon is often referred to as the social microcosm (Yalom, 1985).

In interpersonal theory, the supervisor aids in the identification process by focusing on how the employee thinks, feels, and acts in response to the client. The employee also brings his or her problematic interpersonal behaviors into the counseling interaction. The supervisor then addresses the problematic behaviors by pointing out the continuity between the employee's behavior in sessions with clients and in the supervisory sessions. The interpersonal approach to supervision is explicitly designed to deal with transference-countertransference issues. Findings from a study of verbal interactions between supervisor and employee indicated that although supervisor support was the most frequent intervention, it did not lead to employee thinking and learning.

Furthermore, the results of the study found that no supervisor intervention could reliably predict cognitive responses from the employee. This suggests that interpersonal approaches to supervision might be best used with more advanced trainees. In another study conducted by Reising and Daniels, the data revealed that employees who were beginning supervision were more anxious, dependent, and technique oriented than were more advanced students. They also found that the beginning students were less ready for confrontation.

This study arrived at there are two equally important sides to interpersonal competence; that it is necessary to become skilled in the behavior required for effective face-to-face interactions, and that it is also essential to learn how to interpret the behavior of others so that one's own behavior can be adjusted. Proponents of this study acknowledge that all organizations, not just business organizations, have communication needs and challenges. The field of organizational communication is highly diverse. Organizational communication is struggling to develop and convey some sense of coherency across these many areas.

Communication is an extremely important method by which a supervisor's personality, social identity, status and power are portrayed. In some supervisor interactions with an employee, the relationship may be mostly interpersonal, and not in others. A key factor for supervisors to remember is that the more a person identifies with his or her in-group, the more he or she will feel distinct from out-group members. In this way communication is more often function of the relative status or power of the interactants than of their personality. Research indicates that employee's perceptions of their supervisors' trustworthiness are based on features such as the supervisor's appreciation of the employee's worth as manifested on a day-to-day basis. A trusted supervisor has also been compared to one who takes a mentoring approach.

Supervisors are most likely to be trusted if they are seen to take a caring, mentoring approach with their employee staff, while still being regarded as competent and respected. On the other hand, managers perceived as untrustworthy are seen as self-serving, failing to give recognition, and quick to blame and criticize. This gives them the image as incompetent. A review of the literature suggests that a good supervisor manages the relationship and power differences positively simultaneously.

In past years, communication in small organizations was largely informal. As organizations increased in size, formal top-down communication became the main concern of organizational managers. In present times, organizational communication has become far more complex and varied but more important to overall organizational functioning and success. Recent emphasis has increasingly turned to understanding how new communication technologies can assist in bringing about new and more effective organizational forms and processes. There are two prominent views of organizational communication; the view that organizational communication is one aspect of an organization, and the view that organizational communication is an underlying basis of the organization itself.

An example of organizational communication viewed as an aspect is the sending and receiving of messages by means of symbols and that it is a key element of organizational climate. An example of organizational communication as the underlying basis of the organization is the idea that the behavior of individuals in organizations is best understood from a communication point-of-view. Changes confronting organizations and the associated changes in organizational forms have made organizational communication increasingly important to the overall function of the organization.

Another theory applicable to the supervisor-employee relationship is known as "Social Identity," defined as an individual's knowledge that he or she belongs to certain social or status groups, together with some emotional and value significance of the group membership. When one's social identity is salient, so too are out-group dynamics. (Gallois & Giles, 1998). Some researchers contend that, in some interactions, the relationship is mostly interpersonal and the interactants perceive each other as individuals, while, in other situations, people interact primarily in terms of group-based identities or stereotypes. (Gallois & Giles, 1998). Others have argued that communication is more often a function of the relative status or power of the interactants than of their personality. (Hogg & Abrams, 1988). Both of these studies reach the conclusion that most communication in supervisor-employee relationships are seen as a function of the interactants' status or role.

It has also been posited that interactants' communication goals or motivations include seeking approval of the other person or signaling in-group or out-group membership. In-group status may be a pre-requisite for employees to receive mentoring from their supervisors'. Additional research indicates that in-group members receive more attention and support from their supervisor than out-group members, while out-group members experience a more formal relationship with their supervisor (Jones, Gallois, Callan & Baker, 1999). As a result, one can conclude that an understanding of how communication influences in-group/out-group perceptions is extremely important to understanding trust in mentoring relationships.

Some researchers have distinguished between interpersonal… [END OF PREVIEW]

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