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Communication is the ability to share information with people and to understand what information and feelings are being conveyed by others.
Place these posters around your facility to encourage team members and staff to practice effective communication skills.
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Patient communication Archives - Lee Ann Brady, DMD's Dental Blog HomeAbout Dr. I wrote recently about moving our conversations with patients away from insurance benefits, and into conversations about the benefits of health. Recent research into how middle managers manage change in English higher education institutions (Sarchet, 2009) identified communication as the most prominent and important theme. The research findings identified middle managers as wanting access to practice based support and guidance.
More general research into the management of change identifies the complexity and breadth of the subject and available material. There are a variety of change management methods and tools available including Project Management, Quality Management and Business Process Re-engineering and these have been used in the higher education sector with some success. Middle managers in higher education have learnt that the effective management of change requires good communication.
Prior to embarking on any change project experienced middle managers consider the scope of the change and the means of communicating they will employ. Experienced middle managers know that people who obstruct the change and refuse to accept it can be major obstacles. Finally experienced middle managers have identified a number of ‘unique characteristics’ of higher education that face any manager embarking on change in the higher education sector. A clear communication plan is therefore required from the outset, along with the nomination of someone within the project team whose has responsibility for it.
The first rule is that the communicated message should always follow the three Cs: clarity, consistency, consultative. The vision for what the change will bring about is important and may be arrived at by thinking about these issues.
A useful tool in encapsulating this is to create a Project Initiation Document (See PRINCE 2 Project management methodology) - this identifies the background, the proposed project, the scope of the project, the key targets and milestones to be achieved, the key agents, stakeholders and clients. To avoid “the left and right hand” syndrome (that is the right hand does not know what the left is doing!) – quite often a plan is proceeding well with it appearing that everyone is well informed and engaged and then it emerges that someone apparently unconnected and unaffected is organising a prestigious event in exactly the place and at the time when the most disruption will occur ! Defining stakeholders is always a challenging task – it always seems that new stakeholders pop up and the simple answer to this is: everyone.
A word of warning: Each form may take time and be difficult to maintain after the initial enthusiasm.
This is the most effective and useful, powerful, persuasive but can be very dangerous!! The need to check that the message is getting through and assess any revision or the need for clarification is required. You may not be able to take everyone with you, but that doesn’t mean that you should not keep trying to do so!
The effective manager of change in a higher education institution is an experienced and effective cat herder who can organise cats into a team.
Tip: To turn text into a link, highlight the text, then click on a page or file from the list above. Communication can take on many forms including gestures, facial expressions, signs, and vocalizations (including pitch and tone), in addition to speech and written communication. It is critical that good leaders display the ability to effectively communicate with their associates and subordinates as well as train and encourages others to demonstrate those same communication skills.
They ideally wanted to access this from experienced middle managers who have worked on the change projects they are confronted with.

There is literature that suggests that change cannot be planned and managed but is emergent (for example, Meyerson, 2001), or or that it is more about transition (Bridges, 2006).
The main issue here is whether the institution has adopted the method and tool and actively supporting its use and whether a middle manager is then able to use it within his or her department. These tend to be of more practical help for the middle manager who is faced with a change project. This may be difficult as there may not be a solution that is practical or the scope or opportunity to change.
If the people affected by the change pick up on a manager’s unease and unnatural style this may affect the way they react to the change. Oganisational structures in the higher education sector are usually very flat with management that has a lack of an ability to ‘command and control’. The evidence from this research suggests that the focus should now be on how to develop the profession of ‘cat herder’. The identification of the key stakeholders that will be affected by the change is a key part of any change project and a precursor to the development of a communication strategy. Communication should also be a key topic for all stages of change management and be a standing item on the project management agenda.
Remember the initial assessment is likely to be reviewed later and consideration about how this may take place is important. One of the biggest problems in large, complex and semi-autonomous organisations like universities is that people behave as if they have blinkers on – they simply don’t see the extended impact their actions might have!
There are pitfalls associated with communication and help and guidance may be required by even the most experienced manager. People in organizations typically spend over 75% of their time in an interpersonal situation; thus it is no surprise to find that at the root of a large number of organizational problems is poor communications. In this training course, your employees will learn to write, edit and proofread e-mails that project credibility and professionalism, are free of spelling mistakes and demonstrate perfect grammar and usage. There is, therefore, an increasing recognition by senior and middle managers in the sector that management is a professional activity that requires development and support.
They would like to know the pitfalls and are particularly interested in change projects that had not worked to learn from the negative experience.
If the institution has not adopted the method and tool it can be difficult for a middle manager to use it effectively.
There also exists a collegial committee based and executive line management based decision making structures.
This task can be conducted by brainstorming them either individually or, ideally, in a group. It is always best for the team to have the statement of the current position and any key messages in writing to avoid misunderstanding.
This is all about preparing to be the champion and gaining confidence when dealing with discussions.
Communication may then be refined so that information is channelled at an appropriate level of detail.
They’ll also get helpful tips on how to write e-mail that gets read, the new rules of e-mail etiquette and legal issues to watch out for. They really required a network that was available when they wanted to use it and this formed the basis for the founding of the Association of University Administrator’s (AUA) Special Interest Group (SIG) ‘Managing change in higher education’ which seeks to improve the profession by assisting managers with managing change in the sector.
In terms of the methodological approaches of the literature there is considerable variation. Change is scary for people and unsettling and yet people may not be honest about their feelings and motivations.
They may draft the ‘vision’ and discuss this with colleagues and then consider the means to getting to that ‘vision’.
In open meetings with staff middle managers claim they use the issues raised by the 'awkward squad' to clarify the rationale for the change and, on occasion, the individuals who form this opposition may eventually be turned on by the majority who see the change as important.

The development of a joint plan to try and makes things better may be the only available option. Some managers consider this duality provides for uncertainty to how they are managed and operate together.
Thinking about their vaues and their perspectives concerning the change can help formulate a communication plan. Those on the “coal face” will most readily see the problems and barriers to change and can be a very positive mechanism to reduce the impact of change if offered the opportunity and framework to comment on the planned change. Be wary though a major transformation project may change your working life and be very costly! Care needs to be taken here as the manager who decides to have an open door policy may take on too much!
Some accounts are based on empirically based work into managing change which depended on interviewing or providing questionnaires to heads of companies or business managers (see, for example, Kanter, 1992, Kotter and Cohen, 2002). Some of this majority may need to be developed outside open meetings in the one to one meetings by the manager.
The presence of a committee structure itself is a source of the perceived lack of clarity about the decision making process. Once this has been undertaken the involvement of the stakeholders can be determined and planned. These meanings are conveyed through a medium such as a telephone call, a memorandum, or a conversation.
In contrast, others use analysis of secondary sources and make assertions about change and its management based on these (see, for example, Senior, 1997, Burnes, 2004 and Mullins, 2005). If there is time and resources available and the opportunity then a more consultative approach may be used and an experienced manager may set out a plan and publish it using a variety of communication methods. The academic staff are more loyal to their subject than their institution or department or school and there exists a ‘them and us’ culture between many academics and other staff in the university.
Thus communication should be both written and verbal, with anything arising from discussion being noted and agreed.
This communication process entails five essential elements: (1) the sender, (2) the message being transmitted, (3) the medium used to carry the message, (4) time receiver of the message, and (5) the interpretation given to the message. When I came in and asked how he was doing he said "great, but I think I melted my mouthguard".
A manager who is not confident in talking to people and persuading them of the benefits of the change may experience particular difficulties. Besides these issues there is the complexity of stakeholders and the complexity of the sector itself.
First, the message must be encoded, or put into a form that will be understood by the receiver.
Students may be made up of many different groups of people whether they be mature or school leavers or full or part time or from one ethnic grouping or a wide variety. Each institution is also different in terms of its history and culture and management structure and strategy.
If these characteristics were not enough the general philosophies between higher education and other sectors of the economy are also different. So much so that a leading American academic once compared managing academics as being like ‘herding cats’ (Bennis, 1997).

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