8605-408 Management Communication
- November 16, 2023
- Posted by: admin
- Category: ILM Level 4
Task 1. Understand the importance of effective communication in management
As per the Oxford English dictionary, communication is defined as the exchange of information through various mediums such as speaking, writing, or other means (Oxford Dictionary, 2023). It encompasses the transmission of messages from one person and the reception and comprehension of those messages by others, not limited to verbal communication (Oxford Dictionary, 2023). Communication is the process of expressing ideas, feelings, or providing information (Oxford Learners Dictionary, 2023).
In the context of organizations, particularly those like Probation that prioritize a person-centered approach, the success of the organization hinges on effective communication among all staff, especially those in managerial and front-line positions. Competent collaboration among employees is crucial for achieving organizational goals and objectives.
Within the Probation Service, effective communication plays a pivotal role in safeguarding the public and managing the risks posed by offenders. Communication between management and employees is instrumental in fostering the service’s development, identifying individual training needs, and addressing internal or external issues that may impact job performance. Moreover, it provides a platform, such as team meetings, for staff to discuss and resolve misunderstandings or disagreements, thereby preventing potential conflicts.
Despite the significance of effective communication, there are challenges within the Probation Service that hinder optimal communication, such as senior managers struggling to allocate quality time for communication due to high workloads. This lack of engagement has repercussions on staff morale and performance, raising concerns. Additionally, there has been a shift from an open-door policy model, where Senior Probation Officers (SPOs) allotted dedicated time each day for Probation Officers (POs) and Probation Services Officers (PSOs) to discuss concerns following the submission of an ‘SBAR’ form. The SBAR form requests specific information, indicating a departure from the previous communication approach.
SBAR – Situation Background Assessment Recommendation
- Situation: A sufficient summary of the incident or problem
- Background: The context, objective data, how did we get here?
- Assessment: What is the problem right now?
- Recommendation: What do we need to do?
Regrettably, though understandably advantageous for Senior Probation Officers (SPOs) in managing their workload, this shift has resulted in a communication strain between management and staff. Some staff members, due to time constraints or reluctance, may choose not to complete additional forms. This, in turn, prompts individual decision-making, elevating the risk of further offending—a contradiction to the organizational objectives.
Returning to the focal point of this essay, the initial section of this unit delves into the relevance of the communication cycle for effective management communication and comprehending the underlying processes. It further explores the significance of choosing an appropriate tone, language, and level of formality during communication, evaluating the effectiveness of verbal and written communication methods within the Probation service.
The subsequent section focuses on cultivating effective communication skills as a reflective manager. This involves establishing criteria to self-evaluate one’s communication proficiency. Additionally, the essay aims to showcase personal verbal and written communication skills through the collection and analysis of feedback using a questionnaire. Lastly, the evaluation of managerial skills, identifying strengths and areas for improvement, will be undertaken, leading to a comprehensive conclusion.
AC 1.1 Explain the relevance of the communication cycle for effective communication in management
Senior management within the Probation service employs various communication methods for diverse purposes, such as providing supervision, chairing team meetings to disseminate policy and procedure changes, and fostering information exchange and staff input. Effective communication within the organization is crucial for building stronger relationships, motivating staff, and ultimately enhancing performance and commitment. The pivotal term here is ‘effective,’ as I have encountered managers with ineffective communication styles. One current manager conducts one-sided interactions during team meetings, creating a sense of inferiority among team members. Another manager tends to talk over individuals and focuses solely on her own work-related stresses, displaying a disregard for the current concerns and stresses of the staff. Both managers lack evidence of understanding how communication should be efficiently and effectively conducted in the office. The communication cycle serves as a valuable model that could assist them in rectifying this.
“The Communication Cycle helps you ensure that you don’t overlook anything essential the first time you present it and can maximize its impact. By putting the process into the form of a cycle, this approach encourages you to use the feedback you receive to improve your communications in the future” (Mind Tools, 2023).
Numerous communication cycle models are available online, with most incorporating six or seven stages essential for effective communication:
- Sender: The individual expressing information, whether verbally or nonverbally.
- Message: The information conveyed by the sender.
- Encoding: How the sender conveys the message, encompassing gestures, tone of voice, or other pragmatics used to communicate the message.
- Channel: Also referred to as the “medium” of communication, this encompasses oral communication or communication through media such as video or news articles.
- Receiver: The sender directs their message toward the receiver, who collects the information and endeavors to decode or comprehend it.
- Decoding: This is how the receiver interprets the message, translating the sender’s syntax, pragmatics, and semantics into thoughts.
- Feedback: Feedback is the manner in which the receiver responds to the message.
(Stages of the Communication Cycle, study.com 2023)
The communication cycle employed in the Probation service is based on Argyle’s communication cycle theory. This process is designed to help team members grasp the intricacies of communication and reap the benefits of effective communication.
AC 1.2 Explain, with examples, the importance of selecting an appropriate tone, language, and level of formality in management communications
Management employs various styles of communication when interacting with the staff they oversee. These styles involve making decisions about appropriate language, tone, and the level of formality required. Senior management, particularly Senior Probation Officers (SPOs), are expected to maintain a consistently professional and polite demeanor. As Paola Pascual notes, “The tone you use also affects how you’re perceived as a leader. A commanding, assertive tone can convey strength and authority, while a warm and friendly tone can create a sense of approachability and empathy. The key is to strike a balance between different types of tones based on the situation” (Paola Pascual, 2023).
In overseeing other professionals within their team, SPOs must be mindful of their tone of voice and language, whether expressed verbally or in written messages. The prevalence of mobile phones, texting, and social media introduces the risk of using slang or poor grammar. Fostering a friendly, polite demeanor and employing active listening contribute to building strong working relationships. Additionally, exercising self-control and refraining from making discussions personal during meetings are essential. Clear and respectful communication, coupled with the ability to manage personal feelings, enables effective problem-solving. Presenting calm body language in challenging situations further aids in defusing tensions.
When a Senior Probation Officer (SPO) employs the appropriate tone of voice and body language, it signals a level of self-confidence that instills confidence in the staff. Utilizing reflective listening skills during conversations demonstrates to the staff that they are being heard and fosters an environment where everyone feels respected. For instance, during a team meeting, discussing staff rotas in a clear, concise, and assertive manner, elucidating the reasons behind the rota changes, and attentively addressing staff concerns ensures that expectations are understood, reasons for changes are clear, and staff voices are heard. Facilitating two-way communication in team meetings establishes a foundation for improved relationships and heightened productivity.
Likewise, when composing emails, it is crucial for SPOs to maintain a formal tone while ensuring clarity for easy comprehension. The message should be precise and straightforward, avoiding excessive information or overly complex language to help staff members grasp the intended request. This principle is also shared with new report authors who write for offenders of diverse backgrounds. Using overly complex words is futile if the reader cannot grasp their meaning in the context.
Being able to employ the right tone, decorum, and language in a managerial position, regardless of the communication situation, contributes to the development of respect and trust between staff members and managers. This clarity in communication, in turn, results in increased productivity within the team.
AC 1.3 Assess the effectiveness of a range of verbal and written communication methods within your area of the organisation
Proficient communication skills serve as the cornerstone of daily operations within the Probation service, encompassing both verbal and written communication. The release of “cutting edge” research by HMIP underlines the importance of well-honed relationships as the most effective Probation practice (HMIP, 2023). In the realm of high-quality probation work, where building trust with offenders is paramount, effective communication plays a pivotal role.
The communication process within the Probation service involves various components. Verbal communication encompasses spoken messages used in interactions with staff and key stakeholders, such as team meetings, case supervisions, line management discussions, case handovers, multi-agency meetings (IOM/MARAC/MAPPA), oral reports in court, the delivery of Rehabilitation Activity Requirement, and handling telephone inquiries or supervision contacts. Considering the recipient of the information, the context plays a crucial role. For instance, formal styles of communication are essential for Pre-sentence reports or Parole reports, as well as when presenting information in a court setting. In contrast, emails to staff members or team messages offer a more convenient and efficient means of informal communication within the organization.
Recognizing when to use each communication medium effectively is paramount, and understanding the audience is equally crucial. For example, the OASys risk assessment, which is the service users’ risk assessment, should be inclusive and communicated in a style that the service user can comprehend when completing the assessment.
In my hybrid role, which involves both case management of offenders and providing on-the-day oral reports in court, maintaining clear and concise communication in a professional and approachable manner is a constant priority. This applies to interactions with senior leads, colleagues, partnership agencies, and offenders alike. Written communication is also a significant aspect of my responsibilities, encompassing various documents such as OASys assessments, pre-sentence reports for courts, parole reports for prisons, daily recording of appointments on Delius, numerous emails, and referral forms for interventions, including accommodation. All written materials must be devoid of grammatical errors, easy to comprehend, and free from slang or discriminatory language.
Frontline staff, including myself, are tasked with completing written records of supervision appointments on the ‘Delius’ database following the CRISS acronym (Check in, Review, Intervention, Summarize, Set and agree tasks):
- Check in: Record the current state of the service user and any events since the previous meeting.
- Review: Document the outcomes of previous assignments or actions, and identify any changes in risk.
- Intervention: Record progress against sentence plan objectives, exploring and documenting any emerging issues or developments.
- Summarize: Summarize the key points of the session and clarify the purpose of the meeting.
- Set and agree tasks: Document any assigned work for the service user and actions for the practitioner, including follow-up with other service providers.
Completing Delius entries within 24 hours is a key performance target, allowing any staff member to access up-to-date information regarding the offender for risk management in the absence of the allocated probation practitioner. These entries are monitored by the Business Manager, who provides reports to the Senior Probation Officer (SPO) overseeing the staff, offering regular feedback via tasking meetings or supervision, either in written or verbal form.
Another crucial aspect of communication in Probation is nonverbal communication, defined as the process of sending and receiving messages without using spoken or written words. Nonverbal cues, including body language, eye contact, and facial expressions, can enhance verbal communication effectiveness. Additionally, being attuned to others’ nonverbal signals aids in understanding their mood, feelings, and unspoken emotions. This skill is particularly valuable in navigating sensitive topics or identifying signs of distress, allowing for timely intervention and preventing high-risk situations.
As a program facilitator who has undergone extensive training, non-verbal cues have been a focal point of our learning. Among the various non-verbal styles emphasized in two-way communication, nodding is particularly highlighted. This involves moving your head to signal to the speaker that you are actively listening to their verbal communication. Simultaneously, maintaining strong eye contact enhances the impression that you are fully engaged in the conversation.
The practice of active listening, including the effective use of non-verbal cues, is invaluable in various interactions, benefitting stakeholders, colleagues, and particularly offenders. Active listening establishes a genuine connection, making individuals feel genuinely heard. It fosters the development of trust, indicates a sincere interest in the speaker’s words, and conveys a sense of care and concern.
Task 2. Be able to develop effective communication skills as a reflective manager
AC 2.1 Develop appropriate criteria to evaluate own ability to communicate effectively
“Reflective management is a practice where managers and leaders utilize their self-awareness, behaviors, and interactions as a valuable source of learning. This management and leadership style commonly places a strong emphasis on the cultivation of emotional intelligence and performance among those who adopt it” (Business Balls, 2023).
From the moment individuals join Probation as frontline practitioners, an expectation is set for them to become reflective practitioners. This involves looking back and learning from work experiences through a blend of constructive, critical, and creative thinking, fostering intensive personal development. While Probation senior management has typically gained transferable skills through managing caseloads as practitioners, there is limited training provided for Senior Probation Officers (SPOs). As their ongoing reflective practice is often confined to interactions within their team and problem-solving, there is a risk of stagnation and problems in their reflective growth.
This issue is evident in the current senior management team, where ineffective communication, a lack of transparency, and empathy with staff contribute to low resilience among SPOs, leading to increased instances of sickness, diminished mutual trust, and occasional conflicts. To address this, I propose the development of a training model that incorporates the ILM level 4 training course. This would facilitate the transition from practitioner to management and provide valuable skills. Additionally, establishing a communication criterion that encourages the development of effective communication skills could foster self-reflection and the creation of personal development plans.
Communication Criterion for Reflective Managers
- Verbal Communication: Evaluation of the ability to communicate effectively includes assessing precision, confidence, competency, tone, and the aptitude for dealing with complex situations or demonstrating conflict resolution skills. This proficiency can be demonstrated through activities such as chairing a formal team meeting, leading an informal MAPPA meeting, or presenting a report in court. Feedback and witness statement evidence from the line manager would be essential to substantiate this.
- Written Communication: Competence in written communication can be illustrated through examples such as composing an email to the team to introduce a new policy or procedure. This written communication should be clear, concise, free of grammatical errors, and possess correct punctuation.
- Listening Skills: The capacity for effective listening can be assessed by listening to the concerns of a staff member dealing with a potential recall. The evidence of relaying, comprehending, and acting upon the information should be reflected in the accurate recording of details in Delius. Additionally, repeating the information to the LDU head would further substantiate effective listening skills. A witness statement is required to validate these competencies. the LDU head and a record of the outcome. Additionally, team meetings or supervision sessions, observed by the line manager, will assess whether information has been accurately reflected to demonstrate receipt and understanding. This evaluation will also reference recognized non-verbal cues and outline the actions to be taken based on the interaction.
- Non-verbal Skills: Evaluation of non-verbal skills will be conducted during observational supervision sessions to determine if the individual is dressed appropriately, maintains good eye contact, displays proper posture, uses effective body language, and employs facial expressions and gestures correctly. Discussions on recognizing non-verbal communication will be facilitated, and practice sessions for staff on different types of non-verbal communication will be organized, accompanied by feedback forms.
- Developing Questionnaire/Feedback Form: A questionnaire or feedback form will be created to assess the effectiveness of communication in various settings such as team meetings, post-training facilitation, and when seeking input from colleagues.
- Collate and Analyze Feedback: The feedback, including personal observations, will be compiled and analyzed. The findings will then be presented in a report format, which will be shared with the line manager during supervision sessions.
- Evaluate Strengths and Areas for Improvement: A SWOT analysis will be developed based on the received feedback, identifying strengths and areas for improvement.
- Devising a Personal Development Plan: A comprehensive personal development plan will be created, incorporating training opportunities discussed with the line manager and SMART goals.
- Reviewing the Personal Development Plan: The personal development plan will be periodically reviewed with the line manager during supervision sessions to track progress and make any necessary adjustments.
The ability to identify and acknowledge one’s own communication styles, coupled with a willingness to embrace constructive criticism, is instrumental in evaluating and enhancing communication effectiveness—an essential trait for becoming a reflective manager. Furthermore, recognizing the communication styles of stakeholders empowers one to adapt their communication approach to align with the intended audience, ensuring that the conveyed message is received and comprehended.
Regularly assessing one’s communication proficiency with the goal of continuous improvement leads to a higher quality of communication, increased efficiency, and improved team morale within the managerial role. In essence, without effective communication skills, achieving meaningful outcomes becomes challenging.
AC 2.2 Collect and analyse feedback on own verbal and written communication skills
The purpose of receiving feedback is to enhance one’s own performance and communication skills, both in the professional realm and in everyday life. In the context of the Probation service, feedback can be obtained through various channels, including supervision meetings, gatekeeping forms, termination questionnaires from service users, input from stakeholders, and informal feedback from colleagues. Effectively receiving and providing feedback in a constructive manner—clear and concise, focusing on behavior and performance—allows the recipient to build upon existing skills positively. It is crucial that feedback is not delivered in a critical manner, as this approach can be detrimental, causing self-esteem issues and hindering opportunities for growth.
As part of this process, I distributed a questionnaire to 12 team members within my working team to gather feedback on my communication skills. The responses were obtained from a diverse group, including various grades and police officers (stakeholders) within the IOM team.
The questionnaire was created to evaluate and analyze my proficiency in effective communication within the workplace based on observations and interactions with various colleagues. I have compiled the responses, ensuring anonymity for the respondents, and the feedback is outlined as follows:
All respondents in the questionnaire have unanimously rated my verbal and written communication skills as excellent, constituting 100% agreement. However, a quarter of the respondents (25%) have suggested that my listening skills could benefit from some improvement, a crucial aspect for effective communication. I recognize that active listening, the practice of fully attending to the speaker, is a skill that warrants attention. I acknowledge that, particularly when faced with a heavy workload, I may not consistently practice active listening and will explore ways to address this in the plan outlined below.
Regarding approachability, 92% of respondents have assessed me as being approachable, while 8% (one person) has indicated that there is room for improvement in this aspect. The feedback also highlights an area for development in empathy skills, with 67% acknowledging excellent empathy, 25% suggesting slight improvement, and 8% rating my empathy skills as average or satisfactory, indicating the need for further enhancement.
In terms of building rapport with staff, 92% of respondents find my skills excellent, while 8% believe there is room for improvement. Similarly, 92% of respondents have commended my ability to deliver messages in a timely manner, with 8% suggesting some improvement is needed, particularly in relation to the timeliness of delegation, which has been identified as an area requiring attention.
All respondents unanimously agreed that I use appropriate forms of communication, maintain respectful communication, and use suitable language in my interactions.
To summarize, the communication skills feedback from the respondents in the questionnaire are as follows:
Receiving an assessment of excellence is indeed a gratifying accomplishment, and it is particularly noteworthy that 67% of those surveyed within my team believe that no improvements are needed in my communication skills. However, acknowledging this positive feedback does not imply complacency; there is always room for further improvement and ongoing learning from experiences. Relying solely on feedback from others and self-reflection is insufficient for sustained professional development within the organization. Given the potential for bias in feedback, it becomes imperative to incorporate objective and measurable criteria for evaluating my performance and guiding my professional development.
AC 2.3 Evaluate own communication skills as a manager, identifying strengths and areas for improvement
Upon compiling the data from the questionnaire, I can assess my own communication skills, analyze the information gathered, and pinpoint areas that require attention. Employing a SWOT analysis will provide a structured framework to illustrate this assessment, helping me identify both strengths and areas for improvement (weaknesses). By exploring potential opportunities for professional development in communication skills and considering factors that may impede progress (Threats), I can derive valuable insights. Using the findings from the SWOT analysis, I will construct a personalized professional development plan. This plan will focus on specific areas needing improvement, establish goals, and ensure they are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound).
Clear verbal communication skills.
Clear written communication skills.
Delivering messages using appropriate forms of communication.
Correct appropriate language used when communicating.
Willingness to develop skills.
What I need to improve:
Delivering messages in a timely manner, Delegation of work,
Obtain feedback from SPO
Increase knowledge from reading
Practicing skills, facilitating training, presentations team meetings, and developing feedback forms.
Arrange team building exercises .
Repeat questionnaire and compare outcomes. Obtain feedback from other sources, family & friends.
Lack of time and money
Reluctance to change
Lack of morale – additional pressures, excessive workloads
No available training
|Develop listening skills||RJ to be observed twice a year in practice using effective listening skills and to have a discussion with SPO in relation to feedback and progression.|
|Work on being approachable,||RJ to make a conscious effort to smile when meeting people, to ignore mobile phone when in discussion with staff, show an interest in staff hobbies and interests, and have an open body posture. RJ to receive feedback from staff.|
|Empathy,||RJ to practice downing tools when staff members enter her room and listen to what they are saying. RJ to eceive feedback from staff.|
|Building Rapport,||RJ to organise a team building day or a charity day for all the team to participate in.|
|Delivering messages in a timely manner and timely delegation of work,||RJ to look at developing a workload plan and incorporate PQUIP developmental needs and what work needs to be delegated .|
To be an effective and reflective manager in the probation service or any organization, it is essential to begin by comprehending one’s own communication styles. This involves understanding how these styles are perceived by others, identifying areas for improvement, and continuously working towards enhancing communication skills to effectively handle various situations within the team. As a Senior Probation Officer (SPO), mastering effective communication is crucial for engaging with staff at all levels, collaborating with colleagues, and managing relationships with stakeholders.
Throughout my roles as a case manager, court officer, PSR author, union lead, and program facilitator, I have had the privilege of cultivating diverse communication skills and styles. This versatility has enabled me to build relationships with stakeholders from diverse backgrounds, often within tight timeframes. In the courtroom, I prioritize a formal appearance, ensure grammatically flawless written reports, and employ polite, clear, and actively listening verbal communication when presenting oral reports. When facilitating training or programs, I focus on creating a comfortable environment, maintain an even tone, employ open body language, and sustain good eye contact.
In my union role, I’ve learned that transparency and directness, coupled with empathic skills, are effective when navigating complex situations. Acknowledging my strengths, I recognize my capabilities as a reflective manager with effective communication skills. However, I am also aware of my imperfections, such as occasional errors in written communication, misreading situations, and making mistakes like not being fully present in conversations or talking over staff members. Despite these challenges, I commit to daily practice and development, whether in one-on-one sessions, group training, team meetings, partnership meetings, or court forums. Open to all types of feedback, I am dedicated to continuous growth, fostering professional relationships, and staying aligned with organizational goals.
- Oxford Dictionary retrieved from OHS Needs Effective Communication – SHEilds Health and Safety Blog
- Oxford Learners Dictionary communication noun – Definition, pictures, pronunciation and usage notes | Oxford Advanced American Dictionary at OxfordLearnersDictionaries.com
- Mind Tools Ltd 2023 https://www.mindtools.com/af8d7mc/the-communication-cycle
- Argyles Theory image retrieved from 047f2db.png (656×257) (corporatealchemy.com.au)
- Stages of the Communication Cycle, study.com 2023 retrieved from Communication Cycle |
- Definition, Stages & Examples – Video & Lesson Transcript | Study.com
- Paola Pascual on Apr 20, 2023, retrieved from https://blog.talaera.com/tone-of-voice-leaders
- HMIP 2023, The links between the quality of supervision and positive outcomes for people on
- probation (justiceinspectorates.gov.uk)
- Richard Nordquist,2020, retrieved from What Is Nonverbal Communication? (thoughtco.com)
- Business Balls, retrieved from Reflective Management – BusinessBalls.com