Organizational Chaos

Having class start to wind down has allowed me to take a deep breath and realize just how much I have learned and accomplished in eight short weeks. Besides working hard on a 14 page research paper, I have learned a basic core of communication studies — the communication traditions and theories that scholars use every day to study and explain the many facets that comprise how we, as humans, communicate.

This week for our blog, we were asked to review those traditions and ruminate over which theory/ies make the most sense to us and which we understand the best. I have to resort back to my Week 2 blog post where I summarize all of the theories and discuss how the Cybernetic tradition was the first tradition that truly made sense to me.

In thinking about it, the basic system theory is probably the one theory that I understand the best. It explains how multiple factors can influence one another to create a network, and how those networks can influence other networks to create even larger networks. Basic system theory allows us to take apart specific portions of a network and examine them individually, then examine how they influence the other portions of the network (Littlejohn & Foss, 2011, p.51).

In order to show how I can apply this theory, I will take the current situation between two of my supervisors at work who do not get along. One supervisor comes from a church-based background where he has years of experience in recruiting volunteers to help with youth programs, church functions, and church boards. He was recently hired in my organization to help recruit more adult volunteers, because that is what his background is in. However, another supervisor does not like the fact that he has not grasped the policies and procedures of the organization well enough yet to do his job effectively and not make mistakes. If we break this down into individual parts, we can look at what is influencing this network to be out of alignment (supervisors not getting along).

First, we can look at the individual backgrounds of the supervisors. Supervisor A is from a church-based background which is very different than the Supervisor B who has an extensive background in the organization she works for (she moved up through the ranks to her current position). The next aspect we can look at is how each supervisor’s background influences their knowledge of policies and procedures of the organization. Supervisor B who has progressed through the various positions in the organization is going to be more familiar with policies and procedures than Supervisor A who comes from a different background. One way for an organization to teach new workers about policies and procedures is to provide trainings. The more trainings provided, the quicker a new worker will increase their knowledge on policies and procedures, leading to better job performance. However, if training is not provided, the worker will still have a lack of knowledge about policies and procedures and not be able to perform his/her job correctly.

Organizational ChaosPerhaps some understanding about not having adequate training would soften one supervisor’s perspective of the other. Even presenting this diagram to one supervisor could help them see the other person’s standpoint better. It could help her imagine what she would do if the roles were reversed and she was the new supervisor who comes from a different organizational background and was not being provided the training she needed to do her job.

Reference: Littlejohn, S., & Foss, K. (2011). Theories of human communication (10th ed.). Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press, Inc.


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