Unformatted text preview: Assessing Organizational Communication: Strategic Communication Audits Chapter 3 Conducting Team Audits Conducting Team Audits Consultants often conduct communication audits alone or in pairs; communication classes generally take a team approach to auditing. These teams become regular work units, with all the pitfalls that befall any other work organization. The purpose of this discussion is to facilitate the smooth operation of an audit team. Basic Considerations The word "team" as it applies to communication audits implies individual members coordinating their work together toward a common goal. In a team audit, the common goal is predetermined: a valid review of the client organization. How the team performs in relation to this goal is the single most important measure of the team's success. Basic Considerations Being client-focused means putting aside individual differences, working together to provide the best possible service for the client, and utilizing each individual's own special qualities to produce a superior communication audit. Basic Considerations The team audit will fail if individual members think they can work independently of one another, or if they are very competitive with one another, or if they think they can piece the audit together at the end. Being a team means working together in the strictest sense maximizing communication, coordination, and collaboration to produce something greater than the sum of any individual effort. Steps of the Audit Process Initiation Phase Focus Efforts Inward It is important that the audit team be intact prior to entering the organization. The focus should be on how team members are different from one another rather than on who is more skilled, knowledgeable, or qualified to conduct the audit. Initiation Phase Focus Efforts Inward One element to focus on at this early stage is individual member's communication styles. Intuitors Doers Thinkers Feelers To understand the organization, an audit team must be familiar with its own history and styles of communicating, and how these elements may impact the audit process. Initiation Phase Create a Vision for the Team
It is not uncommon for team members to hold different perspectives on organizations, to follow different agendas in the audit process, and to have different priorities regarding audit outcomes. The skillful audit team creates a team vision that is client-focused. A clientcentered vision is based on a simple standard: to provide superior service to the client organization. Planning Phase Designate Team Roles The group should first appoint a contact person who will serve as the liaison to the organization. A scheduler also needs to be designated to develop the interview plan. A coordinator must be selected to be in charge of the entire operation. Planning Phase Publicize the Audit Team to the Organization
When the organization publicizes the audit, it shows the employees that company management is backing the project. Advance publicity also allows interviewers to spend less time building their own credibility and more time gaining information to benefit the process. Planning Phase Publicize the Audit Team to the Organization Summary resumes to key management and perhaps to workers Management introduce the team during a meeting or through voice mail Audit team may produce an open letter to the employees Planning Phase Create Mechanisms for Collaboration Designate a medium (e-mail) through which team members can openly collaborate and discuss findings. Use a "filing cabinet" to store all artifacts from the audit. Negotiate meeting times for the team. Planning Phase Assign Areas of Focus Individuals in an assessment team often have particular interests and research skills that determine how they want to participate on the team. Letting people select what they want to explore can be highly motivating as teams develop expertise in certain areas. It is useful for each individual to be involved in multiple focus areas so that he or she can maintain an overall organizational perspective. Planning Phase Determine Primary and Secondary Roles Audit members should expect to get involved with all aspects of the audit; however, teams often designate primary and secondary roles for each member according to that person's special interest and expertise (e.g. quantitative & qualitative). Planning Phase Establish Collaborative Norms
Collaborative norms enhance understanding and learning about the organization. They help avoid "tunnel vision." By setting up norms of collaboration, group processes encourage open dialogues and resist groupthink. Data Collection Phase Collection procedures broadly fall into two camps: quantitative and qualitative methods. Resist the temptation to have group members work solely in one or the other area. Each team member should take a large, primary role in one type of collection procedure and a smaller, secondary role in the other. Data Collection Phase Generally, team members who are involved in both types of data collection procedure make better interpretations by synthesizing all the data, and they produce richer, more detailed final reports. In addition, they are less likely to gloss over contradictions between the two types of data. Data Collection Phase Systematize the Quantitative Data Collection Create a central location for coding data. Use a limited number of data coders. Determine guidelines for coding data. Verify the data. Conduct tests only after data have been completely verified. Print two copies of the output Data Collection Phase Summarize Qualitative Data Develop interview teams. Type written summaries immediately after the interview. Determine how the data will be synthesized. Interpretation Phase Making interpretations of the data in a group context my be more difficult because members must effectively manage competing perspectives, radically different interpretations, and individuals who think they know the "truth" about the organization. Poorly managed audit teams usually fall victim to either groupthink or destructive conflict. Interpretation Phase Some considerations in making interpretations of the data: Communicate like crazy. Use focus groups to synthesize team interpretations. Triangulate all data. Test your assumptions. Final Report Phase Agree on Standard for Writing the Final Report Determine verb tense. Determine how the results will be reported. Make wise language choices. Organize consistently. Generate Charts. Final Report Phase Develop a Plan for Report Presentation The presentation must impress the client with its benefits. Assign specific roles for the presentation. Deal with client questions. Special Instructions for Audit Classes The audit class is very different from the average college course. Rarely does the entire focus and learning of a class hinge on the overall attitude and participation of every class member Be client-focused Share roles and responsibilities. Be professional Do not expect to be able to conduct an audit using just regular class times. Conclusion Conducting an audit with a team means that one is not only auditing the company's communication, one is also managing the audit team's communication. As the audit team works together, its members learn about the challenges of communicating with each other as much as they learn about communication in the client company. Assessing Organizational Communication: Strategic Communication Audits Chapter 3 Conducting Team Audits END ...
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- Spring '08
- Organizational Communication, Qualitative Research, audit team