I am a program manager at a large health insurance company. I work in IT and formal communication generally cascades from very high up, at an executive level, or communications follows an informal communication path. The formal communications follow the reporting hierarchy and are one directional, generally top down. The communications that are formal are almost always written and rarely oral. The written communications following the formal communication network are generally internal emails but can sometimes be articles posted on the intranet site for employees or annual reports to the employees, members, government or investors.
Working in the health insurance industry means significant government oversight and regulation. I believe this has influenced the corporate culture and it the company’s formal communication network. Knowing the high risk of litigation for insurance companies, I’m sure this has also influenced the formal communication network. The current communications meet the business needs because the written communications mitigate the risk around ambiguity and reduce the risk of litigation or regulatory fines.
The formal communication network within my company – a real estate company – consists of the traditional hierarchical structure with email and meetings being the main communication methods. Information is normally passed on as follows: Upper management will have monthly meetings with branch managers to keep them up to date with what is going on within the company. This meeting takes place at our corporate office. Management is responsible for informing their staff of what takes place in these meetings.This is done either by email or during departmental meetings.
As mentioned earlier, one of the main communication methods used in my workplace is email. Since we have several branches, email is the most efficient way to communicate. Our communications tend to be informal or casual among employees. When communicating with agents, vendors, or our parent company, emails are usually more formal. I have been there for over 13 years, and I have seen communication methods and culture change a lot during my employment. For example, we used to communicate often with paper memos, or we would hear information verbally from our department head. The company was very dependent on paper. Now, we may receive emails directly from the CEO, and paper memos are never distributed. Skype and Hangout are also becoming more popular and are even used to communicate with our parent company in real time. Although the basic formal network is still in place, it is evolving and taking on a more informal structure.This is mainly because our CEO likes to foster an open-door policy and a family-like atmosphere.
I believe that our current communication network has taken this form because of the way technology is changing. What may have met the company’s needs several years ago does not meet its current needs in the form efficiency and cost. Our current CEO is younger than the previous CEOs; therefore, he has a slightly different attitude about change and technology.He and our I.T. department are encouraging new forms of communication that meets the company’s needs much better in today’s real estate environment.
Personally, I believe communication is key in any organization or business. Without proper communication, each employee knows something different, and words get changed around very easily. I am currently interning under a Marketing Executive at a company called Swagelok. Here, the communication network is mostly formal, but each department head works together to make sure everyone in the lower part of the chain is included. At the beginning of each week the department heads meet with the President of the company to talk about upcoming performances and judge past performances. After this meeting, the marketing department head emails everyone to inform them about topics covered in the meeting. Also, each month, everyone in the company meets for a meeting covering the month as a whole and any changes that have/will occur. I think the reason email communication has become more prevalent is because technology is ever-changing. Everyone that I work with has his/her own office or cubical that contains a computer, so not having one isn’t an excuse. For the most part, I think emails are successful when keeping everyone “in the loop”. However, I also think meeting face-to-face is still extremely important in the work place. This first hand communication allows everyone to understand the importance of the company’s goals and objectives.
I am from China and I am currently studying as an exchange student in Troy. I have been studying in Troy for a year. During the year, I received important notices from school officials or teachers mainly through e-mail. Mail is more formal and detailed than verbal communication, and it can promptly notify all relevant personnel and greatly save time. In addition, once you find any questions, you can reply in time. This will help to find, discuss and solve problems.
There is a different experience，when I was still at a university in China. The teachers or the clubs often don’t use mailboxes to release information. They usually use QQ or WeChat, just like Facebook. Compared to e-mail, it has a more efficient feedback speed, which avoids missing the important information without checking the e-mail in time. For example, the teacher issued a question in the WeChat group. Students can discuss it quickly and use voice or text directly. This method is not as formal as email, but it gives people a relaxed feeling when answering or solving problems. And to a certain degree, the distance between students and teachers can be reduced. I think this is why we use WeChat more than email. Although I have not yet participated informal work, as far as I know, in many companies or enterprises, they often use WeChat or QQ for informal communication or notification. This way gives us the feeling that it is more efficient and more convenient. And it will benefit to communication with customers and smooth completion of work.
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