As instructed by the professor, the group composed of Lima, Lindsey, Jori, Becky, Latreece, Brandon and Ike engaged in an activity that was named “Bed Pan Model.” Such activity was divided into two 20-minute sessions. For both sessions, the professor supplied all the needed materials that were to be used in making bed pan models – papers, scissors, tape and a pen. The goal was for the group members to work together on making as many bed pan models as they could within the time allotted for the sessions.
Needless to say, an effective communication system among the group members was necessary for them to work successfully as one whole, more so because the task at hand was initially ambiguous (Cheney, et al., 2003, p. 58). Organizational communication covers the exchange of ideas, instructions, feedbacks, encouragements, updates, inputs and opinions among persons within an organization.
An important aspect of it is the exchange among members of groups formed within organizations for specific functions or roles therein. Each group in an organization will have to have clear communication lines within it; at the same time, the groups that make up the organization must have the same clear communication lines with each other. Organizations with effective communication systems are better equipped to attain sustainability and proficiency. Similarly, groups that are composed of members who understand and enjoy working with each other are bound to excel.
This group activity is, hence, designed to demonstrate the importance of effective organizational communication. The group members were evaluated in the following areas: participation, decision-making procedures, influence, styles of influence, group atmosphere and feelings.
The group members came up with the name “EZ” for their bed pan model. Coming up with the name was a spontaneous thing for the group. They all agreed to use a name that would not be difficult to inscribe as their product logo. When Ike said that “EZ” is just what they needed, there was no objection from the rest of the group. Each one of them was asked to voice his “yea” or “nay” vote on the proposed name. Thus, it could be said that all the members had a say in matters concerning their group and that everybody actively participated in the entire activity. Furthermore, the group clearly implemented democratic decision-making procedures; the rule of the majority was upheld. The foregoing lines adequately describe the group members in terms of their participation and decision-making procedures as a whole.
The group members got along well with each other; there was never any major disagreement on decisions that had to be made as a group. In the area of influence, Brandon seemed to be ahead of the others because of his confidence and his track record as an outstanding student. Thus, when he suggested that an assembly line had to be created amongst themselves for the production of the bed pan models to be a systematic and orderly process, everybody readily agreed.
During the first session of the activity, each of the members was bent on learning to be approachable, likeable and easy for the rest of the group to work with. Even Latreece, the most timid and subdued one among them, found himself enjoying the exchange of views and points as to the best way to achieve their common goal as a group.
In the end of the first 20-minute session, the group’s efforts yielded 15 bed pan models. The items were of satisfactory quality, but there was quite a lot of wastage. The quantities of paper and tape actually used were much more than the expected usage based on the number of bed pan models produced. Thus, they group lost some points. There initially were murmured accusations regarding alleged culprits among the members. Lindsey grumbled about Becky’s tendency to be counter-productive by talking too much while working. Lima, on the other hand, was lamenting about the delegation of specific tasks which, she said, could have been improved.
Brandon, however, was quick to take on the role of the peacemaker. As such, he influenced the others to resolve to do much better in the second session instead of blaming specific members for mistakes committed or dwelling on negative thoughts regarding how the first session went. Everyone saw the sense in Brandon’s lines and so the finger-pointing accusations were dropped. With that, the group atmosphere was relaxed and friendly again. Indeed, there was merit in Brandon’s style of influence. His being the respected peacemaker in the group brought back the peace and order therein.
During the second session, everyone in the group was intent on producing more than 15 bed pan models. Better quality and less wastage were, as well, the common targets. To dispel the serious atmosphere that seemed to have prevailed in the group since the start of the second session, Jori was quick to remind the rest of the members that what they were into was just a course activity. If they were not having fun while onto their specific tasks, then the purpose of the entire thing as a learning exercise would not be attained at all.
With that, Latreece and Lima lightened up a bit, and the professor next provided the twist in the activity that totally dispelled the solemn and stern moods of the rest of the members. Brandon, Lindsey, Becky and Ike were all smiling again. It was evident, then, that in the area of group atmosphere, the group members unanimously preferred the congenial and cheerful kind.
Meanwhile, the group members were transparent in terms of their feelings throughout the duration of the activity. One could tell by their happy smiles when they were excited, and it was also easy to figure out when some of them was displeased. There were both verbal and nonverbal expressions of feelings, and none of them attempted to block or hide their feelings.
The mechanics of the second session served to make the activity more challenging. Given on intervals, the additional instructions of the professor were like sudden and unexpected difficulties that the group members had to deal with without losing their sight of the established goals. At different points in the middle of the session, the professor declared that Ike’s right eye was henceforth blind, that Brandon had just one hand, and then that Lima was injured. The rest of the group just had to cope with the limitations caused by such adverse developments.
It was then that Latreece, usually the quite one, took charge of coordinating the members’ individual efforts so that they were all steered toward a common direction. Lindsey and Becky, too, ended up discovering that they were alike in more ways than one. By the end of the second session, the group produced only 10 bed pan models, and the quality of workmanship obviously deteriorated. Despite it all, the members of the group were happy and pleased with their collective output.
In conclusion, the group activity was a fun way to learn the importance of communication in all undertakings of an organization and throughout all the internal structures therein. Through effective communication, instructions were relayed clearly to the group members and they were guided to work for a unified purpose. Through effective communication, the work process for achieving the group’s targets was set in place. It would have been further improved also through exchanges of ideas and inputs among the group members.
Effective communication also fosters good relationships among members of a group. Fellow members get to know each other and discover things they have in common amongst themselves through regular communication. The barriers of shyness, lack of familiarity, cultural and personal differences, and intimidation are all eventually crossed through open communication. Healthy working relationships are, thus, spawned by encouraging regular communication within groups and within organizations.
The first session of the activity unearthed differences amongst the group members that needed to be ironed out by open and continuing communication. The second session presented a vital proof that any sort of complications or problems could be handled by the group adequately if they stay united and committed to the best interests of the group as a whole.
The group members may have generated better output during the first session, but they bagged a bigger prize during the second session. They produced more bed pan models during the first session, but they evolved into a stronger group with good working relationships during the second session. As such, they would henceforth be a lot more competitive in dealing with all kinds of situations and in setting out for the targets of the group.
Cheney, C., Christensen, L., Zorn, T. & Ganesh, S. (2003). Organizational Communication in an Age of Globalization: Issues, Reflections, Practices. United Kingdom: Waveland Press.