Bureaucratic Communication & Quality Assurance
Transcript Bureaucratic Communication & Quality Assurance
& Quality Assurance
PROF ‘NIYI AKINNASO
How to achieve effective
Communication in a University
Terms of this presentation
Effective communication is necessary in order to
ensure the smooth operation of a bureaucracy
and ensure optimal quality, especially in a
Features of a typical university
• A complex environment in which people often
walk in different directions during the day and
sleep with their heads in different directions at
• Multiple ethnic, linguistic, cultural, religious, and
• Multiple disciplines and knowledge biases.
• A multilayered hierarchy that almost reflects the
• A salaried workforce with members competing
for promotion and often for the same position.
Fallout of the environment
• Need for bureaucracy as the preferred form of
• Cut-throat competition, gossip, back-biting,
• Conflicting goals, ideas, and solutions to
• Pressure on communicative effectiveness:
What you say or write matters. It can do or
What is a bureaucracy?
• Bureaucracy can be viewed as the combined organizational
structure, procedures, protocols, and set of regulations in
place to manage activity, usually in large organizations,
such as a university like FUTA. It’s main goal is to help
realize the organization’s goals.
• It is typified by (i) standardized procedures or rules that
guide the execution of most or all processes within the
organization; (ii) formal division of labor; (iii) hierarchy that
reflects power structure; and (iv) relationships and social
networks among members.
• A bureaucracy traditionally exists to implement laws,
policies, and regulations established by the leadership.
That’s why it is said that a bureaucracy does not create
policy but enacts it.
Max Weber and bureaucracy
• Weber explains bureaucracy in relation to other types of
authority, namely, charismatic authority (and the
corresponding organizational type of a religious sect),
traditional authority (typified by a monarchy), and legalrational authority. It is this last type of authority structure
which gave rise to bureaucracy.
• With the dawn of the industrial revolution in 1750, the
growth of the factory system, the spread of the railroads,
the appearance of the telegraph in the nineteenth century,
the advance of electronic communication in the twentieth
century, and improvements in communication technologies
in the twenty-first, bureaucracy has come to stay as the
system of choice for nation-states, organizations, and
What is quality assurance?
• A major fallout of the development of
bureaucracy is the need to assure quality.
• Quality assurance, or QA for short, refers to a
program for the systematic monitoring and
evaluation of the various aspects of a project,
service, or facility to ensure that standards of
quality are being met.
• In order to assure optimal quality, an organization must
set goals, targets, standards, and how to achieve them.
• There must be appropriate mechanisms in place for
monitoring the attainment of goals, targets, and
standards as work progresses.
• This measure must be taken throughout the university,
department by department, unit by unit, course by
• In the case of university courses, for example, there
must be standards for preparing course syllabi and
evaluating courses and their teachers.
What is (effective) communication?
• Communication is getting a message across
from a sender to a receiver.
• Communication is said to be effective when
the sender’s aim or objective in sending a
message is achieved by the receiver
acknowledging, understanding, and
implementing the message.
Communication as a means
• Effective communication is the foundation for
harmony and effectiveness in any type of
organization from family through university to
• That’s why, in addition to instruments of labor
(tools, factories, infrastructure, etc.) and
subjects of labor (natural resources and raw
materials) communication is viewed as a
means of production.
Channels of communication
– Carriage and demeanor
Why communication problems exist in
• The onus of effective communication within any organization is on
the leadership. In the case of a university, we are talking about the
Principal Officers, Heads of Department, Program or Project
Directors or Coordinators, Committee Chairmen, instructors, etc.
• Management does not effectively convey information about
policies, goals, mission, and specific objectives to workers.
• Management sees no value whatsoever in communicating with
subordinates, believing subordinates should shut up and do their
• Management associates communication with problem-solving; if
there are no problems, then there is no need for communication.
• Poor mastery of the official language of communication.
• Use of technical terms and “big” English
Top-down communication strategies
• Ensure that every employee receives a copy of the strategic
plan, which includes the organization's mission, vision, values
statement, strategic goals and strategies about how those
goals will be reached.
• Ensure every employee receives an employee handbook that
contains all up-to-date personnel policies.
• Develop a basic set of procedures for how routine tasks are
conducted and include them in standard operating manuals.
Top-down … II
• Develop an organogram or organization chart that specifies the
different channels and flow of information.
• Ensure every employee has a copy of the organization chart, which
reflects the hierarchy of information.
• Ensure every employee has a copy of their job description.
• Regularly hold management meetings (at least every two weeks),
even if there's nothing pressing to report. If you hold meetings only
when you believe there's something to report, then communications
will occur only when you have something to say -- communications
will be one way and the organization will suffer. Have meetings
anyway, if only to establish and affirm the communication that things
are of a status that there are no immediate problems.
• Hold full staff meetings every month or so to report how the
department is doing, major accomplishments, concerns,
• Leaders and bosses should have face-to-face contact with
employees at least once a week.
• Management need not be anonymous. Management should stroll
by once in a while.
• Regularly hold meetings to celebrate major accomplishments. This
helps employees perceive what's important, gives them a sense of
direction and fulfillment, and let's them know that leadership is on
top of things.
• Ensure all employees receive yearly performance reviews, including
their goals for the year, updated job descriptions, accomplishments,
needs for improvement, and plans to help the employee
accomplish the improvements.
Top-down … IV
• Bosses should never talk down on junior
workers, no matter their offence. Rather, they
should be disciplined as appropriate.
• Communication with subordinates will be
• It is important for employees to provide status
reports to their bosses/supervisors.
• Bosses should respect the grapevine in order to
protect vital information and ensure the flow of
future ones. Such information should, however,
be weighed against the informants biodata.
• Junior workers should be encouraged to speak
the language in which they have the most facility
if bosses also understand such language.
Communication with subordinates
• One aspect of African cultural patterns that has
negatively impacted bureaucratic communication is
our totalizing view of social distance, promoted by age
distance, monarchical notions of hierarchy, and the
omo odo practice.
• Accordingly, we have a “ta-lo-n-bawi” and “shot-up-Iam-speaking” mentality. We believe we must put
subordinates in their place by talking them down.
• Yet, every worker within a bureaucracy is as important
as any other. It is therefore important for bosses to
address their subordinates and junior workers well.
What to do?
• We must realize that politeness thrives on reciprocal
obligation and requires the cooperation of both
participants in a conversation.
• If you want subordinates to respect you, you have to
respect them as well.
• We must realize that subordinates have various methods of
resistance that can have negative impacts on their bosses’
performance and the achievement of the university’s
• It is the boss’s duty to maximize the productivity of
subordinates by making them feel that their services are
valuable. This can only be achieved through polite
communication with them.
Formula for effective communication
• First, develop a communication plan
– What message?
– What purpose?
– Who is/are the recipient(s)?
– What medium (speech or writing)?