Cacciatore Textual Analysis – Gendered Communications in the Workplace

Full paper – Gendered Communications in the Workplace by Stacy Cacciatore

This textual analysis will explore the hegemony ideological control of women in the workplace by conducting a content analysis, which will compare and contrast female and male written business communications. I will investigate four questions:

  • What is the ideology structure behind the preferred style for business communications?
  • Do the written communication styles of men and women differ?
  • How do the communication styles of men and women differ?
  • Why do men and women differ in communication style?

My thesis is that men and women differ in communication style and the ideology of the social reality is that the feminine style of communication is weak. This less powerful communication style undermines women’s power and credibility, resulting in less pay and lower status in their careers. However, the feminine communication style is deemed as weak by men and this has created a hegemony ideological control.

Please watch my presentation for the results of my textual analysis. Do you agree with my thesis? Do you think that women emmulate a less powerful communication style in the workplace? Do you agree with what I concluded on why this is and the implications if something doesn’t change? I look forward to hearing from you!

 

Elf on the Shelf Reinforces Hegemonic Society

Elf on the ShelfEisenberg, Goodall and Trethewey (2010)[1] define hegemony as the ideological control that is maintained from the bottom-up rather than the top-down. This is demonstrated in a corporate environment, in which the culture is so embedded that it becomes second nature and implicit with employees, rather than explicitly stated by the Executive Leadership Team.

I can think of several ways in which Web 2.0 has created corporate-driven hegemonic realities for our personal and/or professional lives. Khaizuran Abd Jalil wrote a great article about the role social media has played in breaking the hegemonic dominance of the mass media. Jalil explains that social media has turned media on it’s head by allowing the public the be the owners of the information and report on issues that typically only the mass media reported on, (Jalil, 2010)[2]. I see this occur regularly with many influential bloggers. This is particularly relevant in today’s society as we move towards an age where we are more likely to get our news from our News Feed on Facebook than traditional media channels.

One example of this is when I worked for the Social Media department for an unnamed company who frequently “courted” travel bloggers because they know how influential their opinion is on the public. Whereas years ago this company wouldn’t even have a social media department, much less a strategy for wooing frequent travelers, today they have an entire division of their company devoted to this. This company holds Social Media conferences in which they offer free products and incentives to these influential bloggers in hopes that they will write good reviews on their site. This demonstrates that this company understands the importance of the less elite (travel bloggers) in their marketing strategy. Years ago this company would have only concerned themselves with mass media markets, such as travel magazines and newspapers. As Chris Atton states in News Cultures and New Social Movements, communications written by those in the trenches allow for a counter viewpoint to those held by the mass media, enable topics to be examined that are often untouched by mainstream media and allow society to have a platform for their voices (Atton, 2002)[3]. Web 2.0 has shifted this power into the hands of the people. However, one can debate the true power the travel bloggers have. Many have criticized travel bloggers for “selling out” to corporate powers by accepting free travel, rewards and products in exchange for writing positive reviews. In this sense one can even question the “reality” of seemingly “in the trenches“ reporting from everyday travelers.

 

The use of Web 2.0 technologies definitely reinforces certain ideologies and hegemonic practices. From a personal point of view, hegemony is played out in social media as the elite dictate the reality in which everyone else tries to live up to. I call it keeping up with the Jones’ 2.0. Years ago “Keeping up with the Jones’” revolved around your neighbors and those in your inner-circle. If your neighbor came home with a new Mercedes, all the sudden your Kia didn’t look so hot. Now, in the age of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, we get to peek into the lives of those whom we typically wouldn’t communicate. Hegemony is played out in social media as the elite dictate the bar in which we all measure ourselves. For example, we may see a picture of a celebrity with a pair of Ugg boots and Dooney & Burke bag. Even though we aren’t in the same social circles, we not only want the Ugg boots and Dooney & Burke bag, we think that having those items are the norm.

Source: Ugglooks.com

Source: Ugglooks.com

Web 2.0 also reinforces forms of oppression. Facebook allows others to put forth the carefully crafted image that they want to portray. You only see the highlights of someone’s life, not the boring, ugly or mundane reality. For example, if your best friend from high school posts pictures from her vacations around the world seemingly every weekend, while you scrimp and save for a modest vacation once a year, this reinforces your viewpoint that life isn’t fair.

However, I argue that we willingly adopt and enforce these power ideologies. I feel as if Facebook is a big competition. Whether we compete for the most well-behaved kids, mommy of the year award or most “likes” on our status update, we all play into this model, reinforcing it’s success.

One way that we willingly adopt and reinforce the legitimate power of these structures and ideologies is through the Elf on the Shelf phenomenon. For those who are not familiar with this popular concept that debuted in 2005, Elf on the Shelf is a magical elf that was sent from the North Pole to keep an eye on your children throughout the holiday season. Each night he flies back up to the North Pole and tells Santa if your child has been naughty or nice. When he returns in the morning, he hides in a new spot and creates mischief. When I first bought Elf on the Shelf for my kids in 2005, there was no social pressure around the use of the elfin creature. He simply would reappear the next morning in a new spot. Well, that was before the overachieving, Type A, sycophant moms took it too far.

 

Simply type “Elf on the Shelf” on Pinterest, Instagram, Vine or Twitter. Unfortunately I don’t even have to search for #elfontheshelf, as my Facebook News Feed is filled everyday by overachieving mommies posting pictures of what their mischievous little elf did the previous night. Start a marshmallow fight?? Get into your flour and spread it all over the kitchen? Coordinate a neighborhood wide candy cane hunt? Nothing is too messy, difficult or time consuming for this elf.

Elf on the Shelf

The parents who coordinate these ridiculous elf activities are reinforcing the hegemony by not only buying into this corporate moneymaking scheme (in addition to the $30 elf, you can buy elf skirts, toys and accessories) but they make it seem like the norm to create these over-the-top scenarios. Society actually willingly adopts and enforces the power of these hegemonic ideologies. Those who created Elf on the Shelf couldn’t have predicted how successful Elf on the Shelf has become. The process of Elf on the Shelf activities is created by the subordinate groups (parents) to please their children and is reinforced within social media channels. There are blogs, Pinterest Boards and Twitter Handles all devoted to Elf on the Shelf ideas. Other parents feel the pressure to participate and feel guilty that their elf haphazardly “hid” in the fruit bowl, while your neighbor’s elf created a snowflake paper daisy chain and decorated the living room.

Web 2.0 also allows others to resist these practices with Elf on the Shelf. Take for example author Jen, who writes the blog People I Want to Punch in the Throat. Her post Over Achieving Elf on the Shelf Mommies went viral in 2011 when she went on a rampage about how moms who take the mischievous activities of their elf too far are making life harder for the rest of us. The post received over two million hits, demonstrating that she’s not alone in her views. She says what every mother is thinking, “Like I have time, desire or resources to make this red carpet entrance for a doll. I can barely get him out of the box and prop him up on the shelf.  We haven’t even read the book yet this year and she wants me to literally roll out a red carpet for him.  When does she do laundry?  When does she work?  And most importantly, when does she sleep?” (Jen, 2011)[4]. The great thing about Web 2.0 is that it allows for opinions on every side of the issue. While many are following in the footsteps of the overachieving Elf on the Shelf parents, many are also able to voice their disgust with this practice in these same social media channels. I have to admit, I have not resisted the practice of Elf on the Shelf and I participate, Even though I’m by no means an overachieving Elf on the Shelf Mom, I did spell out “I love you” in Hershey kisses last night as my elf hid in the bag.

Elf on the Shelf

Why did I do this? One explanation may be that the hegemony ideological control has taken hold and I am actively pursuing the ideals created by organizational elites. I’m reinforcing cultural ideals about motherhood and raising a generation of kids who are indulged. Another explanation may be that I love the look on my daughter’s face when she finds “Johnny” our elf every morning and discovers what he’s done. Well, she’s seven years old and I only get a few more years of Santa, Elf on the Shelf and Christmas magic. All too soon I won’t have to worry about mischievous elves, so I’ll suffer from executing half-baked attempts at elf mischief for now.

Source: ilikepin.blogshubspot.com

Source: ilikepin.blogshubspot.com

 

John Markoff with the New York Times describes Web 3.0 as a web of connected data (2006)[5]. Web 3.0 marks a shift from the web acting as seamlessly connected applications to a term coined as “semantic web”, which is added meaning. For example, one would be able to ask a complex question, such as “What Graduate school is best for me if I want a degree in Communications, want to spend less than $1,000 per credit hour, take courses online, but also have a brick-and-mortar campus close to my home?” With Web 2.0 one would have to sift through many different websites to compile this information. Web 3.0 promises the ability to produce a solution based on complex requirements. In this sense, I predict that Web 3.0 will completely change the way we search and process information. Tim Leberecht (2013)[6] with Management Exchange argues that “big data” will never beat human intuition. He states that while big data provides us with the obvious measurements of how others use information it isn’t social or intuitive.

In conclusion, I think that Web 3.0 will create hegemonic practices by allowing more corporations to understand how consumers make purchases, as they will be able to see the complete picture of how, why and when consumers spend money. By doing this, they will be able to plant the seed for others in society to reinforce these norms by sharing. Just as we see in Web 2.0, the early adopters will have the most influence. Just as a hegemonic society is fostered today by our current Web 2.0 environment, I think this will continue thrive in the Web 3.0 world.

What do you think? How do you think that Web 3.0 will change hegemonic practices? Have you had experience with Elf on the Shelf? Do you think that this mischievous elf plays a role in our ideological control in society?

 

 


[1] Eisenberg, E. M., Goodall Jr., H. L., & Trethewey, A. (2010). Organizational communication: Balancing creativity and constraint (6th ed). Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s.

[2] Jalil, K.A. (2010). Breaking Hegemonic dominance of the Mass Media: The Rise of Social Media. International Conference on Communication and Media 2010. Retrieved from https://www.academia.edu/1315258/Breaking_Hegemonic_dominance_of_the_Mass_Media_The_Rise_of_Social_Media

[3] Atton, C. (2002). News Cultures and New Social Movements: radical journalism and the mainstream media. Journalism Studies, 3(4). 491-505. DOI: 10.1080/1461670022000019209

[4] Jen (No Last Name Provided) (2011) Over Achieving Elf on the Shelf Mommies. People I Want to Punch in the Throat. Retrieved from: http://www.peopleiwanttopunchinthethroat.com/2012/12/over-achieving-elf-on-shelf-mommies.html

[5] Markoff, J. (2006, November 12). Entrepreneurs See a Web Guided by Common Sense. The New York Times. Retrieved from: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/12/business/12web.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

 

[6] Leberecht, T. (2013, June 20). Why Big Data Will Never Beat Human Intuition. Management Exchange. Retrieved from: http://www.managementexchange.com/blog/big-data-big-intuition

Cacciatore – Gendered Communications in the Workplace

It has been 93 years since women were granted the right to vote and women still face gender inequality. The women’s liberation movement made progress in closing the gender gap, however may issues still exist today. Betty Friedan’s 1963 book The Feminine Mystique was a critical piece of literature in influencing the second wave of the feminist movement in the 20th century. Friedan described “the problem with no name” as the stirring inside of American women, asking themselves if being a housewife is all they will achieve in their life (Friedan, 1963). The problems that Friedan describes are similar to those we face today. Fifty years later women are still struggling with equality in the workplace.

Even though women have entered the workforce at an increasingly rapid rate over the past 50 years, women are still not treated as equals. While women in the workforce equated to only 34 percent in 1950, it reached 60 percent by 2000. It’s expected that women will make up 48 percent of the workforce by 2050 (Toossi, 2002, p. 15). However, only 4.2 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs are female (Sellers, 2012). Women still do not receive equal pay. According to the National Committee on Pay Equity, women still only receive .78 cents for every $1.00 earned by men (National Committee on Pay Equity, 2012). In 2012 women held only 8.1 percent of top earner slots (Catalyst, 2012). While the numbers are disappointing, what’s even more discouraging is that growth is stagnant. In 2012, women made up only 16.6 percent of board seats – the seventh consecutive year of no growth.

Sheryl Sandberg, author of Lean In sums it up in her statement “The blunt truth is that men still run the world,” (2013, 5). Leslie Bennetts, author of The Feminine Mistake (2007) said that backwards progress has been made since The Feminine Mystique. She found that even though women’s progression into leadership positions initially grew, it is now at a stalemate (Bennetts, 2007, p. 302).

This topic is more important now than ever, as women in the workplace are starving for answers on how to break through the glass ceiling. Take the popularity of the book, Lean In, by Sheryl Sandberg (2013) for example. One can surmise that one reason Lean In has been on the New York Times Best Sellers List (New York Times, 2013) for 37 weeks (as of December 19, 2013) is because women want to learn from other powerful women and understand their formula for success.

This paper is a textual analysis that explores the hegemony ideological control of women in the workplace. I explore this through a content analysis, which compares and contrasts both female and male written business communications. I investigate the ideology structure behind the preferred style for business communications, if the written communication styles between men and women differ and if so, how and why.

My thesis is that men and women differ in communication style and the ideology of the social reality is that the feminine style of communication is weak. This less powerful communication style undermines women’s power and credibility, resulting in less pay and lower status in their careers. However, men deem the feminine communication style as weak and this has created a hegemony ideological control.

 

Free Digital Photos.Net 100113737

Free Digital Photos.Net 100113737

Literature Review

The literature I reviewed to support this textual analysis included both examples of conducting a content analysis, as well as works spanning many generations of women in the workplace. As Brummet explores in “Techniques of Close Reading” (2010) conducting a deep textual analysis requires the reader to look at things that one normally may not look at. I will take a deep look throughout my content analysis at the content of the message and evaluate language that typically one may not notice. In addition to studying the content of the email messages that women send, I will also evaluate the tone, intention and frequency of key words.

Women have been evaluating gendered communications since the days of Virginia Woolf, who wrote “A Room of One’s Own” in 1929. Woolf states that women are both victims of themselves and men by acting as a “looking glass”. This looking glass metaphor means that women are regarded as the inferior gender by men and men prefer to keep women in the inferior role, as it both boasts their self-confidence and allows their reflection to be magnified and more powerful (cited in Humm, pp.21-22). My textual analysis supports and expands upon Woolf’s theory that men look to women to reflect how they see themselves. I will evaluate how the masculine style of communicating has become the preferred communication style in the workplace.

lookingglass

My textual analysis will extend the current research and offer a new perspective on gendered communications in the workplace. I will explore how a woman’s communications style shouldn’t be viewed as inferior. To that end, I used the feminist standpoint theory to evaluate how the experiences that a girl encounters shape her behaviors and activities. Wood (2012) states that feminist standpoint theory is hinged upon the fact that women’s lives differ both systemically and structurally from a males’.

As a result of these differences, the two groups have different opportunities. One example that Wood provides is that females are expected to defer to and please others.

I want to take this evaluation a step further by using Virginia Woolf’s (1945) “looking glass” metaphor. Virginia Woolf wrote “A Room of One’s Own”, which tells the story of a young woman who examines herself, both on the exterior and interior. Woolf states that self-confidence is often attained by considering other people inferior. Men assert this self-confidence by viewing women as inferior. As a result of this, Woolf states, “Women have served all these centuries as looking glasses possessing the magic and delicious power of reflecting the figure of man at twice its natural size.” The looking glass serves as a metaphor for men wanting to keep women in an inferior position so their image is reflected back larger and more powerful.

Dr. Phyllis Mindell (2001), professor at Georgetown Medical School, professional communications expert and author of “How to Say It for Women” based her entire communications theory based on how women can communicate “with confidence and power using the language of success.” Mindell outlines strategies for how women can communicate with success in the workplace. In the process of explaining the language for success, Mindell conducts a content analysis of written communications from women and provides examples for specific language, grammar and style to use for communicating with power.

amazon.com

amazon.com

I also reviewed Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In and her experience with women’s desire to be “liked”. Sandberg states that oftentimes successful women in leadership positions aren’t “liked” but respected (Sandberg, 2013). This success and likability factor was an important component to understand the motivation behind women’s communication styles.

 

Works Cited

Bennetts, L. (2007). The Feminine Mistake. New York, NY: Hyperion.

Bowell, T. (2011, March 11). Feminist Standpoint Theory. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: A Peer-Reviewed Academic Resource. Retrieved from: http://www.iep.utm.edu/fem-stan/#SH8a

Brummett, B. (2010). Techniques of Close Reading. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.

Catalyst (2012). No Change for Women in Top Leadership. Retrieved from

http://www.catalyst.org/uploads/nochangeintopleadership_2012catalystcensus.pdf

Friedan, B. (1963) The Feminine Mystique. New York, NY: Dell Publishing.

Humm, M. (1992). Modern Feminisms: Political, Literary, Cultural. New York, NY: Columbia University Press.

Mindell, P. (2001). How to Say It For Women: Communicating with Confidence and Power Using the Language of Success. New York: NY: Penguin Group.

National Committee on Pay Equity. (2013, October 11) Retrieved from http://www.pay-equity.org

New York Times Best Sellers (November 24, 2013). The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/best-sellers-books/hardcover-nonfiction/list.html

Oakley, J. (2000). Gender-based Barriers to Senior Management Positions: Understanding the Scarcity of Female CEOs. Journal of Business Ethics, 27(4) 321-334.

Sandberg, S. (2013). Lean In: Women, Work, And The Will To Lead. New York, NY: Random House.

Sellers, P. (2012, Nov. 12). Fortune 500 women CEO hit a milestone. CNN Money. Retrieved from http://postcards.blogs.fortune.cnn.com/2012/11/12/fortune-500-women-ceos-3/

Toosi, Mitra (2002). A century of change: the U.S. labor force, 1950-2050. United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved from http://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2002/05/art2full.pdf

Wallace, D. (1998). Written Discourse in the Workplace. Te Reo. 41, 196-198.

 Footnotes 


[1] Friedan, B. (1963) The Feminine Mystique. New York, NY: Dell Publishing.

[2] Toosi, Mitra (2002). A century of change: the U.S. labor force, 1950-2050. United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved from http://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2002/05/art2full.pdf

[3] Sellers, P. (2012, Nov. 12). Fortune 500 women CEO hit a milestone. CNN Money. Retrieved from http://postcards.blogs.fortune.cnn.com/2012/11/12/fortune-500-women-ceos-3/

[4] National Committee on Pay Equity. (2013, October 11) Retrieved from http://www.pay-equity.org

[5] National Committee on Pay Equity. (2013, October 11) Retrieved from http://www.pay-equity.org

[6] Catalyst (2012). No Change for Women in Top Leadership. Retrieved from http://www.catalyst.org/uploads/nochangeintopleadership_2012catalystcensus.pdf

[7] Catalyst (2012). No Change for Women in Top Leadership. Retrieved from http://www.catalyst.org/uploads/nochangeintopleadership_2012catalystcensus.pdf

[8] Sandberg, S. (2013). Lean In: Women, Work, And The Will To Lead. New York, NY: Random House.

[9] Bennetts, L. (2007). The Feminine Mistake. New York, NY: Hyperion.

[10] Sandberg, S. (2013). Lean In: Women, Work, And The Will To Lead. New York, NY: Random House.

[11] November 24, 2013. Best Sellers. The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/best-sellers-books/hardcover-nonfiction/list.html

[12] Humm, M. (1992). Modern Feminisms: Political, Literary, Cultural. New York, NY: Columbia University Press.

[13] Bowell, T. (2011, March 11). Feminist Standpoint Theory. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: A Peer-Reviewed Academic Resource. Retrieved from: http://www.iep.utm.edu/fem-stan/#SH8a

[14] Mindell, P. (2001). How to Say It For Women: Communicating with Confidence and Power Using the Language of Success. New York: NY: Penguin Group.

[15] Wallace, D. (1998). Written Discourse in the Workplace. Te Reo. 41, 196-198.

[16] Brummett, B. (2010). Techniques of Close Reading. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.

[17] Oakley, J. (2000). Gender-based Barriers to Senior Management Positions: Understanding the Scarcity of Female CEOs. Journal of Business Ethics, 27(4) 321-334.

[18] Sandberg, S. (2013). Lean In: Women, Work, And The Will To Lead. New York, NY: Random House.

Human Relations Approach Case Study (Week 3)

jscreationzs at freedigitalphotos.net

jscreationzs at freedigitalphotos.net

This blog post will examine how the human relations approach can be used to evaluate a case study at Simmons Insurance Group in which Melissa, a valued employee, proposes a new Director of Internal Support position to enhance interdepartmental communication. This evaluation is timely because recently many up-and-coming companies are trying out new approaches to manage the work and employees. Google and Yahoo are examples of just two companies who are changing the way they manage the work, and I believe we will see many other companies follow suit. I believe that the human relations approach to management offers many benefits, including an engaged workforce, satisfied employees and increased productivity. Historically companies have used a classic management approach, which focuses on the work, not the employee, but I believe that companies should place more value on their employees. Employees are the heart of the company and leadership should develop benefits and rewards that recruit and retain the top talent.

In organizational communications two theories in particular seem to be at opposing ends of the spectrum. The human relations approach emphasizes the interpersonal and social needs of individuals and assumes that individuals desire to be a part of something bigger than themselves (Eisenberg et al., 2010, p.71)[1]. This is in stark contrast to the classic management style that assumes that employees in general dislike work and must have external motivators to enhance productivity (Eisenberg et al., 2010, p.77)[2].

Stuart Miles at freedigtialphotos.net

Stuart Miles at freedigtialphotos.net

At Simmons Insurance Group, Melissa, a valued employee, proposes a new Director of Internal Support position to enhance interdepartmental communication. In evaluating this scenario, I believe Simmon’s would evaluate several factors to determine if they should create this position. The first question I would ask is, “what is the company’s return on investment (ROI)?” What will the company receive in return for creating this new role? One way that Melissa can demonstrate the value of this position is by using the points in Mayo’s theory, which stresses the importance of interpersonal relations (Eisenberg et al., 2010, p.72)[3]. Melissa can also outline Follett’s points that advocate for groups working together rather than individually for outstanding results (Eisenberg et al., 2010, p.72)[4]. Melissa can use this information in her discussion with management to demonstrate that a unified team with strong communication will result in excellence.

Source is govirtualoffice.com

Source is govirtualoffice.com

Melissa has identified a challenge in interdepartmental communication, however I would want to see further analysis of this issue. Are there metrics associated with the lack of communication? Is productivity lowered because of the lack of communication? Decrease in customer satisfaction? Lowered revenue? I would ask Melissa for a detailed analysis that provided data demonstrating the perceived “lack of communication”. Since this statement is qualitative and influenced by opinion, I want to ensure that this “issue” was quantified. Additionally, I would ask how this position would resolve the issue. Melissa has proposed a new position to address the issue, but I would want to see more data on how it would resolve it and quantifiable metrics on how success would be measured. Would this role increase customer satisfaction by 10 percent within six months? I would need to see data on what and how before evaluating the proposal. Melissa could use the data from the Hawthorne effect in her analysis. The Hawthorne effect found that increased attention towards employees results in greater productivity (Eisenberg et al., 2010, p.73)[5]. She could demonstrate how in this role she would provide these teams with more attention, which would result in greater productivity. Additionally, the findings in the Hawthorne effect were that the management style and open communication resulted in increased productivity (Miller, 2009)[6].

Ambro on freedigitalphotos.net

Ambro on freedigitalphotos.net

The other item I would ask Melissa to explore further would be the specific tactics she would deliver in this role. Currently Melissa has proposed that her responsibilities would “include supporting all departments with whatever needs arise.” This is too vague. She needs to create a RACI (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed) that outlines how she will work with these teams. A RACI is a tool that that can be used to identify roles and responsibilities (Value Based Management)[7]. Additionally, I would like to see an in-scope/out-of-scope document that lists the deliverables she will produce in this role. By simply stating “whatever needs arise”, this could include everything from strategic decisions on the communications strategy to bringing someone coffee every morning. Role clarity and a firm understanding of roles and responsibilities will be important. McGregor builds on the human relations approach by stating that employees have a high capacity for autonomy, in this respect Melissa may feel that she should have more autonomy in her role and not have to outline her roles and responsibilities. However, there is a balance between having autonomy and having accountability for results.

I would involve Melissa in the decision because she has the key data points needed to make the decision. Additionally, as the Maslow Hierarchy of Needs outlines, employees excel in environments in which their work is rewarding, challenging and aligned to their personal development (Eisenberg et al., 2010, p.77)[8]. Using the Maslow Hierarchy of Needs, the organization can help Melissa be successful in her role, and thereby bring success to the company, by providing her with the opportunity to self-actualize. It would appear that right now Melissa is within level four of the Maslow’s Needs Hierarchy in the Organizational Context, which states that employee has their need for rewarding work satisfied. Melissa desires to reach level five, which is having the work allow for creativity (Miller, 2009)[9]. Given that she is already satisfied and productive in her job, it positions her to be successful in a future role. This is in contrast to Joe from Joe vs. The Volcano, in which he is portrayed as a downtrodden worker among thousands of other workers who are all dressed the same, walking the same dreary path to a dissatisfying job. In the example of Joe vs. The Volcano, employees aren’t motivated to do their best as their basic needs are not yet met. On Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs the employees are just on level one, because only their physiological needs are met. They aren’t even at level two, which includes physically safe work conditions. For this reason, they wouldn’t even be in position to propose a new role or position (Schwartz, 1990)[10]

Finally, I think that Simmons will ask Melissa to demonstrate why she is the best person for the role. What skills, qualities and/or experience does Melissa have to demonstrate why she is the right person to lead this function? I think that Melissa will get this role and be successful. Given that she has a track record of success in her previous positions at the organization, I believe she will excel in this leadership position and add value to the organization.

In evaluating this further, I can understand the pros and cons of the human relations perspective, for both leaders/managers and organizational members/employees. For leaders, the human relations perspective allows them to foster an environment that builds positive employee morale, which in turn raises productivity. Leaders also benefit from a united workforce that makes them want to be a part of something bigger than themselves (Eisenberg et al., 2010)[11]. Additionally, leaders can benefit from employees wanting to obtain “self-actualization” as employees are more likely to achieve more results if they are doing it for their own personal fulfillment. Employees also benefit from the human relations perspective as they have employers who care about their satisfaction and engagement. Inherently by having an employer that cares about the employee’s well-being, engagement and satisfaction, the employee will be more satisfied. An employee will also benefit from pursuing self-actualization in their career. The downside to this is if an employee places all of their self-value and worth on their career or employer, they will be devastated when/if the company lays them off or downsizes the employee’s position. In the Classic Management style employees are aware from the onset that their job is a paycheck and they aren’t seeking personal fulfillment from their job. Therefore if they lose their job, it isn’t a personal affront. For employees working in an environment that boasts a human relations approach, there is greater consequence tied to those decisions. Additionally, the con for a manager using the human relations approach is that it is difficult to understand the motivators for each individual. It can be challenging and difficult to keep up with what satisfies and engages employees. Quite frankly it’s easier to manage the work and tactics (which is what the classic management style focuses on) than manage people and their satisfaction (human relations approach).

Free Digital Photos.Net 100113737

Free Digital Photos.Net 100113737

I do believe that the human relations movement did move the needle on appreciating an individual’s creativity. Google has had a lot of success in modeling the human relations style and encouraging creativity among their employees. According to Google spokesman, Jordan Newman Google’s philosophy is “to create the happiest, most productive workplace in the world” (cited in Stewart, 2013)[12]. Their mission statement itself incorporates the idea that a satisfied employee is a productive employee, which is a key component of the human relations theory. Google achieves this by creating Broadway-themed conference rooms, Lego play stations and vintage subway car conversation areas. They also allow employees to design their own workspace, which varies from treadmill desks to oversized Tinker Toys. That’s just a peek into some of Google’s employee benefits, there are too many to name, from an onsite masseuse, to a fully stocked kitchen to subsidized gym memberships, employees definitely have great benefits. Google has seen great results as well, as they tout greater collaboration, a more engaged workforce and enhanced productivity. Google is a new organization and their profit margin demonstrates that this model is successful. I hope that more companies follow suit and create environments that enhance employee satisfaction.

In conclusion, I think that the human relations approach to organizational communications provides opportunities for companies to enhance employee satisfaction and productivity. I believe that an engaged workforce is a strong workforce. Historically companies have used a classic management approach, which focuses on the work, not the employee, but I believe that companies should place more value on their employees. Since the employees are the face of the business to the customer and drive out the tactics that grow the company, leadership should develop benefits and rewards that recruit and retain the top talent.

Do you think that more companies should follow in Google’s footsteps and create “fun” work environments? What are the downsides to the human relations model? Do you agree with my assessment of how the management team will respond to Melissa regarding her request for a new position? I’d love to hear from you!


[1] Eisenberg, E. M., Goodall Jr., H. L., & Trethewey, A. (2010). Organizational communication: Balancing creativity and constraint (6th ed). Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s.

[2] Eisenberg, E. M., Goodall Jr., H. L., & Trethewey, A. (2010). Organizational communication: Balancing creativity and constraint (6th ed). Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s.

[3] Eisenberg, E. M., Goodall Jr., H. L., & Trethewey, A. (2010). Organizational communication: Balancing creativity and constraint (6th ed). Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s.

[4] Eisenberg, E. M., Goodall Jr., H. L., & Trethewey, A. (2010). Organizational communication: Balancing creativity and constraint (6th ed). Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s.

[5] Eisenberg, E. M., Goodall Jr., H. L., & Trethewey, A. (2010). Organizational communication: Balancing creativity and constraint (6th ed). Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s.

[6] Miller, K (2009). Organizational Communication: Approaches and Processes. (5th ed).  Boston, MA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

[7] Value Based Management (2013). RACI: Agreeing on Roles and Responsibilities: Summary of RACI. Retrieved from www.valuebasedmanagement.net.

[8] Eisenberg, E. M., Goodall Jr., H. L., & Trethewey, A. (2010). Organizational communication: Balancing creativity and constraint (6th ed). Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s.

[9] Miller, K (2009). Organizational Communication: Approaches and Processes. (5th ed).  Boston, MA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

[10] Schwartz, J. (Producer). (1990, March 9) Joe Versus the Volcano. Opening scene retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ytS4yFM4Oxw.

[11] Eisenberg, E. M., Goodall Jr., H. L., & Trethewey, A. (2010). Organizational communication: Balancing creativity and constraint (6th ed). Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s.

[12] Stewart, J. (2013, March 15). Looking for a Lesson in Google’s Perks. The New York Times.

Cacciatore Textual Analysis Introduction & Rationale

For my Organizational Textual Analysis Project I will examine gender communication in the workplace. The “text” that I will use in examining gendered communications is examples of email communications from women in the workplace and how their language undermines their authority.

Stuart Miles at Freedigitalphotos.net

Stuart Miles at Freedigitalphotos.net

Textual analysis is defined as the “a systematic analysis of the content rather than the structure of a communication, such as a written work, speech, or film, including the study of thematic and symbolic elements to determine the objective or meaning of the communication (The Free Dictionary).[1]” 

I will use the content analysis approach for analyzing the text and content of communications in the workplace, which contributes towards women being held back from executive leadership positions. I will do this by analyzing the content of written messages created by women and compare how the language used is typically viewed as passive. I will also evaluate the female negotiation tactics and tendency to avoid conflict as a reason for discrepancy in pay compared to male colleagues. I will evaluate the text of emails, journal articles, books and additional research to supplement my thesis, which is that the communication style of women in the workplace has contributed towards women receiving less pay and lower status in their careers.

Stuart Miles at Freedigitalphotos.net

Stuart Miles at Freedigitalphotos.net

I will reference Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In, and examine the effect this book has had on women in the workplace. Specifically how Sheryl Sandberg encourages women to “lean in” to the challenges of the workplace and adopt the male communication style to be successful (Sandberg, 2013)[2].

Additionally, I will examine the book How to Say It For Women by examining the typical phrases women use in the workplace and how this positions them in an inferior role (Mindell, 2001)[3].

amazon.com

amazon.com

I will also use the research by Judith G. Oakley in the journal article Gender-based Barriers to Senior Management Positions: Understanding the Scarcity of Female CEOs that was published in Journal of Business Ethics. This article explores how the number of female CEOs has remained extremely low despite the rapid growth of women in the workplace. The author explores how this is due, in part, to the “old boy network” which is perpetuated with the female leadership style (Oakley, 2000)[4].

The reason I chose to write about women’s communication styles in the workplace is because even though women in the workforce has grown rapidly over the past 50 years, women still do not receive equal pay. While women in the workforce equated to only 34 percent in 1950, it reached 60 percent by 2000. By 2050 it’s expected that women will make up 48 percent of the workforce (Toossi, 2002, p. 15)[5]. This is a game changer and we’ll continue to see the affects of women in the workforce on organizational structure. According to the National Committee on Pay Equity, women still only receive 78 cents for every $1.00 earned by men (National Committee on Pay Equity, 2012)[6] According to the Census statistics released September 17, 2013, there is a discrepancy of $11,607 in annual earnings between men and women. The median wages for men are $49,398, while women earn only $37,791 (National Committee on Pay Equity, 2012) [7]. I believe that a partial explanation for this discrepancy is the communication style women emulate. I will explore this further in my textual analysis.

Image courtesy of stockphoto on FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of stockphoto on FreeDigitalPhotos.net

This is particular important to evaluate because the purpose is not to blame women for an inferior communications style, but evaluate why the preferred communication style is in the male form.

As I evaluate the text, I will examine specific examples of how women undermine their own power and credibility through their communication styles. One example is women’s use of emotional words, combined with starting sentences with the word I. For example, “I feel that we have too much work to do with the resources we have on the team.” Compared with, “The team cannot complete the work on schedule.” (Mindell, 2001)[8]. The first sentence is emotional and focuses on oneself while the second example focuses on the problem and uses an active voice.

Another example of how I will evaluate the text is how women are perceived as a “bitch” if they act too aggressively, but they are viewed as too passive if they don’t act authoritative enough. This is explored in Oakley’s journal article on gender equality in the workplace (Oakley, 2000)[9]. Women often face what Oakley calls “behavioral double binds” regarding their communication style in the workplace. Sandberg refers to this as well in her book Lean In, as she mentions that oftentimes women desire to be “liked” but oftentimes successful women in leadership positions aren’t “liked” but respected (Sandberg, 2013)[10].

stuart miles on freedigitalphotos.net

stuart miles on freedigitalphotos.net

I will explore these issues of gender-bias in the workplace through communication to support my thesis that the communication style of women in the workplace has contributed towards women receiving less pay and lower status in their careers.


[1] The Free Dictionary. Textual Analysis. Retrieved from http://www.thefreedictionary.com/Textual+Analysis

[2] Sandberg, S. (2013). Lean In: Women, Work, And The Will To Lead. New York, NY: Random House.

[3] Mindell, P. (2001). How to Say It For Women: Communicating with Confidence and Power Using the Language of Success. New York: NY: Penguin Group.

[4] Oakley, J. (2000). Gender-based Barriers to Senior Management Positions: Understanding the Scarcity of Female CEOs. Journal of Business Ethics, 27(4) 321-334.

[5] [3] Toosi, Mitra (2002). A century of change: the U.S. labor force, 1950-2050. United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved from http://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2002/05/art2full.pdf

[6] National Committee on Pay Equity. (2013, October 11) Retrieved from http://www.pay-equity.org

[7] National Committee on Pay Equity. (2013, October 11) Retrieved from http://www.pay-equity.org

[8] Mindell, P. (2001). How to Say It For Women: Communicating with Confidence and Power Using the Language of Success. New York: NY: Penguin Group.

[9] Oakley, J. (2000). Gender-based Barriers to Senior Management Positions: Understanding the Scarcity of Female CEOs. Journal of Business Ethics, 27(4) 321-334.

[10] Sandberg, S. (2013). Lean In: Women, Work, And The Will To Lead. New York, NY: Random House.

Reflection of Organizational Communication Over the Years (Week 1)

pakorn via freedigitalphotos.net

pakorn via freedigitalphotos.net

I think that the landscape for organizing has changed significantly in the past twenty years, particularly as it relates to company loyalty. My Aunt worked for a large company for almost thirty years, from the 1980s until 2011, and was laid off abruptly due to a merger. She was incredibly upset and viewed the lay off as a personal affront. She was devastated and viewed it as a relationship break-up, full of betrayal, hurt and emotion. She had a sense of loyalty with her company that she felt was reciprocal.

As Eisenberg and Goodall explain, the old social contract between an employer and employee silently conveyed that an employee would be rewarded for loyalty with lifelong employment and a nice pension (2010, p. 19)[1]. This is certainly no longer the case.  I’ve been laid off two times in the past ten years at my employer. At neither occasion did I take the lay off personally and I didn’t feel betrayed. I simply engaged my network and found another position at the company. This is due to the “new social contract” (Eisenberg & Goodall, 2010, p. 19) [2], which is the understanding that there is no such thing as job security. The only constant is change in corporate America and employees understand that they must always position themselves for change.

jscreationzs via freedigitalphotos.net

jscreationzs via freedigitalphotos.net

Another example of this sense of loyalty changing over the last twenty years is with my father. He began working for a large company right out of high school and he worked while pursuing his Bachelor’s Degree. He worked there his entire life, always working late and putting his job first. He was also laid off after approximately thirty years and had to start over with his career It devastated him, sending him into a depression. In the current work landscape, both myself and my peers are aware that we are expendable. I am well aware that I must continuously ensure I’m adding value in my organization. If I believe that my current skill set isn’t meeting the organizational needs, I must take it upon myself to ensure I take training, learn a new skill or make a change to ensure I meet the needs of the future organization.

Jeanne Claire Maarbes on freedigitalphotos.net

Jeanne Claire Maarbes on freedigitalphotos.net

I think that the implications of these changes are that employee’s are less loyal to their employers. An article by Robinson, Kraatz and Rousseau (1994)[3] evaluated the organizational psychological contract between employees and employers by evaluating a study conducted in 1987 of the alumni in a masters in business administration (M.B.A.) program at a Midwestern university. This study evaluated the obligations that employees feel towards their employer, as well as the obligations they perceive their employers owe them. This study found that employees expect their employer to fulfill certain obligations, including long-term job security, training and development. The relationship between the fulfillment of the employee obligations resulted in the employee’s organizational commitment. As a result, this creates a psychological contract. This study found that the result of this psychological contract was that an employee would gauge the commitment of the organization in fulfilling these needs and if the organization was not meeting their obligations, the employee was less likely to fulfill his/her perceived obligations. For example, employees felt that the employer was obligated to develop an employee and promote him/her based on their experience (1994)[4] If an employee felt that this wasn’t occurring, they would then purposefully not fulfill one of their perceived obligations, such as working long hours or volunteering for non-required tasks. Therefore, I think what we see in today’s workforce is a less engaged workforce who are not loyal to one company, but rather look for how the company can benefit them in navigating their career ladder.

watcharakun via freedigitalphotos.net

watcharakun via freedigitalphotos.net

I think that these changes have impacted our organizational strategies as organizations are looking for new ways to engage employees. An article by Miles, Snow, Meyer and Coleman evaluated organizational strategy, structure and process (1978)[5]. This article was published in 1978 and acknowledged changes made in the 40s, 50s and 60s to the organizational structure. They mentioned how the Depression and World War II both changed the landscape and resulted in the Human Relations Model, which was the decision making model that addressed the employees need for recognition (Miles, et al., 1978, 560)[6]. We’ve seen even more movement in this area over the years and a move away from the traditional model, in which manager’s dictate employee behavior, and more towards a model in which the manager is a facilitator for employees to enable them to perform their roles.

renjith krishnan via freedigitalphotos.net

renjith krishnan via freedigitalphotos.net

Given that employers can’t offer guarantee of longevity of employment as a reward for loyalty, they must think of other ways to reward employees for performance and gain loyalty. One example of this is work-life balance programs. Although Eisenberg and Goodall have identified a recent downward trend in these offerings, until recently this has been a focus of organizations in recruiting and retaining top talent. Eisenberg and GoodalI reported that a study conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management found that in 2002 64 percent of organizations offered flextime, while only 57 percent of organizations offered it in 2009 (Eisenberg & Goodall, 2010) [7]. I think that employees have different values and respond to these programs in different ways. While a parent in the workplace may value having on-site childcare, a single young professional without kids will probably not care about that perk. Employers must evaluate their strategies and processes based on their employee population and values.

Stuart Miles via freedigitalphotos.net

Stuart Miles via freedigitalphotos.net

In my opinion, the only constant in corporate America is change. I’ve said this many times, as I especially see this in my industry. Strategies, approaches, priorities and projects change daily in my organization. To succeed, one must embrace change and not be resistant to it. I had a meeting just today in which I responded to a question, “This is how we do it today, but I’m open to doing it differently in the future based on the needs of the business.” I think that we must be adaptable, flexible and agile to succeed, as change is constant. We must consciously keep our finger on the pulse of the organization to understand the current needs and adapt quickly to them.

What do you think? What changes have you seen in corporate America over the decades? What changes do you think we’ll see next?


[1] Eisenberg, E. M., Goodall Jr., H. L., & Trethewey, A. (2010). Organizational communication: Balancing creativity and constraint (6th ed). Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s.

[2] Eisenberg, E. M., Goodall Jr., H. L., & Trethewey, A. (2010). Organizational communication: Balancing creativity and constraint (6th ed). Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s.

[3] Robinson, S.L., Kraatz, M.S., Rousseau, D.M. (1994). Changing Obligations and the Psychological Contract: A Longitudinal Study. Academy of Management Journal, 37(1), 137-152. Doi: 10.2307/256773

[4] Robinson, S.L., Kraatz, M.S., Rousseau, D.M. (1994). Changing Obligations and the Psychological Contract: A Longitudinal Study. Academy of Management Journal, 37(1), 137-152. Doi: 10.2307/256773

[5] Miles, R.E., Snow, C. C, Meyer, H.J. and Coleman, H.J. (1978). Organizational Strategy, Structure and Process. The Academy of Management Review, 3(3), 546-562.

[6] Miles, R.E., Snow, C. C, Meyer, H.J. and Coleman, H.J. (1978). Organizational Strategy, Structure and Process. The Academy of Management Review, 3(3), 546-562.

[7] Eisenberg, E. M., Goodall Jr., H. L., & Trethewey, A. (2010). Organizational communication: Balancing creativity and constraint (6th ed). Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s.