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Impact of managerial communication styles on employees' attitudes and behaviours

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  • Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur; Present KIIT University Bhubaneswar

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Purpose – Through the lens of social exchange theory and organisation support theory, the purpose of this paper is to examine the passive, aggressive, and assertive styles of managers/supervisors that influence perceived supervisory support and to test whether the support increases employees’ satisfaction with the communication of supervisors and their organisation‐based self‐esteem. It also assesses whether employees’ communication satisfaction and their self‐esteem influence employees’ performance, commitment and absenteeism. Design/methodology/approach – In total, 400 employees from ten manufacturing firms in India were studied through questionnaire survey. Standard instruments were used to assess the constructs. A scale was developed to measure the communication style of managers and a single item to assess absenteeism. Findings – Results revealed that assertive style of communication lends maximum support to employees. Perceived supervisory support at the workplace enhances employees’ satisfaction with communication of supervisors and organisation‐based self‐esteem. Satisfaction with communication fosters a strong emotional bond with organisations and the emotional bond with organisations reduces employees’ absenteeism. Originality/value – The paper shows that employees’ organisation‐based self‐esteem increases their job performance. Organisations can conduct training programs to develop an assertive communication style in their managers/supervisors to increase the support to subordinates; thereby its positive consequences will follow in increasing employees’ performance and commitment and reducing absenteeism.
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Employee Relations
Emerald Article: Impact of managerial communication styles on employees'
attitudes and behaviours
Shilpee A. Dasgupta, Damodar Suar, Seema Singh
Article information:
To cite this document: Shilpee A. Dasgupta, Damodar Suar, Seema Singh, (2013),"Impact of managerial communication styles on
employees' attitudes and behaviours", Employee Relations, Vol. 35 Iss: 2 pp. 173 - 199
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/01425451311287862
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Impact of managerial
communication styles
on employees’ attitudes
and behaviours
Shilpee A. Dasgupta, Damodar Suar and Seema Singh
Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT, Kharagpur, India
Abstract
Purpose – Through the lens of social exchange theory and organisation support theory, the purpose
of this paper is to examine the passive, aggressive, and assertive styles of managers/supervisors that
influence perceived supervisory support and to test whether the support increases employees’
satisfaction with the communication of supervisors and their organisation-based self-esteem. It also
assesses whether employees’ communication satisfaction and their self-esteem influence employees’
performance, commitment and absenteeism.
Design/methodology/approach – In total, 400 employees from ten manufacturing firms in India
were studied through questionnaire survey. Standard instruments were used to assess the constructs.
A scale was developed to measure the communication style of managers and a single item to assess
absenteeism.
Findings – Results revealed that assertive style of communication lends maximum support to
employees. Perceived supervisory support at the workplace enhances employees’ satisfaction
with communication of supervisors and organisation-based self-esteem. Satisfaction with
communication fosters a strong emotional bond with organisations and the emotional bond
with organisations reduces employees’ absenteeism.
Originality/value – The paper shows that employees’ organisation-based self-esteem increases their
job performance. Organisations can conduct training programs to develop an assertive
communication style in their managers/supervisors to increase the support to subordinates; thereby
its positive consequences will follow in increasing employees’ performance and commitment and
reducing absenteeism.
Keywords Managers, Communication skills, Employees’ behaviour, Employees attitudes,
Managerial communication styles, Perceived supervisory support
Paper type Research paper
Introduction
Today we are faced with the pre-eminent fact that, if civilization is to survive, we must
cultivate the science of human relationships (Roosevelt, 1945).
Interpersonal relationships including social relations with one another are an essential
part of organisational life and sustainable success. As far as communication is
concerned, words are only superficial aspects. Without human function, words can
never convey the exact meaning to the other person. Effective communication builds
relationships. Wyatt (2006) stated the following:
Effective communication is the lifeblood of a successful organization. It reinforces the
organization’s vision, connects employees to the business, fosters process improvement,
facilitates change, and drives business results by changing employee behaviour (p. 6).
Managerial communication drives relationships and frames the attitudes and
behaviours of employees in the workplace. Attitude has three components: affective,
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at
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Employee Relations
Vol. 35 No. 2, 2013
pp. 173-199
rEmerald Group Publishing Limited
0142-5455
DOI 10.1108/01425451311287862
173
Managerial
communication
styles
cognitive, and behavioural. While the cognitive component represents the evaluation
of stimuli in the mind, behaviours are actions or reactions that occur in response
to those stimuli. In measuring attitudes, only affective/feeling components are assessed
in connection with communication, organisations, managers, and situations. Positive
attitudes manifest in well-adjusted behaviours and negative attitudes lead to the
reverse.
An historical overview of managerial communication shows that the way managers
communicated with subordinates is markedly different from how they do today. While
employees were previously regarded as the greatest asset of an organisation, the asset
metaphor has been elevated to a new level. Organisations have started recognising
employees as human capital owners and investors (Davenport, 1999). As a result, the
emphasis on communication “content” has shifted to “behaviour” as a part of
the communication process because employees’ interpretation of supervisory
communication depends not only on “what” is said but also on “how” it is said.
A people-centred strategy is an important source of competitive advantage because,
unlike technology, costs, or new product development, it is difficult to imitate (Pfeffer,
1998). Managers can create an environment through communication where employees
feel happier and more passionate about their jobs and exhibit attitudes and behaviours
necessary for improved organisational performance.
Background
Blau’s (1964) social exchange theory is among the most influential conceptual
paradigms for understanding workplace behaviours. Social exchange theory is based
on a central premise that the exchange of social and material resources is
a fundamental form of human interaction. When two parties who are in a state of
reciprocal interdependence interact with each other, obligations are generated (Saks,
2006). Organisational support theory, derived from social exchange theory, explains
how the support of organisations affects the behaviours of employees (Eisenberger
et al., 1986). It suggests that employees form a global perception of the extent to which
the organisation cares about their well-being and demonstrates appreciation, called
perceived organisational support (POS). Supervisors are regarded as representatives of
the organisation. If employees perceive the supervisor/organisation as supportive, they
feel an obligation to return this support (Rhoades and Eisenberger, 2002) in the form of
favourable attitudes and behaviours that promote employees’ performance. POS
manifests in increase in in-role and extra-role performance and decrease in stress and
withdrawal behaviours such as absenteeism and turnover. Assessing such constructs
quantitatively, the effects of managerial communication on employees’ attitudes and
behaviours can be gauged.
Although relational concerns have been at the heart of management research for
decades, the power of relationships has become even more salient both for employees
and organisations. Accordingly, going beyond the social exchange theory (Blau, 1964)
and organisation support theory (Eisenberger et al., 1986; Rhoades and Eisenberger,
2002; Shore and Shore, 1995), this study investigates the impact of perceived
managerial communication styles on employees’ attitudes and behaviours through
perceived supervisory support (PSS) vis-a
`-vis POS. Social exchange theory suggests
that if a superior (on behalf of the organisation) confers a social gift on a subordinate,
the latter will feel obligated to reciprocate. POS is defined as employees’ perceptions
about the degree to which the organisation cares about their well-being and values
their contributions. Organisation support theory suggests that the development of POS
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is the employees’ tendency to assign humanlike characteristics to the organisation
(Rhoades and Eisenberger, 2002). POS represents an indispensable part of the social
exchange relationship between employees and the employer because it implies what
the organisation has done for its employees. The supervisor on behalf of the
organisation extends support to subordinates. Subordinates perceiving support of
supervisors vis-a
`-vis organisations cultivate positive attitudes and engage in extra-role
behaviours. Subordinates are unlikely to hold favourable attitudes and behaviours
when the treatment is negative or neutral (Rhoades and Eisenberger, 2002).
Reciprocity and strong mutual care are emphasised in Indian culture (Srivastava
et al., 2008). Indian culture stresses interdependence, sharing, and harmony with the
surrounding world. While horizontal orientation and rationalism are valued by
Indians, hierarchical orientation and emotionalism are also being valued (Sinha and
Kanungo, 1997). The family structure in India is a close knit unit. Decisions are made
only after prior consultation with the family members. Making important decisions
without talking to the family is considered offensive and implies a lack of respect.
These human aspects of Indian culture may have implications in the workplace.
This study stresses the “human function” of managerial communication, a concept
neglected in communication style research. The human function embedded in
communication of managers/supervisors can affect the work relationships that can
facilitate or retard employees’/subordinates’ attitudes and behaviours (Varona, 2002).
While human relations practices play a key role in developing and maintaining the
exchange relationship between the employee and the organisation (Aggarwal and
Bhargava, 2009), extant research offers little insight on appropriate managerial
communication style that can help to build high levels of support. The role of
social relationships is yet to be explicitly investigated. An issue that needs to be
addressed is the specific styles of managerial communication that can promote
or demote relationship building. To address this issue, one potentially helpful approach
is to establish a link between the effective managerial communication styles and
development of positive supervisor-subordinate relationships.
Review of literature and development of hypotheses
Communication styles
Management is a process of working with and through others to achieve organisational
objectives in an efficient manner (Lwehabura and Matovelo, 2000). Managing
employees is enacted through communication (Holladay and Coombs, 1993). “The way
one verbally, non-verbally and para-verbally interacts to signal how literal meaning
should be taken, interpreted, filtered or understood, is known as the communication
style” (Norton, 1983, p. 58). Norton (1983) classifies communication styles into ten
different types – dominant, dramatic, contentious, animated, impression-leaving,
relaxed, attentive, open, friendly, and precise. McCallister (1992), combining Norton’s
(1983) styles, classifies communication styles into noble, reflective, and socratic.
Comstock and Higgins (1997), merge Norton’s styles to four clusters of communication
styles – cooperative, apprehensive, social, and competitive. Analogous to McCallister’s
threefold typology of communication styles, Heffner (1997) groups the communication
styles into aggressive, passive, and assertive (Ibrahim and Ismail, 2007). Noble style is
directive and straightforward and may be equated with aggressive style. Reflective
style is non-directive and may be parallel with passive style. Socratic style emphasises
on analysis of details and debates and may be similar to assertive style. To understand
the human aspects of managerial communication and the formation of interpersonal
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relations in organisations, Heffner’s classification of communication styles can
be adopted to study perceived managerial communication styles. Heffner’s
communication styles appear simpler and emphasise more on human relations in
workplace than McCallister’s communication styles.
Managers practice various communication styles. However, often one type
dominants and becomes habitual. In passive communication style, managers avoid to
express their needs, feelings, and feel shy to protect their rights. In aggressive
communication style, managers express their feelings and opinions and advocate for
their needs in a way that violates the rights of employees. While passive managers are
usually unable to convey the full thrust of their message, causing irritation, delays, and
rework, aggressive managers tend to be less concerned with moving things along than
in preserving their own status and power over employees, though they may be
successful in completing short-term goals (Newbold, 1997). Between these two extreme
styles, is the assertive style. Assertiveness is a behaviour that enables managers to act
in their own best interest and to stand up for themselves without denying rights of
others (Arredondo, 2003). It facilitates good interpersonal interaction (Lwehabura and
Matovelo, 2000) and is characterised by honesty, objectivity, openness, tolerance,
accuracy, self-expression, and respect for self and others. Assertiveness can be used for
creating mutual understanding and fulfilling objectives (Lwehabura and Matovelo,
2000). Assertive managers respect the needs of employees and go through the mental
process of assessing what they need to know and how. Assertive managers also have
the skills and confidence to challenge ambiguity and misunderstanding (Newbold,
1997). When the communication style of managers is straightforward and accurate,
employees view managers as trustworthy (Tschannen-Moran and Hoy, 2000). This
openness facilitates employees’ understanding of tasks and enables responsible
decision making (Moye and Henkin, 2006).
Assertive managers differ from aggressive managers. Aggressive managers attack
or ignore employees’ opinions in favour of their own. They usually react to the given
situation in a rude, derogatory, and sarcastic manner which escalates employees’
anxiety. On the other hand, assertive managers state their opinions while being
respectful to employees. While aggressive managers fail to establish relationships with
their employees, assertive managers build long-term relationships.
The assertive communication style enables a manager to express his/her opinions
and thoughts in a direct way without attacking others, refuse an unreasonable request
without feeling guilty, give employees “constructive feedback” instead of “criticism”,
give recognition and praise to employees at the right time and create a motivational
climate, deliver a firm message by asking “questions” through a clever approach or ask
effective questions to probe for facts and provoke for ideas, trust employees, and create
a collaborative and congenial working environment.
Perceived managerial communication styles and PSS
Workplace interactions are often conceptualised via Blau’s social exchange theory
(Blau, 1964; Cropanzano and Mitchell, 2005). Social exchanges are considered
bi-directional relationships through which two parties reciprocally transact in an
interdependent manner (Blau, 1964, 1974). Social exchanges involve intrinsic, higher
order, valuables than do simple economic exchanges (Blau, 1974).
Employees learn from the structure of their work-place and react the way
the environment suggests they should. The structure of the work-place and the
transmission of information and feedback to employees are the major responsibilities
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of a manager (Villegas and Cerveny, 2004). An honest and straightforward
communication enables a manager to create trust and transform negative energy
into positive ones (Beck and Hillmar, 1992). An assertive manager creates a nurturing,
a more humane, caring, and fulfilling work environment. Employees develop an overall
belief concerning the extent to which supervisors on behalf of the organisations value
and care about them, which is called as POS (Shanock and Eisenberger, 2006). This is
in accordance with the organisation support theory. The POS is executed through
supervisors called PSS. Based on this discussion, the following hypothesis is proposed:
H1. Assertive communication style of supervisors will elicit more PSS to employees
compared to passive and aggressive communication styles.
PSS, communication satisfaction, and organisation-based self-esteem
If the employees perceive their supervisor as supportive, they feel intrinsically
satisfied, realise self-worth, and feel an obligation to return this support through
appropriate attitudes and behaviours that benefit the organisation (Rhoades and
Eisenberger, 2002). Consistent with this premise, subordinates perceiving support
through their managers’ communication style are more likely to experience satisfaction
with the communication – a personal contentment experienced by subordinates at the
work place while exchanging ideas with their supervisors. Supervisors’ willingness to
listen, to understand the problems faced by subordinates, to trust, to support, to
provide constructive feedback, and recognise subordinates’ efforts are the main
sources of satisfaction or dissatisfaction. When employees are treated with support
and respect (e.g. mistakes dealt with in a non-coercive manner) and their contributions
to organisations are recognised, the effect of “them and us” attitudes is reduced (Peccei
and Rosenthal, 2001; Pfeffer, 1998).
Organisation-based self-esteem is constructed from past experiences such as task
accomplishments and failures in the organisation (Hui and Lee, 2000). Employees are
usually not averse to put extra efforts when organisations need help in overcoming
problems or meeting production deadlines. But if extra efforts go unnoticed, employees
wonder why they should bother. Supportive supervisors empower their employees,
permit them to exercise self-direction and self-control, and provide them with
opportunities to exercise competence and experience success (Pierce and Gardner,
2004). Such fulfilling and supportive environment creates positive energy for
subordinates and enhances their organisation-based self-esteem. Based on this
discussion, the following hypotheses are proposed:
H2a. PSS will provide more communication satisfaction to employees.
H2b. PSS will increase employees’ organisation-based self-esteem.
Communication satisfaction, job performance, organisational commitment, and
absenteeism
Human and technical factors are responsible for determining employees’ job
performance. Job performance is a multiplicable function of motivation and ability
(Campbell et al., 1993). In other words, ability in the absence of motivation or
motivation in the absence of ability is insufficient to yield good performance. Ability
involves knowledge and skill while motivation is influenced by an employee’s needs,
and physical and social conditions (Randhawa, 2004). At the interpersonal level,
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satisfaction with managerial communication satisfies the intrinsic needs of employees
and encourages them to utilise their abilities. The communication satisfaction is likely
to directly influence employees’ performance (Orpen, 1997; Soonhee, 2002).
Organisational commitment is the desire of employees to remain in the organisation,
exerting work effort while accepting organisational goals (Putterill and Rohrer,
1995). Organisational commitment has three dimensions: affective, continuance, and
normative (Allen and Meyer, 1990). Though related, these dimensions show conceptual
and empirical distinctness, and so, they may be treated as distinct constructs (Kelly,
2004). Affective commitment is the employee’s positive emotional attachment to the
organisation. An employee who is affectively committed strongly identifies with
the goals of the organisation, desires to remain in the organisation and tries to glorify
it. Continuance commitment is the state in which the employee commits to continue
his/her job in the organisation because s/he perceives high costs of losing
organisational membership, including economic (such as pension accruals) and
social costs (friendship ties with co-workers). Normative commitment is the feelings of
obligation to remain in the organisation. These feelings may derive from many sources.
For example, the organisation may have invested resources in training an employee
who then feels a “moral” obligation to put forth efforts on the job and stay on
with the organisation to “repay the debt”. It may also reflect an internalised norm,
developed before the person joins the organisation through family or other
socialisation processes, that one should be loyal to one’s organisation. Employees
with strong affective commitment remain because of emotional binding, those with
strong continuance commitment remain because of their necessity, and those with strong
normative commitment remain because of moral obligations (Allen and Meyer, 1990).
Past research has shown positive relationships between communication satisfaction
and organisational commitment (Downs, 1991; Varona, 1996, 2002). Supportive
managers follow the golden rule: “Do unto others, as you would have others do unto
you!” Social exchange theory acknowledges that employees willingly exchange loyalty
for the support they receive from superiors during interactions (Eisenberger et al.,
1986; Manheim et al., 2003). Recognition of their work and constructive feedback
help to meet their socio-emotional needs, which enhance their sense of belonging and
pride in organisations. Sensible and rational treatment to employees affects their
commitment.
Failure to report to work is absenteeism. When employees do not intentionally
create the conditions which produce the absence, then these are considered as
involuntary absenteeism (Savery et al., 1998). Involuntary absenteeism is due to sick
children at home, personal illness, funeral attendance, or other unavoidable situations.
Contrarily, voluntary absenteeism is controlled by employees. This study focuses only
on voluntary absenteeism. Employees whose needs are not met in the job remain
absent (Cross and Travaglione, 2004; Sagie, 1998). Communication satisfaction can
directly relate to socio-psychological well-being arresting absenteeism (Clampitt and
Giard, 1993). Thus, the more the communication satisfaction, the lower will be the
absenteeism. Hence, the following hypotheses are proposed:
H3a. Employees experiencing higher communication satisfaction will report higher
job performance.
H3b. Employees experiencing higher communication satisfaction will report higher
affective, continuance, and normative commitment.
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H3c. Employees experiencing higher communication satisfaction will report lower
absenteeism.
Organisation-based self-esteem, job performance, organisational commitment, and
absenteeism
Low self-esteemed employees are more likely to exhibit negative feelings in their work.
Often lack of motivation, minimal feedback, and lack of trust in management are
responsible for their poor performance. Self-esteem being the key to human dignity
sets the boundaries for individual performance and career progress (Goddard, 1992).
In the top-down approach of “management by objectives” and the bottom-up approach
of the “quality circles”, employees’ participate in goal setting, problem solving, and
decision making that enhance their organisation-based self-esteem in the eyes of other
employees. Employees with high organisation-based self-esteem undertake more
challenging tasks than the employees with low self-esteem. The high self-esteem
triggers enthusiasm and optimism of employees that result in high job performance
(Goris et al., 2000; Villegas and Cerveny, 2004). Such employees work to restore their
reputation. A supervisor, who encourages participation of employees and respects and
recognises employees in interpersonal transactions, creates a feeling of oneness and thus
increases their commitment to organisational goals (Silverthorne, 2004; Gaertner, 1999).
People escape temporarily to avoid unpleasant work circumstances (Villegas and
Cerveny, 2004). To create a psychologically healthy work-place, supervisors rotate job
assignments on routine tasks, solicit employees’ input on nature and execution of job or
give them timely freedom for carrying out tasks. This gives them a sense of ownership
and makes them the executors of their decisions. In accordance with social exchange
theory and organisation support theory, when employees feel in interpersonal
interaction that they are valued, important, competent, and capable to their
organisation, they attend to their work regularly. Based on this discussion, the
following hypotheses are proposed:
H4a. Employees experiencing high organisation-based self-esteem will report high
job performance.
H4b. Employees experiencing high organisation-based self-esteem will report high
affective, continuance, and normative commitments.
H4c. Employees experiencing high organisation-based self-esteem will report low
absenteeism.
Organisational commitment and absenteeism
Organisational commitment can influence absenteeism (Savery et al., 1998). The
learning and experiences of employees at workplace act as a socialising force for which
long-term relations are formed between employees and organisations. Employees, who
are highly committed to their organisational goals, are expected to have positive
attitudes towards their organisations and have strong desire to come to work and
contribute towards goal attainment. Based on this discussion, the following hypothesis
is proposed:
H5. Employees having high affective, continuance, and normative commitments
will report low absenteeism.
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To sum up, this study investigates the influence of perceived managerial
communication styles on PSS to employees that can further communication
satisfaction and enhance employees’ organisation-based self-esteem. Communication
satisfaction can enhance job performance, organisational commitment, and decrease
absenteeism. Also, it is proposed that the organisation-based self-esteem can enhance
job performance, organisational commitment, and decrease absenteeism. Also, the
organisational commitment can reduce absenteeism. A model that incorporates
all hypotheses is shown figuratively (see Figure 1).
Method
Sample
Data were collected from full-time employees during May 2007 to July 2008 in ten
manufacturing organisations located in states of West Bengal (Kharagpur, Kolkata,
and Haldia), Jharkhand (Tatanagar), and Uttar-Pradesh (Renukut) in India. They are
large private organisations owned by industrialists producing steel, aluminium,
Supervisory support
Job performance
Absenteeism
Passive Aggressive Assertive
Communication satisfaction Organisation-based self-esteem
Continuance
Affective Normative
+_ _++
++
+_+++++_++
___
Notes: +, Direct impact; –, inverse impact
Figure 1.
The conceptual model
for investigation
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electricity, petrochemicals, edible oil, consumer goods, and battery. The employee
strength in the organisations varied from 2,000 to 3,000. With the permission of higher
authorities and procuring the list of employees, 2.5 per cent of the total employees
having minimum three years of experience in the organisations were randomly
selected. Thus, 650 employees were approached, explained about the purpose of the
study personally and getting their consent, they were given the questionnaires.
All the questions were written in English. The cover letter in the questionnaire
explained the purpose of the study and assured complete anonymity of responses.
Each employee was requested to fill-up the questionnaire and return it after a fortnight.
Employees were met after a fortnight and 400 employees returned the complete filled-
in questionnaires. The response rate was 61.53 per cent. At the time of collection of
filled-in questionnaires, eight employees from three organisations who agreed to report
their experiences about their supervisory communication, recognition, behaviours, and
attitudes mentioned that and those were jotted down in field dairy. The important
narrations relevant to the context are reported. Employees were given the following
prompts to recall situations at the workplace in which they had good and/or bad
experiences:
(1) tell me about an incident when the communication of your immediate
supervisor made you happy, motivated, and consequently you were able to
perform well; and
(2) tell me about a situation when the communication of your immediate
supervisor made you unhappy, demotivated, and consequently you failed to
perform well.
Of the 400 respondents, 94.8 per cent ( ¼379) were males and the rest 5.2 per cent
(¼21) were females. There were very few female employees compared to male
employees in the manufacturing organisations and accordingly the sample contained a
lower representation of females. The sample profile of male and female employees were
compared using “F” test. They did not differ in their age, had similar years of job
experience, and both groups had by and large nuclear families. While female
employees had studied more number of years in formal schools and colleges than that
of male employees, on average, each male employee had received about two promotions
compared to only one promotion per female employee during their job in the
organisation (see Table I). More than two-thirds of employees were from semi-urban
(20.8 per cent ¼83) and urban (49.5 per cent ¼198) background and only less than
one-third of employees were from rural background (29.8 per cent ¼119). The age of
employees varied from as low as 19 to as high as 60.
Variable Male, M(SD) Female, M(SD) F
Age 37.91 (9.93) 35.24 (8.85) 1.45
Education 14.77 (2.63) 16.19 (2.25) 5.86*
Basic salary 8,850.49 (6,095.56) 8,176.19 (2,974.38) 0.25
Promotions 1.73 (1.55) 0.90 (1.30) 5.70*
Experience 14.22 (9.83) 11.30 (9.17) 1.76
Family members 4.49 (1.78) 3.90 (1.38) 2.21
Note: *po0.05
Tabl e I.
Sample profile
of employees
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Measures
All constructs used in the study had validity and reliability except absenteeism. While
“absenteeism” was measured using a single open-ended question, all other constructs
were measured using multi-item close-ended questions. An expert in communication
studies, another in psychology, and still another in management science were asked
to assess the relevance of items to the constructs. All the items agreed by them were
retained (Table II).
With the measures of socio-demographic variables, self-reported questionnaires
assessed communication styles, PSS, communication satisfaction, organisation-based
self-esteem, job performance, commitment, and absenteeism.
Perceived managerial communication styles. Perceived managerial communication
styles had three dimensions: passive, aggressive, and assertive. Each dimension was
assessed on eight items. The items for measuring all these styles were generated on
the basis of quiz questions on “assertiveness” for testing communication styles by
Brigham Young University (2004). The items of the scale were arranged randomly to
assess the three styles, which supervisors might employ when interacting with their
employees. Sample items on passive communication style include, “My supervisor
lets other people take unfair advantage of him/her” and “My supervisor does not
express his/her views or feelings”. Sample items on aggressive communication
style include, “My supervisor often ignores another person’s rights”, and
“My supervisor often monopolises conversations”. Sample items on assertive
communication style include, “My supervisor is able to recognise and express his
good points”, and “My supervisor usually stands up for his/her own rights and lets
other people do the same”. All the items of three styles were positively keyed.
Employees were asked to indicate the extent to which each statement was true
regarding their immediate superiors’ communication style. Response descriptions
against each item were given on a five-point Likert scale – “strongly disagree”
(¼1), “disagree” ( ¼2), “neither disagree nor agree” ( ¼3), “agree” ( ¼4), and
“strongly agree” ( ¼5).
PSS. To assess employees’ perception that their supervisor valued their contribution
and cared about their well-being, the eight-item short version of the “POS”
(Eisenberger et al., 1986) questionnaire was adapted, replacing the word “organisation”
with the word “supervisor”. Of the items, four were positively keyed and four were
negatively keyed. Sample items include, “My supervisor values my contributions”
(positively keyed) and “My supervisor would ignore any complaint from me”
(negatively keyed). Employees were asked to indicate the extent to which each
statement was true regarding their immediate supervisors’ support towards them.
Response descriptions against each item were given on a five-point Likert scale –
“strongly disag ree” ( ¼1), “disagree” ( ¼2), “neither disagree nor agree” ( ¼3), “agree”
(¼4), and “strongly agree” ( ¼5).
Communication satisfaction. The construct was measured using seven items from
the 40-item scale developed by Downs and Hazen (1977). Employees were asked to
indicate the extent to which each statement was true regarding their satisfaction with
the amount and/or quality of communication with their immediate supervisor. Sample
items include, “My supervisor listens and pays attention to me” and “My supervisor
provides me the information needed to do my job”. All items were positively keyed.
Response descriptions against each item were given on a five-point Likert scale –
“highly dissatisfied” ( ¼1), “dissatisfied” ( ¼2), “neither dissatisfied nor satisfied
(¼3), “satisfied” ( ¼4), and “highly satisfied” ( ¼5).
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Items
Variables Total Retained Mean SD w
2
/df CFI GFI NFI PCFI PGFI PNFI RMSEA STLR Cronbach a
Passive 8 8 20.67 5.25 1.71 0.97 0.98 0.93 0.69 0.96 0.67 0.04 0.45-0.68 0.73
Aggressive 8 7 18.34 5.57 1.59 1.00 0.99 0.98 0.66 0.99 0.65 0.02 0.60-0.73 0.80
Assertive 8 7 24.52 3.87 3.90 0.80 0.96 0.80 0.54 0.92 0.51 0.08 0.27-0.63 0.62
Perceived supervisory support 8 8 27.44 5.93 9.84 0.80 0.87 0.80 0.57 0.76 0.55 0.12 0.51-0.71 0.80
Communication satisfaction 40 7 25.38 5.61 13.65 0.84 0.89 0.83 0.56 0.78 0.55 0.13 0.53-0.75 0.85
Self-esteem 10 10 38.96 6.06 7.44 0.83 0.88 0.81 0.65 0.82 0.63 0.10 0.61-0.77 0.86
Performance 7 7 26.65 4.43 10.78 0.83 0.90 0.82 0.56 0.80 0.55 0.13 0.44-0.83 0.80
Affective 8 8 27.77 6.05 10.45 0.80 0.86 0.76 0.55 0.75 0.54 0.12 0.51-0.76 0.79
Continuance 8 7 20.09 4.56 9.72 0.74 0.91 0.73 0.50 0.82 0.45 0.13 0.23-0.63 0.70
Absenteeism 1 1 0.63 2.28
Note: STLR, standardised loading range
Table II.
Validity and reliability
of variables
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styles
Organisation-based self-esteem. The scale contained the ten-item measure developed
by Pierce et al. (1989). Employees were asked to indicate the extent they believed
that they were valuable, worthwhile, and effectual members of their employing
organisations. Sample items include, “Around here I count” and “Around here I am
taken seriously”. All items were positively keyed. Response descriptions against each
item were given on a five-point Likert scale – “strongly disagree” ( ¼1), “disagree”
(¼2), “neither disagree nor ag ree” ( ¼3), “agree” ( ¼4), and “strongly agree” ( ¼5).
Job performance. Job performance was measured through seven items of Abrainis’s
(1985) job performance scale. Employees were asked to report how they performed in
last six months. All items were positively keyed. Sample items include, “How well
do you think you were at producing satisfactory quality of work?” and “How well do
you think you were at producing satisfactory quantity of work?” The response
categories against each item were given on a five-point scale – “very poor” ( ¼1),
“poor” ( ¼2), “neither poor nor well ( ¼3), “well” ( ¼4), and “very well” ( ¼5).
Organisational commitment. To measure employees’ organisational commitment,
the tricomponent organisational commitment scale, developed by Allen and Meyer
(1990) was adapted. Each dimension of affective, continuance, and normative
commitment had eight items. Of the eight-items in affective commitment, four-items
were negatively keyed. Sample items include, “I really feel as if this organisation’s
problems are my own” (positively keyed) and “I do not feel a strong sense of belonging
to my organisation” (negatively keyed). Of the eight-items in continuance commitment,
two-items were negatively keyed. Sample items include, “It would be very hard for
me to leave my organisation right now, even if I wanted to” (positively keyed) and
“I am not afraid of what might happen if I quit my job without having another lined
up” (negatively keyed). Of the eight-items in normative commitment, three-items were
negatively keyed. Sample items include, “If I got another offer for a better job elsewhere
I would not feel it was right to leave my organisation” (positively keyed) and “I do not
think waiting to be a ‘company man’ or ‘company woman’ is sensible anymore”
(negatively keyed). Response descriptions against each item were given on a five-point
Likert scale – “strongly disagree” ( ¼1), “disagree” ( ¼2), “neither disagree nor agree”
(¼3), “agree” ( ¼4), and “strongly ag ree” ( ¼5).
Absenteeism. Because of confidentiality issues, looking at records of absentees
was not permitted by the surveyed organisations. An open-ended question was asked
to each employee to report the total number of days absent in the previous year.
As a large number of employees reported zero or few absences, the variable was
transformed by adding 1 (to remove the zeros) and taking the natural logarithm.
The distribution was then closer to normal.
Validity and reliability of measures
The validity and reliability of questionnaire data were evaluated using Statistical
Package for the Social Sciences version 16 and Analysis of Moment Structures version
16. Validity is ensured when the construct measures what it intends to measure.
Confirmatory factor analyses were performed to assess the validity. It assumes a priori
factor structure. We had chosen a conservative standardised regression weight of
0.22 or below for an item to be eliminated. The intention was to eliminate the poorly
performing items for measuring a construct.
Cronbach’s awas computed to determine the internal consistency of items to
measure a construct. The Cronbach acoefficients of all the constructs except
normative commitment (a¼0.40) crossed the recommended level of 0.60
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(Nunnally, 1978). The normative commitment scale could neither satisfy the test for
internal consistency nor the convergent validity (all items loaded non-significantly);
hence it was dropped from the analysis. Affective and continuance commitments were
conceptually different from one another and each was treated as a separate construct.
The following fit indices were chosen for evaluating each construct: relative
chi-square (w
2
/df), comparative fit index (CFI), goodness-of-fit index (GFI), normed
fit index (NFI), their parsimonious fit indices – PCFI, PGFI, PNFI – and the root mean
square error of approximation (RMSEA). The items, their descriptive statistics,
validity and reliability are shown (Table II).
w
2
/df, is the ratio of minimum discrepancy to degrees of freedom. The w
2
/df was o3,
in passive and aggressive styles, and o5 in assertive style. In all other constructs, it
was 45, the cut-off limit. Because of the sensitivity of w
2
to sample size, the other fit
indices were calculated. The GFI is analogous to R
2
in multiple regressions. CFI
indicates the overall fit of the model relative to a null model and NFI adjusts for the
complexity of the model. Only for passive and aggressive styles, the CFI,GFI, and NFI
were above 0.90, the cut-off limit. For assertive style, the CFI and NFI were close to 0.80,
although the GFI was above 0.90. For other constructs, the CFI,GFI, and NFI were
0.80 or above it. The parsimonious fit measures were above 0.50 for all the constructs.
RMSEA indicates the approximation of the observed model to the true model. The
lower the RMSEA, the better is the model. The RMSEA of passive and aggressive
styles were well within the cut-off limit of 0.08. The RMSEA of assertive style was
equal to 0.08. For all other constructs, the RMSEAs were around 0.10.
Results
The Pearson correlations among studied variables are given (Table III). Because
the data were collected from ten private organisations, the intercorrelations among
studied variables were estimated for each organisation. The visual inspect of the
correlations suggested that they were not widely apart from one organisation to
another and therefore, the data of ten organisations were clubbed together. Taken
together, the correlations suggested that an increase in assertive communication style
of supervisors decreased passive and aggressive styles. Also, the assertive
communication style of supervisors increased the PSS whereas the passive and
aggressive styles decreased PSS. So also, increase in PSS led to increase in
communication satisfaction and organisation-based self-esteem of employees.
Higher communication satisfaction also increased job performance and affective
commitment of employees but it did not relate to continuance commitment and
absenteeism. Moreover, organisation-based self-esteem enhanced job performance and
affective commitment, but did not relate to continuance commitment and absenteeism.
Only affective commitment increased continuance commitment and decreased
absenteeism. All these reported relations were in hypothesised direction except the
relationships of communication satisfaction and organisation-based self-esteem with
continuance commitment and absenteeism.
The bidirectional correlations (x2y) do not reveal the relationship between
antecedents and consequences. To reveal the antecedent-consequence relationships, the
latent variable structural equation modelling (LVSEM) was used to analyse the data
and test the propositions. The LVSEM tests the complex relationships of multiple
independent and dependent variables in a single analysis. It incorporates measurement
model as well as structural relationships. It controls for measurement errors: random
error and systematic error. Random errors of each construct were isolated using
185
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styles
Variables 1 2345678910
Passive style 1.00 0.47** 0.22** 0.30** 0.14** 0.09 0.10 0.23** 0.15** 0.13**
Aggressive style 1.00 0.34** 0.54** 0.43** 0.30** 0.13** 0.44** 0.01 0.16**
Assertive style 1.00 0.50** 0.50** 0.37** 0.21** 0.29** 0.14** 0.05
Supervisory support 1.00 0.67** 0.41** 0.18** 0.43** 0.03 0.09
Communication satisfaction 1.00 0.53** 0.25** 0.34** 0.05 0.00
Self-esteem 1.00 0.41** 0.25** 0.06 0.05
Job performance 1.00 0.02 0.03 0.06
Affective commitment 1.00 0.18** 0.16**
Continuance commitment 1.00 0.02
Absenteeism 1.00
Note: **po0.01
Table III.
Correlations between the
studied variables
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confirmatory factor analysis. Systematic errors occur due to factors like social
desirability, common method bias, and response biases. This was controlled
statistically using LVSEM with all the indicators loading on the latent factor
(see Figure 2).
In accordance with the perception of employees, passive and assertive
communication styles of supervisors increased PSS to employees whereas
aggressive communication style decreased PSS. Supporting the first hypothesis,
it can be observed from the standardised regression weights that assertive
e7 q222
e6 q220
e5 q219
e4 q216
e3 q213
e2 q210
e1 q201
q203
q205
q206
q211
q215
q217
q218
q223
Assertive q204 q207 q209 q212 q214 q221 q224
Aggressive
q31 rq32 rq33 q34 rq35 q36 rq37 q38
Supervisory support
Passive
e39q501
q502
q503
q504
q505
q506
q507
q508
Organization-based self-
esteem
q509
q510
q47
q46
q45
q44
q43
q42
q41
Communication satisfaction
CS error Obse
error
PSS error
q67
q66
q65
q64
q63
q62
q61
Job performance
JP error
rq718
q717
rq716
rq715
rq714
q713
q712
q711
Affective
AFF error
Continuance
q728 q727 q726 q725 q723 q722 rq721
CON error
Absent
e40
e41
e42
e43
e44
e45
e46
e47
e48
e63
e62
e61
e60
e59
e58
e57
e56
e55
e54
e53
e52
e51
e50
e49
ABS error
e70 e69 e68 e67 e66 e65 e64
e9
e10
e8
e11
e12
e13
e14
e15
e17 e18 e19 e20 e21 e22 e23
e24 e25 e26 27 e28 e29 e30 e31
e38
e37
e36
e35
e34
e33
e32
Figure 2.
LVSEM of hypothesised
relations
187
Managerial
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styles
communication style of supervisors increased more PSS to employees compared to
passive communication style (Table IV).
PSS to employees increased employees’ satisfaction with supervisors’
communication as well as increased employees’ organisation-based self-esteem.
These findings supported the second hypothesis. Supporting the third hypothesis,
employees’ satisfaction with supervisory communication increased employees’
affective commitment, but did not influence their job performance, continuance
commitment, and absenteeism rates as hypothesised. Supporting the fourth
hypothesis, employees’ organisation-based self-esteem furthered their job
performance, but could impact neither employees’ affective and continuance
commitments nor their absenteeism rates. Supporting the fifth hypothesis,
employees’ affective commitment to their organisations decreased their absenteeism
rates. However, their continuance commitment did not impact their absenteeism rates
(see Figure 3). About 88.8 per cent of employees surveyed for this study did not report
any absenteeism.
Deleting the non-significant paths, a parsimonious model was developed. The
parsimonious model reaffirmed that assertive communication style of supervisors was
positively associated with PSS to employees. PSS to employees increased employees’
satisfaction with communication of their supervisors at the workplace and enhanced
employees’ organisation-based self-esteem. While the communication satisfaction
increased the affective commitment of employees, the affective commitment decreased
their absenteeism. The increased organisation-based self-esteem increased employees’
job performance (Table IV).
The hypothesised and parsimonious models were compared on fit measures
(Table V). The w
2
in both the models were significant. Because of the sensitivity of w
2
to
sample size, the w
2
/df were computed. The w
2
in both the models were less than the cut-
off limit of 3 (Bentler, 1990; Bollen, 1989), suggesting that the models were acceptable.
So also, the RMSEA in both the models were less than the cut-off range of 0.08,
suggesting the similarity between observed and model-implied covariance matrix
(Table VI).
The measures of CFI and GFI were around 0.80 but the minimum fit was achieved
in both the models. The parsimonious fit indices of these measures (PCFI and PGFI)
that were less sensitive to sample size also favoured both the models. Because the non-
significant paths were deleted in the parsimonious model, the parsimonious fit indices
somehow increased in the parsimonious model compared to the hypothesised model.
The fit indices of both the model were not widely apart but the parsimonious model
had somehow better fit than the hypothesised model because the non-significant paths
were eliminated.
Discussion
This study examines the relationship of managers and employees through the lens of
social exchange theory and organisation support theory. Studying a cross-section
of 400 employees from ten manufacturing private organisations in India, the results
reveal that managers communicate in passive, aggressive, and assertive styles. While
assertive style of communication of superiors compared to passive style lends more
support to employees, aggressive style decreases PSS. PSS at the workplace enhances
employees’ satisfaction with communication of supervisors and their organisation-
based self-esteem. Satisfaction with communication fosters a strong emotional bond
with organisations and the emotional bond with the organisation reduces employees’
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Paths Path coefficients
Hypothesis UST ST SE CR Proposition
H1a Supervisory support Passive style 0.37 0.34 0.09 4.36*** Supported
H1b Supervisory support Aggressive style 0.33 0.33 0.08 4.13*** Supported
H1c Supervisory support Assertive style 1.22 0.82 0.18 6.80*** Supported
H2a Communication satisfaction Supervisory support 0.79 0.92 0.07 11.07*** Supported
H2b Self-esteem Supervisory support 0.43 0.65 0.05 9.22*** Supported
H3a Job performance Communication satisfaction 0.01 0.01 0.06 0.21 Refuted
H3b(1) Affective commitment Communication satisfaction 0.61 0.83 0.10 6.03*** Supported
H3b(2) Continuance commitment Communication satisfaction 0.00 0.00 0.06 0.03 Refuted
H3c Absenteeism Communication satisfaction 0.01 0.01 0.07 0.95 Refuted
H4a Job performance Self-esteem 0.63 0.51 0.08 7.52*** Supported
H4b(1) Affective commitment Self-esteem 0.10 0.10 0.07 1.40 Refuted
H4b(2) Continuous commitment Self-esteem 0.09 0.10 0.08 1.19 Refuted
H4c Absenteeism Self-esteem 0.42 0.11 0.25 1.67 Refuted
H5a Absenteeism Affective commitment 0.57 0.19 0.25 2.32** Supported
H5b Absenteeism Continuance commitment 0.18 0.05 0.22 0.84 Refuted
Notes: UST, unstandardised path coefficients; ST, standardised path coefficients; SE, standard error; CR, critical ratio. *po0.05; **po0.005; ***po0.001
Tabl e IV.
Path-coefficients of
hypothesised model
189
Managerial
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styles
absenteeism rates. Employees’ organisation-based self-esteem furthers their job
performance. Eight employees from three organisations also shared their experiences
at the workplace related to happiness and superior performance, unhappiness, and
inferior performance. The narrations reveal that employees prefer to work and stay in
organisations where supervisors communicate openly with subordinates, treat them
with respect/recognition, minimise the difference between superior-subordinate
relationships, and create a congenial environment in which subordinates/employees
can develop and use their abilities. Though the narrations of the employees did not
specify the variables outlined in the quantitative study, the broad themes reinforce
each other.
In India, success in organisations largely depends on relationship building. Indian
culture emphasises on interdependence and mutual help. Interactions in the workplace
serve to create and maintain work relationships among superiors and subordinates
(Myers and Sadaghiani, 2010). The relations in terms of affection (sneh) and deference
(shradha) entail affective reciprocity. Work is performed diligently as part of a sneh-
shradha relationship between employees and their nurturant superiors (Sinha, 2002).
The communication style of managers play key role in building relationships with
employees. The superior-subordinate relationship embodies just and fair human
Significant paths;Notes: non-significant paths
Passive Aggressive Assertive
Supervisory support
Performance
Absenteeism
Affective commitment
Continuance commitment
Communication satisfaction Self-esteem
H2a
H2a H2b
H3a
H4b2
H3C
H3b1
H3b2
H4a H4b1
H4c
H5b
H5a
---------
Figure 3.
Paths showing the
hypothesised relations
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relations. Indian employees tend to be in supportive relationship with those superiors
whom they love and trust.
All organisational activities occur in the context of interpersonal relationships.
Obligations are generated through a series of interactions between parties who are
in a state of reciprocal interdependence. Workplace relationships develop over time and
they can deteriorate as well (Sias, 2009). Consequently, effective managerial
communication can increase PSS. Although both passive and assertive managers
are found to support employees and make trustworthy relationships, the level of
support from assertive managers is found to be much higher than passive managers.
Passive managers may be able to maintain positive relationships but they can be
indecisive, poor mentors, and uninspiring. Employees working for a passive manager
may find it hard to gain support for their ideas and initiatives and be uncertain about
where their focus should be. Passive managers may not be able to represent their
employees’ needs and concerns at senior level. On the other hand, assertive managers
consider the rights and needs of everybody. They are able to support and connect
employees, both rationally and emotionally. Due to open and honest approach, they
have the ability to provide guidance to their employees to get the job done while
commanding respect. Accordingly, assertive managers have extended more support to
employees compared to passive managers. One employee expressed his happiness and
satisfaction as follows:
I was told to look after the maintenance of all motors of the 2 10 MW captive power plant.
I felt very happy and proceeded with the work. There were some hiccups midway but with
the able support of my manager and my teammates, the work could be handled well. I would
like to work with my supervisor for my entire life.
Paths
Path coefficients
Hypothesis UST ST SE CR
H
1a
Supervisory support Passive style 0.37 0.34 0.09 4.36***
H
1b
Supervisory support Aggressive style 0.33 0.33 0.08 4.13***
H
1c
Supervisory support Assertive style 1.22 0.82 0.18 6.80***
H
2a
Communication satisfaction Supervisory Support 0.79 0.92 0.07 11.07***
H
2b
Self-esteem Supervisory Support 0.43 0.65 0.05 9.22***
H
3b(1)
Affective commitment
Communication
satisfaction 0.62 0.84 0.10 6.04***
H
4a
Job performance Self-esteem 0.64 0.52 0.08 7.60***
H
5a
Absenteeism
Affective
commitment 0.58 0.20 0.25 2.33**
Notes: UST, unstandardised path coefficients; ST, standardised path coefficients; SE, standard error;
CR, critical ratio. *po0.05; **po0.005; ***po0.001
Tabl e V.
Path-coefficients of
parsimonious model
w
2
/df CFI GFI PCFI PGFI RMSEA
Acceptable threshold levels 3.0 X0.90 X0.90 X0.50 X0.50 p0.08
Hypothesised model 2.00 0.80 0.78 0.73 0.70 0.05
Parsimonious model 1.90 0.83 0.80 0.77 0.72 0.05
Table VI.
Fit measures
of two models
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Managerial
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Conversely, aggressive managers due to their harsh behaviour and selfishness could
not maintain positive relationships with their employees. Here is a complaint reported
by an employee:
Our manager is very arrogant. For simple mistakes he would bash us like anything. Once, he
scolded me very badly in front of my peers for not signing the daily log book. Almost every
employee is fed up with his harsh language. The situation became so bad that when we got
the news of his transfer, we celebrated by having a party at a restaurant.
Communication satisfaction is a socio-emotional outcome resulting from
communication interactions (Gray and Laidlaw, 2004). Supportive communications
of supervisors build relationships and increase employees’ communication satisfaction
(Madlock, 2008). The more the supervisor communicates support to employees, the
more satisfied are employees with the communication of their supervisors because
their needs are met. Also, evidence suggests that managerial support plays a major
role in the development of employees’ organisation-based self-esteem (Gardner and
Pierce, 2011; Pierce et al., 1989). Superiors’ styles that are perceived to be more
supportive can enhance employees’ scope for decision making and help developing
a sense of job autonomy (Peccei and Rosenthal, 2001). The experience of being valued
by immediate supervisor and being treated fairly increases one’s feeling of self-worth
in the context of work. The recognition and respect to an employee as a person and not
as a mere wage earner creates a psychologically healthy workplace. One of the
employees reported:
My supervisor has great faith in me. Whenever there is an emergency, he would call me.
Three months ago, when there was a major plant breakdown, he invited my suggestions.
It really feels great to work with such a supervisor.
While evidence supports that satisfaction with the supervisory communication at the
work place increases employees’ performance (Orpen, 1997; Soonhee, 2002), other
evidence contradicts it (Kennedy et al., 2001). An Indian grows up in a family system,
where family ties and a sense of belongingness are fostered. Most of the Indian
employees, accordingly, value emotional bonds and long-term relationships.
Communication satisfaction fulfills the intrinsic needs of employees and hence binds
them emotionally with organisations. This is due to the reciprocation of positive regard
and caring. It is possible that an employee’s level of continuance commitment could be
high in spite of dissatisfaction with managers’ communication. This is because the
employee might not have any other employment alternatives or might experience
a significant financial loss (e.g. pension benefits), if s/he wishes to quit the organisation.
Also, communication satisfaction does not influence the job performance of employees.
Just fulfilling the intrinsic needs of employees through interpersonal communication
may not be sufficient for their better performance.
Job performance not only relates to employees’ competency and their attitudes
towards work (Pierce et al., 1989) but also their recognition in workplace (Pierce and
Gardner, 2009). When supervisors show confidence and trust in their employees,
employees experience personal worth and this motivates them to perform at a higher
level. Swami Vivekananda emphasised the importance of self-esteem to awaken
Indians against the British rule, by saying that man is the infinite dreamer dreaming
finite dreams (cited in Bahl, 2000). Positive expectations produce positive results.
The implication of the “Pygmalion effect” (Livingston, 1988) in the workplace enables
employees to excel in response to the manager’s message that they are capable of
success and expected to succeed. The Pygmalion effect can also undermine employees’
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performance when self-worth in the organisational context and superiors’ expectations
are opposite.
By setting and communicating high performance expectations, managers motivate
employees to perform at a higher level. Employees feel valued when they are taken
seriously. Given the chance to prove, most of the Indian employees love to work and
contribute their share as it gives them the ultimate satisfaction. Literature suggests
that supervisors’ willingness to listen, showing confidence in employees, and
encouraging participation of employees enhance employees’ self-esteem that translates
into organisational commitment (Gaertner, 1999; Silverthorne, 2004). Contrary to
the literature, self-esteem is not found to influence employees’ commitment to
organisations. When employees are trusted and offered challenging work, their
enhanced self-esteem may trigger the scope of job switching and better job in another
organisation.
Low opportunities and unpleasant work environments discourage employees to
come to work (Aamodt, 2004; Villegas and Cerveny, 2004). One employee reported thus:
My supervisor unnecessarily fires me and that too in front of my juniors. Once, I felt so
humiliated that I did not attend the workplace for two to three days. O God! Just change my
supervisor or I’ll have to leave this job!
This expression supports the cliche
´that “Employees leave the boss but not the
organisation”. On the other hand, positive pushers in work environment like
constructive feedback, trust, and guidance encourage employees to attend their work
regularly (Blau, 1986). When absenteeism was critically examined, satisfaction with
communication of supervisors and organisation-based self-esteem did not influence
employees’ absenteeism rates. This may be due to the reason that employees might not
have taken leave without permission due to the severe consequences they might have
to face including pay cut, losing jobs, etc. This is clearly evident from the self-reported
absenteeism rates. About 89 per cent of employees had not taken any leave in the
previous year.
Employees who identify themselves with the organisational goals feel positive
about their organisations and wish to remain in those organisations. Only employees’
positive attachment with organisations enhances their regularity and reduces
absenteeism. While prior studies suggest that organisational commitment decreases
absenteeism (Savery et al., 1998), an interesting observation in this study is that, the
continuance commitment of employees does not influence their regularity at the
workplace.
Conclusion
Indian culture is ancient yet continuously living and evolving. Society appears to be in
a period of major transition toward power equalisation. Although collectivism and
humane orientation continue to be the most important characteristics of Indian culture,
there is an increasing preference for individualism (Chhokar et al., 2007). Indians
may value hierarchy, maintain power distance but like freedom and friendliness. In
his famous book, “Development as Freedom”, Amartya Sen considers freedom as the
primary element of development (cited in O’Hearn, 2009). Most of the Indian employees
value freedom and respect and seek for their dignity.
Supervisors/organisations and employees exchange not only impersonal resources
such as money, but also socio-emotional resources such as approval, respect,
recognition, and support (Eisenberger et al., 2001). The exchange relationship between
193
Managerial
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styles
them often goes beyond economic exchange and includes social exchange. In this
study, the social exchange theory (Blau, 1964) and organisational support theory have
been applied to describe the socio-emotional and psychological processes underlying
employees’ attitudes and behaviours. The concept of PSS which refers to the extent
to which supervisors on behalf of organisations value their employees’ contributions
and care about their well-being has been used to describe the social exchange
relationship between the supervisors/organisations and the employees. Because the
supervisors act as agents of the organisations, the treatment employees receive from
supervisors tends to contribute to employees’ perceptions of the support they receive
from organisations. Once employees assess the supervisory support they receive, they
act in accordance with a norm of reciprocity. This study suggests that an open, honest,
and need-based communication can increase PSS that can foster communication
satisfaction and organisation-based self-esteem. Communication satisfaction can
increase affective commitment that can decrease absenteeism and organisation-based
self-esteem can boost their job performance.
A scale is developed to measure the communication styles of managers as perceived
by the employees. The role of managerial communication styles in fostering PSS can
meet the need for a more relationship-based approach in human resource management
literature.
The findings of the study can be placed under a theoretical framework.
In accordance with the social exchange theory and organisation support theory, the
quantitative study suggests that an assertive communication style of managers
can increase PSS to employees. The elevated support can increase communication
satisfaction and the organisation-based self-esteem of employees. While the former
can increase the affective commitment of employees and reduce their absenteeism, the
latter can improve their job performance.
Implications
The study has practical implications for managers. Two sets of values – vertical
collectivism and individualism coexist in Indian organisations (Sinha and Tripathi,
1994). Possibly, the existence of such contradictory sets of values demands assertive
managers in Indian organisations. Organisations can conduct training programmes
to develop assertive communication style in their supervisors to increase the support to
subordinates, thereby its positive consequences will follow in increasing employees’
performance and commitment and reducing absenteeism.
Limitations
Though the study provides useful insights, it has certain limitations. First, data have
been collected through self-reported questionnaire that are likely to be tainted with
social desirability effects. Employees reporting daily to their supervisors might have
overassessed their superiors and also their own attitudes and behaviours. Second,
the observations made were limited to descriptions of what happened in private
organisations in a few states in India. So caution must be exercised in generalising the
findings to public sectors in the same or other states. Here, it is interesting to note that
the ten private organisations from eastern India had similar range of employees with
more or less similar structural hierarchy. The dynamism and the flexibility have
enabled Indian culture to survive despite its diversities and heavy odds. Through these
diversities run the unity of outlook that can be noticed from north to south and east
to west. Though verbal communication changes at every region, the basic essence of
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culture remains the same and so also the attitudes and behaviours of employees in
Indian organisations.
Agenda for future research
Because every investigation raises issues for further investigation, there is no dearth
of scope for future research. First, research can be replicated in a sample of employees
from public sectors. This will establish the external validity of results. Second,
a comparative study can be made on the communication of male and female managers
and their influence on employees’ attitudes and behaviours. Third, future study can
be conducted to measure performance more accurately through balanced scorecard or
from performance appraisal records of organisations.
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About the authors
Shilpee A. Dasgupta is an ex-Research Scholar in the Department of Humanities and Social
Sciences at Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, India. She has just completed her PhD
(Communication) at the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur, India and her current
research interest is in managerial communication and employees’ attitudes and behaviours.
Shilpee A. Dasgupta is the corresponding author and can be contacted at: dg.shilpee@gmail.com
or dg_shilpee@yahoo.co.in
Damodar Suar, PhD (Social Science) is a Professor in the Department of Humanities and
Social Sciences at Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, India. His research focuses on
organisational behaviour and business ethics.
Seema Singh, PhD (English) is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Humanities and
Social Sciences at Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, India. Her current research focuses
on English and communication skills.
To purchase reprints of this article please e-mail: reprints@emeraldinsight.com
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199
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... Over the years, several typologies of communication styles have been proposed (e.g., de Vries et al., 2009;Dillard et al., 1999;Hansford & Hattie, 1987;Ivanov & Werner, 2010;Norton, 1983;Snavely & McNeill, 2008;Waldherr & Muck, 2011). While no model of communication styles has become widely accepted (de Vries et al., 2009;Leung & Bond, 2001;Waldherr & Muck, 2011), the distinction between aggressive, passive, and assertive communication is widely used in both academic articles and training courses from other sectors of economic activities (e.g., Agarwal, 2019; Dasgupta et al., 2013;Paterson, 2000;Pipaş & Jaradat, 2010;Tripathy, 2018;Waters, 1982;Zuker, 1983). ...
... When using a passive communication style, individuals do not express themselves and do not pursue their interests (Dasgupta et al., 2013;Waters, 1982). Refraining from expressing opinions and feelings might allow individuals to avoid conflict but it also limits their possibility of conveying their message in a clear way (Agarwal, 2019;Pipaş & Jaradat, 2010). ...
... Refraining from expressing opinions and feelings might allow individuals to avoid conflict but it also limits their possibility of conveying their message in a clear way (Agarwal, 2019;Pipaş & Jaradat, 2010). By contrast, aggressive communication is an expressive and self-enhancing style that does not refrain from the possibility of conflict (Dasgupta et al., 2013;Waters, 1982;Yang et al., 2020). It often involves personal attacks or attempts to diminish the other person through the use of criticism, irony, sarcasm, or provocative expressions (Agarwal, 2019; Pipaş & Jaradat, 2010). ...
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... When using a passive communication style, individuals do not express themselves and do not pursue their interests (Dasgupta et al., 2013;Waters, 1982). Refraining from expressing opinions and feelings might allow individuals to avoid conflict but it also limits their possibility of conveying their message in a clear way (Agarwal, 2019;Pipaş & Jaradat, 2010). ...
... Refraining from expressing opinions and feelings might allow individuals to avoid conflict but it also limits their possibility of conveying their message in a clear way (Agarwal, 2019;Pipaş & Jaradat, 2010). By contrast, aggressive communication is an expressive and self-enhancing style that does not refrain from the possibility of conflict (Dasgupta et al., 2013;Waters, 1982;Yang et al., 2020). It often involves personal attacks or attempts to diminish the other person through the use of criticism, irony, sarcasm, or provocative expressions (Agarwal, 2019; Pipaş & Jaradat, 2010). ...
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The study examines the influence of organisational communication on employees’ work satisfaction drawing on perspectives from the Oti Regional Coordinating Council in Ghana. The descriptive survey method was adopted to gather data from 100 respondents who were selected through a probability sampling method. The study deplored the quantitative method of data analysis. The data derived for this study were analysed using both descriptive and inferential statistical tools. Statistical tools such as cross-tabulation, mean, standard deviation, and linear multiple regression analysis were used to analyse the data. Findings from the study show that the channels operational in the organisation as tools of communication are face-to-face discussions, e-mails, memos, departmental meetings, group/team discussions, in-house training sessions, management/employee briefing sessions, labour union meetings, suggestion boxes, notices, and assemblies. Further findings reveal that most of the employees are satisfied with the corporate communication tools used in the organisation. Findings reveal a significant relationship between organisational communication and employee motivation which further enhances employee job performance. Organisations that want to successfully retain a satisfied workforce must be willing to employ a communication style that is more participative and employee-supportive. Based on the study findings the following recommendation was made: organisations should ensure that their internal communication networks are coordinated by experts in corporate communication. This can be achieved by creating full-time jobs for people who have received training in the communication discipline.
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Purpose The purpose of this paper is to shed light on the motivational process that leads to commitment development in the private and public sectors. It has been suggested that employee’s commitment is mainly predicted by job satisfaction and motivational factors such as internal communication, training, structural empowerment, incentive systems, transformational leadership and person–organization fit. Design/methodology/approach A comparative approach, between a set of private and public organizations, was undertaken. A survey was conducted on two random samples of workers belonging to both types of organizations. Findings The findings report a set of similarities and discrepancies between the private and the public organizations in terms of motivational factors that lead to job satisfaction and employees’ commitment. Originality/value This research brings additional value to the comparative literature on organizational analysis. It is one of the scarce comparative research in the North African context that deal with motivational factors at private and public workplaces.
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The study attempts to examine the relationship between job satisfaction and work performance. The data was collected from 300 scientists (150 from National Dairy Research Institute, Karnal and 150 from Agriculture Extension Centres in Haryana). The scientists were surveyed by questionnaire. The sample was drawn by using the simple random sampling procedure. The results showed a highly significant correlation between the job satisfaction and work performance. This signifies that satisfied work force tends to be a better performer in organizations. Further, comparative analysis was also done so as to measure the significance of difference between the mean scores of two groups of scientists. Analysis of data revealed that the two groups of scientists do not differ significantly on the measures of job satisfaction and work performance.
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Four hundred thirteen postal employees were surveyed to investigate reciprocation's role in the relationships of perceived organizational support (POS) with employees' affective organizational commitment and job performance. The authors found that (a) POS was positively related to employees' felt obligation to care about the organization's welfare and to help the organization reach its objectives; (b) felt obligation mediated the associations of POS with affective commitment, organizational spontaneity, and in-role performance; and (c) the relationship between POS and felt obligation increased with employees' acceptance of the reciprocity norm as applied to work organizations. Positive mood also mediated the relationships of POS with affective commitment and organizational spontaneity. The pattern of findings is consistent with organizational support theory's assumption that POS strengthens affective commitment and performance by a reciprocation process.
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“Organizing Relationships makes a contribution to the discipline in its treatment of this area from multiple perspectives, in its deliberate engagement/suggestions of future research directions, and its functional purpose of bringing together extant research on this important topic in a coherent and organized way. It adds cumulatively to our knowledge of organizational communication and relationships, it fits within the horizon of the established parameters of our field while opening new areas for engagement, and, moreover, it is a very interesting read. It will, no doubt, become a touchstone for the field of organizational communication.” —Janie Hardin Fritz, Duquesne University “This book represents an important step to a relational approach to organizational behavior (communication) by pulling together many different areas/types of relationships. It will be a ‘must’ book to anyone who teaches relationships in organization or broadly relational/applied organizational communication.” —Jaesub Lee, University of Houston The first book in the field to provide a comprehensive, interdisciplinary treatment of workplace relationships, Organizing Relationships: Traditional and Emerging Perspectives on Workplace Relationships explores both negative and positive workplace relationships, including supervisor–subordinate relationships, peer relationships, workplace friendships, romantic workplace relationships, and customer–client relationships. Author Patricia M. Silas, a recognized scholar in the field, examines workplace relationships from multiple theoretical perspectives, including postpositivism, social construction theory, critical theory, and structuration theory. She helps readers understand the unique influences of the workplace on relationship processes and dynamics. Key Features Examines the role of workplace relationships as information-sharing, resource-distributing, decision-making, and support systems and highlights their importance to both organizational and individual well-being Includes cases in each chapter that demonstrate the usefulness of approaching real-world workplace problems and issues from multiple perspectives Helps readers broaden and enrich the ways they think about workplace relationships and their roles in organizational processes Provides an innovative agenda for future research Organizing Relationships is appropriate for upper-level undergraduate and graduate courses in Workplace Relationships, Relational Communication, Applied Interpersonal Communication, Organizational Communication, Communication Management, Operations/Human Resource Management, Organizational Psychology, and Organizational Sociology.