EARMA Conference Oslo


Applying eight communication management principles in a research organization


EARMA Conference Oslo

Format: Poster

Topic: Policy, Strategy, Evaluation and Foresight


The discussion on how to manage organizations effectively has been ongoing for decades. Still today the problems repeat in different organizations and the research organizations make no exception here. “My door is open” is a sentence that belongs to every manager's vocabulary. But what does it mean in reality? And how can a manager apply this policy in virtual teams? To avoid this becoming an empty message, the research managers need to show its meaning in action too and the practices need to be clearly communicated: where and when can colleagues reach them and about which topics they can discuss: by indicating with their behaviour that the manager’s door truly is open - even if it's virtual - one can create strong communication policies in the university organization.

Young and Post (1993) found eight principles for effective communication in leading companies. The importance of each of these eight benchmarks has been verified in several later communication and change management studies. According to our experiences these principles can be also applied in research and university environments as a guideline for assessing and planning transformational communication and for creating a rich communication climate. Our study dives into these practices and experiences gained through experimentation with these benchmarks in the work of an assistant professor at TalTech, Estonia over the past three years. This time period includes on-site, online and hybrid experiences and we will describe challenges connected to these various environments, and how these barriers were overcome in a diverse team. For example, it was observed how increasing use of virtual work requires stronger skills in self-management, technology, and interpersonal communication.

The eight main principles by Young and Post (1993) that were applied while managing a new research group are:

-The research manager needs to be a communication champion
-There needs to be a match between words and action in your management style
-Research organization members benefit from commitment to two-way communication
-Emphasize the face-to-face communication
-Share successfully the responsibility for employee communications
-Manage the bad news and the good news ratio
-Recognise and manage the audience of your organization and research group
-Create an employee communication strategy

By sharing our own experiences we hope to help other young research managers in developing and structuring their own practices and strategies. The approaches were built on the idea that internal communication processes are an important factor during change, and understanding best practices in transformational communication can also help research organizations manage their research community more effectively.

Young, M., & Post, J. E. (1993). Managing to communicate, communicating to manage: How leading companies communicate with employees. Organizational Dynamics, 22(1), 31-44.