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Superior-Subordinate Communication

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Amanda Aryeetey

on 26 March 2015

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Transcript of Superior-Subordinate Communication

Determining when and how a particular technological medium is used
Social Presence
Media Richness
Social Presence
Degree of sociability
"The speed and ease with which one can send messages to multiple audiences [...]" (Butler)
Works Cited
Butler, Jennifer A., and Sue DeWine. "Superior-Subordinate Co
mmunication." Organizational Communication: Foundations, Challenges, and Misunderstandings. By Daniel P. Modaff. 3rd ed. Boston: Allyn And Bacon, n.d. 172-93. Print.
Picture 2 New Handshake on Home Page. Digital image. Just It,
n.d. Web. 17 Mar. 2015. <http://www.justit.fi/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Picture-2-new-handshake- on-home-page.jpg>.
Question-Mark. Digital image. Small Business Week Day 2: Ask
a Small Business-related Question. National Society of Accountants, n.d. Web. 17 Mar. 2015. <http://www.nsacct.org/images/nsa-blog/question-mark.jpg?sfvrsn=0>.
Bruzzese, A. (2014, February 3). 4 Ways To Improve Your Working Relationship With Your Boss. Retrieved March 18, 2015, from The Fast Track: http://quickbase.intuit.com
Conway, J. (2015). Department of Applied Psychology. Retrieved March 17, 2015, from
Steinhardt: http://steinhardt.nyu.edu/opus/issues/2011/fall/effects
Dorothy Dalton . (2015). Bullying in the Workplace. Retrieved March 15, 2015, from Dorothy
Dalton: http://dorothydalton.com/category/bullying-in-the-workplace/
lardbucket. (2013). nonverbal communication. Retrieved March 15, 2015, from lardbucket:
Trust Tour. (2015). Impact of Workplace Trust on Well-being. Retrieved March 15, 2015, from
Trust Tour: http://trusttour.org/day-383/
wiseGeek. (2015). What Is a Subordinare. Retrieved March 15, 2015, from wiseGeek:

Media Richness
"[...] the form of technology a supervisor or subordinate would use [...]"
Superior-Subordinate Communication
By: Amanda, Ashley, Katie and Lydia
Communication Technology And The Superior-Subordinate Relationship
Facial Expressions
Numerous non-verbal cues
Social Presence continued
Direct Medium (Face to Face) vs. Indirect Medium (E-mail)
Face To Face
Get cues
less misinterpretation
Mixed signals
May lack Sensitivity
Degree of formality in the language
The structuring of the language used
Variety in the Language
Tone of voice
Facial Expressions
Media Richness Continued
Direct Medium (Face to Face) vs. Indirect Medium (E-mail)
Face To Face
Highest level of media richness
Provides immediate feedback
Personal interaction
Natural Language
High in variety
Highly to be misunderstood because of lack of Face To Face Contact
Delayed Contact
At times, unnatural language
Form that is used can escalate conflicts
People want to communicate in a way that is easier to them
this may or may not be thorough however

Effects of Culture On The Superior-Subordinate Relationship
Value Orientations
Used for marketing and management to understand the audience
Time orientation
Power distance
Uncertainty avoidance
Individualism vs. Collectivism
Value Orientations Continued
Time orientation:
Short-term goals (leading to more immediate gratification)
Long-term goals (virtues oriented toward future rewards)
Power distance:
"One's Personal or Cultural perception of:
Power Inequality
Uncertainty avoidance:
"The degree to which people feel threatened by uncertainty and ambiguity and tr to avoid these situations"
"[...] how much information people need to have to feel comfortable"
Valued Orientation Continued
Individualism vs. Collectivism
"Someone who looks after themselves and their family"
"individuals who belong to group's commitment and care"
"Focus on achievement and task"
"Concern with quality of life and care for individual
Other Cultural Factor:
language barriers
social nature
Human Nature
The most important relationship is between a superior and a subordinate

The success of an organization is dependent on the relationship

Major source of problems in the workplace are misunderstandings

While the relationship can be proven successful, it can often be fragile
A Dyadic View of the Superior-Subordinate Relationship
Leader-Member Exchange Theory (LMX)
-Originally called Vertical Dyadic Linkage Theory (VDL)
-Focuses on individual relationships
-Superior has many individual relationships with a heterogeneous group of subordinates

Improving the relationship between both sides before negative judgments are made (Bruzzese, 2014)
A Dyadic View of the Superior-Subordinate Relationship
Leader-Member Exchange Theory
Supervisors have a limited amount of time and resources

Relationships can be placed in a series of groups
- LMX (In-group)
- Middle Group relationships
- Supervisory Exchange (SX; Out-group)

Mutual Trust
Greater Interaction

Primarily role defined
Contractually based

LMX and SX Relationships
LMX relationships are related to subordinate turnover, satisfaction & promotions, ratings of performance

Factors Affecting the Development of LMX Relationships during the First Meetings
by the leader
-Mutual affection between the superior and subordinate
Perceived ability
of the sub. by the superior
-The extent to which the superior believes the sub. will be able to perform task with little difficulty
Perceived Similarity
Level of Centralized Decision Making

Maintaining the Relationship
Energy must be exerted from both sides, but most importantly from the subordinate

Maintenance Communication
= Messages and behaviors used to preserve an acceptable & lasting relational state

Subordinate Tactics:

Communication Between Superior and Subordinate
The way a superior and subordinate communicate depends on the type of relationship they have
In Group
Middle Groups
Out Groups
Superiors in high to medium LMX relationships look to minimize/ maximize power differences through communication patterns

Understanding the development of the superior subordinate relationship as well as the misunderstandings that occur within the relationship in the workplace.

Understand how the leader member exchange theory can evolve and maintain a relationship

Be able to list and explain the communication activities that exist between the superior and subordinate

List the steps in Krone’s model that is used to explain the upward influence by subordinates to superiors

Determine when and how a particular technological medium is used and how it affects the superior subordinate relationship

Understand culture’s effect on the superior subordinate relationship

Nature and Importance of the Superiors Subordinate Relationship
Majority of the time subordinates share more of their personal lives as well as work related things with their supervisor whereas the supervisor will be more likely to keep it work related.

With that said this chapter is focused on how to maintain an acceptable relationship between the subordinate and the supervisor.

1.The supervisor may serve as a role model for the subordinate.
2. The supervisor has formal power to reward and punish the subordinate.

3. The supervisor mediates the formal downward communication flow to the subordinate.
4. The supervisor may develop a personal relationship with the subordinate.
From our perspective, maintaining an acceptable relationship with a subordinate is crucial for the supervisor, for the following additional reasons:

1. The subordinate serves as an important channel of informal communication to the supervisor from other subordinates regarding both task-related and personal issues.
2. The subordinate’s satisfaction with the relationship may have a direct impact on the supervisor’s satisfaction with the relationship as well as on the subordinate’s overall job satisfaction.
3. The supervisor’s performance is eventually dependent on the performance of the subordinate, which may be directly or indirectly tied to the quality of the superior-subordinate relationship.

The Prevalence of misunderstanding in the superior-subordinate relationship: 
When that relationship is not there, there becomes a lack of not knowing how the subordinate actually feels about his or her job and what they are doing.

Relieve vulnerability

3 main Factors
Expectation that the other will behave kindly
A willingness to be vulnerable and risk that the other will not negatively respond to this vulnerability
Reliance on the other

5 categories of managerial behavior that impact the subordinate’s perception of a supervisor’s trustworthiness

Behavior consistency
Behavioral integrity
Sharing and delegating control
Demonstration of concern

Trust Cont...
- Crucial in order for a subordinate to fully fulfill their obligations

- A superior has to be able to trust that their employee will act in an appropriate manner

- Crucial for tasks to be completed and assigned efficiently

- Supervisor must demonstrate competence

Superior and subordinate equally responsible for development, maintenance, and growth of trust

Created through time

Communications is key

Showing concern
Six ways in which a supervisor conveys immediacy to a subordinate

Values subordinate input on job and in personal matters

Attentive to subordinate both verbally and non verbally

Express confidence in the subordinate’s ability

Shows a personal interest in the subordinate

Express verbal appreciation for commendable work

Demonstrates a willingness to assist the subordinate
Communication Activities Superior to Subordinate
Any communication between organizational members that implicitly provides task guidance, personal evaluation, personal evaluation, or other guidance.
Both task elements and personal elements play a role
It is the main way to address misunderstandings
increase motivation, satisfaction, commitment, and performance.

Feedback can yield different results depending on how it is received and how it is communicated
Positive vs negative

Positive feedback is less communicatively complex than negative feedback

Providing negative feedback is difficult

Examples of negative feedback
poor performance, denied requests, and broken rules

Seeking Feedback
Crucial for a superior to know whether or not he or she is performing well
Formal and informal feedback exist
Receiving informal feedback from subordinates carries risks
Benefit to negative feedback:
Constructive criticism

Ashford and Tsui Feedback Research Results:
managers looked for both negative and positive feedback from their supervisors
look for positive feedback from their peers
Look for negative feedback from their subordinates

The study found that looking for negative feedback was associated with more accurate knowledge and increased the perception of effectiveness

Seeking Feedback
Compliance Gaining
Having the subordinate fully perform and obey with organizational directives, policies, and procedures
It involves compliance gaining techniques
A supervisor’s choice of a particular compliance gaining tactic corresponds to their subordinates communications style

Attractive vs Unattractive style

An attractive style
attentive, friendly, and relaxed

An unattractive style
inattentive, unfriendly, and unrelaxed

Supervisors were more likely to use a compliance gaining tactics of assertiveness, coalition, and higher authority with subordinates who communicated in an unattractive style

Supervisors communicated using compliance gaining tactic of friendliness when subordinates communicated in an attractive staff

Compliance Gaining
Understanding of the needs of the relationship
Understanding the boundaries of the relationship
Sense of humor of the other
Knowledge of appropriate humor orientation

Relieves stress
Communicate difficult information
Make one feel superior
Also foster creativity
Encourage group cohesion
Related to effective leadership styles
Can increase job participation and satisfaction while decreasing turnovers

Uses of Humor
Negative or Positive Effects

Cross the line
Be interpreted as sexual harassment
Increase likeability of supervisors
More effective supervisors
Increase employee job satisfaction

Positive humor vs. Negative humor

Positive humor is playfulness or friendship

Negative humor is cruel or disparages another

Compliance Gaining

Infante and Gorden’s Research on Upward Influence
"effort to correct unacceptable situations, value of freedom to communicate sportively and critically”
Organizations will be stronger if they encourage independent mindedness in their employees
Subordinates often find it difficult to convey their opinions to their superiors

Upward Influence
Krone’s Model of Upward Influence
3 Influences
Open Persuasion

Strategic Persuasion


Upward Influence
Complicated by many factors
such as the sex of the participants
organizational hierarchy
the capacity of the supervisor
exert influence upwards

Communication Activities: Subordinate to Superior
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