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Organizational socializationThe process an organization utilizes to ensure that new members acquire necessary attitudes, behaviors, knowledge, and skills to become productive organizaitonal members. can be defined as the the process an organization utilizes to ensure that new members acquire necessary attitudes, behaviors, knowledge, and skills to become productive organizaitonal members. In essence, organizational socialization is a life-long process that individuals go through from childhood to retirement.Wanberg, C. R. (2012). Facilitating organizational socialization: An introduction. In C. R. Wanberg (Ed.), The Oxford handbook of organizational socialization (pp. 17–21). New York, NY: Oxford University Press. In this section, we are going to examine the stages of organizational socialization, best practices for organizational socialization, and the importance of communication during socialization.
To help us understand organizational socialization, we’re going to look at the basic stages of organizational socialization originally discussed by Fredric Jablin.Jablin, F. M. (1987). Organizational entry, assimilation, and exit. In F. M. Jablin, L. L. Putnam, K. H. Roberts, & L. W Porter (Eds.), Handbook of organizational communication: An interdisciplinary perspective (pp. 679–740). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.,Jablin, F. M. (2001). Organizational entry, assimilation, and disengagement/exit. In F. M. Jablin & L. L. Putnam (Eds.), The new handbook of organizational communication: Advances in theory, research, and methods (pp. 732–818). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Jablin proposed that organizational socialization can be broken into three distinct parts: anticipatory socialization, organizational entry and assimilation, and organizational disengagement/exit (Figure 10.6 "Organizational Socialization"). To help us understand socialization, we are going to explore the first two forms of socialization (anticipatory and organizational entry/assimilation) in this section and organizational disengagement/exit in the next section.
Figure 10.6 Organizational Socialization
The first part of socialization is referred to as anticipatory socializationThe period of time before an individual actually joins an organization., or the period before an individual actually joins an organization. To help us understand anticipatory socialization, let’s examine the two types of anticipatory socialization discussed by Fredric Jablin: vocational and organizational socialization.Jablin, F. M. (2001). Organizational entry, assimilation, and disengagement/exit. In F. M. Jablin & L. L. Putnam (Eds.), The new handbook of organizational communication: Advances in theory, research, and methods (pp. 732–818). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Vocational anticipatory socializationThe process an individual undertakes as he or she selects a specific job or career. refers to the process an individual undertakes as he or she selects a specific job or career. Pretty much from the moment you understand the world around you, you start being socialized into the world of work. Fredric Jablin explained that there are five influential groups that affect our role anticipatory socialization: family, media, peers, education, and previous organizational experience.
The first form of vocational anticipatory socialization comes from our families. Think back to your early childhood and you may have memories of your parents sitting around the dinner table sharing stories of their workdays. These stories from our early childhood influence us largely later in life when it comes to how we perceive work. The stories we hear from our parents actually influence how we understand what it means to work and how we perceive work life. Furthermore, our families actually instill in us attitudes, behaviors, beliefs, and values about work. Even something as simple as the chores you were required to complete growing up informed your understanding of what it meant to work. Later in life, your family encourages you academically and even helps to direct you towards specific occupations. Often this direction is intentional (e.g., your mother wants you to be a physician), but this direction can be unintentional as well (e.g., parents disparage their own line of work or specific occupations). Overall, our families have a great deal of influence on our perceptions of work and different occupations.
The second most pervasive socializer of work today is probably the media. From the earliest moments most American children can sit up, they are consuming one form of media or another. Even children’s television shows like Sesame Street, Thomas and Friends, and Bill Nye—The Science Guy illustrate various occupations, which can have a profound effect on how children view the world of work. Children’s books also can have a direct impact on how people come to understand what work is. The reality is children are greatly influenced by the media, so it should be no surprise that these early impressions of what it means to work learned through the media impact our understanding of the work world. Obviously, as we grow older, we come to realize that these portrayals are often inaccurate, but this early learning still sticks with us and influences our future job and career selection decisions. However, Susan Barber warns us that these portrayals can also lead to unrealistic expectations of what the work world really looks like.Barber, S. (1989). When I grow up: Children and the work-world of television. Media and Values, 47, [online reprint]. Retrieved from http://www.medialit.org/reading-room/when-i-grow-children-and-work-world-television Too often television shows depict high-income jobs (e.g., lawyers, doctors, business executives, pop stars, etc.), while more blue-collar jobs are left completely out of the work landscape on television (e.g., carpenters, electricians, plumbers, etc.). Furthermore, there is a general tendency in a lot of media portrayals to depict occupations where the income earners are making a considerable more amount of money than the average family in the United States. These inflated expectations often persist into the college years.
The third form of vocational anticipatory socialization comes from our immediate peer group. As we all know, peer-influence is a very important part of growing up and continues to be important into adulthood. In a fashion similar to how we learn from our families, our peers influence our attitudes, behaviors, beliefs, and values about work. Our peer groups growing up help reiterate what types of occupations are deemed desirable and which ones should be avoided. Furthermore, we also learn about the world of work by listening to our peers’ stories of their own work experience or the experiences of our peers’ families and friends. These stories help to further solidify our perceptions about the world of work beyond that of our immediate family members.
The fourth form of vocational anticipatory socialization comes from our education. Not surprisingly, education is another very important factor to consider when looking at the landscape of how people are socialized. In fact, our educational system (just like the media) tends to overemphasize certain types of occupations. In an interesting study conducted by Fredric Jablin,Jablin, F. M. (1985). An exploratory study of vocational organizational communication socialization. Southern Speech Communication Journal, 50, 261–282. he found that classroom activities, discussions, and textbooks tended to overemphasize specific occupations while downplaying other occupations. In addition to this subversive socialization, schools often expect students to write research reports or give oral presentations about possible careers. Furthermore, in public education there does tend to be an over-emphasis on the importance of attaining a college degree.Kramer, M. W. (2010). Organizational socialization: Joining and leaving organizations. Malden, MA: Polity. If you look at the United States Census data from 2010, a very interesting picture emerges.United States Census (2010). Educational attainment by selected characteristics: 2010. Retrieved from http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2012/tables/12s0232.pdf In the United States, 19.4 percent of the population has a bachelor’s degree and an additional 10.5 percent has an advanced degree, so rough 30 percent of the population has some form of advanced education past an associate’s degree. When one analyzes the data, people with just a bachelor’s degree make an average of $17,000 dollars per year more than those with an associate’s degree (9.1% of the US population) and $36,464 more on average than those who do not have a high school diploma (12.9% of the US population). However, our educational system is clearly designed to streamline students towards those occupations that involve advanced degrees that will not be attained by 70 percent of the actual population.
The final form of vocational anticipatory socialization comes from previous organizational experiences we’ve personally had. Whether you’ve worked as a cashier at a local grocery store, helped run your parent’s farm, or were just an active member of your local church growing up, we all have previous organizational experience that influences how we view the nature of organizations. Whether you’ve had actual work experience or voluntary associations within the context of an organization, these experiences form our perceptions of how organizations function and what it means to work. Any organizational experience helps you form attitudes, behaviors, beliefs, and values about work. One of the reasons internships are often pushed in higher education today is to ensure that students not only get a taste of an occupation that may interest them, but the internship experience helps students develop interpersonal skills in the workplace while developing a work ethic that will become very important as the student enters the job market.
In addition to vocational socialization, there is a second form of anticipatory socialization that needs to be addressed: organizational anticipatory socialization.Kramer, M. W. (2010). Organizational socialization: Joining and leaving organizations. Malden, MA: Polity. Organizational anticipatory socializationThe process and individual goes through as he or she attempts to find an organization to join. is the process an individual goes through as he or she attempts to find an organization to join. According to Michael Kramer, we can break the organizational anticipatory socialization into two basic processes: recruiting and reconnaissance and selection. Kramer, M. W. (2010). Organizational socialization: Joining and leaving organizations. Malden, MA: Polity.
The recruiting and reconnaissance process and the selection process involves all of the steps discussed previously in Figure 10.1 "Model of Employee Recruitment". When we look at this process from the perspective of the applicant, we see that applicants have to find job advertisements or be approached by corporate recruiters. The applicant needs to ascertain whether the job description is a good fit for her or his educational background, skill set, and cultural preferences. During the organizational anticipatory socialization stage, both the applicant and the organization are making determinations of person-organization fit.
The second major step in organizational socialization involves the entry and assimilation of new organizational members. Fredrick Jablin proposed a three-step process when attempting to understand organizational entry and assimilation: preentry, entry, and metamorphosis. Jablin, F. M. (2001). Organizational entry, assimilation, and disengagement/exit. In F. M. Jablin & L. L. Putnam (Eds.), The new handbook of organizational communication: Advances in theory, research, and methods (pp. 732–818). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
The first step in organizational entry is referred to as preentryThe period of time after someone has been asked to join an organization but before he or she is actually working within the organization., or the period of time after someone has been asked to join an organization but before he or she is actually working within the organization. Jablin pointed out that there are three important issues that arise during the preentry stage. First, one must consider the types of messages a new employee receives from the organization prior to starting work. These messages could include realistic job previews or “surprises.” In this context, there could be either negative surprises, messages that are contradictory to what was discussed in the hiring process (e.g., work schedule, benefits, organizational expectations, etc.), or there could be positive surprises, messages that are pleasant and demonstrate positive aspects of working within the organization (e.g., expressions of caring, expressions of honest, expressions of organizational justice, etc.).
Second, new employees should be aware of how current organizational members view the new employee. The communicative strategies involved during this period generally involve impression management. Impression managementThe process (either conscious or unconscious) where an individual deliberately attempts to influence the perceptions and opinions of others. is the process (either conscious or unconscious) where an individual deliberately attempts to influence the perceptions and opinions of others. In this case, new organizational members attempt to form impressions about who they are as people and workers in the minds of new coworkers and supervisors. This could involve touting one’s previous work successes in an effort to bolster one’s credibility or purposefully self-handicapping oneself (e.g., “I’m a little weak when it comes to using a spreadsheet.”) in an effort to downplay organizational expectations.
Lastly, Jablin points out that the preentry period is also important to current organizational members who “converse about and make sense of new hires during this period, and in particular how they socially construct or create a reputation for newcomers in everyday conversations.”Jablin, F. M. (2001). Organizational entry, assimilation, and disengagement/exit. In F. M. Jablin & L. L. Putnam (Eds.), The new handbook of organizational communication: Advances in theory, research, and methods (pp. 732–818). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage; pg. 753. In essence, once someone is hired there is a period of time when current organizational members attempt to create an image about the new hire. This image includes both how this new hire will fit within the current structure of the organization and the new hire’s reputation. The reality is, people in an organization will talk about new hires in an effort to reduce some of the uncertainty that is bound to come with a new organizational member. Unfortunately, the reputations that are generated could easily inflate the new hires’ skills making it harder for the new hire to actually meet the unrealistic expectations created. In other words, it’s always important to attempt to get the pulse of how organizational members view you when you first start the job in an effort to correct any misconceptions people may have.
The second stage of organizational entry and assimilation involves the actual process of entering the organization as a new member. The goal during the entry period is to help new members assimilate themselves within the organizational culture. According to Fredric Jablin, organizational assimilation involves the process an individual goes through as he or she is acclimating her or himself within an organization’s culture.Jablin, F. M. (2001). Organizational entry, assimilation, and disengagement/exit. In F. M. Jablin & L. L. Putnam (Eds.), The new handbook of organizational communication: Advances in theory, research, and methods (pp. 732–818). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Ultimately, the entry period involves two interrelated processes: intentional socialization efforts and individualization. Jablin, F. M. (1987). Organizational entry, assimilation, and exit. In F. M. Jablin, L. L. Putnam, K. H. Roberts, & L. W Porter (Eds.), Handbook of organizational communication: An interdisciplinary perspective (pp. 679–740). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
First, during the entry period, organizations attempt to help new employees understand the organization’s culture and the work expectations for the new employee. Often this process is formal and involves some kind of new employee training or probationary period while the new employee “learns the ropes.” This process includes helping employees understand both the rules and norms of the organization. The rulesThe explicit dictates that govern employee behavior within the organization. of an organization are the explicit dictates that govern employee behavior within the organization. For example, maybe there is a formal dress policy. One of our coauthors worked for a hospital that had very strict dress policies. One of the policies dictated the necessity of closed-toed shoes (no sandals or flip-flops). Another policy spelled out what happened when paperwork was not submitted on time. NormsThe informal expectations about how new employees should behave within the organization., on the other hand, involve the informal expectations related to how new employees should behave within the organization. Norms are not formal policies, but they dictate how people behave in much the same way. For example, maybe Monday through Thursday everyone is expected to wear a business suit, but there is a norm that people are allowed to dress in business casual clothes on Friday. This allowance for casualness on Fridays may not be expressly written anywhere in the formal employee manual (aka rule), but it may be very much the norm of how people behave within the organization.
In addition to acclimating a new employee to the organization, new employees often attempt to negotiate the new work environment to better fit their individual attitudes, skills, and cultural values. One of our coauthors is very much not a morning person. When he entered into his latest job, one of the things he negotiated was not teaching classes before noon. Thankfully, his organization was flexible and allowed for this individualization of the job to better meet his preferences for a teaching schedule. However, individualization can become very problematic if the new hire attempts to morph into something he or she was not hired for. Imagine an organization hires a new public relations expert only to discover quickly that the person really is more interested in marketing and not public relations. Although these may be related industries within the organization, having someone become something they were not hired to be will quickly lead to organizational dissatisfaction.
The final stage of organizational entry and assimilation involves the metamorphosis stage. The concept of metamorphosis refers to the profound change that occurs when someone goes from one stage to the next in life. In the organizational world, metamorphosisWhen an individual transforms her or himself from a new organizational member to an established member of the organization. occurs when an individual transforms her or himself from the “new kid on the block” to an established member of the organization. Obviously, metamorphosis does not happen quickly. Often these transitions happen rapidly (e.g., success of one’s first big project), but more often these transitions happen over a long period. Often people wake up one day only to realize that they truly are part of the organization and its culture. Furthermore, this process is not a stagnant one. As people move in and out of new positions within an organization, they may experience the process of entry and assimilation all over again. For example, when someone goes from being a low-level employee to mid-level management, the individual may still work within the same organization but her or his perception of the organization and its functions may drastically alter with the new position.
Overall, entering into an organization and assimilating is not something that happens overnight. Entering and assimilating is a process that takes time both for new organizational members and those members who already exist within the organization itself. So, you may be wondering, how can you make your socialization process smoother when you enter into a new organization? Virginia Peck Richmond and James McCroskey proposed ten communicative behaviors to avoid during organizational entry (Table 10.3 "Dead on Arrivals").Richmond, V. P., & McCroskey, J. C. (2009). Organizational communication for survival: Making work, work (4th ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon; pgs. 192–193. Richmond and McCroskey termed these behaviors DOA or “dead on arrival” to indicate that those who engage in the behaviors discussed in Table 10.3 "Dead on Arrivals" generally will not have a very long life in an organization if they communicate in this manner.
Table 10.3 Dead on Arrivals
|1. DOAs hold supervisors solely responsible for their growth and motivation.|
|2. DOAs often think they know it all and refuse assistance from other employees and their supervisors.|
|3. DOAs make statements about how behind the times the organization is and how out of touch the organization is.|
|4. DOAs want all the rewards available in the system without paying any dues or putting in the time to earn them.|
|5. DOAs often deviate from the organizational norms.|
|6. DOAs enjoy arguing over insignificant issues simply to get attention.|
|7. DOAs are constantly “poking their noses” into other peoples’ business.|
|8. DOAs usually step on the toes of the people in the good old boys/girls clubs.|
|9. DOAs usually will talk negatively about their boss and their co-workers behind their backs at social gatherings or other functions outside the immediate work unit.|
|10. DOAs try to get things accomplished without following the proper communication channels in the organization.|
Now that we’ve explored the basic steps involved in the organizational entry and assimilation process, let’s explore a number of issues related to socialization in the workplace. To help us explore methods of socialization, we’re going to first explore socialization resources theory, then we’ll examine the toolbox that most organizations use for assimilating new members, and lastly we’ll discuss the communication strategies that new employees and organizations employ during the assimilation process.
Alan Saks and Jamie Gruman have recently created an integrated approach for understanding effective organizational socialization, which they have deemed socialization resources theory.Saks, A. M., & Gruman, J. A. (2012). Getting newcomers on board: A review of socialization practices and introduction to socialization resources theory. In C. R. Wanberg (Ed.), The Oxford handbook of organizational socialization (pp. 27–55). New York, NY: Oxford University Press. The basic premise of socialization resources theory is that during a period of stress (e.g., entering into a new organization), the availability of resources to that individual will determine her or his ability to cope with the stressful situation, which will in-turn help the individual adjust and successfully socialize within the organization. To help explain how effective socialization works, Saks and Gruman developed a list of seventeen resource dimensions that have been shown in both the academic and practitioner literatures on organizational socialization to facilitate effective organizational socialization. Table 10.4 "Dimensions of Socialization Resources Theory" provides an overview of the 17 dimensions.
Table 10.4 Dimensions of Socialization Resources Theory
|Prior to Entry|
|1.||Anticipatory Socialization||To what extent does an organization reach out to new members prior to organizational entry in an effort to make the new member feel welcome?|
|Immediately After Entry|
|2.||Formal Orientation||What is the nature of a new employee’s orientation (e.g., length, delivery method [face-to-face/online], what types of activities, & who is involved)?|
|3.||Proactive Encouragement||To what extent are new employees encouraged to actively meet new people, ask questions, and develop organizational relationships?|
|4.||Formal Assistance||Are new hires assigned formal mentors to help with organizational socialization?|
|Social Capital Resources|
|5.||Social Events||To what extent does an organization hold formal social events (e.g., happy hours, lunches, parties, etc.)?|
|6.||Socialization Agents||To what extent do organizational insiders reach out to new hires informally?|
|7.||Supervisor Support||Do supervisors reach out to new employees demonstrating caring and support?|
|8.||Relationship Development||Does the organization provide the time and space for new hires to meet and develop relationships with other organizational members?|
|9.||Job Resources||Do new hires have the necessary resources (equipment and space) to perform their jobs?|
|10.||Personal Planning||To what extent does an organization clearly communicate work expectations to the new hire?|
|11.||Training||Does the organization provide relevant programs to provide a new employee necessary knowledge, skills, and attitudes to effectively perform her or his job?|
|12.||Assignments||Are initial assigned tasks relevant to why the person was hired and provide some level of challenge and reflect the expectations of future task assignments?|
|13.||Information||To what extent does an organization clearly communicate information about the organization and its expectations?|
|14.||Feedback||Do supervisors provide timely and accurate feedback to new employees related to organizational values and task performance?|
|15.||Recognition & Appreciation||Are new employees praised for their effort and performance?|
|16.||Follow-Up||Does the organization have processes in place to follow an employee’s progression after a formal orientation period has ended?|
|17.||Program Evaluation||To what extent and how often does an organization track the effectiveness of its organizational socialization programs?|
The resources discussed in Table 10.4 "Dimensions of Socialization Resources Theory" really are considered the best practices in organizational socialization. As such, this list can be very effective when diagnosing an organization’s current socialization practices. In essence, an organizational consultant could utilize this list of resource dimensions in an effort to determine where an organization succeeds and needs improvement in the organization’s socialization efforts.
As we’ve discussed above, assimilating new organizational members into the culture of the organization is very important. Organizational scholars commonly refer to the practice of assimilating new members as onboarding. OnboardingThe process of welcoming and orienting new organizational members to facilitate their adjustment to the organization, its culture, and its practices. refers to the process of welcoming and orienting new organizational members to facilitate their adjustment to the organization, its culture, and its practices. Klein and Polin argue that socialization is what happens within a new employee; whereas, onboarding processes are put in place by management and human resource departments to help facilitate socialization.Klein, H. J., & Polin, B. (2012). In C. R. Wanberg (Ed.), The Oxford handbook of organizational socialization (pp. 267–287). New York, NY: Oxford University Press; pg. 268. As such, over the years a number of different types of onboarding programs were established. To help us understand the possible tools that organizations can utilize to facilitate onboarding, we are going to examine briefly orientation programs, training programs, and formal mentoring programs.
The first common tool used by organizations during an onboarding program involves some kind of formal orientation program. The general goal of an orientation program is to facilitate the general understanding of the organization and one’s expected duties within the organization. New employee orientation programs can generally last from three hours to multiple days depending on the complexity of the organization and the duties expected by the new hire. Common topics during orientation programs include the history of the organization, the mission/vision of the organization, organizational rules, benefits of working for the organization, and other topics deemed necessary by either the organization or local, state, and federal government agencies.
The second way organizations go about onboarding new members is through training programs. The goal of formal training programs during the onboarding process is to facilitate the acquisition of necessary skills and knowledge needed complete one’s job. Although there are some training programs that have broad organizational appeal (sexual harassment training, workplace bullying training, crisis management training, etc.), most of the training targeted towards newcomers is position-specific training. For example, maybe your position requires you to utilize Microsoft’s Project Management software. To help you prepare to complete your training, your organization may send you to a workshop or possibly get you a subscription to an online training program like Lynda.com or TotalTraining.com. The goal of training programs is to help get new members up to speed as fast as humanly possible.
As discussed in Chapter 7 "Leader and Follower Behaviors & Perspectives", mentoring is the transfer of experience or knowledge from a senior individual (the mentor) to a junior individual (the mentee or protégé) in an effort to help the junior individual learn the ins and outs of organizational life. To help with onboarding, many organizations establish formal mentoring programs where new members are assigned a mentor upon hiring who is supposed to help acclimate the new member to the organization. Formal mentoring is really only as successful as the mentors who participate in the mentoring programs. If the mentors are too busy or unconcerned with the new hires, then the formal mentoring program will not be overly effective. On the other hand, if organizations taking mentoring seriously and provide support and training for potential mentors, formal mentoring programs can be very successful. Notice this is not the same type of mentoring discussed in Chapter 7 "Leader and Follower Behaviors & Perspectives" when we discussed informal mentoring.
One of the most important parts of socialization (and onboarding) involves the type, quantity, and quality of the communication sent and received by new employees during the socialization process. Fredric Jablin explained that there are four primary functions for communication during the socialization process: information giving, information seeking, relationship development, and role negotiation.Jablin, F. M. (2001). Organizational entry, assimilation, and disengagement/exit. In F. M. Jablin & L. L. Putnam (Eds.), The new handbook of organizational communication: Advances in theory, research, and methods (pp. 732–818). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
The first function of communication during socialization involves information giving. Information givingThe types of information a new employee provides to coworkers and superiors during organizational entry. refers to the types of information a new employee provides to coworkers and superiors during organizational entry. How much and what one shares with others is extremely important during the initial periods of a new job. Some employees are hesitant to provide any personal information to coworkers and supervisors until after they get to know them, but information giving is one of the easiest ways to help alleviate any fear coworkers or supervisors may have about a new hire. In a study conducted by Fredric Jablin, he found that 25.6% of a newcomer’s communication was information-giving.Jablin, F. M. (1984). Assimilating new members into organizations. In R. N. Bostrom (Ed.), Communication Yearbook 8 (pp. 594–626). Beverly Hills, CA: Sage. Jablin further describes four basic types of information given by new employees: evaluative work, evaluative nonwork, descriptive work, and descriptive nonwork.Jablin, F. M. (2001). Organizational entry, assimilation, and disengagement/exit. In F. M. Jablin & L. L. Putnam (Eds.), The new handbook of organizational communication: Advances in theory, research, and methods (pp. 732–818). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
The first form of information giving was labeled evaluative work and consists of information shared regarding one’s like or dislike of the job itself. This could include discussions of unmet expectations or needs. The amount of stress one feels on the new job. One’s overall level of motivation or job satisfaction with the new job. All of these forms of information giving are evaluative in nature and centered around the job itself.
Evaluative nonwork, on the other hand, examines the types of judgmental information given by a new hire about issues that are outside the confines of the organization itself. These could include evaluative statements related to other organizations an individual belongs to (e.g., social clubs, churches, etc.). These statements could also examine how the job affects one’s participation in nonwork activities. Again, all of these types of information giving focus on judgments of nonwork activities.
Next, you have descriptive work information giving, which focuses on information provided by a new employee related to one’s understanding of a specific organizational or job task (e.g., task performance, task goals, and task instructions). Again, the purpose of this information is not to judge what is occurring within the organization, but to provide information to others about the specific tasks.
Lastly, individuals can provide information that describes nonwork activities. Generally, these forms of information relate to individual’s hobbies, family life, and personal goals. For example, maybe a new coworker went to the movies last night and tells you about the plot. Maybe another new coworker was recently married and shows you pictures of her or his wedding. Both of these examples involve new employees simply providing organizational members more information about the new employee in an effort to help older organizational members learn about the new employee.
The second type of communicative behavior that occurs during organizational socialization is information seeking. Information seekingA new employee’s proactive search for information. involves a new employee’s proactive search for information. In a study conducted by Vernon Miller and Fredric Jablin, the researchers observed seven basic tactics that new employees utilize when attempting to seek information.Miller, V. D., & Jablin, F. M. (1991). Information seeking during organizational entry: Influences, tactics, and a model of the process. Academy of Management Review, 16, 92–120. The seven tactics can be found in Table 10.5 "Information Seeking Tactics".
Table 10.5 Information Seeking Tactics
|1. Overt: Asking for information in a direct manner.|
|2. Indirect: Getting others to give information by hinting and use of noninterrogative questions.|
|3. Third Party: Asking someone else rather than the primary information target.|
|4. Testing: Breaking a rule, annoying the target, and so on and then observing the target’s reaction.|
|5. Disguising Conversations: Use of jokes, verbal prompts, self-disclosure, and so on to ease information from the target without the person’s awareness.|
|6. Observing: Watching another’s actions to model behavior or discern meanings associated with events.|
|7. Surveillance: Indiscriminately monitoring conversations and activities to which meaning can be retrospectively attributed. Jablin, F. M. (2001). Organizational entry, assimilation, and disengagement/exit. In F. M. Jablin & L. L. Putnam (Eds.), The new handbook of organizational communication: Advances in theory, research, and methods (pp. 732–818). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage; pg. 770.|
The next purpose of communication during organizational assimilation involves the development of relationships with coworkers and supervisors. As discussed earlier in this chapter, we spend a considerable amount of time in our lives at work. Of that time we spend at work, a great deal of it involves interacting with our coworkers and supervisors. As such, one of the primary reasons we communicate with people when we first enter into an organization is to develop relationships (both formal and friendly) with the people in our workplace. Although we may not become “best” friends with our coworkers and supervisors, most of us will make friends at work. In fact, research examining friendship in the workplace has demonstrated that organizations that encourage the development of workplace friendships will have employees who are more satisfied, motivated, and productive.Nielsen, I. K., Jex, S. M., & Adams, G. A. (2000). Development and validation of scores on a two-dimensional workplace friendship scale. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 60, 628–643.
The final reason for communication during the entry stage of organizational socialization involves role negotiation. Earlier in this chapter we discussed the idea of how new employees attempt to individualize their work experience. Role negotiation is a part of this individualization. Although employees often wait an appropriate amount of time before starting the individualization of their workplace, eventually a new employee will have built up enough credibility to start conversations with coworkers and supervisors to individualize their workplace. Role negotiationsThe process that occurs when an employee attempts to negotiate with her or his supervisor about communicated expectations. occurs when an employee attempts to negotiate with her or his supervisor about communicated expectations. When people are hired, there are clearly established expectations related to the job in question (sometimes called a job description). These expectations can involve everything from the tasks one completes to one’s place in the organizational hierarchy. When one attempts to engage in role negotiation, the new employee is attempting to alter her or his supervisor’s expectations in an effort to alter or individualize the new employee’s work life.