I am at a point in my studies where I have to consider what my final dissertation should be about.
When I did my undergrads it was fairly simple. I had the motivation of wanting to see if all the voices around me were right. Are PR practitioners unethical? What kind of ethical framework do they work by etc. I have covered this topic before. I conducted this research by collecting secondary data and theory regarding ethics and ethics in PR. I also interviewed four PR practitioners in Iceland.
Now I have to decide what to write about as my final dissertation in my masters.
As I mentioned in my last blog I have just started the communication part of my studies. I find it very interesting but I feel like I need more before I make up my mind on a specific topic for the dissertation.
I sat a class in Corporate Communications and Reputation Management last week where the topic was Performance, Behaviour and Reputation. It advocated the employees being brand ambassadors and touched on how to encourage them to support and strengthen the corporate reputation.
This caught my attention. Having been someone at the bottom of the pyramid for years, being uneducated, on minimum wages, I have often wondered why the people higher up the ladder don’t value and see the potentials and wealth in their employees on the floor.
Unfortunately, the mentality in many companies back home is “if you don’t like it, find something else to do”. Everyone at the bottom is replaceable, which to me seems short-sighted and counterproductive in a company that is trying to create revenue and a good reputation. People talk and people talk about how it is to work in certain places. In a country like Iceland word travels even faster than elsewhere.
I did a course in HR in my undergrad and in that course we were told about the worth of employees and how much training can cost, the process of hiring new people etc. We were also told about the assets each employer brings with time spent within the company. The insight people gain etc.
This is something I think managers at different levels sometimes fail to see. They fail to value the knowledge the people on the floor bring by working with customers, using all the processes put in place etc. When someone works with customers all day that person gets to hear what they want, what information they need, what they are satisfied with and what they are unhappy about.
So, in this class last week we were told about how to encourage employers to express themselves and how communications should flow both up and down. People should feel comfortable about expressing themselves, feel valued and listened to.
I am a fairly straight forward person and I use to do that. I used to express ideas, I used to talk about how processes might be made more efficient and what could be done better for employees, also with regards to customers. I would also talk about what was positive and try to make people smile and feel embraced at work. As a person on the floor I soon discovered this was not well received. I got the feeling the people higher up than me were thinking: “What the hell does she know?” or even “How dare she say that/suggest that?”. It drained all ambitions out of me and in the end, at these different places I worked at I just did my job. Nothing less, nothing more. I saw this happening to so many talented people that I came across while working in these jobs.
Sadly, if ideas from myself or other people on the floor were actually listened to, they would result in someone at managerial level getting all the praise, without us even getting a pat on the back let alone something more.
The weird thing about all this is that it was not like there weren’t any communication processes in place. There were almost always thick HR booklets on how to do this and that and they would cover how happy one should be at work, how communications within the company should be and that people were encouraged to express themselves. All well and good. On paper.
However, in practice it didn’t seem to work. Out of all the places I have worked at I believe employees opinions and voices were truly valued at two places.
Due to all this it came to my mind whether that could be something to cover in my dissertation. As I said there are processes in place but for some reason they seem to just be there, not actually practiced. Therefore, I thought it might be interesting to talk to someone at a managerial level and quiz them about the communication processes within the company, ask about satisfaction with the processes etc. and then get to talk to other employees at different levels and get their opinion and understanding of the same. Once that would be done I would see if there is a gap in the communication plan/process etc.
However, as one of my professors pointed out, it might be difficult to get managers to agree on me conducting such a research within their company, unless, maybe, I would do a project rather than a dissertation. Still it would be very sensitive information.
So, I guess I am back at the drawing board. Giving that I am only into my fourth week of this semester and the fact I have already come across one thing that triggered interest gives me hope there will be more.
All I know is I want to do interviews rather than big questionnaires and it HAS TO BE interesting as then the writing will come easy, as it is fun, something I will enjoy writing about.