The role of internal communication for strategy execution at the Mahikeng Local Municipality in the North West Province
Mholo, Mpho Kate
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As reflected in the reports of the Auditor General of South Africa (AGSA) over the past five years, the local municipalities in North West Province were given qualified reports for numerous failings in performance, accountability, and service delivery. The present study examines one possible reason why organisational strategies are failing: poor internal communication among employees of local government organisations. Senior and middle management, junior managers, and team leaders of the Mahikeng Local Municipality were interviewed to assess their perceptions of organisational strategy and internal communication. The hypothesis is that where organisational strategies are not properly communicated to employees, effective performance may be poor. The literature on this topic suggests that internal communication is regarded as important but is often ignored in practice. Strategy relates to the mission, vision, and values of an organisation, and how these apply to its overall objectives and short- and long-term goals. Strategy execution depends on those individuals who are entrusted with its implementation. Implementation is in line with organisational culture and how strategic objectives are communicated. The engagement of employees through effective internal communication is critical to this effort. Where responsiveness, trust, and transparency are lacking, the organisational culture may undermine strategic objectives. Previous research on this issue, covered in the literature review, points to a gap between goals, means, and outcomes. A questionnaire was designed to obtain information from a targeted population of managers from this local municipality. It was designed to check (1) the leadership's perceptions of internal communication; (2) whether departments have internal communication units as required in terms of Government Communication and Information System’s (GCIS) policy; (3) whether prescribed communication channels are in place; and (4) whether organisational behaviour helps with employee engagement, to motivate and involve them. The researcher personally administered the questionnaire. The responses were statistically collated using SPSS. The resulting tables, charts, and graphs were analysed and interpreted to determine whether managementtakes internal communication seriously. 7 The findings showed that respondents believed that internal communication is working, though on average they did not endorse this very strongly. Similarly, respondents believed that strategy is not effective. Workplace job satisfaction and being appreciated received high scores. Low scores were given to organisational culture and strategy. There is an apparent contradiction between the belief that internal communication is effective, and the opposing belief that strategy is ineffective. There is a correlation between the age of respondents and their critical attitudes towards internal communication, with older officials accepting existing standards while younger people (who are in the minority) are more critical. In conclusion, these findings suggest that people in the organisation are somewhat complacent about their work and uncritical or even afraid to raise their concerns. The hypothesis that internal communication is not given high priority is partly confirmed. It would appear that the organisational culture does not add value to the performance of the organisation. No objective measures of communication effectiveness were used in this study; rather, the respondents were asked for their subjective evaluations. Further research is needed into the connection between internal communication and strategy execution. It is recommended that the Mahikeng Local Municipality monitor and evaluate internal communications more closely; incentivise people to succeed; offer more training in communication skills; recruit a mix of newly skilled and qualified personnel; and challenge the leadership to be accountable for implementation.
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