Topic: Leadership, Employee Communication Channels, and Employee Satisfaction

Authors, Title and Publication
Men, L. R. (2014). Strategic internal communication: Transformational leadership, communication channels, and employee satisfaction. Management Communication Quarterly, 28(2), 1-21.

Technological development is changing the landscape of communication as well as the internal communication formula of companies. The easy access of organizations to numerous new communication tools (e.g., Facebook business pages, Twitter, instant messenger, and YouTube) has transformed how companies communicate with employees and what channels are most effective to reach employees. Through a web survey of 400 employees working in medium-sized and large corporations in the United States, this study evaluated the current and preferred channels in corporate and leader communication with employees and how transformational leadership style is related to leaders’ use of the channels. Further, the relations among transformational leadership, symmetrical communication, and employee satisfaction were explored.

Results showed that employees mostly preferred emails to receive information from the organization regarding new decisions, policies, events, or changes, followed by general employee meetings and interpersonal communication with managers. Although public relations professionals and scholars have gradually recognized the advantage of social media in community building and engagement, these interactive, communicative, personal, and empowering new media had not been well integrated into the internal communication system of companies. Transformational leadership positively influenced the organization’s symmetrical internal communication and employee relational satisfaction. Employees supervised by transformational leaders were more likely to perceive organizational communication as two-way, symmetrical, and empowering and be satisfied with the organization. Transformational leaders most often used information-rich face-to-face channels to communicate with followers. Traditional channels such as face-to-face interactions (e.g., manager–follower one-on-one, employee general meetings) and phone communications could facilitate listening, instant feedback, and conversation, and were found to promote the organization’s symmetrical communication. Finally, leaders’ use of face-to-face channels was positively associated with employee satisfaction.

Implications for Practice
Organizations should 1) understand the advantage of each medium and strategically optimize platforms for employee communication; 2) capitalize on the “rich” features of face-to-face interactions and social media channels; 3) provide managers at all levels with accurate information aligned with organizational values and goals, offer necessary training to equip them with effective transformational leadership skills, and develop their leadership communication skills.

Location of Article
This article is available online:;0893318914524536v1 (abstract free, purchase full article)



Heidy Modarelli handles Growth & Marketing for IPR. She has previously written for Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, The Next Web, and VentureBeat.
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