Internal communication at the national oil company of South Africa (PETROSA)
Thesis (MBA)--Stellenbosch University, 2012.
The assessment of internal communication at PetroSA was conducted with the view to obtaining guidance on how to improve communication within the organisation. The study looked at both upward and downward communication content and flow. A representative sample was selected from the core groups of highly-trained professional employees in Levels 2, 3 and 4 (of nine levels). Employees in this sample were asked to respond electronically to a questionnaire designed by the researcher with input from colleagues. The questionnaire had 60 statements in seven concept areas. The statements were wide enough to capture the most important aspects of internal communication. It used a Likert-type scale. Responses were averaged and the averages were tested by t-tests to see whether employees agreed or disagreed with the statements. The sample of employees could also respond if they wished to a qualitative question. Results were analysed, conclusions were drawn, and recommendations were made about ways the company can improve its internal communication. The timing of the study is important for the organisation as the company plans to grow by more than 30 000 employees after the building of a new refinery in Port Elizabeth. What became clear in the study was that much satisfactory downward communication is happening in the company through CEO road shows, the in-house Yiza Sithethe magazine and the daily newsletter PetroSA Today, but employees want more. They want more specific information on where the company is going as well as on its financial status. Despite some disengagement, they would like to be free to engage with management on issues without running a huge risk (more upward communication). They indicate strongly that management does not listen to their ideas and suggestions. They want more explanation for some of management’s decisions, more discussions over causes and prevention of breakdowns in production, and clearer ideas of how they fit into the larger company. Despite some lack of alignment with the company goals, they do want to work for the larger good. More efficient budgeting processes, clearer career paths, and better understanding of their capabilities by their own managers seem to be needed. The company management needs to deal with some mistrust by employees, and this will not be achieved overnight. Immediate actions include a communication management plan to achieve better alignment of its workforce, as well as communication skills development for its levels of managers. Communication keeps any organisation together. There is good potential for PetroSA to attain its vision to be a leading petrochemical company in Africa. But first, it has to improve its internal communication.