In this article we will discuss about:- 1. Introduction to Communication 2. Definitions and Nature of Communication 3. Objectives 4. Elements 5. Methods 6. Dimensions 7. Process 8. Channels 9. Importance 10. Principles 11. How to Make Communication Effective 12. Communication Networks 13. Communication Skills 14. Current Issues 15. Ten Commandments 16. Barriers.
- Introduction to Communication
- Definitions and Nature of Communication
- Objectives of Communication
- Elements of Communication
- Methods of Communication
- Dimensions of Communication
- Process of Communication
- Channels of Communication
- Importance of Communication
- Principles of Communication
- How to Make Communication Effective?
- Communication Networks
- Communication Skills
- Current Issues in Communication
- Ten Commandments
- Barriers to Communication
1. Introduction to Communication:
Communication is an important aspect of the process of management. No manager can be successful without communicating effectively with his Superiors, Peers, Sub-ordinates and outsiders. It is through the process of communication that the managerial function becomes effective. Indeed, Managers are able to carry out all their functions only by interacting and communicating with others. Hence, it is nervous system of an organisation.
Any business organisation is a group of persons constituted for certain specified purposes. The achievement of these specified objectives largely depends upon the fact that all human efforts are properly coordinated and integrated. Individuals in the organization interact each other and the activities performed by the individuals are inter-related because production is the joint effort of the factors of production.
Maintaining of these relationships is possible only through an effective system of Communication which is to be developed by the organisation. The more effective the system of Communication is, the better relations between worker and management can be developed.
Communication is a word derived from the Latin word, ‘Communis’, which means common to share, to impart, convey or transmit. Simply stated, it is a process of passing information and understanding from one person to another person. It is a system through which two or more persons come to exchange ideas and understanding among themselves. In an organizational set-up, Communication is the means by which people are linked together for a common purpose, to establish a common interest or mutual understanding.
Thus, it does not simply involve sending of a message by one person but also involves listening to it, interpreting it and responding or acting to it.
2. Definitions and Nature of Communication:
In order to clarify the meaning of the term communication, two definitions are being given hereunder:
1. “Communication is the sum of all the things, one person does when he wants to create understanding in the mind of another. It involves a systematic and continuous process of telling, listening and understanding.” – Allen Louis
2. Communication is an exchange of facts, ideas, opinions or emotions by two or more persons.” – Newman and summer
Thus, the different views on communication emphasize the understanding element of the communication.
Nature and Characteristics of Communication:
Communication is a two-way traffic. Not only the management communicates the messages and decisions to the Sub-ordinates but Subordinates too can communicate their problems, demands, report of job performance etc. to the management. So it is a process of interacting and understanding each other in the organisation. It is a continuous process in management. Hence, managers at all levels and in all departments must communicate to keep the wheels of operations running smoothly.
By the analysis of the above definitions, we find the following Characteristics:
1. It is a cooperative process involving two parties, one who transmits called communicator and one who receives the message called communicate.
2. It is conveyed through various media like speech, writing, painting etc.
3. It lasts as long as the other person understand the idea what of what is being communicated or being received.
4. It is a continuous process.
5. It aims at achieving the objectives of organisation by creating right type of responses.
6. It provides for understanding between persons and thus makes a bridge of meaning between people.
7. It is a pervasive function means vital to all managerial functions.
8. It may travel from up and down and from side to side.
9. It motivates and increases the morale of workers.
3. Objectives of Communication:
A management depends on Communication to achieve organizational objectives. Since managers work through others, all their acts, policies, rules, orders and procedures must pass through some sort of Communication channel.
The objectives of communication are:
(i) To develop information and understanding which are necessary for group effort;
(ii) To foster an attitude which is necessary for Motivation, Cooperation and job Satisfaction?
(iii) To discourage the spread of mis-information, rumours, gossip and to release the emotional tensions of workers;
(iv) To prepare workers for a change by giving them the necessary information in advance.
(v) To encourage ideas, suggestions from sub-ordinates for an improvement in the product and work conditions, for a reduction in the time or cost involved and for the avoidance of the waste of raw material;
(vi) To improve labour-management relations by keeping both in contact with each other.
(vii) To ensure such free exchange of information and ideas as will assist all the employees in understanding and accepting the reasonableness of the status and authority of everyone in the organisation;
(viii) To satisfy such basic human needs as the needs for recognition, self-importance and a sense of belonging;
(ix) To serve auxiliary functions such as entertainment and the maintenance of social relations among human beings.
In brief, a good Communication system not only ensures the transmission of information and understanding among individuals and groups, but unifies group behaviour, which provides the basis for continuing group co-operation. The efficient functioning of any organisation depends on how well its Communication Channels operate.
The definitions mentioned above depict the following elements of communication:
Issuer can be referred to as transmitter or sender of information. This is the main source where information is generated. Alternatively, receptor can be referred to as the receiver for whom the information is generated by the issuer and is expected to receive it.
Message is the subject-matter or the codified communication sent by the issuer to the receptor. It will be communicated either verbally, written or graphics or combinations of all three.
Encoding is a perceived item of use or interest, which is converted into a construct and stored in the brain but recalled later from short-term or long-term memory. For example- the steel company is short of iron ore for production. The production manager identifies the required amount and communicates the requirement of 10,000 dmtu2 of iron ore to the purchase manager to order from the supplier.
Channel is the means of communication or a pathway through which messages are transmitted. For verbal communication it could be air (face-to-face), phones, emails, etc. In context of the earlier example, the production manager writes / types the requirement in a (standardised) document, files the document and emails the copy of the document to the purchase manager.
Decoding is the reverse operation of encoding, which is a process of translating received messages into code words. From the previous example, the purchase manager checks his/her email, opens the attachment of the iron ore requirement and confirms the requirement with the production manager. Following confirmation, he/she then communicates the requirement to the supplier by reporting it in a different (and standardised) purchase order document, files it and emails the requirement to the supplier.
Feedback is a reversal of the communication process by the receptor, in which a reaction is to the issuer’s message. The receptor becomes the issuer who returns the communication with relevant results to the issuer who becomes the receptor. For example, the purchase manager receives confirmation on the iron ore delivery time frame of 1-2 days from his/her supplier. The purchase manager, in turn gives a feedback to the production manager. The production manager accepts the feedback and schedules the production of steel as per the delivery date.
Noise is anything that interferes with accurate transmission or reception of message. Noise can be physical noise, physiological noise, psychological noise, and semantic noise. Physical noise is also known as external noise that creates difficulties in hearing for the receptor. For example, construction noise inside the office when the issuer and receptor are talking. Physiological noise is a biological influence on the issuer or receptor that interferes with the transmission/ reception.
5. Methods of Communication:
There are three important methods of communication:
(i) Verbal Communication,
(ii) Written Communication and
(i) Verbal Communication:
It is a face-to-face type of communication involving conversation. Conversation is a natural human activity, and a more effective method of communication. It provides clarity, accuracy, certainty and nearness for communication. Verbal communication can also be made through mechanical devices like telephones, intercoms, dictating machines, etc.
In organizations, verbal communication is popular both for downward and upward communication. Instructions, lecturers, orders and counseling are done through verbal communication. It helps in getting quick responses and good feedback. It develops a friendly environment, cooperation and team spirit. In emergency situations, it is the best method of communication. But the problem is distance or misunderstanding. It creates legal difficulties also as there will not be any documentary evidence.
(ii) Written Communication:
It is the most important medium of communication. Orders, instructions, circulars, manuals, handbooks, etc. are provided only through written communication. It can be transmitted simultaneously to numerous persons. Workers can also give their suggestions and grievances in writing. Written communication serves as a permanent reference; it is official and more effective; it should be drafted clearly, correctly, completely and convincingly to make it effective.
Gesticulation is a method supplementary to verbal communication. A handshake, a pat on the back, can be effective gesticulation, communicating appreciation or praise.
Formal channel of communication is multi-dimensional. Information flows in different directions.
The various directions or dimensions of communication are as follows:
Downward communication means flow of information from higher levels to lower levels in the organizational hierarchy. Information flows from top-most authority to the bottommost persons (workers) through various levels. This flow of information generally prevails where autocratic style of management is dominant.
The following information generally flows in downward direction:
i. How to do a job.
ii. Rationale for doing those jobs.
iii. Policies and practices of organisation.
iv. Performance level of employees.
v. The need to develop a sense of mission.
Downward communication can be oral or written. Oral communication can be through speeches, telephone, face-to-face interaction or meetings. Written communication takes place through letters, hand books, pamphlets, posters, bulletins, annual reports, policy statements, notices, circulars etc. Written form of downward communication is used when confidential matters are to be reported which requires documentary evidence.
Downward communication has the following merits:
i. It provides information regarding organizational plans and policies.
ii. It informs employees about the rationale of organizational goals and how they can coordinate these goals with personal goals.
iii. It enables employees to know their area of discretion. They know what is expected of them and perform within those constraints.
iv. It increases job satisfaction and morale of employees to perform better.
Downward communication suffers from the following limitations:
i. Information distortion – In large-sized organisations, information flows through a number of levels. It is possible that by the time it reaches the lowest unit in the organizational hierarchy, the message received is different from what is sent. The message is screened at various levels.
ii. Information gaps – Oral information often gets lost in transit. A part of the information is retained at some level and gets filled by some unintended information at another level. Messages are encoded and decoded according to people’s perception. Researches have shown that in some cases, information upto about eighty per cent gets lost on the way.
iii. Time consuming – If organizational hierarchy has too many levels, it takes time for information to reach the person concerned. Sometimes, information reaches after the desired action has already been taken.
iv. Incomplete transmission – Sometimes, managers withhold part of the information and transmit incomplete information so that subordinates remain dependent upon them for information.
Employees cannot perform effectively with incomplete information. This may affect superior-subordinate relationships.
These limitations do not undermine the importance of downward communication. Proper feedback of information from lower to higher levels can help managers overcome the limitations of downward communication.
(ii) Upward Communication:
Flow of information from lower levels to higher levels is known as upward communication. Employees respond to managers’ directions and instructions through upward communication. This flow of communication is suitable where democratic or participative style of management is prevalent.
The following information generally flows in upward direction:
i. Reports about subordinates’ work, achievements, progress and future plans.
ii. Subordinates’ work problems which need the assistance of supervisors.
iii. Ideas or suggestions offered by subordinates to improve the working of any unit or organisation as a whole.
iv. Subordinates’ perception about their work, work environment and co-workers.
Forms of Upward Communication:
Upward communication can take place through media like suggestions, appeals, meetings, grievance procedures, open door policy (subordinates can approach top managers directly by-passing some of the hierarchical levels), complaint system, questionnaires, group meetings etc.
Upward communication has the following merits:
i. Managers receive feedback from lower levels that helps in carrying out the controlling function.
ii. It helps in knowing attitude of employees towards corporate goals and plans for effective implementation of plans.
iii. It increases employees’ morale and motivation to work. When employees know their grievances, ideas and suggestions are considered by top managers, they feel morally committed to their work.
iv. It provides managers with creative ideas and suggestions from subordinates.
v. It strengthens superior-subordinate relationships and creates harmonious industrial relations.
vi. It overcomes resistance to change on the part of employees as they can present their fears and apprehensions upwards.
Upward communication suffers from the following limitations:
i. Filtration – As in downward communication, substantial part of information gets filtered when it flows upward. In upward communication, each subordinate level filters that part of information which may present unfavourable picture to the superiors.
ii. Time consuming – Too many levels in the official chain of command delay transmission of information.
iii. Fears and apprehensions – Subordinates do not always report the matters upward the way they want. When they know that the news is not what the boss wants to hear, they do not transmit it at all. They may even distort or edit the information before transmitting it upwards. Thus, the information passed is not what is true but what the boss wants to hear.
iv. Attitude of superiors – Sometimes superiors do not listen to the juniors. Most of what is said by lower levels goes unheard at the top levels. The very purpose of upward communication, in such cases, gets defeated.
v. Low effectiveness – When employees approach top managers by-passing some links in the scalar chain, it avoids filtration of information but those who are surpassed may feel morally affected. This strains the superior-subordinate relationships and hampers the effectiveness of further transmission.
Upward communication is an effective dimension of communication. Managers must improve the upward flow of interaction. They should be willing to listen to employees. They should specify the type of information that should flow upwards. Every matter should not be reported to top managers. Only important information that needs their attention and action should flow upwards. Informal channels of communication can increase the efficiency of upward communication.
Use of suggestion schemes, grievances procedures, periodic reports, committees, open door policy etc. are helpful in this regard.
Flow of information amongst people at the same level is known as horizontal communication. It is interaction amongst peer groups. Most common horizontal communication is communication between functional heads. Marketing manager and production manager constantly interact with each other to coordinate demand with production schedules.
It takes place between:
i. Members of a particular work group.
ii. Members of different work groups.
iii. Members of different departments operating at the same level.
iv. Members of line and staff.
It does not follow the official chain of command but cuts across it.
Horizontal communication serves the following purposes:
i. It coordinates work assignments carried out by different departments.
ii. It helps to share information about organizational plans and policies.
iii. It helps to solve organizational problems.
iv. It develops common understanding amongst all the organizational members.
v. It conciliates, negotiates and arbitrates differences arising on account of cultural and attitudinal factors amongst employees.
vi. It develops interpersonal support amongst people of different units.
Forms of Horizontal Communication:
Horizontal communication can be oral and written. Oral communication takes place amongst people of the same level—when they meet during lunch break, after office hours, discussions in meetings and conferences or talk over telephone. Written communication takes place through reports, bulletins, boards, letters, memos, reports etc.
Horizontal communication has the following merits:
i. It helps to review activities assigned to people working at identical positions.
ii. It speeds up the flow of work.
iii. It facilitates problem-solving amongst members at their level and integrates the work.
iv. It develops trust and confidence amongst people of different departments.
v. It provides job satisfaction to employees and boosts their morale to improve performance.
vi. It relieves top managers of the burden of solving problems at the work place, if workers can solve them on their own. It, thus, settles inter-departmental and intradepartmental differences at the place of origin.
Limitations of Horizontal Communication:
Horizontal communication suffers from the following limitations:
i. Personal biases – Personal likes and dislikes amongst members of work groups can obstruct free flow of information.
ii. Specialisation – In the modern era, functional heads are highly specialized in managing activities of their departments and they lack specialised knowledge of other functional areas. This affects communication at the horizontal level. For example, marketing manager may not be knowing much about sources and uses of funds, financial management and capitalization. He will not be able to effectively communicate with the finance manager on matters related to finance.
iii. Perceptions and attitudes – Differences in perceptions and attitudes of functional heads can be counter-productive in horizontal communication. Functional managers may look at the same problem from different angles. If CEO of the company directs functional heads to cut down costs, finance managers may want marketing manager to cut selling costs, while marketing manager may want production manager to cut production costs. Inter-departmental conflicts can arise and the objective will not be achieved.
These problems should be overcome by supporting heads and members of various work groups to promote healthy communication amongst them. While superiors allow information to flow horizontally in the organisation, they should ensure that subordinates do not violate the limits of authority. The subordinates should keep the superiors informed of whatever interaction takes place amongst the peer groups.
Flow of information amongst people of different departments at different levels is known as diagonal communication. When regional sales manager talks to workers of finance or production department, diagonal communication is said to have taken place. People who are generally not in contact, come close to each other through diagonal communication.
Diagonal communication can be oral and written. Oral communication takes place in meetings, conferences, project teams etc. Written communication takes place through magazines, bulletins, boards, notices, circulars etc.
Diagonal communication offers the following merits:
i. It increases efficiency and speed of work. People can directly talk to each other without following the formal chain of command.
ii. It boosts morale and commitment of employees to work as they can directly talk to the managers.
iii. It coordinates the activities of various departments as they can interact with each other.
Limitations of Diagonal Communication:
Diagonal communication suffers from the following limitations:
i. Violation of chain of command – Information cuts across all levels and all departments. There is complete violation of chain of command.
ii. Attitudinal problems – When manager of sales department talks directly with workers of production department, production manager may feel offended about the same. This can affect relationship with workers of his department.
Diagonal communication increases the efficiency of organizational activities as every information cannot be passed through vertical lines of communication. Best use of diagonal communication can be made when cross relationships are cordial and subordinates keep the line superiors informed of their interactions with people of other departments.
7. Process of Communication:
The communication process consists of the following elements:
1. Sender – Sender or Communicator is the person who sends a message or idea. He is the source and initiates the process of communication. Sender may be a speaker, a writer or an actor.
2. Message – Message is what is conveyed by the sender. It consists of words, facts, ideas and opinions, etc. it is the subject – Matter of communication.
3. Encoding – It is the use of appropriate verbal or non-verbal language for transmitting the message. In order to transmit the idea, the sender translates the idea into a language (words, symbols, gestures) known to both the parties.
4. Channel – It is the medium or route through which the message is passed from the sender to the receiver. It may be face-to-face talk, telephone, letter, radio, television, etc.
5. Receiver – Receiver or communicatee is the person or group who is supposed to receive the message. He may be a listener, a reader or an observer.
6. Decoding – It means translating the message into words for the purpose of understanding. The receiver interprets the message to derive its meaning.
7. Feedback – It refers to reaction, reply, response, which the receiver sends to acknowledge his understanding of the message. It may consist of words, actions or facial expressions (e.g., nodding the head). When the sender receives the feedback, the process of communication is said to be complete.
8. Channels of Communication:
Communication channel is the path through which information flows from sender to receiver.
Two main communication channels are:
(i) Formal communication channel
(ii) Informal communication channel
It is the official channel of communication controlled by managers in the official capacity. Official information and decisions follow this channel of communication. This channel is officially recognized by the organisation structure, follows the formal chain of command for passing information, suggestions, order etc. and defines authority-responsibility relationships amongst members of the organisation. It is a deliberately created path of communication. Information flow vertically, horizontally and diagonally along this path of communication through ‘proper channel’, that is, through various levels in the organizational hierarchy.
Vertical communication represents flow of information from one level to the other in the organizational hierarchy. It can be downward and upward. In downward communication, information flows from top managers to middle level managers, lower level managers, supervisors and workers. The information is related to goals, policies, directions, instructions etc. In upward communication, information flows from lower levels to higher levels. It relates to reports about subordinates’ work, achievements and progress, their work related problems, ideas or suggestions to improve the style of working etc.
Horizontal communication flows amongst people at the same level. It does not follow the official chain of command. When manager of marketing department discusses issues related to production and sale of goods with the manager of production department, it is said to be horizontal communication. Diagonal communication is similar to horizontal communication with the difference that it takes place amongst people of different departments at different levels rather than the same level.
Formal communication channel has the following merits:
i. Authenticity of information – It is an officially recognized path of communication and, therefore, whatever information flows in whatever direction (vertical, horizontal or lateral), it is presumed to be authentic.
ii. Larger geographical area – Large-sized organisations have branches spread over wide geographical areas throughout the country. Formal communication channels help in spreading information over wide geographical areas.
iii. Justify organizational hierarchy – Who is to receive information from whom, where, when and to what extent is clearly specified in the formal channels.
iv. Coordination – Formal channels coordinate working of all the functional areas and facilitate smooth functioning of the organisation.
v. Control – It helps in receiving right information at the right time and facilitates control of organizational activities.
vi. Filtering of information – Only important information which top managers must know flows to them. They do not have to, therefore, scan every information, relevant and irrelevant. This saves time which can be spent on strategic issues.
Formal communication channel suffers from the following limitations:
i. Information distortion – When information passes through a number of levels, some of the information is lost in transit and gets filled by some unintended information. There can, thus, be information distortion. In some cases, information upto eighty per cent gets lost on the way.
ii. Time-consuming – As information passes through a number of levels, it is a time consuming channel of communication.
iii. Expensive – It is an expensive channel of communication as it requires lot of paper and administrative work.
iv. Lack of personal touch – People at the top and bottom communicate with each other through formal channels only. They do not get to talk to each other personally. Lack of personal touch restricts free flow of information in the organisation.
It is an unofficial channel of communication arising out of socio-psychological needs of people to interact with each other. It is an important and spontaneous outgrowth of formal channels of communication. It emphasizes more on the person than position. It arises when people of common nationality, caste or religion interact with each other or when they share a car pool or meet each other regularly in canteens, libraries, bus stands, etc.
It is an informal communication network where information flows freely throughout the organisation. Grapevine is the most common form of informal communication. It connects people throughout the organisation and transmits information in every direction – vertical, horizontal and diagonal. It cuts across formal positions and facilitates social, personal and psychological interaction amongst people. Though it travels faster than formal communication channel, it carries gossips and rumours along with factual, formal information.
Grapevine communication is characterized by the following features:
i. It connects almost everybody in the organisation.
ii. It flows in every direction — vertical, horizontal and diagonal.
iii. It does not follow the official chain of command.
iv. It is a fast channel of communication.
v. It generally occurs at the work site, though it may occur outside the organisation also.
vi. It arises out of social and personal interaction amongst people in the organisation.
vii. It is based on people rather than task.
viii. It generally occurs orally.
ix. It occurs in various forms known as communication chains.
Grapevine communication chain represents the pattern in which information flows in different directions.
Keith Davis identifies four types of communication chains:
1. Single-Strand Chain:
In this chain, information passes from one person to the other in a sequential order. A tells something to B who tells it to C, C to D and so on till the information finally reaches the person concerned, say, J.
It Appears Like this:
2. Gossip Chain:
In this chain, one person passes information to everyone else in the organisation. He is not selective about passing the information. This information is not related to work but is of interest to all.
It Appears Like this:
3. Probability Chain:
In this chain, information is passed randomly by one person to others. These persons further pass information in the same random fashion. The information is not significant but is of interest to people.
It Appears Like this:
4. Cluster Chain:
In this chain, one person passes information to selected few confidentially. Some of them keep the information to themselves and others pass it to other selected few whom they trust. Information of interest is transmitted further and rest is retained by members. It is the most common pattern of grapevine or informal communication.
It Appears Like this:
Merits of Grapevine Communication:
Informal or grapevine communication channel has the following merits:
Communication through this channel spreads fast as it does not follow any definite path. The moment someone comes to know of information that is ‘confidential’ or otherwise, it spreads like wild fire throughout the organisation. It is “just between you and me” is the basis of spreading information through grapevine.
ii. Supports Formal Communication Channel:
This channel is an important supplement to formal channel of communication. Whatever cannot be communicated through formal channel, because of time or official constraints and can be successfully transmitted through informal channels.
iii. Nature of Information:
Information about company’s history, moral values and traditions can be transmitted through informal channels better than formal channels.
Managers can obtain feedback from subordinates regarding their directions, instructions, policies, decisions etc. through grapevine. Feedback through informal channel is faster than the formal channel.
v. Human Relations:
Since informal channels cut across official positions and hierarchical relationships, they develop healthy relations amongst people in the organisation.
vi. Socio-Psychological Needs:
This channel satisfies people’s social and psychological needs to interact with each other and share their joys and sorrows. It creates a sense of belongingness in the group and strengthens their group identity.
Informal communication channel suffers from the following limitations:
i. Information distortion – Since flow of information is not based on facts, it may be misleading and distorted.
ii. Lack of authenticity – Informal communication is not authentic. Different people may interpret same information in different ways.
iii. Problems in fixing responsibility – Origin of information flow cannot be known in this channel. It is, therefore, difficult to fix responsibility for spreading false information.
iv. Incomplete information – Information filtration and distortion are the common features of informal communication. What is said by first sender may be different from what is received by the last receiver. There is, thus, incomplete transmission of information.
v. Lack of evidence – Informal communication spreads by word of mouth. It is not supported by written facts. This makes it often incredible or non-dependable.
Though informal channel has limitations, managers cannot eliminate it. It is an inevitable channel of communication. Managers should make proper use of this channel to achieve the formal goals. They can make use of this channel to receive feedback about organizational plans and policies and avoid spreading gossips and rumours in the organisation.
Since grapevine or informal communication channel cannot be eliminated, managers should use it effectively so that it helps in achieving the formal organizational goals.
The following steps can help managers in this regard:
1. Managers should informally inform employees about organizational goals, plans, policies, etc. besides communicating them through the formal channel. This will avoid spreading of rumours and gossips. While communicating with subordinates, managers should maintain closeness with them.
2. Enhance group discussions and activities so that people openly discuss the formal and informal problems.
3. Managers should fix some time, in a week or month, to personally meet the employees and discuss various formal and informal problems with them.
4. Managers should win the confidence of group leaders so that group goals are not contrary to individual goals.
5. As much as possible, decision-making should be participative in nature.
6. Managers should ask employees about the organizational plans and policies. Regular feedback helps to improve the organisational affairs.
7. Managers should be good listeners. If they want to be listened to, they must also listen to others.
9. Importance of Communication:
Importance of communication could be brought into limelight, through the following points:
(i) Communication is the Basis of Organizational Functioning:
Communication is the basis of organizational functioning. It is only when necessary communications are made to subordinates and operators; about their jobs that action on their part is possible. In fact, communication is the petrol which drives the vehicle of the organization.
(ii) Communication as an Aid to Planning:
Communication is an aid to the process of decision – making in general and planning, in particular. Any type of decision – making (including planning decisions) requires, among other things, basic information about the enterprise resources and limitations, and the external environmental factors; which must be supplied i.e. communicated to the management by suitable agencies. In fact, much of the accuracy of planning would very much depend on the accuracy of information communicated to the management, in this regard.
(iii) Communication as an Aid to Leadership:
Communication is very basic to the process of exercising interpersonal influence, through leadership. A leader communicates the objectives, policies, rules and procedures of the enterprise to followers and also communicates the necessary work-orders, instructions and guidance to them, for the proper execution of the intended jobs, to be performed by the group.
The members of the group i.e. followers would communicate their problems, needs and performance to the leader. The better is the communication system existing between the leader and his followers; the better are likely to be the results, produced by the group, during the process of exercising leadership.
(iv) Communication as an Aid to Coordination:
Coordination is greatly facilitated when persons doing similar work or related aspects of work, are in perfect mutual understanding with one another as to the manner and approach to work-performance.
Such mutual understanding among people interest, is largely an outcome of free communication allowed to exist among them; through which they can reconcile their differences and agree on a common approach to work performance. Hence, communication is a good and great aid to achieving co-ordination of individual efforts.
(v) Communication Helps Overcoming Resistance to Changes and Ensures Their Implementation:
People, in general, resist to changes when changes are either not properly communicated to them or the purpose behind introducing such changes is not explained to them. Through communication, the management can convince people of the desirability of introducing organizational changes, overcome resistance to them and prepare a base for their implementation.
(vi) Communication as the Basis of Good Human Relations:
Communication promotes good human relations, in the organizational life. Apparently communications transfer messages; while intrinsically it is transmission of understanding among the sender and the recipients of messages. A free flow of communication, through facilitating transmission of understanding, paves the way for the development of good human relations in the organization.
In particular, communication helps to resolve differences; helps in redressal of grievances and becomes the basis for:
I. Sound manager subordinate relations
II. Sound labor management relations
(vii) Communication Helps Building Good Public Relations:
Good public relations comprise relations of the enterprise with outside agencies, particularly consumers and the public at large. Many business enterprises, now-a-days, maintain a separate public relations department; which basically entertains problems, complaints of the public and assures them of their solution.
What process the public relations department follows in building good public relations, is largely a process of entering into communication with the public-communicating to the public and being communicated by it.
(viii) Communication as an Aid to Controlling:
The essence of controlling is the remedial action initiated by management to correct deviations in actual performance, as against the planned standards. Such remedial action is possible, only when the actual performance of people and the deviations from standards are communicated to management, for controlling purposes.
(ix) Communication Facilitates Delegation of Authority:
Delegation of authority is entirely based on the process of communication. A superior communicates the job assignment, necessary instructions etc. to the subordinate; and the latter, in turn, communicates his problems, difficulties and progress of work to the former. Maintaining open lines of communication between the superior and the subordinate, is a prerequisite for successful delegation of authority.
(x) Communication as Pervading All Walks of Organizational Life:
Communication is needed in personnel matters, like recruitment, selection, training, orientation and placement etc. of employees. It is needed for purposes of motivating subordinates. Enforcement of discipline in the organization requires communication of the rules of organization to all members of the organization. As a matter of fact, communication pervades all walks of organizational life.
10. Principles of Communication:
In order to make the communication system effective, the following principles must be followed:
1. The idea to be transmitted should always be in common and easily understandable language so that the communicatee interprets the idea in the same sense and spirit, in which it is communicated. There must be no ambiguity.
2. In order to make the message effective, it is necessary that the recipient’s attention must be drawn to the message communicated to him.
3. Communication should always be consistent with the plans, objectives, policies and programmes of the organization and not conflicting.
4. The information should be adequate and complete in all respect. Incomplete and inadequate information delays actions and destroys understanding and relations.
5. It should promote cooperation among people at work to achieve the organizational objectives.
6. Information or ideas should be communicated at the proper time. Any delay in communicating the messages will serve no purpose.
7. The communicator must have feedback confirmation from the recipient whether the messages communicated, have been understood in the same sense in which the sender takes it and also whether the recipient is agreed or disagreed the proposal.
8. Communication networks refer to the routes through which communications flows to the destination person for whom it is meant. A number of such networks may exists in the organization at a given point of time but management should consider the effectiveness of the communication network in the given situation and its effect of the behaviour of the communicatee before it finally chooses a network.
The above principles, if followed, will make the communication effective. The industrial problems may be minimized by establishing an effective system of communication because a sense of cooperativeness will make the industrial relations better.
11. How to Make Communication Effective?
The principles or guidelines to making communications effective are of a general nature. Operationally speaking a number of more specific suggestions can be made to ensure the effectiveness of communications.
1. Communication should flow both ways downwards and upward. A sound feedback system should be provided for so that misunderstandings and distortion of messages can be avoided. There should be no communication gap.
2. In order to improve the communication Network, procedure of communication should be simplified, layers in downward communication should be reduced to the minimum possible, decentralization and delegation of authority should be reduced to make the informal communication less important through frequent meetings, conferences and timely dissemination of information to the sub-ordinates.
3. The message must be of interest to the listener. It should be clear, complete, concise, concrete and correct, so that it may receive and interpreted in the same sense by the receiver.
4. The media of communication should be such selected that the message reaches its destination in time, to the right person and in the sense in which it was framed.
5. Barriers to communication should be avoided as far as possible. Filtering or twisting of information, bossism and status consciousness should not come in the way of communication. Other barriers such as physical or socio-psychological or semantics should be reduced to the extent possible.
6. The management should promote the participative approach in management. Sub-ordinates should be invited to participate in the decision making process. It will seek cooperation and reduce many communication barriers.
So, a well-defined, open door policy of communication covering all the points should be followed in the organization to promote the cohesiveness among sub-ordinates.
12. Communication Networks:
Communication network is a pattern of inter-connected lines. It is the system where the message may flow in one direction or in several directions. It determines the quickness, accuracy and smoothness with which the message flows in the organization. If the network is too long or round about, there will be delay in the flow of communication. If it is too narrow the message may get blocked.
When the network contains several filtering points die message may get distorted. There are several types of communication networks depending upon the nature of channels and the number of persons involved in the communication process.
There are four main communication networks, which are explained briefly below:
(i) Circle Network:
In case of circle network, the message moves in a circle under it each person can communicate with two others located on both of his sides. Such network offers a wider choice of channels and offers greater satisfaction to employees. But it is very slow, noisy and un-organised.
(ii) Chain Network:
Under this network, the message flows in a direct vertical line along the scalar chain of command. All the subordinates receive orders and instructions from one superior. This type of network tends to be in flexible as the communication flow is formal.
(iii) Wheel Network:
Under it, number of sub-ordinates report to one superior. It is called wheel because all communications pass through the centre person similar to the hub of a wheel. It is the faster but most authoritarian network.
(iv) All Channel Network:
It represents a free flow of communication. Every member is allowed to communicate freely with all other members. It provides highest satisfaction. It is unstructured and informed communication network.
13. Communication Skills:
To make communication effective, sender and receiver of information should have the following skills:
(i) Verbal Skills:
These skills relate to a person’s (sender’s or receivers) knowledge of vocabulary, fluency in speaking, reading and writing. When a message is sent in writing or orally, the sender must ensure that receiver has verbal skills to understand the message. The sender may be holding a degree of doctorate in literature while the receiver may be a simple graduate. The sender should use, language that receiver can understand and interpret.
(ii) Non-Verbal Skills:
These skills relate to understanding of the message through facial expressions. A sender who can encode messages by understanding receiver’s facial expressions and receiver who can decode the message by understanding facial expressions of the sender can better perform the work than those who do not possess these skills.
(iii) Listening Skills:
Listening is different from hearing. Listening is more specific. We normally do not listen to everything we hear. Almost 75% of what we hear goes without listening. Listening refers to proper decoding of the message by the receiver so that sender and receiver have same perception about the message communicated.
Judith R. Gordon defines active listening as “the process in which a listener actively participates in attempting to grasp the facts and the feelings being expressed by the speaker.”
(a) Attending to a Message:
The receiver should be physically and mentally alert and pay attention to the message transmitted by the sender.
(b) Following the Message:
The listener should interpret the message without asking unnecessary questions so that sender is encouraged to communicate with the receiver.
(c) Reflecting Back the Message:
The receiver should respond to the sender to check accuracy of the message transmitted to him and sender can also verify that his message has been rightly interpreted by the receiver. Reflecting depicts the confidence that sender and receiver have understood the message in its right meaning.
(iv) Feedback Skills:
Both sender and receiver should receive feedback from each other on the message transmitted. Sender should give feedback to the receiver regarding how well the receiver is implementing the sender’s directions. He should also receive feedback from the receiver as to how good the sender is in transmitting the message.
If the sender reacts positively to the feedback, he will receive both positive and negative feedback from the receiver; otherwise he will receive only positive feedback. The feedback skills increase efficiency of the message.
14. Current Issues Considered in Communication:
(i) Technology and Communication:
Emerging technologies have led to major changes in organisational communication processes. Telephone remains the major communication device among people in developed nations, but cellular phones are fast replacing the non-cellular phones in most parts of the world. Distributed computer technology is growing in use.
People within an organisation have started communicating directly on a computer network. Satellites and fibre optics allow high speed connections among networks at any locations of an organisation. Organisations with global operations can move all forms of information quickly to distant places.
Personal computers are being increasingly used as medium of communication. When personal computers have modems and fax devices, people in an organisation can quickly communicate with each other.
Satellite and fibre optics will let them transmit any media such as text, numeric data, graphic images, audio and video images. By communicating with their personal computers, people in different countries can lessen the effect of time zone differences.
Video conferencing allows face to face communication over almost any distance. People in a video conference can see each other, speak to each other, show graphic images and send documents by fax. Such systems are a substitute for travelling to different sites for meetings. New technology also allows desktop video conferencing.
A small camera mounted on a computer monitor sends the video image to the receiving computer. The other party has the same configuration, making two-way video and audio interaction possible. A window opens on each person’s computer screen letting them see each other. Other parts of the screen can show the text of a report the two parties are revising or graphics for an upcoming joint business presentation.
Multimedia personal computers are another revolutionary change in the field of communication. Such computers feature scanners, sound boards, business presentation Software, CD-ROMS and for advanced users, animation software. Business presentations can now offer full colour three dimensional graphics, photographs, video images, background sound and text.
Properly designed, such presentations can have dramatic effects on an audience. The overhead projector with black and white slides will give way to a multimedia business presentation controlled by a personal computer and the presenter. Such presentations are making large audience communications not only possible but dramatic as well.
(ii) Men Women Communication:
For long, men have been enjoying dominating positions in organisations. But now the women have started enjoying equal share and positions in the organisations.
Now-a-days when educated women have started demanding proper positions, complex problems have surfaced. A proper communication system can reduce such tensions. Improper communication destroys the atmosphere whereas polite communication develops a good atmosphere.
Communication removes the doubts and bridges the gap between men and women. This is possible if mutual understanding is developed between the two.
(iii) Communication and Political Environment of an Organisation:
An unhealthy communication process can be created by the political environment in an organisation. The term ‘political’ in an organisation refers to groups formed on the basis of caste, creed or colour. Such groups are not desirable for a unified growth of communication.
The desirable form of communication in such a case is, that polity should encourage effective communication as people are sensitive to others feelings. A polite and sympathetic atmosphere can lead to effective communication. Soft words should be used to convey hard meanings, but in case that is not possible, the management has to resort to other means to convey the message in a clear and accurate form.
(iv) Cross Cultural Communication:
Cross Cultural Communication creates problems to an effective communication. The issues of cross cultural communication go beyond the spoken and written language of another culture. The barriers are caused by semantic differences, word connotation, differences of tone and perception. Nonverbal communication has different meanings in different countries.
Orientations to time and the meaning of time differ widely among cultures. The cross cultural difference can be reduced to a great degree if the differences are realised by the senders and receivers. Emphasis should be more on description rather than on interpretation and the interpretation should never be taken as final rather it should be taken as developing.
(v) Ethical Issues in Communication:
An organisation’s communication process plays an important role in presenting an ethical image to people inside and outside the organisation. An ethical issue centers on how much an organisation should disclose to employees, suppliers and the community in which it operates.
Employees want information about planned layouts, transfers wants other large changes that could disrupt people’s lives. The customers want to know about the safety of the products, the levels of error in the services and the results of testing programmes. The suppliers need to know about the basis of choice, contracting process and the basis of commitment to a particular supplier.
A growing ethical issue surrounds communication privacy in organisations. Do the employees have right to private communications in the work setting that cannot be revealed to anyone without their consent?
The ethical issue will grow in future as more employees using personal computers become part of the computer networks in organisations. Existing software lets both network managers and senior managers read employees’ voice mail, e-mail and other computer files. Is it ethical to do so or not? Such issues major issues before the organisation.
Communication is the basis of managerial work. It is, therefore, necessary for a manager to study its many aspects and educate the staff about the importance of good communication.
The following ten commandments may help a manager improve his communication skills:
Think and plan before communicating. Be clear about what you want to communicate. The more systematically a problem or idea is analyzed, the clearer it becomes.
State the purpose of each communication, obtain information, initiate action, and change another person’s attitude. Don’t try to accomplish too much with each communication. The sharper the focus of your message, the greater is its chances of success.
(iii) Physical and Human Setting:
Be sensitive to the total setting in communication. Sometimes, meaning and intent are conveyed through gestures rather than through words. For example, your sense of timing should be appropriate. Workers should be reprimanded for reporting late as soon as they arrive at the workplace; it is of no use to issue memos to them after two or three months.
The physical setting, whether the worker should be reprimanded openly or in private, should also be considered. The manager should also analyze the social climate governing work relationships before issuing orders and directives. The tone of communication should change accordingly.
The communication should also conform to the expectations of subordinates. In other words, custom and past practice should also be taken into consideration. Like all living things, communication must be capable of adapting to its environment.
Invite others to participate in planning a communication. Allow them to participate fully and develop the facts upon which appropriate communications can be built. Participation helps to bring additional insight and objectivity to your message. Moreover, those who have helped you plan your communication will give it their active support.
(v) Word Choice and Body Language:
Select simple words and use them carefully so that they do not take on different meanings to different people. Physical actions such as motions, gestures and facial expressions convey thoughts and emotions to subordinates. The body language should support the written communication. A frown, a sarcastic smile or even a blank stare may be wrongly interpreted, even though the words were positive in nature. Employees grasp at these small symbols to determine what the “boss” means.
Empathy is the ability to identify with the various feelings and thoughts of another person. When managers are empathetic, they create a climate that encourages subordinates to communicate openly and honestly with them. They would be in a much better position to understand why people act as they do. They would be able to appreciate the feelings of the subordinates and respond with messages taking the interest of the subordinates into account.
Managers should support communication through good supervisory efforts, clear assignment of duties, fair rewards for effort, sound policy enforcement, etc. Such practices serve to communicate forcefully more than all the gifts of oratory.
(viii) Use of Feedback:
The manager should provide feedback, which provides an open channel, so that he can check on how the messages are being perceived. He should create an environment that encourages feedback. For example, after communicating a job assignment, he might ask, “Do you understand?” or “Do you have any questions?” and find out whether the message has been understood or not. At the same time, he should allow the subordinates to express their reactions.
(ix) Communicate for Tomorrow as well as Today:
Communications must be planned with the past in mind so as to support company policies consistently. They must also take into account the short-run as well as long-run interests of the organisation.
(x) Be a Good Listener:
Listening is one of the most important, most difficult and most neglected skills in communication. Poor listening techniques plague many managers. Often, they are not prepared to listen to what subordinates say. To improve listening, we need to become more than passive receivers. We should not only concentrate on the explicit meanings another person is expressing but also on the implicit meanings, unspoken words, etc. Effective listening is empathetic listening. It requires an ability to listen for feeling as well as for words.
16. Barriers to Communication:
The process of communication is lengthy involving different stages For effective communication, every stage is crucial. Hurdles may arise at any stage in this lengthy process blocking the understanding of the message by the receiver. These hurdles are known as barriers to communication. They may entirely prevent a communication, filter a part of it or distort it in meaning.
There are three types of barriers:
2. Semantic and
These barriers arise out of human emotions, values, and poor listening habits. These are very common occurrences in work situations. We have already seen how our personal feelings can limit our communications with other people. Personal barriers result from psychological distance between people who may be physically closure. For example, a subordinate perceiving his superior to be authoritarian which he dislikes, cannot understand his directions well.
Our emotions also act as filters in almost all our communications. We tend to see and hear what we are emotionally “tuned” to see and hear leading to communication failure. Similarly, we communicate our interpretation of reality rather than the reality itself. Therefore, what we understand is when the sender’s and receiver’s perceptual profiles are at variance with each other, smooth and effective communications do not take place between them.
Semantic barriers arise out of language problem. As you are aware, the sender uses a language of words and symbols for communicating to the receiver. Words usually have a variety of meanings. As a result, the receiver may not get the same meaning of the word as intended by the sender.
In such case, the receiver does not properly understand the message or he may understand it to the contrary. For example, the word ‘steps’ has different meanings. It may refer to the staircase, or the measures to be taken to solve a problem, or the steps of a dancer in a dance programme.
Whenever we select a meaning that is not factual, we are making an inference. Inferences are an essential part of most communications. We cannot avoid them all together. In our day-to-day conversations also, very often we hear people saying ‘I mean’ or “it is not what I mean” because of the possibility for making different inferences.
Physical barriers exist in the environment in which the communication takes place. When you are working in a factory where machines produce a lot of sound, you cannot talk to the other one even if he is very close to you physically. Likewise, telephone interruptions, walk in visitors, or attending to other matters are very common hurdles in the process of communication.
A brief discussion about the various factors acting as obstacles for effective communication is follows:
(i) Lack of Planning:
When sufficient time is not devoted for thinking, planning and stating the purpose of the message, it proves ineffective. By providing the reasons for a particular instruction, selecting the most appropriate channel and releasing the message at the right time, a manager can ensure effective communication.
(ii) Bad Expression of Message:
The sender, sometimes, may be clear about the message, but when conveys it, he may not express it clearly. Poorly chosen words, careless omissions, lack of coherence, poor organization of ideas, awkward sentence structure, inadequate vocabulary, unnecessary jargons and failure to clarify the implications are the reasons for bad expression of message.
(iii) Faulty Translation:
Managers receive information from many sources. When it is transmitted, the translator must have a good communication and analytical skills so as to bring in a correct understanding of communication.
(iv) Unclarified Assumptions:
In the process of communication both parties assume certain things, any attempt to get their assumptions taken for granted will result in ineffective communication. Therefore, efforts are to be carefully taken to clarify any assumption and remove confusion.
If a message is transmitted form one person to another in a series, it tends to lose accuracy. It is proved through research studies that while communicating orally; approximately 30 percent of the information is lost in each transmission. Therefore, it is impossible to rely only on oral communication.
Poor retention of information is another serious problem. Studies again indicate that employees are able to retain only 50 percent of what they are told. Supervisors are able to retain around 60 percent of the information they receive. Therefore, it is necessary to repeat the message and use more than on channel to communicate the message.
(vi) Semantic Distortion:
Some words may have ambiguous meanings and may generate different responses in different people. For example, an advertisement declares “We sell better products”. It is quite ambiguous as it raises the question “better than what?”
If the superior is known for making frequent changes in the communication, even reversing the original message, it creates distrust in the minds of employees of his communication. Repeated experience of this kind will damage employee’s interest in the communication. The loss of confidence in the superior will drop the effectiveness of communication.
This indicates anxiety, awe, alarm or apprehension about the information in the mind of the employee. It arises in upward communication and creates a barrier in communication. The fear will cause trouble and the whole organization will suffer.
(ix) Attitude of the Superior:
The fear of a superior that communication of anything to subordinates will reduce his power and authority may also act as a barrier for communication.
(x) Inadequate Adjustment Period:
Whenever a change is introduced in the regular programme, policy, rule, etc., sufficient time for adjustment is to be given to the employees to make them mentally prepared. Otherwise, inadequate time will hamper the effectiveness of communication.
Overcoming the Barriers to Communication:
Some guidelines would be helpful to management to improve their skills in communication to avoid the barriers in communication and also to achieve the goals and targets. Every organization does need effective communications for its success as it carries out its business in a knowledge society.
Management should realize that communication plays a significant role in motivating the employees, building high morale among them, providing satisfaction in work, developing employee potential and performance, changing employee attitudes and increasing their loyalty and commitment to the organization. Communication should be very comprehensive and timely. In the modern society, managers do well in their communications by using latest technology in an appropriate way.
The following points will bring out the ways and means to overcome the barriers to effective communication:
1. Clarity of Thoughts:
The message to be transmitted should be very clear in the mind of the sender. It should always be remembered that employee communication should never be in abstract terms. The academic level of the workers, their power of grasping things, etc., should be taken into account, otherwise the communication is likely to go waste.
Even when the language spoken by the workers, supervisors and the management is the same, word often mean different things to people with a different experimental background. Therefore, care should be exercised in making the communication complete in all respects.
Actions are more important than words. A superior who says that he trusts the subordinates but puts checks in every activity of subordinates cannot succeed in his efforts. One who does not believe in himself fails to understand the communication in all respects and cannot make any dint over the subordinates. Therefore, he should believe in what he says. Then only he can make others to obey him. For example, a superior who does not keep up punctuality cannot enforce his subordinates.
3. Effective Listening:
Superior has to attentive listen the views, suggestions and voice of subordinates. Listening is fundamental in oral communication. It leads to sharing, participation and understanding. Passive listening should be avoided. Listening is art which is to be perfected. This art can be perfected by respecting the personality of the subordinates, recognize the subjective and objective factors and avoiding moralizing.
Plan carefully what to communicate, how to communicate and to whom to communicate. When authority is transferred, it should go in parity with the responsibility for ensuring smooth flow of communication.
5. Open System:
Keep the system of communication open and alive. Good communication relations can be developed through honest attempt.
6. Cordial Relationship:
There should be cordial relationship between superior and subordinates to ensure effective communication. All round atmosphere of confidence should be the basis for cordial relations. If the cordial relations are not maintained, information may be suppressed or misunderstood.
7. Non-Verbal Cues:
People are sensitive to non-verbal cues in communication. Research study reveals that only 7 percent of receiver’s response is determined by the verbal content of a message, while 38 percent of the response is determined by the speaker’s vocal characteristics and 55 percent is determined by the speaker’s facial expressions. Non-verbal cues include body posture, eye contact, distance from the receiver, voice modulation, rate of speech, gestures, emphasis of particular words, silence, etc.
8. Non-Directive Counselling:
It can be done by holding an interview with the employee. It helps the employee examine his own ideas, feelings, and attitudes about a problem. In such an interview a manager should be attentive and friendly, raise appropriate questions and be tactful and enable the employee to think through the problem clearly.