Organizational Communication – Effective Tool for Excellence

Organizational Communication – Effective Tool for Excellence

Communication is the process through which information is exchanged and understood by two or more people or groups, usually with the intended or unintended motive to influence the behaviour. It is seen as transfer of information from the sender to the receiver with the information been understood by the receiver.

Organizational communication is a key element of the organizational climate. it applies to all the phases of management in the organization. It is the central binding force that permits coordination amongst the organizational people and thus allows for their organized behaviour. In fact, the behaviour of the people in the organizations is best understood from the way they communicate.

Communication for the organization is like blood flow in the human body. It is very necessary for the effective organizational performance. Effective communication is also essential for the coordination between material and human elements of the organization. In the absence of such effective communication, the smooth functioning of the organization gets jeopardized. The most efficient management is that which understands the values of communication and use it effectively in the environment of the organization.

During earlier days, communication in most of the organizations used to be largely informal since the organizations were small. As the size of the organizations increased, organizational communication has not only become far more complex and varied but also more important for the overall functioning and success of the organizations.

Communication is a mixture of personal attributes and organizational aspects. Effective communication is necessary for the organization since the management functions in the organization are carried out through communication. In fact effective  management in the organization is directly related to the effective organizational communication.

Organizational communication is of increasingly importance not only for the overall organizational functioning but also for the management of the change management in the organization. Effective communication in the organization is also necessary to address other organizational aspects such as innovation, organizational learning, knowledge management, conflict management, diversity, and communication technologies. The importance of communication in the organization is because of the following.

  • Work being carried out is complex in nature and requires greater coordination and interaction among workers.
  • The speed of work being carried out is quite fast.
  • Workmen are distributed in very wide area in the organization.
  • Simultaneous, distributed work processes are more common.
  • Knowledge and innovation are very critical for the competitive advantage of the organization.
  • Communication technologies and networks are increasingly essential to the structure and strategy of the organization.

Communication is not only an essential aspect of the organizational functioning, but it is also seen as the foundation of modern organizations.

These days not only the managers, but also most of the employees spend a major part of their working time in the organization, communicating in one form or another (meetings, face-to-face discussions, memos, letters, e-mails, reports, etc.). This is because the production processes of today emphasize greater collaboration and teamwork among employees in different  functional groups. Further the rapid advancement in the communication technologies has also contributed to the transformation of both work and organizational structure.

For these reasons in the present environment, communication practices and technologies have become very important and the organizations have become totally dependent on communication. It is impossible for the organization to carry out any of its functions without communication. If communication is diminished or hampered, the entire organization suffers. When communication is thorough, accurate, and timely, the organization tends to be vibrant and effective.

Communication is defined as the exchange of ideas, messages, or information by speech, signals, or writing. The basic function of communication is to affect receiver knowledge or behaviour by informing, directing, regulating, socializing, and persuading.

Communication is an important tool for the development of an organization. It is critical to effective management. It is something which helps the management to perform the basic functions of managing the organization such as leading, planning, organizing, motivating, and controlling. The primary functions of organizational communication are identified as the following.

  • Compliance-gaining
  • Leading, motivating, and influencing
  • Sense-making
  • Problem-solving and decision-making
  • Conflict management, negotiating, and bargaining
  • Coordination and regulation of production activities

Communication helps managers to perform their jobs and responsibilities. Communication serves as a foundation for planning. All the essential information must be communicated to the managers who in-turn must communicate the plans so as to implement them. Organizing also requires effective communication with others about their job task. Similarly leaders as managers must communicate effectively with their subordinates so as to achieve the team goals. Controlling is not possible without written and oral communication.

Communication skills whether written or oral form the basis of any organizational activity. In fact, it is the building block of the organization. It plays a key role in the success of any organizational program or policy and serves as the foundation for a healthy workplace  for the employees. Communication helps achieve the desired outcomes for the employee and the organization in a variety of ways.

Faulty communication in the organization can lead to the lowered efficiency and effectiveness at the organizational as well as at the  individual levels. Also it may become a cause of the interpersonal friction between the employees.

Organizational communication is the internal communication. Since internal communication engulfs the entire organization, it is more important for the organizational success.  The organizational communication is the process by which employees stimulate meaning in the minds of other employees by means of verbal or nonverbal messages. The terms of process, stimulate, verbal message, and non verbal message are explained below.

  • The term ‘process’ indicates that communication is dynamic and ever changing. As the employees change as individuals over time and from one organizational event to another, their communication is also changed in the organizational environment.
  • The term ‘stimulate’ is intended to suggest that it is through communication with co-employees, employees develop ideas entirely o their own. many of the ideas are formed or created by the meaningful communications that other employees have stimulated.
  • The term ‘ verbal message’ means the language which is common to the culture and the organization, These messages are transmitted in spoken or written form.
  • The term ‘non verbal message’ means messages other than verbal such as eye behaviour, touch, hand gestures, body movements, and facial expression etc.

Communication is frequently divided into the following levels as given in Fig 1.

  • Interpersonal communication
  • Group level communication
  • Organizational level communication
  • Inter-organizational level communication
  • Mass communication

Level of communications

Fig 1 Levels of communications

 Communication can also be distinguished between micro, meso, and macro levels, where (i) micro refers to interpersonal communication, (ii) meso refers to group, organizational, and inter-organizational communication, and (iii) macro refers to all higher order communication.

Communication in the organization can be formal and informal communications. it can be inside the organization (internal communication) and can be outside the organization (external communication). Internal communication is a process where all employees take part unlike external communication where only some employees take part. Internal organizational communication practices include newsletters, presentations, strategic communications, work direction, performance reviews, and meetings etc. while the externally communications is directed to the public, customers, suppliers, media, and other stake holders etc. External communications can also  be inter-organizational.

Communication can also be characterized as vertical, horizontal (lateral), or diagonal. Initially greater emphasis was directed at vertical organizational communication as compared to horizontal communication but that is no longer the case. Diagonal communication is an even more recent phenomenon in the organizational communication. Vertical communication can be downward communication or upward communication.

Downward communication also known as top-down communication is the communication from the management to the employees. This form of communication is used for conveying organizational vision, objectives, policies, plans and targets etc. This form of communication can increase utilization of specific programs by making employees aware of the availability of the programs, clearly explaining how to access and use the services, and demonstrating that management supports and values the programs.

Upward communication also known as bottom-up communication is the communication from the employees to the management. It provides information about employee needs, values, perceptions and opinions to the management. This helps the organization to select and tailor its programs and policies to meet the specific needs of their employees.

Organizational communication can also be categorized generally in any one of the following three types.

  • At its simplest level, top-down communication is a one way communication and is used to instruct, control, and direct impersonally. Top-down communication is commonly associated with hierarchically structured, centrally driven organizations in which decisions are taken without too much consultation at the lower operating levels within the hierarchy. Feedback is not a requirement though team briefings are usually undertaken by middle managers.
  • The purpose of two-way communication (both downward and upward) is to create the conditions under which people freely contribute more to the achievement of the goals of the organization. Two-way communication is associated with participatory styles of management, best practice, and the alignment of organizational goals and personal goals.
  • Three-way communication that is downward, upward, and horizontal are a feature of those organizations in which people are encouraged to cross barriers for getting the information they need to do the job.

In the larger organizations, the major focus of the organizational communication is usually towards formal, top-down communication. Informal communication, generally associated with interpersonal, horizontal communication, is being primarily seen as a potential hindrance to effective organizational performance. However, this is not true. On-going, dynamic, and non-formal, if not informal, communication has become more important for  ensuring the effective conduct of work in a modern organization.

The most important role of organizational communications is relationship building. Relationship building provides strong basis in case of crisis management and help in the change management in the organization.

Effective communication is very important for the creation of a successful organization. Bad communication between managers and employees results in conflicts inside the organization which leads to moral decline and its fall out effects. Effective management raises the  moral of the employees. It stimulates the creativity in the employees and they are motivated to make contribution to strategic goals of the organization.