Organisational communication


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Organisational communication

  1. 1. ORGANISATIONAL COMMUNICATIONINTRODUCTION Organizational Communication can be defined as aprocess through which organizations are created and in turncreate and shape events. The process can be understood asa combination of process, people, message, meaning andpurpose. Functions of Organizational Communication: It is the means by which a manager ensures co-operation of subordinates. It is the exchange of meanings among members of an organization. It is the “glue” which binds the elements of an organization together. It builds the very structure of an organization i.e. who communicates with whom about what. Can misunderstanding of a few words literally meanthe difference between life and death? They can in airlinesbusiness. A number of aviation disasters have been largelyattributed to problems in communication. There are otherfields also in which there are examples to illustrate howmiscommunication can have deadly consequences. Goodcommunication is essential to any group’s or organization’seffectiveness. 1
  2. 2. ORGANISATIONAL COMMUNICATION Research indicates that poor communication isprobably the most frequently cited source of interpersonalconflict. Because individuals spend nearly 70 percent of theirworking hours communicating-writing, reading, speaking,listening-it seems reasonable to conclude that one of themost inhibiting forces to successful group performance is alack of effective communication. No group can exist without communication: thetransference of meaning among its members. It is onlythrough transmitting meaning from one person to anotherthat information and ideas can be conveyed. Communication,however, is more than merely imparting meaning. It mustalso be understood. In a group in which one member speaksonly German and the others do not know German, theindividual speaking German will not be fully understood.Therefore, communication must include both thetransference and the understanding of meaning. An idea, no matter how great, is useless until it istransmitted and understood by others. Perfectcommunication, if there were such a thing, would exist when 1
  3. 3. ORGANISATIONAL COMMUNICATIONa thought or an idea was transmitted so that the mentalpicture perceived by the receiver was exactly the same asthat envisioned by the sender. Although elementary intheory, perfect communication is never achieved in practice,due to unavoidable reasons.2.1 What is Communication? The term “communication” has been derived fromthe Latin word “communis” which means common. Itwas Aristotle who, for the first time, brought about asystematic study of the communication process.According to him, there are three essential elements in acommunication system, namely, the speaker, the speech,and the audience. Communication strictly stands forsharing of ideas in common. The word “communication”,however, has many and varied meanings. Popularlyspeaking, it refers to the various means of transmittinginformation from individual to individual, individual to agroup of individuals or from one place to another. It is atransmission of messages, ideas, methods, skills, andthoughts between two or more persons. It is a mutual 1
  4. 4. ORGANISATIONAL COMMUNICATIONexchange of facts, thoughts, opinions or emotions bythe use of symbols, words, pictures, figures, graphs andso on. Communication is the chain of understandingwhich permeates an organization from top to bottom,from bottom to top, and from side to side, and whichmoves the organization ahead towards its statedobjectives. It is the cohesive force which holds the grouptogether. Vardaman and Halterman opine: “Communicationis the flow of material, information, perception andunderstanding between various parts and members ofan organization.” In the words of Allen, “Communication is thetransfer of meaning from one person to another.”Mitchell goes a step further and observes,“Communication involves more than just having theright information — the information should be believed,weighed correctly, reach the right decision-makers andresult in the appropriate action.” Rogers and Rogershave reiterated this point of view. They opine“Communication is a process by which an idea istransferred from a source to the receiver with theintention of changing behaviour.. ..Communication is 1
  5. 5. ORGANISATIONAL COMMUNICATIONmade with the intention of achieving results/change inknowledge, attitude and overt behaviour.” Communication is a process in which senders andreceivers of messages interact in a given social context.Interpersonal communication refers to the exchange ofinformation and transmission of meaning between twopeople. Organizational communication is the subjectthat deals with the exchange of information andtransmission of meaning throughout the organizationalhierarchy. Since the leader or the manager accomplishesorganizational objectives through people, it is essentialto communicate what the leader or the manager wantspeople to accomplish, how to accomplish, where toaccomplish and more important, why to accomplish. Tocommunicate the organizational philosophy, objectives,procedures, and practices to all employees is not easy,because communication is a very complex phenomenon. In communication, the people must understandwhat they are trying to communicate; they must bewilling and able to understand them; they must accepttheir communication or message or information or goals.Thus, all social phenomena are a function ofcommunication. 1
  6. 6. ORGANISATIONAL COMMUNICATION2.2 FUNCTIONS OF COMMUNICATION: Communication serves four major functions within agroup or organization: Control, motivation, emotionalexpression and information. Communication acts to control member behaviour inseveral ways. Organizations have authority hierarchies andformal guidelines that employees are required to follow.When employees, for instance are required to firstcommunicate any job related grievance to their immediateboss, to follow their job description, or to comply withcompany policies, communication is performing a controlfunction. But informal communication also controlsbehaviour. When work groups tease or harass a memberwho produces too much (and makes the rest of the grouplook bad), they are informally communicating with, andcontrolling, the member’s behaviour Communication fosters motivation by clarifying toemployees what is to be done, how well they are doing, and 1
  7. 7. ORGANISATIONAL COMMUNICATIONwhat can be done to improve performance if it’s supbar. Theformation of specific goals, feedback on progress toward thegoals, and reinforcement of desired behaviour all stimulatemotivation and require communication. For many employees, their work group is a primarysource for social interaction. The communication that takesplace within the group is a fundamental mechanism bywhich members show their frustrations and feelings ofsatisfaction. Communication, therefore, provides a releasefor the emotional expression of feelings and for fulfillmentof social needs. The final function that communication performs relatesto its role in facilitating decision making. It provides theinformation that individuals and groups need to makedecisions by transmitting the data to identify and evaluatealternative choices. No one of these functions should be seen as beingmore important than the others. For groups to performeffectively, they need to maintain some form of control overmembers, stimulate members to perform, provide a meansfor emotional expression, and make decision choices.Almost every communication interaction that takes place ina group or organization performs one or more of these fourfunctions. 1
  8. 8. ORGANISATIONAL COMMUNICATION2.3 THE COMMUNICATION PROCESS: Before communication can take place, a purpose,expressed as a message to be conveyed, is needed. It passesbetween a source (sender) and a receiver. The message isencoded (converted to a symbolic form) and passed by wayof some medium (channel) to the receiver, who retranslates(decodes) the message initiated by the sender. The result isa transference of meaning from one person to another. The exhibit above depicts this communication process.This model is made up of seven parts: (1) thecommunication source, (2) encoding, (3) the message, (4)the channel, (5) decoding, (6) the receiver, and (7) feedback. The source initiates a message by encoding a thought.The message is the actual physical product from the sourceencoding. When we speak, the speech is the message. Whenwe write, the writing is the message. When we gesture, themovements of our arms and the expression on our face arethe message. The channel is the medium through which themessage travels. It is selected by the source, who mustdetermine whether to use a formal or informal channel. 1
  9. 9. ORGANISATIONAL COMMUNICATIONFormal channels are established by the organization andtransmit message that are related to the professionalactivities of the members. They traditionally follow theauthority chain within the organization. Other forms ofmessages, such as personal or social, follow the informalchannels in the organization. The receiver is the object towhom the message is directed. But before the message can be received, the symbols init must be translated into a form that can be understood bythe receiver. This step is the decoding of the message. Thefinal link in the communication process is a feedback loop.Feedback is the check on how successful we have been intransferring our messages as originally intended. Itdetermines whether understanding has achieved.2.4 DIRECTION OF COMMUNICATION: Communication can flow vertically and laterally. Thevertical dimension can be further divided into downward andupward directions.Downward Communication that flows from one level of a group ororganization to a lower level is a downward communication.When we think of managers communicating with employees, 1
  10. 10. ORGANISATIONAL COMMUNICATIONthe downward pattern is the one we are usually thinking of.It’s used by group leaders and managers to assign goals,provide job instructions, inform employees of policies andprocedures, point out problems that need attention, andoffer feedback about performance. But downwardcommunication doesn’t have to be oral or face-to-facecontact. When management sends letters to the employees’homes to advise them of the organization’s new sick leavepolicy, it is using downward communication. So is an e-mailfrom a team leader to the members of her team, remindingthem of an upcoming deadline.Upward Upward communication flows to a higher level in thegroup or organization. It’s used to provide feedback tohigher-ups, inform them of progress toward goals, and relaycurrent problems. Upward communication keeps managersaware of how employees feel about their jobs, co-workers,and the organization in general. Managers also rely onupward communication for ideas on how things can beimproved. Some organizational examples of upwardcommunication are performance reports prepared by lowermanagement for review by middle and top management,suggestion boxes, employee attitude surveys, grievance 1
  11. 11. ORGANISATIONAL COMMUNICATIONprocedures, superior-subordinate discussions, and informal“gripe” sessions in which employees have the opportunity toidentify and discuss problems with their boss orrepresentatives of higher management. For example, FedExprides itself on its computerized upward communicationprogram. All its employees annually complete climatesurveys and reviews of management. This program was citedas a key human resources strength by the Malcolm BaldrigeNational Quality Award examiners when FedEx won thehonor.Lateral When communication takes place among members ofthe same work group, among members of work groups atthe same level, among managers at the same level, oramong any horizontally equivalent personnel, we describe itas lateral communications. Why would there be a need for horizontalcommunications if a group or organization’s verticalcommunications are effective? The answer is that horizontalcommunications are often necessary to save time andfacilitate co-ordination. In some cases, these lateralrelationships are formally sanctioned. More often, they areinformally created to short-circuit the vertical hierarchy and 1
  12. 12. ORGANISATIONAL COMMUNICATIONexpedite action. So lateral communications can, frommanagement’s viewpoint, be good or bad. Since strictadherence to the formal vertical structure for allcommunications can impede the efficient and accuratetransfer of information, lateral communications can bebeneficial. In such cases, they occur with the knowledge andsupport of superiors. But they can create dysfunctional conflicts when theformal vertical channels are breached, when members goabove or around their superiors to get things done, or whenbosses find out that actions have been taken or decisionsmade without their knowledge.Diagonal Communication This occurs when communication occurs betweenworkers in a different section of the organisation and whereone of the workers involved is on a higher level in theorganisation. For example in a bank diagonalcommunication will occur when a department manager inhead office converses with a cashier in a branch of the bankbased on the high street.2.5 INTERPERSONAL COMMUNICATION: 1
  13. 13. ORGANISATIONAL COMMUNICATION How do group members transfer meaning betweenand among each other? There are three basic methods.People basically rely on oral, written and non-verbalcommunication.Oral Communication The chief means of conveying messages is oralcommunication. Speeches, formal one-on-one and groupdiscussions, and the informal mill or grapevine are popularforms of oral communication. The advantages of oral communication are speed andfeedback. A verbal message can be conveyed and a responsereceived in a minimal amount of time. If the receiver isunsure of the message, rapid feedback allows for earlydetection by the sender and, hence, allows for earlycorrection. The major disadvantage of oral communicationsurfaces in organizations or whenever the message has tobe passed through a number of people. The more people amessage must pass through, the greater the potentialdistortion. For example, if you ever played the game“telephone” at a party, you know the problem. Each personinterprets the message in his or her own way. The message’scontent, when it reaches its destination, is very oftendifferent from that of the original. In an organization, where 1
  14. 14. ORGANISATIONAL COMMUNICATIONdecisions and other communiqués are verbally passed upand down the authority hierarchy, there are considerableopportunities for messages to become distorted.Written Communication. Written communications include memos, letters,electronic mail, fax transmissions, organizational periodicals,notices placed on bulletin boards, or any other device that istransmitted via written words or symbols. Why would a sender choose to use writtencommunications? They are tangible and verifiable. Typically,both the sender and the receiver have a record of thecommunication. The message can be stored for a indefiniteperiod. If there are questions concerning the content of themessage, it is physically available for later reference. Thisfeature is particularly important for complex and lengthycommunications. The marketing plan for a new product, forinstance, is likely to contain a number of tasks spread outover several months. By putting it in writing, those who haveto initiate the plan can readily refer to it over the life of theplan. A final benefit of written communication comes fromthe process itself. You are usually more careful with thewritten word than the oral word. You are forced to thinkmore thoroughly about what you want to convey in a writtenmessage than in a spoken one. Thus, written 1
  15. 15. ORGANISATIONAL COMMUNICATIONcommunications are more likely to be well thought out,logical and clear. Of course, written messages have their drawbacks. Theyare time consuming. You could convey far more informationto a college instructor in a one-hour oral exam than in aone-hour written exam. In fact, you could probably say thesame thing in 10 to 15 minutes that it would take you anhour to write. So, although writing may be more precise, italso consumes a great deal of time. The other major disadvantage is feedback, or lack of it.Oral communication allows the receiver to respond rapidlyto what he thinks he hears. Written communication, however,does not have a built-in feedback mechanism. The result isthat the mailing of a memo is no assurance it has beenreceived, there is no guarantee the recipient will interpret itas the sender intended. The latter point is also relevant inoral communiqués, except it is easy in such cases merely toask the receiver to summarize what you have said. Anaccurate summary presents feedback evidence that themessage has been received and understood.Employees’ Handbook: As business grows in size,management often turns to the use of an employeehandbook as a communication tool to inform employees onissues such as company history and products, humanresource policies, employee compensation and benefits, 1
  16. 16. ORGANISATIONAL COMMUNICATIONtraining assistance, health services, safety, security,employee responsibilities, and work standards. Handbooksare also useful to supervisors and administrators forensuring consistent implementation and enforcement ofcompany policies. These are intended to help in the induction ofnewcomers and to provide all the employees with a clear-cutunderstanding not only of the general policies of themanagement but also of the nature of the business, itssources of supplies, its customers, its products and therange of benefits and services available to its employees.Many organizations publish illustrated handbooks, depictingcartoons, charts and photographs.House Magazines and Newspapers: Some organizationsmaintain one or more employee magazines or journals.These are meant to keep employees well informed of thedevelopment in the business and to acquaint them with thepersonalities and activities of the organisation. It can explainthe policies of the management in easily understood terms.House magazines contain news, and personal and socialitems. There may be references to parties, marriages, births,retirements, honours and awards. 1
  17. 17. ORGANISATIONAL COMMUNICATIONFinancial Reports: Such reports describe the essential factsconcerning the conduct of business, its expenses and profits,its income and distribution of financial standing. of theorganisation and create understanding between themanagement and its employees.Bulletin Boards: Usually, big organizations keep a bulletinboard for 50 to 100 employees in attractive colours, typesand formats. These boards contain a wide range of materialsuch as someone’s choice of cartoons from newspapers andmagazines, pin-up photographs, events in the lives ofpresent or former employees and other items of commoninterest.Audio-Visual Aids: Sound films, movies, slides, tapes maybe played back to the workers. Such audio-visual aids havean obvious advantage of describing a company’s range ofoperations and products, in illustrating how financial andother decisions are made, or in explaining work rules.Notice Boards: Notices are often pasted o the factory wallsor gates or placed in glass covered notice boards, and theseare hung at appropriate places in the premises of anorganisation, near the canteens or factory gates. These 1
  18. 18. ORGANISATIONAL COMMUNICATIONnotices usually depict abstracts as desired under the variousstatutes as well as notices of the various institutions in theestablishment such as the sports club.Suggestion System: The suggestion system is designed toenlist the co-operation of subordinates in effectingimprovements and in eliminating waste and to provide anavenue for a working communication with the management.Rewards are offered for suggestions which results in greaterproductive efficiency. In some organizations, “suggestionboxes” are located at convenient places throughout the plant.Communication with Public and Government:Organisations educate the public about their variousactivities through advertising, campaigns, meetings andconferences. Organisations also establish and organizespecial groups to communicate with the important segmentsof government. Proper communication plays an important role in alarge organization, and there has to be a proper balancebetween the oral and written forms of communication. Itneed hardly be said that the choice of any method dependsupon the purpose to be accomplished and the likelihood ofits success. Quite often, it is better to use more than onemethod to convey the same information so that one canreinforce the other. 1
  19. 19. ORGANISATIONAL COMMUNICATIONNonverbal Communication Every time we verbally give a message to someone, wealso impart a nonverbal message. In some instances, thenonverbal component may stand alone. For example, in asingles bar, a glance, a stare, a frown, and a provocativebody movement all convey meaning. As such, no discussionof communication would be complete without considerationof nonverbal communication-which includes bodymovements, the intonations or emphasis we give to words,facial expressions, and the physical distance between thesender and receiver. It can be argued that every body movement has ameaning and no movement is accidental. For example,through body language we say, “Help me, I’m lonely”; “Takeme, I’m available”; “Leave me alone, I’m depressed.” Andrarely do we send our messages consciously. We act out ourstate of being with nonverbal body language. We lift oneeyebrow for disbelief. We rub our nose for puzzlement. Weclasp our arms to isolate ourselves or to protect ourselves.We shrug our shoulders for indifference, wink one eye forintimacy, tap our fingers for impatience and slap ourforehead for forgetfulness. The two most important messages that body languageconveys are (1) The extent to which an individual likesanother and is interested in his or her views and 1
  20. 20. ORGANISATIONAL COMMUNICATION(2) The relative perceived status between a sender andreceiver. For instance, we are more likely to positionourselves closer to people we like and touch them moreoften. Similarly, if you feel that you’re higher status thananother, you’re more likely to display body movements-suchas crossed legs or a slouched seating position-that reflect acasual and relaxed manner. Body language adds to, and often complicates, verbalcommunication. A body position or movement does not byitself have a precise or universal meaning, but when it islinked with spoken language, it gives fuller meaning to asender’s message. If you read the verbatim minutes of a meeting, youwouldn’t grasp the impact of what was said in the same wayyou would if you had been there or saw the meeting onvideo. Why? There are no records of nonverbalcommunication. The emphasis given to words or phrases ismissing. Facial expressions also convey meaning. A snarlingface says something different from a smile. Facialexpressions, along with intonations, can show arrogance,aggressiveness, fear, shyness, and other characteristics that 1
  21. 21. ORGANISATIONAL COMMUNICATIONwould never be communicated if you read a transcript ofwhat had been said. The way individuals space themselves in terms ofphysical distance also has meaning. What is consideredproper spacing is largely dependent on cultural norms. Forexample, what is considered a businesslike distance in someEuropean countries would be viewed as intimate in manyparts of North America. If someone stands closer to youthan is considered appropriate, it may indicateaggressiveness or sexual interest; if farther away than usual,it may mean disinterest or displeasure with what is beingsaid. It’s important for the receiver to be alert to thesenonverbal aspects of communication. You should look fornonverbal cues as well as listen to the literal meaning ofsender’s words. You should particularly be aware ofcontradictions between the messages. Your boss may sayshe is free to talk to you about a pressing budget problem,but you may see nonverbal signals suggesting that the is notthe time to discuss the subject regardless of what is beingsaid, an individual who frequently glances at her wristwatchis giving the massage that she would prefer to terminate theconversation. We misinform others when we express onemessage verbally, such as trust, but nonverballycommunicate a contradictory message that reads, “I don’thave confidence in you.” 1
  22. 22. ORGANISATIONAL COMMUNICATION3.1 COMMUNICATION TYPES:Internal/Organizational Communication This is communication that takes place within (oracross) an organization. In addition to the usual face to face,telephone, fax or mail; modern organizations may usetechnology to communicate internally. Technology may beused for e-mails or a linked internal communication system 1
  23. 23. ORGANISATIONAL COMMUNICATIONsuch as the intranet which is an internet system designedsolely for use by those working for the organization.External communications Conversely external communication is communicationbetween the organization and those outside theorganization. Modern organizations may designtechnological systems so that they can communicate withcustomers and undertake e-Commerce. Alternatively theycommunicate with other businesses through the internet orsimilar systems and undertake e-Business.Functions of Internal and External Communications; Technology has rapidly expanded the types of internaland external communication available to organizations. Thediagram illustrates the vast array of internal and externalcommunication available. Combined together internal andexternal types of communications allow various sectors ofthe local, national and international community to interact,liaise and conduct business. 1
  24. 24. ORGANISATIONAL COMMUNICATION3.2 OBJECTIVES OF COMMUNICATION Communication is not an end in itself. There is no useof communicating just for the sake of communicating. It isa means and a very effective means for the solution ofmanagerial problems and for attainment of managerialobjectives. Since managers work through others, all theiracts, policies, rules, orders and procedures must passthrough some sort of communication channel. Thepurposes of communication are: 1. To develop information and understanding which are necessary for group effort? 2. To provide an attitude which is necessary for motivation, co-operation and job satisfaction? 3. To discourage the spread of misinformation, rumours, gossip, ‘and to release the emotional tensions of workers 1
  25. 25. ORGANISATIONAL COMMUNICATION 4. To prepare workers for a change by giving them the necessary information in advance. 5. To encourage ideas, suggestions from subordinates for an improvement in the product and work conditions, for a reduction in time or cost involved and for the avoidance of the waste of raw material. 6. To improve labour-management relations by keeping both in contact with each other. 7. To satisfy the basic human needs like recognition, self-importance and sense of participation. 8. To serve auxiliary functions such as entertainment and the maintenance of social relations among human beings. The purpose of communication is to establish asocialenvironment that supports effective interaction and toensure that the workforce has the skills to shareinformation and co-ordinate their achievements efficiently3.3 IMPORTANCE OF COMMUNICATION Organizations cannot exist without communication.If there is no communication, employees cannot knowwhat their respective associates are doing, managementcannot receive information on inputs, and managementcannot give instructions. Co-ordination of work is 1
  26. 26. ORGANISATIONAL COMMUNICATIONimpossible, and the organisation will collapse for lack of it.Co-operation also becomes impossible, because peoplecannot communicate their needs and feelings to others.Every act of communication influences the organisation insome way or the other. As such effective communication tends to encouragebetter performance, improves job satisfaction, createsproper understanding, and develops feeling ofinvolvement among the people. Chester Bernard (1938) has consideredcommunication to be the “very first function” of amanager and has viewed it as the shaping force whichlinks people and purposes together in any co-operativesystem. In the practice of management, Peter Drucker(1954) has observed that the manager’s main instrumentfor operating his affairs is information. The managementprocess has widely been discussed as one which embracesthe functions of planning, organizing, leading andcontrolling, which are intimately involved with anddependant on, communication. Organisational structure isdefinitely tied to the communication systems.Communication is the key to effective teamwork, for bothare based on the common fundamentals of information,understanding, consultation and participation.Communication is an essential skill at every level oforganisational functioning and for organisations of alltypes, whether social, governmental, or commercial. 1
  27. 27. ORGANISATIONAL COMMUNICATION According to Miner and Miner’ there Ware four basictypes of communication network: (a) the regulativenetwork ensures security, conformity to plans and theachievement of productivity through the communicationof policy statements, procedures, and rules; (b) theinnovative network is concerned with problem-solvingand change through such techniques as suggestionsystems and meetings; (c) the integrative network isdirectly related to consideration of employee morale andorganisational maintenance; and (d) the informativenetwork relates to employee’s effectiveness andproductivity through a direct dissemination of informationand training programmes.3.4 RULES FOR COMMUNICATION: A few basic rules should be followed in planning forand carrying out communications of all kinds, written andoral, regardless of form or format. Clarity: To be effective, communications must be understood, and to be understood, they must be clear. Brevity: It makes both written and oral communications easier to understand. Only one idea should be used in a sentence. 1
  28. 28. ORGANISATIONAL COMMUNICATION Simplicity: Short, simple words, phrases, and sentences should be used. Every word should count. Extra words only serve to confuse. Precision: Precise words should be used. Integrity: Communication should always be used as a means, never as an end. During any major change programme, internalcommunication in an organisation is extremely. Important.It must be borne in mind in this context thatcommunication is more than a dialogue. It builds on trustand openness among colleagues, and results in commonunderstanding of the organisational issues that have along-term bearing on the future of the organisation.3.5 FORMAL AND INFORMAL COMMUNICATION Basically, the two most important media ofcommunication in an organisation are formal and informalcommunications. Formal communications are those thatare “official”, that are a part of the recognizedcommunication system of the organisation. A formalcommunication can be from a superior to a subordinate,from a subordinate to a superior, intra-administrative, orexternal. These communications may be oral or written. 1
  29. 29. ORGANISATIONAL COMMUNICATIONInformal communication is those that are “outside” theformal, recognized communication system. Informalcommunication originates spontaneously outside theformal channels and is the natural responses to the needfor social interaction. Within the organisation, whatever its style or form,cohesive informal groups develop. Extensive research hasshown that these informal work groups have tremendouspower in shaping attitudes, behaviour, and consequently,production. They share a set of beliefs, values, andsocially acceptable behaviours. In other words, groupmembers come to think and act in similar ways, and thisencourages feelings of closeness among them. In industry, at every level of organisational life,employees are bound together in informal groups anddevelop a common set of norms. It is important toremember that these groups are not established by themanagement. They are generally beyond the control of themanagement, and they do not appear on the organisationcharts. The influence of informal work groups is pervasive,and they are vital parts of the total organisationalenvironment. They can work for or against themanagement, by encouraging cooperation and increasingproduction or by sabotaging management and slowingproduction. A major finding of Hawthorne studies was therevelation of the ways in which these groups operate. 1
  30. 30. ORGANISATIONAL COMMUNICATION One of the characteristics of informal work groups isleadership. There are many opportunities for conflictbetween the needs and goals of the informal work groupand the needs and goals of the organisation. Ifmanagement is to deal effectively with the informalgroups, it must recognize their existence and try tounderstand them. The informal group serves many needsof the workers. It can serve the needs of the organisationas well, or it can defeat them. Often, the ideals andstandards of these groups conflict with those of theformal organisation. New employees who do not conformto the group norms may be ostracized. The information actually transmitted through theinformal channels may be inaccurate, distorted, ahalf-truth, a rumour, a gossip, or a private interpretation.It spreads with an amazing speed like a wild fire. Davisobserves: “It (grapevine) cannot e abolished, rubbed out,hidden under the basket, chopped down, tied up, orstopped. If we suppress it at one place, it will pop up inanother If we cut off one of its sources, it merely moves toanother one — quite similar to the way we change fromone channel to another on a television set....In a sense,the grapevine is man’s birthright, because wherever mencongregate into groups, the grapevine is sure to develop.It may use smoke signals, jungle toms, taps on the prisonwall, or ordinary conversation, or some other method, but 1
  31. 31. ORGANISATIONAL COMMUNICATIONit will always be there.” No management can ‘fire’ itbecause it does not hire it. It is simply there. Though the grapevine thrives on rumours, it doesserve some useful purpose. A manager can utilize thegrapevine as a positive aid, for a grapevine may turn outto be a barometer for the management as to what is ailingthe employees and what ought to be done about it. It maybe utilized to clarify and spread messages which themanagement wishes to convey to its employees and tocounter rumours and half- truths by feeding them the realfacts. Though they serve many useful functions, at times,they become detrimental to the organisation.3.6 FORMAL SMALL GROUP NETWORKS: Formal organization networks can be very complicated.They can, for instance, include hundreds of people andhalf-dozen or more hierarchical levels. To simplify ourdiscussion, we’ve condensed these networks into threecommon small groups of five people each (as shown in theexhibit below). These three networks are the chain, wheeland all-channel. Although these three networks have beenextremely simplified, they do not allow us to describe theunique qualities of each. The chain rigidly follows the formal chain of command.This network approximates the communication channels youmight find in a rigid three-level organization. The wheelrelies on a central figure to act as the conduit for the entire 1
  32. 32. ORGANISATIONAL COMMUNICATIONgroup’s communication. It stimulates the communicationnetwork you would find on a team with a strong leader. Theall-channel network permits all group members to activelycommunicate with each other. The all channel network ismost often characterized in practice by self-managed teams,in which all group members are free to contribute and noone person takes on a leadership role. As the exhibit below demonstrates, the effectiveness ofeach network depends on the dependent variable you’reconcerned about. For instance, the structure of the wheelfacilitates the emergence of a leader, the all-channelnetwork is best if you are concerned with having highmember satisfaction, and the chain is best if accuracy ismost important. The exhibit below leads us to theconclusion that no single network will be best for alloccasions.3.7 GRAPEVINE: The grapevine is used by nearly everyone in anorganisation at one time or another. It can conveyaccurate messages with amazing speed. It can also distortand filter messages beyond recognition. Rumours as wellas facts are carried by the grapevine. Good managers payattention to grapevine. Even though the grapevine’sreliability can never be determined with complete certainty,it does serve some useful functions: 1
  33. 33. ORGANISATIONAL COMMUNICATION1. It satisfies a need — employees have to enjoyfriendly relations with their fellow employees.2. It helps workers to make sense out of their workenvironment especially in interpreting unclear orders fromsupervisors.3. It acts as a safety valve. When people are confusedand unclear about what is going to happen to them, theyuse grapevine to let out their anxieties. Passing a rumouralong the grapevine is a way of expressing and releasingnegative energy.4. When people gossip about someone who is notpresent, they often pass judgments. Some people passjudgment on others to find out where they stand. It is away of dealing with self-doubt and insecurity. Grapevine thrives on information, not openly orgenerally available to an employee, either because of itsconfidential or secret nature or because of the defective orinadequate formal communication lines. Grapevine isinevitable but at the same time, valuable and an intelligentmanager uses this form of communication by feedingaccurate information at the right places and thus gainsvery quick communication around the establishment.Grapevine properly used is a great help. Neglecting 1
  34. 34. ORGANISATIONAL COMMUNICATIONgrapevine is likely to lead to serious consequences in anestablishment. The best way to dispel grapevine is to give peoplethe facts. If there is no truth to a rumour or noinformation concerning it that should be said? Above allworkers should be asked to never repeat a rumour.Supervisors must show their people that they intend to doeverything possible to keep them fully informed.3.8 STYLES OF COMMUNICATION A communication style may be defined as aspecialized set of interpersonal behaviours which are usedin a given situation. Since communication is at the heartof effective managerial functioning, it is imperative toidentify and to analyze the styles of communication whichare used in an organisation. Four basic communicationstyles may be characterized in the organisational situationin terms of the communicator’s concern for self andconcern for others.1. The Controller Style of Communication: In this style,the manager has a high concern for himself and a lowconcern for the person with whom he communicates; he,therefore, represents an unbalanced exchangerelationship. In business organisations, the existence ofan unbalanced exchange, as in the controller style ofcommunication, causes strains in inter-personalrelationships. The production- oriented manager often 1
  35. 35. ORGANISATIONAL COMMUNICATIONexpects loyalty from workers in exchange for money. Inthis case, there is usually a transaction from the criticalparent-ego state to the child-ego state with the lifeposition. “I am O.K., You are not O.K.” The controllercommunication thus jeopardizes the interpersonal trustwhich is essential for effective communication.2. The Withdrawn Communicator: In withdrawncommunication, there is the least amount of actualcommunication, for it involves the avoidance ofinteraction. The communicator prefers to withdrawbecause he neither wishes to influence others nor wishesto be influenced.The withdrawn communicator has the least concern, bothfor him and for others, and feel that other people in theorganisation are not interested in them. They, therefore,have a life position of “I am not O.K., You are not O.K.”The withdrawn style is rarely effective in communication,because it blocks interaction.3. The Relinquisher Communicator: Here thecommunicator takes up a receptive rather than a directiveposition and evinces interest in others. Here, too, there isan unbalanced exchange, for the relinquishing 1
  36. 36. ORGANISATIONAL COMMUNICATIONcommunicator tends to be passive in an interchange. It ispossible that, for a relinquishing manager, hissubordinates take the lead in decision-making anddiscussion. The relinquishing manager has the lifeposition of “I am not O.K., You are O.K.”, which ischaracteristic of the child. Being humble and unsure, therelinquisher believes it has nothing worthwhile tocontribute.4. The Developmentor Communicator: The ideal type ofcommunication is, of course, that of the developmentor,which involves a high concern for both himself and forothers. The Developmentor is an adaptable social typewho can be a high or low participator in a group,depending upon the situation. Since they have the lifeposition of “I am O.K., You are O.K.”, they neither feel itnecessary to constantly assert their competence, nor dothey refrain from leadership positions when the needarises. The developmentor-communicator understandsthe need for a two way communication by not assumingthat he is always right. He is the one who, unlike thecontroller, allows the subordinate to make some mistakesin the process of learning, and builds in himself-confidence and esteem. 1
  37. 37. ORGANISATIONAL COMMUNICATION3.9 SUPERVISORY COMMUNICATION: Supervisory Communication is an importantdimension of management communication for properfunctioning of an organisation. It is mainly the supervisorwho is constantly in touch with the workers and, therefore,it is necessary for him to acquaint himself with theimportance of communication and the principles to befollowed for effective communication. “Talking it over” isvery important to an employee. Employees have assertedthat where communication is lacking, frustration andmisunderstanding exist, and that this condition not onlyreduces their productivity, but also has an adverse effecton the total working of the establishment. Supervisors,therefore, should always: (a) discuss problemsimmediately with the subordinates; (b) keep thediscussion frank and open; (c) choose a proper place; (d)be fair and impartial; and (e) develop good attitudes andmaintain good relations.Four aspects of interpersonal relationships influencecommunication in organisations: (1) The sender’s and receiver’s trust of each other; (2) The sender’s and receiver’s influence over each other; (3) The sender’s mobility aspirations; and 1
  38. 38. ORGANISATIONAL COMMUNICATION (4) The norms and sanctions of the groups(s) to which the sender and receiver belong. When people trust each other, their communication tends to be more accurate and open; when they distrust each other, they are more likely to be secretive or hesitant to talk openly.3.10 EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION The key to effective communication is reception ofmessages. It then implies that the transmission ofmessage sent and received does not presuppose thatcommunication has occurred. Only on receiving theintended message that one can conclude thatcommunication has occurred. The touchstone of effectivecommunication is hearing of the meaning “intended” andto carry out the message. It then appears thatcommunication to be effective not only needs the skill ofself-expression but also the skill of effective listening.Listening is more intricate and complicated than thephysical process of hearing. Effective listening habitsprevent misunderstanding and rumours. – There are four factors affecting reception ofmessages:(1) Attention(2) Perception(3) Comprehension 1
  39. 39. ORGANISATIONAL COMMUNICATION(4) Acceptance Attention refers to situations when individualsbecome voluntarily interested in the message. Onceattention has been drawn to the message, the perceptionof the same begins. It means that the messages must berecognised in an unbiased manner. Comprehension is tounderstand the message received. Acceptance of messageresults in effective communication. An effective communication serves several purposes,and benefits an organisation in many ways. First, it acts asa basic foundation for management. Since communicationprovides the key to facilitate the exchange of ideas,information as well as meeting of minds, it can aptly bedescribed as the “ears and eyes” of the management. Second, it plays a vital role in planning. The makingof a plan requires facts and figures which can only bemade available through effective communication. Third, itintegrates the formal organisation structure and isresponsible for holding together the members of aprimary social group. Fourth, it also plays a pivotal role innational decision-making, organisational control, as wellas building and maintaining employee morale. The transformation of an organisation is conditionalon the employees’ involvement with commitment, 1
  40. 40. ORGANISATIONAL COMMUNICATIONcommon goals and shared purpose and vision.Communication as a continuous process ensures this. Theclimate of communication in an organisation, therefore,needs constant nurturing by a well- meaning andtransparent management that has the manifest image thatit cares for its stakeholders. In many organizations, communication occupies acentral place because the structure, extensiveness, andscope of the organisation are almost entirely determinedby communication techniques. It is said thatcommunication gives life-blood to an organisation. Iforganisation fail to provide careful attention tocommunication, a defensive climate prevails. Experts have laid down several guidelines to improvecommunication. They are: Seek to clarify your ideas before communicating. Be sure your actions support your instructions. Consider the total physical and human situations whenever you give instructions. Do not over communicate but just enough for the purpose in view. Listen attentively and develop the skill of listening, be a good listener. Use simple language as understood by the receiver. Follow-up on your communication: get feedback. 1
  41. 41. ORGANISATIONAL COMMUNICATION Concentrate on the problem rather than the people involved. When people are being emotional, other people should try to be rational. When people are misunderstanding and getting confused, others should try to be sympathetic and understanding. Consult everyone affected, even though they are not concentrating at present (because they will resent not being consulted afterwards). When people are being manipulative or deceptive, this can be openly acknowledged, but others should be honest and open rather than trying to pay them back in their own coin. There are four fundamental rules of communicatingwhich can help anyone to get across messages moreaccurately:1. Choose your words carefully and do not include unnecessary words.2. Do not leave out important information. An incomplete message is sometimes more dangerous than no message at all. 1
  42. 42. ORGANISATIONAL COMMUNICATION3. Be concise in your message. The message has to be received accurately.4. Be correct in your message. If the information conveyed is false or misleading, even the best technique cannot save the message. Other techniques for improving communicationinclude transaction analysis and active listening.Transactional Analysis (TA) is a technique aimed athelping interpersonal transactions or communicationbetween superior and subordinate. It assumes that thereare three ego states — adult, parent, and child - and thatthe way a person communicates depends on the state heor she is in. TA helps to identify one’s own state and thestate of the person with whom he or she is talking to andhelps to improve communication between the two. Activelistening is another technique that can help to improveinterpersonal communication.Communicating Better at Work: Experience shows there are many ways managerscan improve internal communication. Here are some tipsfor them: Understand that communication is a two-way street. It involves giving information and getting feedback from employees. It is not complete simply when information is given. 1
  43. 43. ORGANISATIONAL COMMUNICATIONPut more emphasis on face-to-face communicationwith employees. Don’t rely mainly on bulletin boards,memos and other written communication.Ask each time when an instruction is given whether themessage is clear. Most vagueness is caused by failingto be specific.View information as “service to” employees and not“power over” them.Listen to employees; show respect for them when theyspeak. They will feel part of the team and will tend tobe more dedicated and productive.Don’t just talk open-door policy. Practice it by walkingaround and talking to employees. Allow people todisagree and to come up with new ideas.Conduct one-on-one meetings, ask employees howmanagement can help them to do a better job, andemphasize current issues that employees care about.Concentrate on building credibility with employees.Managers who lack credibility and fail to create aclimate of trust and openness are not believed - nomatter how hard they try to communicate. 1
  44. 44. ORGANISATIONAL COMMUNICATION3.11 LISTENINGListening can be described as a combination of:(i) Hearing — the physical reception of sound;(ii) Comprehending — the interpretation andunderstanding of the message; and(iii) Remembering — the ability to retain what has beenheard. Hearing is with ears, but listening is with the mind.Effective listening helps receiver to take the exactintended message. Good listeners save time because theylearn more within a given period of time and they learnabout the person talking, as well as what the person issaying. Good listening is also good manners; people thinkmore of us when we listen to them attentively. Nature has given people two ears but only one tongue, which is Gentle hint that they should listen more than they talk. Listening requires two ears, one for meaning and one for feeling. Decision-makers who do not listen have less information for making sound decisions. The Bureau of National Affairs has developed a“laundry list” of the important concepts related toeffective listening: 1
  45. 45. ORGANISATIONAL COMMUNICATION1. Everyone likes to feel important.2. people perform better when they know that their opinions and suggestions are heeded3. Supervisors must use their expertise and experience of employees and be able to get them to exercise this expertise.4. Attention paid to gripes often prevents their blossoming into big grievances.5. Supervisors who jump to conclusions lose the respect of their subordinates.6. To do a good job of listening, supervisors must plan time for it in their busy schedules.7. Listening requires full attention to the speaker; it is impossible to listen intelligently while the mind is preoccupied with something else.8. Listening habits are deeply embedded in the personality and are related to other personality traits, such as obstinacy, empathy, and so on.9. The correction of bad habits is a slow process and must be self-motivated.10. Supervisors who don’t get all the facts often make poor decisions. 1
  46. 46. ORGANISATIONAL COMMUNICATION The following guidelines are suggested in respect oflistening: Put the talker at ease. Help a person feel free to talk. Show a talker that you want to listen. Look and Remove distractions. Don’t doodle, tap, or shuffle papers. Will it not be quieter if you shut the door? Empathize with the talker. Try to help yourself see the other person’s point of view. Be patient. Allow plenty of time. Do not interrupt a talker. Don’t start for the door or walk away. Hold your temper. An angry person takes the wrong meaning from words. Go easy on arguments and criticisms. These put people on the defensive, and they may calm up or become angry. Do not argue. Even if you win, you lose. Ask questions. This encourages a talker and shows that you are listening. It helps to develop points further. Stop talking. This is first and the last, because all other guides depend upon it. You cannot do effective listening job while you are talking. 1
  47. 47. ORGANISATIONAL COMMUNICATION One must develop the art of listening. The higheryou go up in the organisational set-up, the moresuccessful you are likely to be if you listen to others.Some of the listening gains are: You get information that may help you. You get ideas that you might never have thought. (Ideas have no pride. They are willing to be born to anyone willing to have them). You develop understanding of people who are different from you in many ways. You get co-operation from people who know that you value their thinking and ideas. You motivate action from people who have a part in your success. You get good listening on the part of others to what you have to say.Listening Tips:1. Listen for ideas, not just for facts.2. Control your emotional reactions.3. Overcome personal prejudgments and distractions.4. Keep an open mind.5. Listen more than you talk.6. Hear the other person out; don’t interrupt. 1
  48. 48. ORGANISATIONAL COMMUNICATION7. Learn to practice active listening.8. Keep your mouth shut (literally, keep your lips closed).9. Paraphrase frequently in your mind, and aloud to thespeaker.10. Focus on the person speaking.3.12 HR ROLE IN COMMUNICATION. Strengthening formal communication through departmental/cross functional meetings along the suggested lines. Providing linkages with annual appraisals as a mode of facilitating meetings. Ensuring proper dissemination of information, other than through departmental meetings. Conducting training programmes on (a) effective listening skills, and (b) conducting meetings. Developing a system of open communication policy to facilitate more openness and trust. Involving line personnel in conducting training classes to improve understanding of each other, and for creating healthy interaction at shop floor level. 1
  49. 49. ORGANISATIONAL COMMUNICATION Organizing informal gatherings such as annual day, sports meets, and the like to promote free interaction and exchange of views. Advising departments to maintain circulars and flies relating to their working for general consumption. Exploring avenues for establishing a library which would act as a central point of information. Facilitating greater clarity of job role and relationships through job descriptions. Facilitating upward communication through personal contacts, fact finding surveys, and soon. Issuing manuals/guidelines detailing policies, procedures, rules, and other personnel related matters to ensure clarity. Frequent interaction with employees tells them they’re important. The way you communicate with youremployees demonstrates you care about them as people— not just as employees. Sometimes you have to go outof your way to interact with your employees, but theyalways will notice how much effort you put forth tocommunicate with them.Self-check — Communication Are you making the most of your opportunities tocommunicate with your employees? Answer the questions 1
  50. 50. ORGANISATIONAL COMMUNICATIONbelow in YES or NO to see how well you’re doing.1. Do you try to greet your employees every day?2. Do you go out of your way to interact with youremployees at least once each day?3. Do you speak to your employees before they speak toyou?4. Do you go to your employees’ work areas to talk tothem?5. Do you talk to your employees about non-workactivities?6. Are your employees welcome at your office at any time?7. Do you have lunch with your employees from time totime?8. Do you know what your employees like to do when theyaren’t at work?9. Do you understand your employees’ needs, wants,goals and aspirations?10. Do you give frequent positive reinforcement?11. Do you frequently review goals and expectations?12. Do you ask your employees’ personal goals andaspirations?13. Do you ask about your employees’ problems, fearsand concerns?14. Do you ask yourself what you can do to help improveyour employees’ performance?For any questions that you answered “no,” list belowthings you can do to increase your interaction with youremployees. 1
  51. 51. ORGANISATIONAL COMMUNICATION3.13 COMPUTER-AIDED COMMUNICATION Communication in today’s organizations is enhancedand enriched by computer-aided technologies. Theseinclude electronic mail, for instance, has dramaticallyreduced the number of memos, letters, and phone calls thatemployees historically used to communicate amongthemselves and with suppliers, customers, or other outsidestakeholders.E-Mail: Electronic mail (or e-mail) uses the Internet to transmitand receive computer-generated text and documents. Itsgrowth has been spectacular. Most white-collar employeesnow regularly use e-mail. In fact, a recent study found thatthe average U.S. employee receives 31 e-mail messages aday. And organizations are recognizing the value of e-mailfor all workers. Ford Motor Company, for instance, recentlymade a computer, modem, printer and email accountavailable for $5 a month to all of its more than 3,00,000employees worldwide. As a communication tool, e-mail ahs a long list ofbenefits. E-mail messages can be quickly written, edited andstored. They can be distributed to one person or thousandswith a click of a mouse. They can be read, in their entirety,at the convenience of the recipient. And the cost of sendingformal e-mail to employees is a fraction of what it would 1
  52. 52. ORGANISATIONAL COMMUNICATIONcost to print, duplicate and distribute comparable letter orbrochure. E-mail, of course, is not without its drawbacks. At thetop of the list is information overload .Its not unusual foremployees to get a hundred or more e-mails a day. Reading,absorbing and responding to such an inflow can literallyconsume an employee’s entire day. In essence e-mail’s is of use has become its biggestnegative. Employees are finding it increasingly difficult todistinguish important e-mails from junk mails and irrelevantmessages. Another drawback of e-mail is that the lackemotional content. The nonverbal quest in a face to facemessage or the tone of voice from a phone call conveyimportant information that come across an e-mail, althoughefforts have been made to create emotional icons. Finallye-mails tend to be cold and impersonal. As such it’s theideal means to convey information like lay-offs, plantclosings or other messages that might evoke emotionalresponses or social support.Intranet and extranet links: Intranets are private. Organization worldwideinformation networks that look and act like a web-site, butto which only people in an organization have access. 1
  53. 53. ORGANISATIONAL COMMUNICATIONIntranets are rapidly becoming the proffered means foremployees within the companies to communicate with eachother. IBM recently bought together 52 thousand of itsemployees online for what it called Worldjam.Usingcompanies intranet IBMers must everywhere swapped ideason everything from how to retain employees to how to workfaster without undermining quality. In addition organisations are creating extra net linksthat connect internal employees with selected suppliers,customers and strategic partners. For instance an extranetallows GM employees to send electronic messages anddocuments to its steel and rubber supplier as well as tocommunicate with its dealers. Similarly all Wall Mart vendorsare linked into its extranet system, allowing Wall Mart buyersto easily communicate with its suppliers and for suppliers tomonitor the inventory status of its product at Wall Martstores.Videoconferencing: Videoconferencing is an extension of intranet orextranet system. It permits employees in an organization tohave meetings with people at different locations. Live audioand video images of members allow them to see, hear andtalk with each other. Videoconferencing in effect allows 1
  54. 54. ORGANISATIONAL COMMUNICATIONemployees to conduct interactive meetings without thenecessity of all physically being in the same location. In the late 1990s videoconferencing was basicallyconducted from special rooms equipped with televisioncameras located at company facilities. More recentlycameras and microphones are being attached to individualcomputers allowing people to participate invideoconferences without leaving their desks. As the cost ofthis technology drops in price videoconferencing is likely tobe increasingly seen as an alternative to expensive and timeconsuming travel.3.14 CHOICE OF COMMUNICATION CHANNEL Neal .L. Patterson, CEO at medical software makerCerner Corporation likes e-mails. May be too much so.Upset with his staff’s work ethics he recently sent an e-mailto his firm’s 400 managers. Here are some of those e-mailshighlight: “Hell with freeze over before this CEO implementsANOTHER EMPLOYEE benefit in this culture….. We aregetting less those 40 hours of work from a large number ofour Kansa City based employees. The parking is sparselyused at 8am likewise at 5pm. As managers-you either do 1
  55. 55. ORGANISATIONAL COMMUNICATIONnot know what your EMPLOYEES are doing or YOU do notCARE ….we has a problem and we will fix it or will replaceyou. ..What are you doing as managers with this companiesmakes me sick. Patterson’s e-mail additionally suggested thatmanagers schedule meetings at 7 Am., 6pm., and Saturdaymornings promised a staff reduction of 5% an institution of atime clock system and Patterson’s intention to chargeunapproved absences to employees vacation time. Within hours of this e-mail, copies of it had made itsway on to a Yahoo website. And within three days Corners’stock price has plummeted 22%. Although one can argueabout whether such harsh criticism should be communicatedat all, one thing is certainly clear Patterson erred selectingthe wrong channel for his message. Such an emotional andsensitive would have been better received in a face to facemeeting. Why do people choose one channel of communicationover another-for instance a phone call instead of face youface talk? Is there any general insight we might be able toprovide regarding choice of communication channel? Theanswer to the later question is a qualified ‘Yes’. A model ofmedia richness has been developed to explain channelselection among managers. 1
  56. 56. ORGANISATIONAL COMMUNICATION Research has found that channels differ in theircapacity to convey information some are rich in that theyhave ability to: (1) handle multiple quest simultaneously (2) Facilitate rapid feed back. (3) be very personal .Others are lean in that they scorelow on these three factors. Generally, face-to-face conversation scores highest interms of channel richness because it provides for themaximum amount of information to be transmitted during acommunication episode. That is, it offers multipleinformation cues , immediate feedback, and the personaltouch of “being there “ Impersonal written media such asformal reports and bulletins rate lowest in richness. The choice of one channel over another depends onwhether the message is routine or non-routine. The formertypes of messages tend to be straight forward and have aminimum of ambiguity. The latter are likely to becomplicated and have the potential for misunderstanding.Managers can communicate routine messages efficientlythrough channels that are3 lower in richness. However, they can communicate non routine messageseffectively only by selecting rich channels. Referring back toour opening example at Cerner Corp, it appears that Nealpatter sons problem was using a channel relatively low in 1
  57. 57. ORGANISATIONAL COMMUNICATIONrichness to convey a message that, because of its no routinenature and complexity, should have been conveyed using arich communication medium. Evidence indicates that high-performing managerstend to be more media sensitive than low-performingmanagers. That is, they’re better able to match appropriatemedia richness with ambiguity involved in thecommunication. The media richness model is consistent withorganizational trends and practice during the past decade. Itis not just coincidence that more and more senior managershave been using meetings t5o facilitate communication andregularly leaving the sanctuary of their executive’s offices tomanage by walking around. These executives are relying onrich channels of communication to transmit the moreambiguous messages they need to convey. The past decadehas been characterized by organisations closing facilities,merging, consolidating and introducing new products andservices at an accelerated pace-all no routine messages inhigh ambiguity and requiring the use of channels thatconvey a large amount of information .It is not surprising,therefore to see the most effective managers expandingtheir use of rich channels . 1
  58. 58. ORGANISATIONAL COMMUNICATION4.1 BARRIERS TO EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION A number of barriers can retard or distort effectivecommunication. In this section, we highlight the moreimportant of these barriers.Filtering Filtering refers to a sender’s purposely manipulatinginformation so it will be seen mare favorably by the receiver.For example, when a manager tells his boss what he feelshis boss wants to hear, he is filtering information. The major determinant of filtering is no. of levels in theorganization structure .The more vertical levels in theorganizations hierarchy, the more opportunities there arefor filtering. But you can expect some filtering to occurwhenever there are status differences. Factors such as fearof conveying bad news and the desire to please one’s bossoften lead employees to tell their superiors what they thinkthose superiors want to hear, thus distorting upwardcommunications.Selective Perception We have mentioned it earlier. It appears again herebecause the receivers in the communication process see andhear based on their needs, motivations, experience,background and other personal characteristics. Receivers 1
  59. 59. ORGANISATIONAL COMMUNICATIONalso project their interests and expectations intocommunications as they decode them. The employmentinterviewer who expects a women job applicant to put herfamily ahead if her career is likely to see that femaleapplicants, regardless of whether the applicants feel thatway or notInformation Overload Individuals have a fine capacity for processing data. Asnoted in our previous discussion of e-mail, when theinformation we have to work with exceeds our processingcapacity, the result is information overload .And withe-mails, phone calls, faxes, meetings and the need to keepcurrent in one’s field, more and more managers andprofessionals are complaining that they’re sufferingoverload. What happens when individuals have more informationthan they can sort out and use? They tend to select out,ignore, pass over or forget information. Or they may put offfurther processing until the overload situation is over.Regardless, the result is lost information and less effectivecommunicationEmotions How the receiver feels at the time of receipt of acommunication will influence how he or she interprets it.The same message received when you are angry is often 1
  60. 60. ORGANISATIONAL COMMUNICATIONinterpreted differently from when you’re happy. Extremeemotions such as jubilation or depression are most likely tohinder effective communication. In such instances, we are most prone to disregard ournational and objective thinking processes and substituteemotional judgments.Language Words mean different thing to different people. Age,education and cultural background are three of the moreobvious variables that influence the language a person usesand the definitions he or she gives to words. In an organization, employees usually come fromdiverse backgrounds. The grouping of the employees intodepartments creates specialists who develop their own“buzzwords” or technical jargon. In large organizations,members are also frequently widely dispersedgeographically-even operating in different countries. Theexistence of vertical levels can also cause languageproblems. There point is that although you and I probably speak acommon language-English –our use of that language is farfrom uniform. If we knew how each of us modified thelanguage, communication difficulties could be minimized.There problem is that the members in an organization 1
  61. 61. ORGANISATIONAL COMMUNICATIONusually don’t know how those the words and terms they usemean the same to the receiver as they do to them Thisassumption is often incorrect.Communication Apprehension Another major barrier to effective communication isthat some people- an estimated 5-20% of thepopulation-suffer from debilitating. Although lots of peoplespeaking in front of a group, communication techniques. People who suffer from it experience undue tensionand anxiety in oral apprehensive may find it extremelydifficult to talk with others face to face or become extremelyanxious when they have to use the telephone. As a result,they may rely on memos or faxes to convey messages whena phone call would be not only faster but more appropriate. Studies demonstrate that oral-communicationapprehensive avoid situations that require them to engage inoral communication. We should expect to find someself-selection in jobs so that such individuals don’t takepositions such as teacher. But almost all jobs require someoral communication is a dominant requirement. And ofgreater concern is the evidence that high oralcommunication apprehensive distort the communicationdemands of their jobs in order to minimize the need forcommunication. So we need to be aware that there is a set ofpeople in the organization who severely limit their oral 1
  62. 62. ORGANISATIONAL COMMUNICATIONcommunication and rationalize this practice by telling thatmore communication isn’t necessary for them to do their jobeffectively.Poor structure to the communication The structure of a communication is an essential factorin how well a business communication is received by anaudience. It doesnt matter whether that audience is an audienceof one or one million, good structure is essential if acommunication is to be heard amongst the advertising andmarketing noise of todays business environment. So a poor structure to your message or delivery istherefore a major barrier to effective communication.Weak delivery It doesnt matter how important or impressive thesubject of your communication is, if you deliver it withoutany punch you will not get as many people to take yourdesired action as you would like. A weak delivery is like the very funny joke with thebadly-told punch line --- it is not as funny or as memorableas you remember the original to be. Its all in the delivery. Itis important to not get confused between delivery andpresenter. 1
  63. 63. ORGANISATIONAL COMMUNICATION Several businessmen are extremely confident in thepublics gaze, very happy to be in front of an audience. Butbecause their presentations and communications lack asuitable structure, they lose their audience within minutes,the audience becomes increasingly confused and eventuallyfrustrated by not being able to understand clearly and easilywhat on earth these businessmen are on about.The use of the wrong medium You have to announce a temporary hold onnon-essential stationery spending in your department. Howdo you communicate this? An advertising campaign on local radio would be ahighly ineffective way of reaching the desired audience if themessage was complex and really intended for a narrowniche audience. Similarly, a public presentation, with obligatoryPowerPoint TM slideshow full of complex charts and data,would be the wrong medium if the message you were tryingto communicate would be better served by a white paper, orsome similar print-based format that allowed the audienceto digest the complexities at their own pace. suggested 1
  64. 64. ORGANISATIONAL COMMUNICATION When considering which medium to use for which typeof message you wish to communicate, it is wise to analyzethe following: What is the fixed cost of production? Are there ad agency fees, broadcast or print fees that must be paid, irrespective of the number or volume of items produced? What are the variable costs -- such as CDs, DVDs, audio cassettes and printing costs? How long will it take to write, edit and produce your communication in your chosen medium? What percentage of your target audience is likely to have access to your chosen medium at the time you choose to publish/play/present it? What percentage of your target audience will be likely to pay attention to your chosen medium? Is your message a complex one? Would your message be more easily and readily comprehended through auditory, tactile or visual (e.g. reading or images) modalities? How quickly do you need your audience to comprehend and take action on your message?A mixed message It is very hard for an audience -- whether an audienceof 1 or 1 million to understand your communication if youunnecessarily confuse the audience. 1
  65. 65. ORGANISATIONAL COMMUNICATION If you deliberately, or otherwise, confuse them. A HUGEbarrier to business communication is the ability ofbusiness-speak to confuse and alienate its audience.It does this in two ways:1. By using terms and phrases that are jargon, the meaningof which are possibly recognized but probably not fullyunderstood2. By trying to save time/paper by rolling several differentcommunication messages into one. Another barrier arising from mixed messages is when apreviously-held stance is lightly overturned to meet somepolitical or business expediency, then upheld again. Anexample of this would be where the acceptance of corporategifts is not allowed, but then allowed if it a brand new clientwho has contracted a large amount of money to yourbusiness, then not allowed again after the gift-giving andreceiving season is over. Or a company-wide budget cut that stops allbusiness-class travel, but the very senior management isfound to be traveling first class. Be very careful of mixing your messages, as mixedmessages are a very real barrier to effective businesscommunication.The wrong audience 1
  66. 66. ORGANISATIONAL COMMUNICATION Presenting your message to the wrong audience foryour business communication is a complete waste of yourtime and money. Dont do it -- pick your audience then pickthe medium that will best find them.A distracting environment Theres nothing worse than trying to communicate yourmessage to a group of people who cannot hear you.Whether their inability to hear you is because of: Your voice not being strong enough Too many others talking in the room at the same time Police and ambulance sirens outside the venue Too many phone calls coming in to their office while theyre trying to read your memo Interruptions while they try to read your report Incoming emails keep popping up while they are reading your web-based communication Their minds are full of other pressing matters They are supposed to be somewhere else at that moment Their mobile phone keeps ringing, or vibrating if theyve set it to silent instead of switching it off Their internet connection is slow Their internet connection keeps dropping out 1
  67. 67. ORGANISATIONAL COMMUNICATION There are too many interesting people to look at while they are on the bus trying, in vain, to concentrate on your report The rooms air-conditioning is not working and the room is hot and stuffy The rooms heating is not working and the room is cold and clammy Well, there are of course a thousand possibledistracting reasons why they cannot or will not attend toyour business communication. The point is to do whatever you can, whilstacknowledging that this might be next to nothing, to reducethe number of distractions your chosen audience might besubjected to.4.2 CURRENT ISSUES IN COMMUNICATION In this section we discuss four current issues relatingto communication in organization. Why do men and womenoften have difficulty communicating with each other? Whatrole does silence play in communication? What areimplications of the “politically correct” movement oncommunications in organizations? And how individuals canimprove their cross culture communication?Communication Barriers between Women and Men Research by experts provides us with some importantinsights into the differences between men and women in 1
  68. 68. ORGANISATIONAL COMMUNICATIONterms of their conversational styles. The essence of theresearch is that men use talk to emphasize status, whereaswomen use it to create connection. The conclusion, ofcourse, doesn’t apply to every woman. Thus it , means “alarger % of women or men as a group talk in a particularway, or individual women and men are more likely to talkone way or the other. Communication is a continual balancing act, jugglingthe conflicting needs for intimacy and independence.Independence emphasis separateness and differences. Buthere’s the kick Women speak and hear a language ofconnection and intimacy men speak and hear a language ofstatus power and independence. So for many menconversations are primarily a means to preserveindependence ands maintain status in a hierarchical socialorder’s few examples will illustrate this: Men frequently complain that women talk on and onabout their problem. Women criticize men for not listening.What’s happening is that when men hear a problem, theyfrequently assert their for independence and control byoffering solutions .Many women, on other hand view tellinga problem as a means to promote closeness’s e womenpresent the problem to gain support and connection ,not toget the man’s advise. Mutual understanding is symmetrical.But giving advise is asymmetrical it sets up the advise giveras more knowledge, more reasonable, and more in control. 1
  69. 69. ORGANISATIONAL COMMUNICATIONThis contributes to distancing men and women in theirefforts to communicate Men are often more direct than women in conversation.A man might say “I think you are wrong at that point”.Women might say” Have you looked at the marketingresearch report on that point?” Men frequently see femaleindirections as “covert “or “sneaky” but women are not vasconcerned as men with the status and one-upmanship thatdirectness often creates. Women tend to be less boastful than men. They oftendownplay their authority or accomplishments to avoidappearing as braggarts and to take the other’s personfeelings into account Men can interpret this and incorrectlyconclude that a woman is less confident and competent thanshe really is. Finally men often critise women for seeming toapologize all the time .Men tend to see the phrase “I msorry” as a weakness because they interpret the phrase tomean the woman is accepting blame, when he knows she’snot to blame. The problem is that the women use often “I msorry” to express to regret and restore balance toconversations. For many women “I m sorry “is an expressionof understanding and caring about the other person’sfeelings rather than an apology. 1
  70. 70. ORGANISATIONAL COMMUNICATION4.3 SILENCE AS COMMUNICATION: Sherlock Holmes once solved a murder mystery basedon what didn’t happen. Holmes remarked to his assistant Dr .Watson, about “the curious incident of the dog in night time.“Watson surprised responds” But the dog did nothing in thenight time. “Holmes concluded thwart crime had to be committedby someone with whom the dog was familiar because thedog didn’t bark. The dog that didn’t bark in the night isoften used to metaphor for an event that is significant byreason of its absence. That story is also an excellentillustration of the importance of silence in communication.” Silence—defined here as an absence of speech ornoise-has been generally ignored as a form ofcommunication in OB because inaction or no behavior .Butit’s not necessarily in action .Nor is silence as, many believea failure to communicate. It can be a powerful form ofcommunication. It can mean someone is thinking a responseto question. It can mean a person is anxious and fearful ofspeaking. It can signal agreement, dissent, and anger. In terms of Organizational Behaviour we can seeseveral links between and work related behaviour. Forinstance, silence is a critical element of group thinks, inwhich it implies agreement with majority. It can be a way ofemployees to express dissatisfaction, as when they “suffer in 1
  71. 71. ORGANISATIONAL COMMUNICATIONsilence”. It can be sign that someone is upset, as when atypically talking person says nothing Failing to pay close attention to silent portion of aconversation can result in missing a vital part of themessage. Astute communications watch for gaps, pauses,hesitations. They hear and interpret silence. They treatpauses; they pay attention to what comes next. Is the personsuffering from communication apprehension? Sometimes thereal message in a communication is buried in silence.4.4 “POLITICALLY CORRECT” COMMUNICATION: What words do you use to describe a colleague who iswheel-chair bound? What terms do you use to address afemale customer? How do you communicate with a brandnew client who is not like you? Your answers can meanbetween losing a client, an employee, a lawsuit, aharassment claim or a job. Most of us are aware of how our vocabulary has beenmodified to reflect political correctness. For instance, mostof us have cleansed the words handicapped, blind, andelderly from our vocabulary – and replaced them withphysically challenged, visually impaired, senior. The LosAngeles Times, for instance, allows its journalists to use theword old age but cautious that it varies from “person toperson”. 1
  72. 72. ORGANISATIONAL COMMUNICATION We must be sensitive to others feelings. Certain wordscan and do stereotype and insult individuals. We must besensitive to know how words might offend others. There is adownside to political correctness. To illustrate, you probablyknow what these 4 terms mean: death, garbage, quotaswomen. But each of these words also has been found tooffend one or more groups. They’ve been replaced bynegative patient outcome, post consumer waste materials,educational equity, and people of gender. You know whatdeath means; I know what death means; but can you be surethat “negative patient outcome” will be consistently definedas synonymous of death? Some critics for humor’s sake enjoy carrying politicalcorrectness to the extreme. Even those of us with thinningscalp, who aren’t thrilled at labeled “bald” have to smirkwhen we’re referred to as “follicle challenged”. But ourconcern here is with how politically correct language iscontributing a barrier to effective communication. Words are primary means with which peoplecommunicate. When we eliminate words from use becausethey are politically incorrect, we reduce our options forconveying messages in accurate form. For the most part, thelarger the vocabulary used by sender, the greater 1
  73. 73. ORGANISATIONAL COMMUNICATIONopportunity to transmit messages. By removing certainwords from our vocabulary we find it hard to communicate. We must sensitive to how our choice of words offendsothers. But we also have to be careful not to sanitize ourlanguage to the point at which it clearly restricts clarity ofcommunication. However you should be aware of thetrade-offs and the need to find a proper balance.4.5 CROSS-CULTURAL COMMUNICATION: Effective communication is difficult under the best ofconditions. Cross – cultural factors clearly the potential forincreased communication problems. A gesture that is wellunderstood and acceptable in one culture can bemeaningless or lewd in another.Cultural barriers: One author has identified 4 specific problems relatedto large difficulties in cross-cultural communications. First, there are barriers caused by semantics. As we’venoted, words mean different to different people. This is truefor people from different cultures. Some words. Don’ttranslate between cultures. Understanding sisu will help you 1