Organizational Communication can be defined as a process
through which organizations are created and in turn create and shape
events. The process can be understood as a combination of process,
people, message, meaning and purpose.
Functions of Organizational Communication:
• It is the means by which a manager ensures co-operation of
• It is the exchange of meanings among members of an organization.
• It is the “glue” which binds the elements of an organization
• It builds the very structure of an organization i.e. who
communicates with whom about what.
Can misunderstanding of a few words literally mean the difference
between life and death? They can in airlines business. A number of
aviation disasters have been largely attributed to problems in
communication. There are other fields also in which there are examples to
illustrate how miscommunication can have deadly consequences. Good
communication is essential to any group’s or organization’s effectiveness.
Research indicates that poor communication is probably the most
frequently cited source of interpersonal conflict. Because individuals
spend nearly 70 percent of their working hours communicating-writing,
reading, speaking, listening-it seems reasonable to conclude that one of
the most inhibiting forces to successful group performance is a lack of
No group can exist without communication: the transference of
meaning among its members. It is only through transmitting meaning
from one person to another that information and ideas can be conveyed.
Communication, however, is more than merely imparting meaning. It
must also be understood. In a group in which one member speaks only
German and the others do not know German, the individual speaking
German will not be fully understood. Therefore, communication must
include both the transference and the understanding of meaning.
An idea, no matter how great, is useless until it is transmitted and
understood by others. Perfect communication, if there were such a thing,
would exist when a thought or an idea was transmitted so that the mental
picture perceived by the receiver was exactly the same as that envisioned
by the sender. Although elementary in theory, perfect communication is
never achieved in practice, due to unavoidable reasons.
2.1 What is Communication?
The term “communication” has been derived from the Latin
word “communis” which means common. It was Aristotle who, for
the first time, brought about a systematic study of the
communication process. According to him, there are three essential
elements in a communication system, namely, the speaker, the
speech, and the audience. Communication strictly stands for sharing
of ideas in common. The word “communication”, however, has
many and varied meanings. Popularly speaking, it refers to the
various means of transmitting information from individual to
individual, individual to a group of individuals or from one place to
another. It is a transmission of messages, ideas, methods, skills, and
thoughts between two or more persons. It is a mutual exchange of
facts, thoughts, opinions or emotions by the use of symbols, words,
pictures, figures, graphs and so on.
Communication is the chain of understanding which
permeates an organization from top to bottom, from bottom to top,
and from side to side, and which moves the organization ahead
towards its stated objectives. It is the cohesive force which holds the
Vardaman and Halterman opine: “Communication is the flow
of material, information, perception and understanding between
various parts and members of an organization.”
In the words of Allen, “Communication is the transfer of
meaning from one person to another.” Mitchell goes a step further
and observes, “Communication involves more than just having the
right information — the information should be believed, weighed
correctly, reach the right decision-makers and result in the
appropriate action.” Rogers and Rogers have reiterated this point of
view. They opine “Communication is a process by which an idea is
transferred from a source to the receiver with the intention of
changing behaviour.. ..Communication is made with the intention of
achieving results/change in knowledge, attitude and overt
Communication is a process in which senders and receivers of
messages interact in a given social context. Interpersonal
communication refers to the exchange of information and
transmission of meaning between two people. Organizational
communication is the subject that deals with the exchange of
information and transmission of meaning throughout the
Since the leader or the manager accomplishes organizational
objectives through people, it is essential to communicate what the
leader or the manager wants people to accomplish, how to
accomplish, where to accomplish and more important, why to
accomplish. To communicate 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 understand what they are
trying to communicate; they must be willing and able to understand
them; they must accept their communication or message or
information or goals. Thus, all social phenomena are a function of
2.2 FUNCTIONS OF COMMUNICATION:
Communication serves four major functions within a group or
organization: Control, motivation, emotional expression and information.
Communication acts to control member behaviour in several ways.
Organizations have authority hierarchies and formal guidelines that
employees are required to follow. When employees, for instance are
required to first communicate any job related grievance to their
immediate boss, to follow their job description, or to comply with
company policies, communication is performing a control function. But
informal communication also controls behaviour. When work groups
tease or harass a member who produces too much (and makes the rest of
the group look bad), they are informally communicating with, and
controlling, the member’s behaviour
Communication fosters motivation by clarifying to employees
what is to be done, how well they are doing, and what can be done to
improve performance if it’s supbar. The formation of specific goals,
feedback on progress toward the goals, and reinforcement of desired
behaviour all stimulate motivation and require communication.
For many employees, their work group is a primary source for
social interaction. The communication that takes place within the group is
a fundamental mechanism by which members show their frustrations and
feelings of satisfaction. Communication, therefore, provides a release for
the emotional expression of feelings and for fulfillment of social needs.
The final function that communication performs relates to its role
in facilitating decision making. It provides the information that
individuals and groups need to make decisions by transmitting the data to
identify and evaluate alternative choices.
No one of these functions should be seen as being more important
than the others. For groups to perform effectively, they need to maintain
some form of control over members, stimulate members to perform,
provide a means for emotional expression, and make decision choices.
Almost every communication interaction that takes place in a group or
organization performs one or more of these four functions.
2.3 THE COMMUNICATION PROCESS:
Before communication can take place, a purpose, expressed as a
message to be conveyed, is needed. It passes between a source (sender)
and a receiver. The message is encoded (converted to a symbolic form)
and passed by way of some medium (channel) to the receiver, who
retranslates (decodes) the message initiated by the sender. The result is a
transference of meaning from one person to another.
The exhibit above depicts this communication process. This
model is made up of seven parts: (1) the communication 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 source encoding. When
we speak, the speech is the message. When we write, the writing is the
message. When we gesture, the movements of our arms and the
expression on our face are the message. The channel is the medium
through which the message travels. It is selected by the source, who must
determine whether to use a formal or informal channel. Formal channels
are established by the organization and transmit message that are related
to the professional activities of the members. They traditionally follow
the authority chain within the organization. Other forms of messages,
such as personal or social, follow the informal channels in the
organization. The receiver is the object to whom the message is directed.
But before the message can be received, the symbols in it must be
translated into a form that can be understood by the receiver. This step is
the decoding of the message. The final link in the communication process
is a feedback loop. Feedback is the check on how successful we have
been in transferring our messages as originally intended. It determines
whether understanding has achieved.
2.4 DIRECTION OF COMMUNICATION:
Communication can flow vertically and laterally. The vertical
dimension can be further divided into downward and upward directions.
Communication that flows from one level of a group or
organization to a lower level is a downward communication. When we
think of managers communicating with employees, the 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 and procedures, point out problems that need attention, and offer
feedback about performance. But downward communication doesn’t have
to be oral or face-to-face contact. When management sends letters to the
employees’ homes to advise them of the organization’s new sick leave
policy, it is using downward communication. So is an e-mail from a team
leader to the members of her team, reminding them of an upcoming
Upward communication flows to a higher level in the group or
organization. It’s used to provide feedback to higher-ups, inform them of
progress toward goals, and relay current problems. Upward
communication keeps managers aware of how employees feel about their
jobs, co-workers, and the organization in general. Managers also rely on
upward communication for ideas on how things can be improved.
Some organizational examples of upward communication are
performance reports prepared by lower management for review by middle
and top management, suggestion boxes, employee attitude surveys,
grievance procedures, superior-subordinate discussions, and informal
“gripe” sessions in which employees have the opportunity to identify and
discuss problems with their boss or representatives of higher
management. For example, FedEx prides itself on its computerized
upward communication program. All its employees annually complete
climate surveys and reviews of management. This program was cited as a
key human resources strength by the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality
Award examiners when FedEx won the honor.
When communication takes place among members of the same
work group, among members of work groups at the same level, among
managers at the same level, or among any horizontally equivalent
personnel, we describe it as lateral communications.
Why would there be a need for horizontal communications if a
group or organization’s vertical communications are effective? The
answer is that horizontal communications are often necessary to save time
and facilitate co-ordination. In some cases, these lateral relationships are
formally sanctioned. More often, they are informally created to short-
circuit the vertical hierarchy and expedite action. So lateral
communications can, from management’s viewpoint, be good or bad.
Since strict adherence to the formal vertical structure for all
communications can impede the efficient and accurate transfer of
information, lateral communications can be beneficial. In such cases, they
occur with the knowledge and support of superiors.
But they can create dysfunctional conflicts when the formal
vertical channels are breached, when members go above or around their
superiors to get things done, or when bosses find out that actions have
been taken or decisions made without their knowledge.
This occurs when communication occurs between workers in a
different section of the organisation and where one of the workers
involved is on a higher level in the organisation. For example in a bank
diagonal communication will occur when a department manager in head
office converses with a cashier in a branch of the bank based on the high
2.5 INTERPERSONAL COMMUNICATION:
How do group members transfer meaning between and among
each other? There are three basic methods. People basically rely on oral,
written and non-verbal communication.
The chief means of conveying messages is oral communication.
Speeches, formal one-on-one and group discussions, and the informal
mill or grapevine are popular forms of oral communication.
The advantages of oral communication are speed and feedback. A
verbal message can be conveyed and a response received in a minimal
amount of time. If the receiver is unsure of the message, rapid feedback
allows for early detection by the sender and, hence, allows for early
The major disadvantage of oral communication surfaces in
organizations or whenever the message has to be passed through a
number of people. The more people a message must pass through, the
greater the potential distortion. For example, if you ever played the game
“telephone” at a party, you know the problem. Each person interprets the
message in his or her own way. The message’s content, when it reaches
its destination, is very often different from that of the original. In an
organization, where decisions and other communiqués are verbally
passed up and down the authority hierarchy, there are considerable
opportunities for messages to become distorted.
Written communications include memos, letters, electronic mail, fax
transmissions, organizational periodicals, notices placed on bulletin
boards, or any other device that is transmitted via written words or
Why would a sender choose to use written communications? They
are tangible and verifiable. Typically, both the sender and the receiver
have a record of the communication. The message can be stored for a
indefinite period. If there are questions concerning the content of the
message, it is physically available for later reference. This feature is
particularly important for complex and lengthy communications. The
marketing plan for a new product, for instance, is likely to contain a
number of tasks spread out over several months. By putting it in writing,
those who have to initiate the plan can readily refer to it over the life of
the plan. A final benefit of written communication comes from the
process itself. You are usually more careful with the written word than
the oral word. You are forced to think more thoroughly about what you
want to convey in a written message than in a spoken one. Thus, written
communications are more likely to be well thought out, logical and clear.
Of course, written messages have their drawbacks. They are time
consuming. You could convey far more information to a college
instructor in a one-hour oral exam than in a one-hour written exam. In
fact, you could probably say the same thing in 10 to 15 minutes that it
would take you an hour to write. So, although writing may be more
precise, it also consumes a great deal of time.
The other major disadvantage is feedback, or lack of it. Oral
communication allows the receiver to respond rapidly to what he thinks
he hears. Written communication, however, does not have a built-in
feedback mechanism. The result is that the mailing of a memo is no
assurance it has been received, there is no guarantee the recipient will
interpret it as the sender intended. The latter point is also relevant in oral
communiqués, except it is easy in such cases merely to ask the receiver to
summarize what you have said. An accurate summary presents feedback
evidence that the message has been received and understood.
Employees’ Handbook: As business grows in size, management often
turns to the use of an employee handbook as a communication tool to
inform employees on issues such as company history and products,
human resource policies, employee compensation and benefits, training
assistance, health services, safety, security, employee responsibilities, and
work standards. Handbooks are also useful to supervisors and
administrators for ensuring consistent implementation and enforcement of
These are intended to help in the induction of newcomers and to
provide all the employees with a clear-cut understanding not only of the
general policies of the management but also of the nature of the business,
its sources of supplies, its customers, its products and the range of
benefits and services available to its employees. Many organizations
publish illustrated handbooks, depicting cartoons, charts and
House Magazines and Newspapers: Some organizations maintain one
or more employee magazines or journals. These are meant to keep
employees well informed of the development in the business and to
acquaint them with the personalities and activities of the organisation. It
can explain the policies of the management in easily understood terms.
House magazines contain news, and personal and social items. There may
be references to parties, marriages, births, retirements, honours and
Financial Reports: Such reports describe the essential facts concerning
the conduct of business, its expenses and profits, its income and
distribution of financial standing. of the organisation and create
understanding between the management and its employees.
Bulletin Boards: Usually, big organizations keep a bulletin board for 50
to 100 employees in attractive colours, types and formats. These boards
contain a wide range of material such as someone’s choice of cartoons
from newspapers and magazines, pin-up photographs, events in the lives
of present or former employees and other items of common interest.
Audio-Visual Aids: Sound films, movies, slides, tapes may be played
back to the workers. Such audio-visual aids have an obvious advantage of
describing a company’s range of operations and products, in illustrating
how financial and other decisions are made, or in explaining work rules.
Notice Boards: Notices are often pasted o the factory walls or gates or
placed in glass covered notice boards, and these are hung at appropriate
places in the premises of an organisation, near the canteens or factory
gates. These notices usually depict abstracts as desired under the various
statutes as well as notices of the various institutions in the establishment
such as the sports club.
Suggestion System: The suggestion system is designed to enlist the co-
operation of subordinates in effecting improvements and in eliminating
waste and to provide an avenue for a working communication with the
management. Rewards are offered for suggestions which results in greater
productive efficiency. In some organizations, “suggestion boxes” are
located at convenient places throughout the plant.
Communication with Public and Government: Organisations educate
the public about their various activities through advertising, campaigns,
meetings and conferences. Organisations also establish and organize
special groups to communicate with the important segments of
Proper communication plays an important role in a large
organization, and there has to be a proper balance between the oral and
written forms of communication. It need hardly be said that the choice of
any method depends upon the purpose to be accomplished and the
likelihood of its success. Quite often, it is better to use more than one
method to convey the same information so that one can reinforce the
Every time we verbally give a message to someone, we also impart
a nonverbal message. In some instances, the nonverbal component may
stand alone. For example, in a singles bar, a glance, a stare, a frown, and
a provocative body movement all convey meaning. As such, no
discussion of communication would be complete without consideration of
nonverbal communication-which includes body movements, the
intonations or emphasis we give to words, facial expressions, and the
physical distance between the sender and receiver.
It can be argued that every body movement has a meaning and no
movement is accidental. For example, through body language we say,
“Help me, I’m lonely”; “Take me, I’m available”; “Leave me alone, I’m
depressed.” And rarely do we send our messages consciously. We act out
our state of being with nonverbal body language. We lift one eyebrow for
disbelief. We rub our nose for puzzlement. We clasp our arms to isolate
ourselves or to protect ourselves. We shrug our shoulders for
indifference, wink one eye for intimacy, tap our fingers for impatience
and slap our forehead for forgetfulness.
The two most important messages that body language conveys are
(1) The extent to which an individual likes another and is interested in his
or her views and
(2) The relative perceived status between a sender and receiver. For
instance, we are more likely to position ourselves closer to people we like
and touch them more often.
Similarly, if you feel that you’re higher status than another, you’re
more likely to display body movements-such as crossed legs or a
slouched seating position-that reflect a casual and relaxed manner.
Body language adds to, and often complicates, verbal
communication. A body position or movement does not by itself have a
precise or universal meaning, but when it is linked with spoken language,
it gives fuller meaning to a sender’s message.
If you read the verbatim minutes of a meeting, you wouldn’t grasp
the impact of what was said in the same way you would if you had been
there or saw the meeting on video. Why? There are no records of
nonverbal communication. The emphasis given to words or phrases is
Facial expressions also convey meaning. A snarling face says
something different from a smile. Facial expressions, along with
intonations, can show arrogance, aggressiveness, fear, shyness, and other
characteristics that would never be communicated if you read a transcript
of what had been said.
The way individuals space themselves in terms of physical
distance also has meaning. What is considered proper spacing is largely
dependent on cultural norms. For example, what is considered a
businesslike distance in some European countries would be viewed as
intimate in many parts of North America. If someone stands closer to you
than is considered appropriate, it may indicate aggressiveness or sexual
interest; if farther away than usual, it may mean disinterest or displeasure
with what is being said.
It’s important for the receiver to be alert to these nonverbal aspects
of communication. You should look for nonverbal cues as well as listen
to the literal meaning of sender’s words. You should particularly be
aware of contradictions between the messages. Your boss may say she is
free to talk to you about a pressing budget problem, but you may see
nonverbal signals suggesting that the is not the time to discuss the subject
regardless of what is being said, an individual who frequently glances at
her wristwatch is giving the massage that she would prefer to terminate
the conversation. We misinform others when we express one message
verbally, such as trust, but nonverbally communicate a contradictory
message that reads, “I don’t have confidence in you.”
3.1 COMMUNICATION TYPES:
This is communication that takes place within (or across) an
organization. In addition to the usual face to face, telephone, fax or mail;
modern organizations may use technology to communicate internally.
Technology may be used for e-mails or a linked internal communication
system such as the intranet which is an internet system designed solely
for use by those working for the organization.
Conversely external communication is communication between the
organization and those outside the organization. Modern organizations
may design technological systems so that they can communicate with
customers and undertake e-Commerce. Alternatively they communicate
with other businesses through the internet or similar systems and
Functions of Internal and External Communications;
Technology has rapidly expanded the types of internal and external
communication available to organizations. The diagram illustrates the
vast array of internal and external communication available. Combined
together internal and external types of communications allow various
sectors of the local, national and international community to interact,
liaise and conduct business.
3.2 OBJECTIVES OF COMMUNICATION
Communication is not an end in itself. There is no use of
communicating just for the sake of communicating. It is a means and
a very effective means for the solution of managerial problems and for
attainment of managerial objectives. Since managers work through
others, all their acts, policies, rules, orders and procedures must pass
through some sort of communication channel. The purposes of
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
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 asocial
environment that supports effective interaction and to ensure that the
workforce has the skills to share information and co-ordinate their
3.3 IMPORTANCE OF COMMUNICATION
Organizations cannot exist without communication. If there is
no communication, employees cannot know what their respective
associates are doing, management cannot receive information on
inputs, and management cannot give instructions. Co-ordination of
work is impossible, and the organisation will collapse for lack of it.
Co-operation also becomes impossible, because people cannot
communicate their needs and feelings to others. Every act of
communication influences the organisation in some way or the other.
As such effective communication tends to encourage better
performance, improves job satisfaction, creates proper understanding,
and develops feeling of involvement among the people.
Chester Bernard (1938) has considered communication to be the
“very first function” of a manager and has viewed it as the shaping
force which links people and purposes together in any co-operative
system. In the practice of management, Peter Drucker (1954) has
observed that the manager’s main instrument for operating his affairs
is information. The management process has widely been discussed as
one which embraces the functions of planning, organizing, leading
and controlling, which are intimately involved with and dependant on,
communication. Organisational structure is definitely tied to the
communication systems. Communication is the key to effective
teamwork, for both are based on the common fundamentals of
information, understanding, consultation and participation.
Communication is an essential skill at every level of organisational
functioning and for organisations of all types, whether social,
governmental, or commercial.
According to Miner and Miner’ there Ware four basic types of
communication network: (a) the regulative network ensures security,
conformity to plans and the achievement of productivity through the
communication of policy statements, procedures, and rules; (b) the
innovative network is concerned with problem-solving and change
through such techniques as suggestion systems and meetings; (c) the
integrative network is directly related to consideration of employee
morale and organisational maintenance; and (d) the informative
network relates to employee’s effectiveness and productivity through
a direct dissemination of information and training programmes.
3.4 RULES FOR COMMUNICATION:
A few basic rules should be followed in planning for and
carrying out communications of all kinds, written and oral, 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.
• Simplicity: Short, simple words, phrases, and sentences should
be used. Every word should count. Extra words only serve to
• Precision: Precise words should be used.
• Integrity: Communication should always be used as a means,
never as an end.
During any major change programme, internal communication
in an organisation is extremely. Important. It must be borne in mind in
this context that communication is more than a dialogue. It builds on
trust and openness among colleagues, and results in common
understanding of the organisational issues that have a long-term
bearing on the future of the organisation.
3.5 FORMAL AND INFORMAL COMMUNICATION
Basically, the two most important media of communication in
an organisation are formal and informal communications. Formal
communications are those that are “official”, that are a part of the
recognized communication system of the organisation. A formal
communication can be from a superior to a subordinate, from a
subordinate to a superior, intra-administrative, or external. These
communications may be oral or written. Informal communication is
those that are “outside” the formal, recognized communication
system. Informal communication originates spontaneously outside the
formal channels and is the natural responses to the need for social
Within the organisation, whatever its style or form, cohesive
informal groups develop. Extensive research has shown that these
informal work groups have tremendous power in shaping attitudes,
behaviour, and consequently, production. They share a set of beliefs,
values, and socially acceptable behaviours. In other words, group
members come to think and act in similar ways, and this encourages
feelings of closeness among them.
In industry, at every level of organisational life, employees are
bound together in informal groups and develop a common set of
norms. It is important to remember that these groups are not
established by the management. They are generally beyond the
control of the management, and they do not appear on the
organisation charts. The influence of informal work groups is
pervasive, and they are vital parts of the total organisational
environment. They can work for or against the management, by
encouraging cooperation and increasing production or by sabotaging
management and slowing production. A major finding of Hawthorne
studies was the revelation of the ways in which these groups operate.
One of the characteristics of informal work groups is leadership.
There are many opportunities for conflict between the needs and goals
of the informal work group and the needs and goals of the
organisation. If management is to deal effectively with the informal
groups, it must recognize their existence and try to understand them.
The informal group serves many needs of the workers. It can serve the
needs of the organisation as well, or it can defeat them. Often, the
ideals and standards of these groups conflict with those of the formal
organisation. New employees who do not conform to the group norms
may be ostracized.
The information actually transmitted through the informal
channels may be inaccurate, distorted, a half-truth, a rumour, a gossip,
or a private interpretation. It spreads with an amazing speed like a
wild fire. Davis observes: “It (grapevine) cannot e abolished, rubbed
out, hidden under the basket, chopped down, tied up, or stopped.
If we suppress it at one place, it will pop up in another If we cut
off one of its sources, it merely moves to another one — quite similar
to the way we change from one channel to another on a television
set....In a sense, the grapevine is man’s birthright, because wherever
men congregate into groups, the grapevine is sure to develop. It may
use smoke signals, jungle toms, taps on the prison wall, or ordinary
conversation, or some other method, but it will always be there.” No
management can ‘fire’ it because it does not hire it. It is simply there.
Though the grapevine thrives on rumours, it does serve some
useful purpose. A manager can utilize the grapevine as a positive aid,
for a grapevine may turn out to be a barometer for the management as
to what is ailing the employees and what ought to be done about it. It
may be utilized to clarify and spread messages which the management
wishes to convey to its employees and to counter rumours and half-
truths by feeding them the real facts. 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 and half-dozen or more
hierarchical levels. To simplify our discussion, we’ve condensed these
networks into three common small groups of five people each (as shown
in the exhibit below). These three networks are the chain, wheel and all-
channel. Although these three networks have been extremely simplified,
they do not allow us to describe the unique qualities of each.
The chain rigidly follows the formal chain of command. This
network approximates the communication channels you might find in a
rigid three-level organization. The wheel relies on a central figure to act
as the conduit for the entire group’s communication. It stimulates the
communication network you would find on a team with a strong leader.
The all-channel network permits all group members to actively
communicate with each other. The all channel network is most often
characterized in practice by self-managed teams, in which all group
members are free to contribute and no one person takes on a leadership
As the exhibit below demonstrates, the effectiveness of each
network depends on the dependent variable you’re concerned about. For
instance, the structure of the wheel facilitates the emergence of a leader,
the all-channel network is best if you are concerned with having high
member satisfaction, and the chain is best if accuracy is most important.
The exhibit below leads us to the conclusion that no single network will
be best for all occasions.
The grapevine is used by nearly everyone in an organisation at
one time or another. It can convey accurate messages with amazing
speed. It can also distort and filter messages beyond recognition.
Rumours as well as facts are carried by the grapevine. Good managers
pay attention to grapevine. Even though the grapevine’s reliability can
never be determined with complete certainty, it does serve some
1. It satisfies a need — employees have to enjoy friendly relations
with their fellow employees.
2. It helps workers to make sense out of their work environment
especially in interpreting unclear orders from supervisors.
3. It acts as a safety valve. When people are confused and unclear
about what is going to happen to them, they use grapevine to let out
their anxieties. Passing a rumour along the grapevine is a way of
expressing and releasing negative energy.
4. When people gossip about someone who is not present, they
often pass judgments. Some people pass judgment on others to find
out where they stand. It is a way of dealing with self-doubt and
Grapevine thrives on information, not openly or generally
available to an employee, either because of its confidential or secret
nature or because of the defective or inadequate formal
communication lines. Grapevine is inevitable but at the same time,
valuable and an intelligent manager uses this form of communication
by feeding accurate information at the right places and thus gains very
quick communication around the establishment. Grapevine properly
used is a great help. Neglecting grapevine is likely to lead to serious
consequences in an establishment.
The best way to dispel grapevine is to give people the facts. If
there is no truth to a rumour or no information concerning it that
should be said? Above all workers should be asked to never repeat a
rumour. Supervisors must show their people that they intend to do
everything possible to keep them fully informed.
3.8 STYLES OF COMMUNICATION
A communication style may be defined as a specialized set of
interpersonal behaviours which are used in a given situation. Since
communication is at the heart of effective managerial functioning, it is
imperative to identify and to analyze the styles of communication
which are used in an organisation. Four basic communication styles
may be characterized in the organisational situation in terms of the
communicator’s concern for self and concern for others.
1. The Controller Style of Communication: In this style, the
manager has a high concern for himself and a low concern for the
person with whom he communicates; he, therefore, represents an
unbalanced exchange relationship. In business organisations, the
existence of an unbalanced exchange, as in the controller style of
communication, causes strains in inter-personal relationships. The
production- oriented manager often expects loyalty from workers in
exchange for money. In this case, there is usually a transaction from
the critical parent-ego state to the child-ego state with the life
position. “I am O.K., You are not O.K.” The controller
communication thus jeopardizes the interpersonal trust which is
essential for effective communication.
2. The Withdrawn Communicator: In withdrawn communication,
there is the least amount of actual communication, for it involves the
avoidance of interaction. The communicator prefers to withdraw
because he neither wishes to influence others nor wishes to be
The withdrawn communicator has the least concern, both for him and
for others, and feel that other people in the organisation 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 the communicator takes
up a receptive rather than a directive position and evinces interest in
others. Here, too, there is an unbalanced exchange, for the
relinquishing communicator tends to be passive in an interchange. It is
possible that, for a relinquishing manager, his subordinates take the
lead in decision-making and discussion. The relinquishing manager
has the life position of “I am not O.K., You are O.K.”, which is
characteristic of the child. Being humble and unsure, the relinquisher
believes it has nothing worthwhile to contribute.
4. The Developmentor Communicator: The ideal type of
communication is, of course, that of the developmentor, which
involves a high concern for both himself and for others. The
Developmentor is an adaptable social type who can be a high or low
participator in a group, depending upon the situation. Since they have
the life position of “I am O.K., You are O.K.”, they neither feel it
necessary to constantly assert their competence, nor do they refrain
from leadership positions when the need arises. The developmentor-
communicator understands the need for a two way communication by
not assuming that he is always right. He is the one who, unlike the
controller, allows the subordinate to make some mistakes in the
process of learning, and builds in him self-confidence and esteem.
3.9 SUPERVISORY COMMUNICATION:
Supervisory Communication is an important dimension of
management communication for proper functioning of an
organisation. It is mainly the supervisor who is constantly in touch
with the workers and, therefore, it is necessary for him to acquaint
himself with the importance of communication and the principles to
be followed for effective communication. “Talking it over” is very
important to an employee. Employees have asserted that where
communication is lacking, frustration and misunderstanding exist, and
that this condition not only reduces their productivity, but also has an
adverse effect on the total working of the establishment. Supervisors,
therefore, should always: (a) discuss problems immediately with the
subordinates; (b) keep the discussion frank and open; (c) choose a
proper place; (d) be fair and impartial; and (e) develop good attitudes
and maintain good relations.
Four aspects of interpersonal relationships influence
communication 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
(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 of messages. It
then implies that the transmission of message sent and received does
not presuppose that communication has occurred. Only on receiving
the intended message that one can conclude that communication has
occurred. The touchstone of effective communication is hearing of the
meaning “intended” and to carry out the message. It then appears that
communication to be effective not only needs the skill of self-
expression but also the skill of effective listening. Listening is more
intricate and complicated than the physical process of hearing.
Effective listening habits prevent misunderstanding and rumours. –
There are four factors affecting reception of messages:
Attention refers to situations when individuals become
voluntarily interested in the message. Once attention has been drawn
to the message, the perception of the same begins. It means that the
messages must be recognised in an unbiased manner. Comprehension
is to understand the message received. Acceptance of message results
in effective communication.
An effective communication serves several purposes, and
benefits an organisation in many ways. First, it acts as a basic
foundation for management. Since communication provides the key to
facilitate the exchange of ideas, information as well as meeting of
minds, it can aptly be described as the “ears and eyes” of the
Second, it plays a vital role in planning. The making of a plan
requires facts and figures which can only be made available through
effective communication. Third, it integrates the formal organisation
structure and is responsible for holding together the members of a
primary social group. Fourth, it also plays a pivotal role in national
decision-making, organisational control, as well as building and
maintaining employee morale.
The transformation of an organisation is conditional on the
employees’ involvement with commitment, common goals and shared
purpose and vision. Communication as a continuous process ensures
this. The climate of communication in an organisation, therefore,
needs constant nurturing by a well- meaning and transparent
management that has the manifest image that it cares for its
In many organizations, communication occupies a central place
because the structure, extensiveness, and scope of the organisation are
almost entirely determined by communication techniques. It is said
that communication gives life-blood to an organisation. If
organisation fail to provide careful attention to communication, a
defensive climate prevails.
Experts have laid down several guidelines to improve communication.
Seek to clarify your ideas before communicating.
Be sure your actions support your instructions.
Consider the total physical and human situations whenever you give
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.
Concentrate on the problem rather than the people involved.
When people are being emotional, other people should try to be
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 communicating which can
help anyone to get across messages more accurately:
1. Choose your words carefully and do not include unnecessary
2. Do not leave out important information. An incomplete message is
sometimes more dangerous than no message at all.
3. Be concise in your message. The message has to be received
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 communication include
transaction analysis and active listening. Transactional Analysis (TA)
is a technique aimed at helping interpersonal transactions or
communication between superior and subordinate. It assumes that
there are three ego states — adult, parent, and child - and that the way
a person communicates depends on the state he or she is in. TA helps
to identify one’s own state and the state of the person with whom he
or she is talking to and helps to improve communication between the
two. Active listening is another technique that can help to improve
Communicating Better at Work:
Experience shows there are many ways managers can improve
internal communication. Here are some tips for 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.
Put more emphasis on face-to-face communication with
employees. Don’t rely mainly on bulletin boards, memos and other
Ask each time when an instruction is given whether the message is
clear. Most vagueness is caused by failing to be specific.
View information as “service to” employees and not “power over”
Listen to employees; show respect for them when they speak. They
will feel part of the team and will tend to be more dedicated and
Don’t just talk open-door policy. Practice it by walking around and
talking to employees. Allow people to disagree and to come up
with new ideas.
Conduct one-on-one meetings, ask employees how management
can help them to do a better job, and emphasize current issues that
employees care about.
Concentrate on building credibility with employees. Managers
who lack credibility and fail to create a climate of trust and
openness are not believed - no matter how hard they try to
Listening can be described as a combination of:
(i) Hearing — the physical reception of sound;
(ii) Comprehending — the interpretation and understanding of the
(iii) Remembering — the ability to retain what has been heard.
Hearing is with ears, but listening is with the mind. Effective
listening helps receiver to take the exact intended message. Good
listeners save time because they learn more within a given period of
time and they learn about the person talking, as well as what the
person is saying. Good listening is also good manners; people think
more of us when we listen to them attentively.
• Nature has given people two ears but only one tongue,
• Gentle hint that they should listen more than they talk.
• Listening requires two ears, one for meaning and one for
• 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 to effective listening:
1. Everyone likes to feel important.
2. people perform better when they know that their opinions and
suggestions are heeded
3. 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
5. Supervisors who jump to conclusions lose the respect of their
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
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
10. Supervisors who don’t get all the facts often make poor
The following guidelines are suggested in respect of listening:
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
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
One must develop the art of listening. The higher you go up in
the organisational set-up, the more successful 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
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
You get good listening on the part of others to what you have
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.
7. Learn to practice active listening.
8. Keep your mouth shut (literally, keep your lips closed).
9. Paraphrase frequently in your mind, and aloud to the speaker.
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
Ensuring proper dissemination of information, other than through
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.
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
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 your employees
demonstrates you care about them as people — not just as employees.
Sometimes you have to go out of your way to interact with your
employees, but they always will notice how much effort you put forth
to communicate with them.
Self-check — Communication
Are you making the most of your opportunities to communicate
with your employees? Answer the questions below 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 your employees at least
once each day?
3. Do you speak to your employees before they speak to you?
4. Do you go to your employees’ work areas to talk to them?
5. Do you talk to your employees about non-work activities?
6. Are your employees welcome at your office at any time?
7. Do you have lunch with your employees from time to time?
8. Do you know what your employees like to do when they aren’t at
9. Do you understand your employees’ needs, wants, goals and
10. Do you give frequent positive reinforcement?
11. Do you frequently review goals and expectations?
12. Do you ask your employees’ personal goals and aspirations?
13. Do you ask about your employees’ problems, fears and concerns?
14. Do you ask yourself what you can do to help improve your
For any questions that you answered “no,” list below things you can
do to increase your interaction with your employees.
3.13 COMPUTER-AIDED COMMUNICATION
Communication in today’s organizations is enhanced and enriched
by computer-aided technologies. These include electronic mail, for
instance, has dramatically reduced the number of memos, letters, and
phone calls that employees historically used to communicate among
themselves and with suppliers, customers, or other outside stakeholders.
Electronic mail (or e-mail) uses the Internet to transmit and receive
computer-generated text and documents. Its growth has been spectacular.
Most white-collar employees now regularly use e-mail. In fact, a recent
study found that the average U.S. employee receives 31 e-mail messages
a day. And organizations are recognizing the value of e-mail for all
workers. Ford Motor Company, for instance, recently made a computer,
modem, printer and email account available for $5 a month to all of its
more than 3,00,000 employees worldwide.
As a communication tool, e-mail ahs a long list of benefits. E-mail
messages can be quickly written, edited and stored. They can be
distributed to one person or thousands with a click of a mouse. They can
be read, in their entirety, at the convenience of the recipient. And the cost
of sending formal e-mail to employees is a fraction of what it would cost
to print, duplicate and distribute comparable letter or brochure.
E-mail, of course, is not without its drawbacks. At the top of the
list is information overload .Its not unusual for employees to get a
hundred or more e-mails a day. Reading, absorbing and responding to
such an inflow can literally consume an employee’s entire day.
In essence e-mail’s is of use has become its biggest negative.
Employees are finding it increasingly difficult to distinguish important e-
mails from junk mails and irrelevant messages. Another drawback of e-
mail is that the lack emotional content. The nonverbal quest in a face to
face message or the tone of voice from a phone call convey important
information that come across an e-mail, although efforts have been made
to create emotional icons. Finally e-mails tend to be cold and impersonal.
As such it’s the ideal means to convey information like lay-offs, plant
closings or other messages that might evoke emotional responses or
Intranet and extranet links:
Intranets are private. Organization worldwide information
networks that look and act like a web-site, but to which only people in an
organization have access. Intranets are rapidly becoming the proffered
means for employees within the companies to communicate with each
other. IBM recently bought together 52 thousand of its employees online
for what it called Worldjam.Using companies intranet IBMers must
everywhere swapped ideas on everything from how to retain employees
to how to work faster without undermining quality.
In addition organisations are creating extra net links that connect
internal employees with selected suppliers, customers and strategic
partners. For instance an extranet allows GM employees to send
electronic messages and documents to its steel and rubber supplier as well
as to communicate with its dealers. Similarly all Wall Mart vendors are
linked into its extranet system, allowing Wall Mart buyers to easily
communicate with its suppliers and for suppliers to monitor the inventory
status of its product at Wall Mart stores.
Videoconferencing is an extension of intranet or extranet system. It
permits employees in an organization to have meetings with people at
different locations. Live audio and video images of members allow them
to see, hear and talk with each other. Videoconferencing in effect allows
employees to conduct interactive meetings without the necessity of all
physically being in the same location.
In the late 1990s videoconferencing was basically conducted from
special rooms equipped with television cameras located at company
facilities. More recently cameras and microphones are being attached to
individual computers allowing people to participate in videoconferences
without leaving their desks. As the cost of this technology drops in price
videoconferencing is likely to be increasingly seen as an alternative to
expensive and time consuming travel.
3.14 CHOICE OF COMMUNICATION CHANNEL
Neal .L. Patterson, CEO at medical software maker Cerner
Corporation likes e-mails. May be too much so. Upset with his staff’s
work ethics he recently sent an e-mail to his firm’s 400 managers. Here
are some of those e-mails highlight:
“Hell with freeze over before this CEO implements ANOTHER
EMPLOYEE benefit in this culture….. We are getting less those 40 hours
of work from a large number of our Kansa City based employees. The
parking is sparsely used at 8am likewise at 5pm. As managers-you either
do not know what your EMPLOYEES are doing or YOU do not CARE
….we has a problem and we will fix it or will replace you. ..What are you
doing as managers with this companies makes me sick.
Patterson’s e-mail additionally suggested that managers schedule
meetings at 7 Am., 6pm., and Saturday mornings promised a staff
reduction of 5% an institution of a time clock system and Patterson’s
intention to charge unapproved absences to employees vacation time.
Within hours of this e-mail, copies of it had made its way on to a
Yahoo website. And within three days Corners’ stock price has
plummeted 22%. Although one can argue about whether such harsh
criticism should be communicated at all, one thing is certainly clear
Patterson erred selecting the wrong channel for his message. Such an
emotional and sensitive would have been better received in a face to face
Why do people choose one channel of communication over
another-for instance a phone call instead of face you face talk? Is there
any general insight we might be able to provide regarding choice of
communication channel? The answer to the later question is a qualified
‘Yes’. A model of media richness has been developed to explain channel
selection among managers.
Research has found that channels differ in their capacity to convey
information some are rich in that they have ability to:
(1) handle multiple quest simultaneously
(2) Facilitate rapid feed back.
(3) be very personal .Others are lean in that they score low on these
Generally, face-to-face conversation scores highest in terms of
channel richness because it provides for the maximum amount of
information to be transmitted during a communication episode. That is, it
offers multiple information cues , immediate feedback, and the personal
touch of “being there “ Impersonal written media such as formal reports
and bulletins rate lowest in richness.
The choice of one channel over another depends on whether the
message is routine or non-routine. The former types of messages tend to
be straight forward and have a minimum of ambiguity. The latter are
likely to be complicated and have the potential for misunderstanding.
Managers can communicate routine messages efficiently through
channels that are3 lower in richness.
However, they can communicate non routine messages effectively
only by selecting rich channels. Referring back to our opening example at
Cerner Corp, it appears that Neal patter sons problem was using a channel
relatively low in richness to convey a message that, because of its no
routine nature and complexity, should have been conveyed using a rich
Evidence indicates that high-performing managers tend to be more
media sensitive than low-performing managers. That is, they’re better
able to match appropriate media richness with ambiguity involved in the
The media richness model is consistent with organizational trends
and practice during the past decade. It is not just coincidence that more
and more senior managers have been using meetings t5o facilitate
communication and regularly leaving the sanctuary of their executive’s
offices to manage by walking around. These executives are relying on
rich channels of communication to transmit the more ambiguous
messages they need to convey. The past decade has been characterized by
organisations closing facilities, merging, consolidating and introducing
new products and services at an accelerated pace-all no routine messages
in high ambiguity and requiring the use of channels that convey a large
amount of information .It is not surprising, therefore to see the most
effective managers expanding their use of rich channels .
4.1 BARRIERS TO EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION
A number of barriers can retard or distort effective communication.
In this section, we highlight the more important of these barriers.
Filtering refers to a sender’s purposely manipulating information
so it will be seen mare favorably by the receiver. For example, when a
manager tells his boss what he feels his boss wants to hear, he is filtering
The major determinant of filtering is no. of levels in the
organization structure .The more vertical levels in the organizations
hierarchy, the more opportunities there are for filtering. But you can
expect some filtering to occur whenever there are status differences.
Factors such as fear of conveying bad news and the desire to please one’s
boss often lead employees to tell their superiors what they think those
superiors want to hear, thus distorting upward communications.
We have mentioned it earlier. It appears again here because the
receivers in the communication process see and hear based on their needs,
motivations, experience, background and other personal characteristics.
Receivers also project their interests and expectations into
communications as they decode them. The employment interviewer who
expects a women job applicant to put her family ahead if her career is
likely to see that female applicants, regardless of whether the applicants
feel that way or not
Individuals have a fine capacity for processing data. As noted in
our previous discussion of e-mail, when the information we have to work
with exceeds our processing capacity, the result is information
overload .And with e-mails, phone calls, faxes, meetings and the need to
keep current in one’s field, more and more managers and professionals
are complaining that they’re suffering overload.
What happens when individuals have more information than they
can sort out and use? They tend to select out, ignore, pass over or forget
information. Or they may put off further processing until the overload
situation is over. Regardless, the result is lost information and less
How the receiver feels at the time of receipt of a communication
will influence how he or she interprets it. The same message received
when you are angry is often interpreted differently from when you’re
happy. Extreme emotions such as jubilation or depression are most likely
to hinder effective communication.
In such instances, we are most prone to disregard our national and
objective thinking processes and substitute emotional judgments.
Words mean different thing to different people. Age, education and
cultural background are three of the more obvious variables that influence
the language a person uses and the definitions he or she gives to words.
In an organization, employees usually come from diverse
backgrounds. The grouping of the employees into departments creates
specialists who develop their own “buzzwords” or technical jargon. In
large organizations, members are also frequently widely dispersed
geographically-even operating in different countries. The existence of
vertical levels can also cause language problems.
There point is that although you and I probably speak a common
language-English –our use of that language is far from uniform. If we
knew how each of us modified the language, communication difficulties
could be minimized. There problem is that the members in an
organization usually don’t know how those the words and terms they use
mean the same to the receiver as they do to them This assumption is often
Another major barrier to effective communication is that some
people- an estimated 5-20% of the population-suffer from debilitating.
Although lots of people speaking in front of a group, communication
People who suffer from it experience undue tension and anxiety in
oral apprehensive may find it extremely difficult to talk with others face
to face or become extremely anxious when they have to use the
telephone. As a result, they may rely on memos or faxes to convey
messages when a phone call would be not only faster but more
Studies demonstrate that oral-communication apprehensive avoid
situations that require them to engage in oral communication. We should
expect to find some self-selection in jobs so that such individuals don’t
take positions such as teacher. But almost all jobs require some oral
communication is a dominant requirement. And of greater concern is the
evidence that high oral communication apprehensive distort the
communication demands of their jobs in order to minimize the need for
communication. So we need to be aware that there is a set of people in the
organization who severely limit their oral communication and rationalize
this practice by telling that more communication isn’t necessary for them
to do their job effectively.
Poor structure to the communication
The structure of a communication is an essential factor in how well
a business communication is received by an audience.
It doesn't matter whether that audience is an audience of one or one
million, good structure is essential if a communication is to be 'heard'
amongst the advertising and marketing 'noise' of today's business
So a poor structure to your message or delivery is therefore a major
barrier to effective communication.
It doesn't matter how important or impressive the subject of your
communication is, if you deliver it without any 'punch' you will not get as
many people to take your desired action as you would like.
A weak delivery is like the very funny joke with the badly-told
punch line --- it is not as funny or as memorable as you remember the
original to be. It's all in the delivery. It is important to not get confused
between delivery and presenter.
Several businessmen are extremely confident in the public's gaze,
very happy to be in front of an audience. But because their presentations
and communications lack a suitable structure, they 'lose' their audience
within minutes, the audience becomes increasingly confused and
eventually frustrated by not being able to understand clearly and easily
what on earth these businessmen are on about.
The use of the wrong medium
You have to announce a temporary hold on non-essential stationery
spending in your department. How do you communicate this?
An advertising campaign on local radio would be a highly
ineffective way of reaching the desired audience if the message was
complex and really intended for a narrow niche audience.
Similarly, a public presentation, with 'obligatory' PowerPoint TM
slideshow full of complex charts and data, would be the wrong medium if
the message you were trying to communicate would be better served by a
white paper, or some similar print-based format that allowed the audience
to digest the complexities at their own pace.
When considering which medium to use for which type of message
you wish to communicate, it is wise to analyze the 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
• 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 audience of 1 or 1
million to understand your communication if you unnecessarily confuse
If you deliberately, or otherwise, confuse them. A HUGE barrier to
business communication is the ability of 'business-speak' to confuse and
alienate its audience.
It does this in two ways:
1. By using terms and phrases that are 'jargon', the meaning of which are
possibly recognized but probably not fully understood
2. By trying to 'save time/paper' by rolling several different
communication messages into one.
Another barrier arising from mixed messages is when a previously-
held stance is lightly overturned to meet some political or business
expediency, then upheld again. An example of this would be where the
acceptance of corporate gifts is not allowed, but then allowed if it a brand
new client who has contracted a large amount of money to your business,
then not allowed again after the gift-giving and receiving season is over.
Or a company-wide budget cut that stops all business-class travel,
but the very senior management is found to be traveling first class.
Be very careful of mixing your messages, as mixed messages are a
very real barrier to effective business communication.
The wrong audience
Presenting your message to the wrong audience for your business
communication is a complete waste of your time and money. Don't do it
-- pick your audience then pick the medium that will best find them.
A distracting environment
There's nothing worse than trying to communicate your message 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 they're trying
to read your memo
• Interruptions while they try to read your report
• Incoming emails keep popping up while they are reading your
• 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 they've set it to
'silent' instead of switching it off
• Their internet connection is slow
• Their internet connection keeps dropping out
• There are too many interesting people to look at while they are on
the bus trying, in vain, to concentrate on your report
• The room's air-conditioning is not working and the room is hot and
• The room's heating is not working and the room is cold and
Well, there are of course a thousand possible distracting reasons
why they cannot or will not attend to your business communication.
The point is to do whatever you can, whilst acknowledging that
this might be next to nothing, to reduce the number of distractions your
chosen audience might be subjected to.
4.2 CURRENT ISSUES IN COMMUNICATION
In this section we discuss four current issues relating to
communication in organization. Why do men and women often have
difficulty communicating with each other? What role does silence play in
communication? What are implications of the “politically correct”
movement on communications in organizations? And how individuals
can improve their cross culture communication?
Communication Barriers between Women and Men
Research by experts provides us with some important insights into
the differences between men and women in terms of their conversational
styles. The essence of the research is that men use talk to emphasize
status, whereas women use it to create connection. The conclusion, of
course, doesn’t apply to every woman. Thus it , means “a larger % of
women or men as a group talk in a particular way, or individual women
and men are more likely to talk one way or the other.
Communication is a continual balancing act, juggling the
conflicting needs for intimacy and independence. Independence emphasis
separateness and differences. But here’s the kick Women speak and hear
a language of connection and intimacy men speak and hear a language of
status power and independence. So for many men conversations are
primarily a means to preserve independence ands maintain status in a
hierarchical social order’s few examples will illustrate this:
Men frequently complain that women talk on and on about their
problem. Women criticize men for not listening. What’s happening is that
when men hear a problem, they frequently assert their for independence
and control by offering solutions .Many women, on other hand view
telling a problem as a means to promote closeness’s e women present the
problem to gain support and connection ,not to get the man’s advise.
Mutual understanding is symmetrical. But giving advise is asymmetrical
it sets up the advise giver as more knowledge, more reasonable, and more
in control. This contributes to distancing men and women in their efforts
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 marketing research report on that point?” Men
frequently see female indirections as “covert “or “sneaky” but women are
not vas concerned as men with the status and one-upmanship that
directness often creates.
Women tend to be less boastful than men. They often downplay
their authority or accomplishments to avoid appearing as braggarts and to
take the other’s person feelings into account Men can interpret this and
incorrectly conclude that a woman is less confident and competent than
she really is.
Finally men often critise women for seeming to apologize all the
time .Men tend to see the phrase “I m sorry” as a weakness because they
interpret the phrase to mean the woman is accepting blame, when he
knows she’s not to blame. The problem is that the women use often “I m
sorry” to express to regret and restore balance to conversations. For many
women “I m sorry “is an expression of understanding and caring about
the other person’s feelings rather than an apology.
4.3 SILENCE AS COMMUNICATION:
Sherlock Holmes once solved a murder mystery based on 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 the night time.
“Holmes concluded thwart crime had to be committed by someone
with whom the dog was familiar because the dog didn’t bark. The dog
that didn’t bark in the night is often used to metaphor for an event that is
significant by reason of its absence. That story is also an excellent
illustration of the importance of silence in communication.”
Silence—defined here as an absence of speech or noise-has been
generally ignored as a form of communication in OB because inaction or
no behavior .But it’s not necessarily in action .Nor is silence as, many
believe a failure to communicate. It can be a powerful form of
communication. It can mean someone is thinking a response to question.
It can mean a person is anxious and fearful of speaking. It can signal
agreement, dissent, and anger.
In terms of Organizational Behaviour we can see several links
between and work related behaviour. For instance, silence is a critical
element of group thinks, in which it implies agreement with majority. It
can be a way of employees to express dissatisfaction, as when they
“suffer in silence”. It can be sign that someone is upset, as when a
typically talking person says nothing
Failing to pay close attention to silent portion of a conversation can
result in missing a vital part of the message. Astute communications
watch for gaps, pauses, hesitations. They hear and interpret silence. They
treat pauses; they pay attention to what comes next. Is the person
suffering from communication apprehension? Sometimes the real
message in a communication is buried in silence.
4.4 “POLITICALLY CORRECT”
What words do you use to describe a colleague who is wheel-chair
bound? What terms do you use to address a female customer? How do
you communicate with a brand new client who is not like you? Your
answers can mean between losing a client, an employee, a lawsuit, a
harassment claim or a job.
Most of us are aware of how our vocabulary has been modified to
reflect political correctness. For instance, most of us have cleansed the
words handicapped, blind, and elderly from our vocabulary – and
replaced them with physically challenged, visually impaired, senior. The
Los Angeles Times, for instance, allows its journalists to use the word old
age but cautious that it varies from “person to person”.
We must be sensitive to others feelings. Certain words can and do
stereotype and insult individuals. We must be sensitive to know how
words might offend others. There is a downside to political correctness.
To illustrate, you probably know what these 4 terms mean: death,
garbage, quotas women. But each of these words also has been found to
offend one or more groups. They’ve been replaced by negative patient
outcome, post consumer waste materials, educational equity, and people
of gender. You know what death means; I know what death means; but
can you be sure that “negative patient outcome” will be consistently
defined as synonymous of death?
Some critics for humor’s sake enjoy carrying political correctness
to the extreme. Even those of us with thinning scalp, who aren’t thrilled
at labeled “bald” have to smirk when we’re referred to as “follicle
challenged”. But our concern here is with how politically correct
language is contributing a barrier to effective communication.
Words are primary means with which people communicate. When
we eliminate words from use because they are politically incorrect, we
reduce our options for conveying messages in accurate form. For the most
part, the larger the vocabulary used by sender, the greater opportunity to
transmit messages. By removing certain words from our vocabulary we
find it hard to communicate.
We must sensitive to how our choice of words offends others. But
we also have to be careful not to sanitize our language to the point at
which it clearly restricts clarity of communication. However you should
be aware of the trade-offs and the need to find a proper balance.
4.5 CROSS-CULTURAL COMMUNICATION:
Effective communication is difficult under the best of conditions.
Cross – cultural factors clearly the potential for increased communication
problems. A gesture that is well understood and acceptable in one culture
can be meaningless or lewd in another.
One author has identified 4 specific problems related to large
difficulties in cross-cultural communications.
First, there are barriers caused by semantics. As we’ve noted,
words mean different to different people. This is true for people from
different cultures. Some words. Don’t translate between cultures.
Understanding sisu will help you to communicate in Finland but this is
non transferable to English.
Second there are barriers caused by word connotations. Words
imply different things in different languages. Negotiations between
Americans and Japanese executives are made more difficult because
Japanese hai translates as yes but its connotation will be “yes I m
listening” rather than “yes I agree”
Third are barriers caused by tone differences in some cultures,
language is formal, in others it’s informal. In some, tone changes
depending upon the context: people speak differently at home. Using a
personal, informal style in situation in which a more formal style is
expected can be embarrassing and off-putting
Fourth, there are barriers caused by differences caused by
perceptions. People who speak different languages actually view the
world in different ways. Thais perceive no differently than Americans
because the former have no such word in the vocabulary.
A better understanding of these barriers for communicating across
cultural can be achieved by considering the concepts of high and low
Cultures tend to differ in importance to which context influences
meaning that individuals take from what is actually said or written in
light of who the other person is. Countries like china, Korea, Japan and
Vietnam are high context cultures they rely heavily on nonverbal and
subtle situations cues when communicating with others. A person’s
official status in society and reputation carry considerably weight in
communications. People from Europe and North America reflect their
low context cultures.
What do these contextual differences mean in terms of
communication? Actually quite a lot. Communication in high context
cultures implies considerably more trust by both parties. What may
appear to outsider as casual and insignificant is important because it
reflects a desire to build a relationship and create trust. Oral agreements
imply strong commitments in high context cultures. Low context cultures
value directness. Managers are directed to be explicit and precise in
conveying intended meaning.
A Cultural Guide:
When communicating with people from a different culture what
can you do to reduce misperceptions and misevaluations? You can begin
by trying to assess context culture. The 4 rules are helpful:
(1) Assume differences until similarity is proven. Most of us assume
that others are more similar to us than they actually are. But people
from different countries often are different.
(2) Emphasis description rather than interpretation or evaluation.
Interpreting or evaluating what someone has said or done is based
on observer’s culture and background than on observed situation.
(3) Practice empathy. Before sending a message put yourself in the
recipient’s shoes what don you know about his or her education,
upbringing or background? Try to see other person as she or he
(4) Treat your interpretations as a working hypothesis. Once you’ve
developed an explanation for a new situation think your empathize
with some foreign culture. Carefully assess the feedback by
recipients to see if it confirms your hypothesis. For important
decisions or communiqués, your can also check with other foreign
and home country colleagues to make sure that your interpretations
are on target.
Thus, Communication is an exchange of information and
transmission of meaning. It is considered as a crucial function of
modern management. Communication always involves a sender,
channel and receiver. The symbols of communication are words,
actions, pictures, and numbers.
Organization communication thus is one of the most important
tools used by many Human Resource Development (HRD) managers to
cut the communication gap in the organisation. It also plays an important
part to build an organization structure. Lack in organizational
communication hampers the productivity of employees and in turn that of
the organisation. Moreover, the case studies also help to throw light on
the important aspects of organizational communication and depict how
useful it is in shaping the organization’s future and helping it achieve its
objectives. To be fully effective, a communication programmes must:
1. Be properly organized and integrated with the structure of the
2. Have the support the support of top management to operate in a
climate favourable to free and open exchange of views and attitudes;
3. Have continuity.
Case Study 1
6.1 DO WE HAVE A COMMUNICATION PROBLEM
“I don’t want to hear your excuses. Just get those plains in the air,”
Jim Tuchman was screaming at his gate manager. As head of American
Airlines’ operations at the Mexico City Airport, Tuchman has been
consistently frustrated by the attitude displayed by his native employees.
Transferred from Dallas to Mexico City only three months ago, Tuchman
was having difficult adjusting to the Mexican style of work. “Am I
critical of these people? You bet I am! They don’t listen when I talk.
They think things are just fine and fight every change that I suggest. And
they have no appreciation for the importance of keeping on schedule.”
If Tuchman is critical of his Mexico City staff, it’s mutual. They
universally dislike him. Here’s a few anonymous comments made about
their boss: “he thinks if he yells and screams, that things will improve.
We don’t see it that way.” “I’ve been working here for four years. Before
he came here, this was a good place to work. Not anymore. I’m
constantly in fear of being chewed out. I feel stress all the time, even at
home. My husband has started commenting on it a lot.”
Tuchman was brought in specifically to tighten up the Mexico City
operation. High on his list of goals is improving American’s on-time
record in Mexico City, increasing productivity, and improving customer
service. When Tuchman was asked if he thought he had any problems
with his staff, he replied, “yep. We just can’t seem to communicate.”
1. Does Jim Tuchman have a communication problem? Explain.
2. What suggestions, if any, would you make to Jim to help him
improve his managerial effectiveness?
Yes, Jim Tuchman has a communication problem. It is obvious
from the fact that his employees are unhappy and dissatisfied with him.
They have shown their dissatisfaction, through their comments like not a
good place to work anymore, stress, Jim only screams and yells, fear of
being chewed, etc.
Moreover, Jim Tuchman was transferred to Mexico City to
improve customer service and increase productivity, but he himself
agrees to the fact that he and his employees are not able to communicate
properly. His employees dislike him and therefore they have parted such
comments. They feel Tuchman is being insensitive to their needs, etc. on
the other hand, Tuchman is also critical of them but because they are not
communicating properly. Both the parties, i.e. Tuchman and his staff are
not doing well with each other. He thinks his employees don’t listen to
him and are not ready to change as he suggests. On the other hand, the
employees think he does not listen to them and only keeps yelling. But
actually he is not yelling but trying to convey his ideas without proper
communication. Thus it can be clearly seen that there lies a
communication in this situation. This problem will only keep Tuchman
away from achieving his goals.
For the improvement of managerial effectiveness, the first and
foremost thing required by Jim Tuchman is communication. He has to
understand that achieving his goals of improving American’s on-time
record in Mexico City, increasing productivity and improving customer
service can be done only with the co-operation of his native employees.
He should try to be good to the employees so that they don’t dislike him.
Moreover, since he had been transferred only three months ago. He
had to have a bit of patience to get adjusted to Mexican style of work.
Even in this step i.e. to get adjusted to Mexican style of work, his
employees could help him in a better ay, as they were from the native
country, so could help him to do the necessary changes accordingly.
Here, Tuchman should communicate verbally, all his ideas to the
employees. There is lack in downward communication which should be
rectified, so that Tuchman can know the likes and dislikes of the
employees. This would in turn result in good upward communication, i.e.
the employees would start communicating properly and then their
misunderstandings could be cleared out and the required objectives could
Case Study 2
6.2 COMMUNICATION – LINE AND STAFF.
Good communication between line and staff personnel is important
in all organizations, and it can be said that effective communication plays
a significant role in determining the overall success of the organization.
However, when the communication process between line and staff
is less effective, problems can develop as seen in the following
Raman who manages the personal department of an industrial plant
of about 500 employees, recently distributed to all employees a detailed
questionnaire that required the employees to fill in information pertaining
to their job title, number of years with the organization, salary drawn and
description of their job responsibilities. The form stated by the purpose of
the questionnaire would be two provide management with an update
material concerning job classification. It was also indicated that all
employees should return the firms on or before the coming Friday, which
gave the employees five days to fill the needed information. Raman
announced to each department that he would visit the plant on Friday
morning and collect the forms that have not yet been returned to the
personnel department. The updating of the job classifications was
requested by the plant manager. The reason was to review all the job
duties with the possibility of re-classifying some of the positions and to
provide in some cases a more equitable pay structure.
At the end of the week, before Raman’s visit of the plant, less than
20 percent of the questionnaires had been returned to the personnel
department. After visiting the plant, Raman had collected only an
additional 15 forms. As the response was poor, Raman contacted plant
manager and other management officials and sought their co-operation.
Obviously, an accurate study of the wage and salary structure could not
be done because of the lack of necessary data. There appears to be a
problem between line and staff, more specifically the passing of
information from one to the other.
1. How will the line personnel suffer as a result of not filling out the
2. How could Raman have made his communication more effective?
In this case there is a problem in lateral communication i.e.
between the line and staff, in passing of the information from one to the
other. It can also see that there is downward communication problem i.e.
from the managers to the employees. They did not convey the message
well and thus there was some sort of problem in getting the
questionnaires filled up. Since the questionnaires were not filled up study
of wage structure and salary structure could not be done because they did
not have the necessary data.