Organizational communication

Introduction

Communication, either formal or informal is the most important tool in all businesses and other related organization. It is of great essence to take into consideration the actual act of communication when studying the hierarchies, channels and processes associable with communication.

It is thus important to take into consideration that communication is human, and thus it comes with all the flaws and strengths of humanity. Organizations are especially held together by cooperation that is strengthened by communication. In such kinds of relationships and networks, information is a key aspect of the network.

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This is where communication gets its strength from since there is normally demand for properly relayed information between and among relevant parties. Information exchange, a key aspect of operational efficiency in organizations is thus highly valued by organizations to the extent that organizations devise ways of making their communications effective.

Good business communication skills both with fellow staff members and with customers are important for business prosperity. The success of a business is identified by the achievements of the business which depends on the relationship between the business stakeholders and can be achieved effectively through quality of communication (May and Mumby, 2005, p. 234).

Communication enables a business to address its market availability in identifying and analyzing its competitive position in the market. It is only through communication that a business can establish its performance in the market from which it can realize and determine new and effective marketing strategies. This paper looks at the different channels and ways of communicating in business organizations as well as showing the importance of maintaining good communication skills in a business set up.

Communication networks

Communication networks are patterns through which information flows in an organization. Communication networks have been groups into two major divisions, centralized and decentralized networks. There are three centralized networks which are: The wheel network where information must be passed through a central figure in the organization that is considered to be at the centre of the wheel. An organization practicing wheel network for communication can be said to be an autocratic organization.

The second network is the Y network. In this network, one of the members belonging to the network eventually becomes the epicenter of the network. Lastly, there is the Chain network. In this network, there is minimal control between members of the same network. An example of an organization in which this kind of network can be found is the military. Generally, this network is used in institutions where the flow of communication is top-bottom.

The second division which is the decentralized division consists of two networks namely:

Star network which represents the usual basic patterns of communication in most organizations.
Circle network which is a little similar to the star network where each member can communicate with another from both sides of the organization (Redding 1985, p. 465).

Some basic differences between the decentralized and centralized networks depend on the performance and group morals of the networks. Centralized networks are mainly used efficiently in the simple tasks since its efficiency is much more in these tasks. On the other hand, the decentralized network is much more efficient in speed and accuracy in complex tasks. Decentralized networks normally promote higher levels of morals than their centralized counterparts.

Communication channels in organizations

Communication channels are means of through which information is passes within and between organizations. The most common channels of communication among organizations include;

Formal communication which employs the use of hierarchy in an organization to pass over information. Thus, information is passed from the top organization directives to the bottom. This then means that subordinates receive information relating to the organization such as policy changes form their immediate supervisors. Similarly, for low level management to pass formal information to the top of the management, it has to go through the middle level management and up to the top superiors (Cheney et al 2004, p. 198). Formal channels of communication can therefore be divided further into the following sub-divisions:
Downward formal movement which involves passing information from the top management down to the bottom. This channels ensure passage of information verbally which is much efficient than non verbal methods. However, there is possibility of information delays due to the long channels involved.
Upward formal communicating which involves passage of feedback to the top management from the subordinate staff. This channel uses tools such as reports and may not be effective due to possible lack of disclosure.
Horizontal formal communication channel defines communication between organization members who have same hierarchical status. It is very significant in passing information within departments.
Informal channel of communication which entails communication within an organization but not in the hierarchical manner. In this channel, any member of an organization can communicate directly with another regardless of their hierarchy. Informal communication channels are advantageous in accelerating the speed at which information is passed. However, its misuse may challenge the management organization.
Unofficial communication channel is defined by spread of rumors and gossip within an organization. This channel mostly involves only peers of an organization and thus not everyone gets involved (Hekmat 2005, p. 1).

Barriers to communication

Whether or not barriers exist in communication depends on the characters of the communicating parties. The beliefs and values that shape people’s character and that come from their nature therefore become the source of the key barriers to communication between people. For instance, people tend to defend their dignity during conversations, and thus this may become a great barrier to communication. It however depends with an individual.

This is because the need for a given defense, be it self-esteem or otherwise, may arise as a conversation continues or a person may have a long-term issues. For instance, a person may have the view that he/she is somehow inadequate, he/she may raise some defenses verbally to cover up for those inadequacies.

“Employees, for example, whose egos cannot tolerate criticism, will simply not share information that exposes them to personal critique”. (Redding 1985, p. 47). This lack of self-confident causes such people to hold back from giving personal opinions such as suggestions or even unable to take initiatives with the fear of failing.

Such people will not be able to communicate effectively in any business set up especially if they end up holding managerial roles. They tend to communicate in ways that do not provoke questions or any verbal directives which sometimes may not be as effective as face to face communication.

A close factor to lack of self-confidence is the lack of defensiveness where one is unable to communicate or pass certain information because of the outcome that may be associated with it. For instance, middle or low level employees may hold back information due to the fear that such information may bring some complications or other problems such as questionable vocabulary and employee vulnerability. However, an organization may face serious consequences because of that piece of information that was held back (Carpenter 1998, p. 1).

For effective passage of information within and among organizations, members should learn ways in they can act against such barriers in order to promote openness and honesty, both of which are significant tools of communicating effectively. However, for employees to be open especially with their superiors, the management also needs to create an environment which makes the employee confortable and able to share views and opinions.

Physical barriers may as well interfere with effective communication where some areas have restrictive rules which do not allow certain groups of people to enter. Physical separation of working areas also hinders communication between the staff members.

Cultural barriers have continued to prevent effective communication within organizations especially where team members have different cultural backgrounds. Due to the different perceptions of life associated with many of the cultural groups, such team members may have different interests which would drift them much far apart and lead to lack of open communication.

Language barriers are similarly one of the greatest barriers to effective communication because in order for a group of people to communicate effectively, there must be understanding which comes along with familiarity of the language being used.

For instance, in a business set up, the only way that the business can achieve marketing success is by using a language that is familiar with the market being targeted during promotions and advertisements (Carpenter 1998, p. 1).

Despite much efforts to promote gender equality, there has been great barriers to communication as a result of gender identification where in most cases, women feel less obliged to give their views and expressions, a position that is traditionally viewed as a man’s responsibility only.

Conclusion

Effective communication in business organizations is very important as it helps create a favorable environment which is significant in promoting employee performance. It allows all stakeholders to take part in decision making which is equally important in growth of a business.

However, open communication in businesses does not entirely lie on the management efforts to involve employees in participation of business maters but also calls for the members’ confidence from a personal level. An open communication channel requires courage as there is the need to communicate directly/verbally in order to pass information in a much more effective way rather than communicating indirectly through reports and the like.

This is because verbal communication gives room for immediate feedback through questioning. “This is because open communicators have to articulate their positions in meetings, public arenas, and in print, they must be secure individuals, confident in their own positions, ability, and authority” (Carpenter 1998, p. 1).

Despite the fact that open communication may create certain demands especially on the employees, the rewords associated with it is far much greater to both the employees and the organization. Similarly, honesty helps create an environment where everyone feels part of the organization through honest passage of information and this is basically what leads to the success of the organization.

Reference List

Carpenter, M. (1998). Communication barriers. Retrieved July 30, 2011, from,
http://www.flatworldknowledge.com/node/29120#web-29120

Cheney, G. et al., (2004). Organizational communication in an age of globalization: Issues, reflections, practices. Long grove, IL Waveland press

Hekmat, S. (2005). Communication networks. Retrieved July 30, 2011, form
http://www.pragsoft.com/books/CommNetwork.pdf

May, S and Mumby, D. (2005). Engaging organizational communication theory and research. Thousand oaks, CA: sage

Redding, C. (1985). Stumbling toward identity: the emergence of organizational communication as a field of study. Mcphee and Tompkins, organizational communication: traditional themes and new directions. Thousand oaks’, CA: sage

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