Organizational communications are considered to “focus on the various ways individuals influence culture and symbolism, leadership communication, the influence of organizational members’ communication on their ability to participate in organizational life, and critical analysis of organizational communication,” (University of North Carolina, 2006).
It is also referred to as corporate communication which is basically the process of conveying information as between the various elements in an organizational environment. Without an efficient and effective communication, an organization cannot withstand the various challenges that face it on a day-to-day basis.
Nature of Organizational Communication
Communication in any given organization is ever changing and dynamic. As the organization changes with time, the nature of communication also changes with it. Through communication, people are able to change, develop as well as reshape their way of thinking. Communication involves a complex process and every individual in an organization needs to understand the nature of that process. This may be understood by looking into the components of a communication process.
In the past, various writes have come up with the various ingredients that are necessary for a communication process to be complete. These are: sender, message, channel and the receiver, though this is just a constitution of the primary essentials. An expanded model would consist of an interpersonal communication model.
The model that has been put forth, portrays the human being to be the sender and the recipient of the message, and also allows the transmission of message and obtaining of feedback by either of the parties. The model presents the communication system as a process of human interaction. The process is ever continuing, never coming to a standstill as within the organizational environment.
In the model, the sender, as the origin of the message, represents the manager in an organization who determines what message is to be communicated and its meaning and how it should be transmitted. The manager here has to select a message containing a mutual meaning for everyone in the organization. The message, when communicated should be able to elicit response from the receiver. It should be accompanied, not just by words but also with facial expressions that match with it.
The channel chosen should be effective and efficient and should be different for each level in the organization. For the message to be received effectively by the receiver, the manager needs to understand the nature of the employees in the organization and the recipients in general and take into consideration all the individual differences when communicating to them.
The employees too need to set aside their individual beliefs and biases in order not to miss out the point because of their misjudgments. It is important that the manager seek feedback from the employees as it is very crucial in carrying out any corrective measures that need to be taken.
Functions of Organizational Communication
Communication within an organization has a very important role. It helps the manager to inform, persuade, regulate, manage, integrate and allow socialization as among the employs. For the informative purpose, the manager communicates new information to the employers.
Such information may be in regard to change in rules and processes, change of organizational structure or the organizational goal and what is expected of every one of them. This may be done through written notices and memorandums or it may be through organizational meetings.
For the regulative function, the manager is able to communicate to the employees those rules and policies that are aimed at regulating their functions. It involves telling an employee how he should conduct his activities and correcting him when he is wrong so as to create a smooth flow of operations.
In the integrative function, the manager uses communication to coordinate the various unit tasks so that they are all aiming at achieving the same organizational goal. It helps in harmonizing the various tasks being performed by different groups and aligns them to achieve a common objective.
Communication is also important to achieve the role management. This is whereby communication is used to get individuals to perform their respective parts for the achievement of the common objective. The various parts are then coordinated to ensure similar one common objective is realized.
Everyone knows what the other person is doing and works in line with each other. The persuasive function is related to the management function. The supervisor aims at achieving the organizational goal by gaining the loyalty of employees rather than coercing them. It involves making them feel that they are responsible for the good of the company in general.
We cannot also leave behind the function of socializing. This is concerned with the welfare of the employees unlike all the others which are primarily concerned with the organization. It opens up channels through which the employees can voice out his opinions as well as grievances for a happier and healthier working life.
There are both formal and informal organizational communication networks. The former is the one relating to businesses that governs the structure and tone used in communication such as when exchanging business correspondences, applying for a job, employee manuals and formal presentations generally. Informal communication is mostly used in casual places and purposes. It is common amongst employees of the same level and can be very strong and influential. Mostly, it is concerned with the social lives of the employees.
Formal communication tends to be hierarchical in nature depending on the organizational structure and chain of command. The management has the overall control in the formal communication and every employee is expected to know and understand how it works. Communication flow in an organization has various dimensions to it. It can be vertical, which can be either downward vertical or upward vertical and horizontal communication flow, (Richmond, McCroskey & McCroskey, 2005).
Downward vertical communication flows from the upper management downwards to the employees. It is normally authoritative rather than consultative. It is used by management to give employees the instructions to be used in carrying out of their work and the rational for it.
It is also used to gain employees loyalty as well as inform them of any developments and obtain feedback for any clarification or any objections that the employees may exhibit. The management decides which information to be communicated and which one should not.
For upward vertical communication, it comes from those at the lower levels to those directly above them in the management hierarchy. Many organizations are afraid of entertaining this kind of communication for fear that the management will lose their control thus it’s rather restrictive.
It is used where the organization wants to obtain feedback from the employees. For organizations that involve employees in decision-making, it is important to obtain potential management ideas from the employees. This kind of communication should be encouraged in many organizations.
Horizontal communication on the other hand flows across the entire organization. It is the communication used by peers in the same level of power in the organization. The managers use it with their fellow managers, while the employees use it with their fellow employees. It is the one that is used the most and flows freely without any restrictions or rules to be obeyed. It brings about social harmony in the work place and creates feelings of togetherness for the individual occupants of the particular levels.
Factors to consider when creating a communication system
Cultural norms: The organizational culture is integral when developing a communication system within the organization. Organizational culture refers to such things as languages, practices, actions and artifacts shared by individuals, (Lane, 2011). The message which is communicated by managers to the subordinates does not obviously travel in a vacuum. Every one of us has their individual perceptions of things and those perceptions affects the way we take various things in life.
Therefore, different workers will understand the same message differently, each according to hi/her own beliefs, norms and values that they hold subconsciously. Every worker has his own beliefs about what is beneficial to the organization, what the objects and outcomes of the organization should be and what an efficient and effective management should constitute.
Therefore, the communication process should take into consideration what the employees think and hold dear and the communication network adopted should be devised in such a way as to invoke response in employees when communicating, especially when you are dealing with a controversial subject matter such as organizational change.
For an organizational communication system to qualify as being effective, it must be capable of gaining commitment from the employees and to get them to embrace the overall organizational goal without resulting into conflict.
Diversity: In the contemporary business world, organizations are increasingly diversifying their operations and boosting their business activities so as to attract the best talent globally. Though this is a good thing since it brings about openness in the communication system due to increased opportunities, it comes with its own challenges when it comes to organizational communication.
Nevertheless, the openness brought about gives rise to a culture of inclusiveness which will impact on the personal lives of employees as well. It helps an organization to be able to assimilate different cultures all so well by learning the hindrances associated with the same and ironing them out.
Organizational Structure: The structure of an organization determines the communication flow within that organization. It determines how power is transmitted throughout the organization amongst the various levels of power within that organization.
The way roles are distributed within the organization, signified by the various titles, shows the layers of organizational power and outlines which can freely and effectively communicate with each other. Each organization will normally have its own rules and policies. Such policies when effectively communicated establish who and how decisions are to be made and the various effects of such decisions to the entire organization.
If the stakeholders in an organization understand clearly and internalize those rules and policies, the system of communication will become more effective and efficient between not only the managers and the employees but also as between the executive as well. Each member will know exactly what the organization is expecting from him and will proceed to do exactly that in the realization of the organizational goal and its overall success.
In every organization, there will always be conflicting parties at any given moment. This will be accelerated by the fact that it is a large organization where different individuals with diverse personalities exist and work together as a corporate unit.
These individuals hold different views and values about life but they still need to come together, solve all their differences and live harmoniously with each other. To make it easier for them, the manager needs to understand those cultural differences and incorporate them in the communication system if the organization is going to be successful.
There are also other challenges that are not directly related to the size of an organization. For example, workers will naturally form their own social bonds which have little or nothing to do with work. Where the organization does not accept or recognize such social ties, it may result to chaos and conflicts.
Other conflicts emanate from dealing with the human resource. The managers have to every so often come up with ways of motivating the employees, compensation and awarding of proper performance and how to identify such performance etc. all These must be taken into consideration when developing a communication process for the organization.
Communication at the work place
For an organization to survive its internal communication must be effective and well established. Through communication, the management will show the employees that they care for them and their well-being. More often than not, organizations will use notices or memos and post them on the notice boards.
Others will conduct communication through meetings and organizing social events. This is effective in creating good working relations as among the employees. Lately, newsletters have also become an important communication medium. This mostly will contain the success stories of the organizations and the various officers. They are used to orientate new members into the affairs of the organization as well as invite every individual in the organization to celebrate the excellent performance.
The use of multimedia is also becoming increasingly and widely used as a method of communication within the organization. There is use of video and audio devices to communicate not only within but also between the organization and the outside world. This is through such communication means as teleconferencing where individuals are in different geographical locations. Employee development and training is being carried out using multimedia and this is efficient especially for on-job training.
Further, different organizations have set up an intranet communication method within the workplace to be used for communication within the organization only (Hoe, 2009). Members of the organization are able to come up with a shared database whereby informational resources of the organization are shared as among themselves. There are also websites and blog spots where every individual can post their ideas and opinions.
Communication within the organization is an important area in the organization taking into consideration the changing needs in the informational requirements around the global world managers are able to run the entire organization effectively only if their communication system is well developed. In developing a communication system, management should take into consideration the different individual values and beliefs of employees. They should also be up to date with the current technological developments.
Hoe, S. C. (2009). Communicating at Work: Using Different Media Inside an Organization. Retrieved on 23rd September 2011 from http://www.helium.com/items/1552199-internal-communication-medium-of-communication
Lane, R. (2011). Corporate and Organizational Communication. Demand Media Inc. eHow Contributor
Richmond et al. (2005). Organizational Communication for Survival: Making Work, Work: The Nature of Communication in Organizations. Retrieved on 23rdSeptember 2011 from my.ilstu.edu/~llipper/com329/mccroskey_chapter.pdf
The University of Carolina. (2006). Interpersonal & Organizational Communication. Chapel Hill Communication Studies. Retrieved on 23rd September 2011 from http://comm.unc.edu/areastudy/ioc/index_html