A large number of cases point out that using communication channels properly would greatly improve the organization in some aspects. Without understanding communication channels, on the opposite, would have bad effects on the organization. It is not exaggerate to say that communication channels play a significant role in management and good managers will never miss them. In this essay, I will generally talk about three different communication channels which are formal channel, informal channel and grapevine activity and then analyze each of them in details in order to make good comparison.
By doing so, the differences among them are shown clearly. Some examples will be given to illustrate how important a good manager who understands communication channels and what benefit he would bring to the organization. Communication channels can be classified into three parts which are formal channel, informal channel and grapevine activity. A formal communication channel identifies individuals who are the official sources of information and the information that is their special concern(Johnson, Donohue&Atkin,1994).
Since relationships are determined by one’s role, structure is viewed by managers as a static entity which conforms to a top down configuration (Monge & Eisenberg, 1987). This point of view emphasizes the configurations resulting from formal authority relationships represented in the organizational hierarchy. An official meeting which held by organization is an exmaple of formal channel. On contrast, an informal communication channel is designed for varieties of needs such as social ones and it is based on the social contact as well as the personal affection of administrative staff.
This approach maintains a sense of personal integrity and team cohesiveness. Apart from the above two channels, grapevine activity is also counted. However, grapevine activity is a major medium of informal channel. As the name suggests, the grapevine is entwined throughout the organization with branches going in all directions. They spread quickly, uncontrollably and, once started, are often hard to stop. Because grapevine activity may harm both individuals and the organization itself, managers must consider how to control it.
Above three communication channels have their own advantages and disadvantages under different circumstances. How to use them efficiently and properly gives us a good topic to discuss. Formal communication channel is significantly useful when there is something fairly important to the organization and everyone should pay attention to. It shows the authority of superior and it is strictly serious. If we use informal channels instead of formal ones under this circumstance, lack of authority and configuration will lead to a never reached target. On one would consider it as an important issue.
However, nowadays, informal communication channel is regarded as the complement of formal channel and cannot be ignored. If we could manage informal channel in a right way, it would play an active role in organization. For example, in many situations, in order not to cause some unnecessary troubles, administrative staffs do not say exactly what they thought through formal communication channel but to chime in with others. On this occasion, when we take advantage of informal channel to have a talk with administrative staffs, we may grasp their true feelings towards certain issue and then shoot the arrow at the target.
Informal channel may decrease interpersonal conflict and make the human relationship more harmonious. Grapevine activity, as mentioned above, it is a form of informal channel and it is an inevitable part of organizational life. Researchers generally agree that the grapevine often functions in a beneficial manner The grapevine can help improve organizational efficiency in a number of ways. It also can help identify pending problems, can function as an early warning signal for organizational change, and is a vehicle for creating a common organizational culture.
Unfortunately, the down side of grapevine activity is obviously at the same time. The most common one is inaccuracy. psychological research reveals that human always like to send emotional messages when they are down in spirits or they are not satisfied with their jobs. They may misinterpret some facts intentionally or unintentionally and tell them to others in an exaggerate way. Someone who has have ulterior motives may take advantage of grapevine in order to satisfy their personal interests. Thus it can be seen that every communication channel has its range of application.
Our aim in management is to use them properly. As a result, it is fairly important for a manager to understand communication channels. If a manager understand communication channels he(she) would know which channel is suitable for a certain situation. This would maintain a good human relationships and always make employees happy with their jobs. Employees do not work only for salary but also for some need in spiritual level. They need to be respected and participated. If they feel that they are important to the organization, they would work harder.
A good manager would satisfy them with these aspects during formal communication. Informal communication also helps organization with its development. A good manager would use informal communication channel to keep good relationships with employees and cover the shortage of formal communication. For instance, treat employees a lunch or a dinner if they do well in their positions and listen to their opinions as much as you can. This would let them feel that they are valued. Also, provide childcare to employees who have babies already and to free them of worries.
By doing so, employees would be more happier and they would contribute more to the organization. As for grapevine activity, a good manager would know how to deal with it and make good control of it. Consequently, the organization would grow faster if we take very good advantage of communication channels. In conclusion, there are three communication channels which are named as formal channel, informal channel and grapevine activity. They all have positive functions to organization depend on how you manage them. It is worthwhile to know and use them appropriately in management and a great value will be obtained accordingly.