Report subject is Formal and informal channels of communication in organizations. Communication is an important part of management in any organization. An organization is created by people working together. Communication becomes a necessary condition to ensure specific individual coordinated action. “It follows that all organizations must have effective formal methods, mechanisms and processes of communication, and suitable and effective means of making sure that what they wish to say is transmitted effectively” (R.Pettinger, 2006).
The aim of this report is to compare and explain significance of formal and informal channels of communication in organizations. The methods used are analysis, diagrams that describe forms and types of communication and reflection.
2. Essentials of communication
Communication is an exchange of information between two or more people, providing mutual understanding. Management specialist J.P.Louis believes that the person who speaks is responsible for successful communication. Communication happens when an idea that has arisen in human mind reaches
another person’s consciousness in a way that ensures the understanding and use of it.
Communication occurs when feedback is formed. If a person has not reached an understanding with a person whom he seeks to contact or pass on the information, it can be assumed that communication has not happened.
3. Forms of communication
3.1. Verbal communication
Verbal or oral communication is a way of communication, which provides exchange of verbal communication expressions (face to face conversations, telephone conversations, group discussions). Research and experience shows that, despite the technological progress, people in organizations widely use direct verbal communication. It provides immediate feedback between sender and receiver; it is very simple and requires no previous long-term preparation. Disadvantage of this communication is that it requires immediate perception. Verbal communication can be used, if the sent information:
is addressed to several people;
is short in volume;
is relatively simple in its content.
Information receiver hears only one part of the conversation, translates it, then adds own assessment and avoids what the person does not want to hear. It may be something that does not fit in the system of knowledge, or something that is too disturbing to accommodate. Somehow the message gets affected and the information recipient replies and comments.
3.2. Non-verbal communication
Written communication is a form of communication, which provides exchange of information in written expression. For example, orders, notices, articles and letters. The benefits as checking particulate details before sending the information are considered and are very important for major decisions. Written information is often a rule (annual reports, conclusion on the financial situation) which can not be provided by verbal communication.
Written communication is recommended in cases where the sent information is: intensive in amount;
relatively complex in its content.
Written communication is a way of communication, which provides exchange of fixed information in a written form. This information’s medium is documents. Comparative table of the communication types is shown in Appendix 1:
4. Communication types
4.1. Formal communication
Communication in the organization can be formal (official) and informal (unofficial). Formal communications are mostly written, although they may now also include formal presentations, newsletters, legal advisories, invitations, awards. Non-written formal communication devices are in-person communications in the forms of departmental meetings, telephone calls, conferences and special interviews.
Formal communication depends on the organizational structure, thus it may be vertical and horizontal. The purposes of formal communication are to command, to instruct, and to finalize matters through the application of regulations. Essential for managers is to think about the communication function in two directions. At first, it increases respect for a manager. Secondly, with a two way communication the manager is able to check staff understanding and also motivation and concerns. If it does not happen, then manager has to stay in uncertainty of what co-workers think and feel.
After that it is difficult to direct and influence the results. Vertical communication means channelling the flow of information up and down (between the different levels of managers and subordinates) in accordance with the established organizational structure. There is a vertical communication, which is moving down, and one that is moving up. See Appendix 2. Downward communication directs information from a manager to subordinates. Analyzed communication can be divided into five categories: • Instructions and guidance.
They are required to initiate action, to inform employees about their tasks and to determine the execution time; • The information is intended to increase individually or in departments to understand other organizational tasks; • Information about the organization’s strategy, action and practice events.
It is important to form other ideas and activities and get some coherence of organizational practices; • Information about the execution, which is used to inform subordinates on how well they are operating; • Information about the organization’s objectives to increase the understanding of the subordinate organization’s purpose and character.
Upward communication provides feedback channelling through which the sender returns to certain information. Such upward information can be divided into three categories: • Information about employees, their activities and problems; • Information about other group members, their activities and problems; • Information on what needs to be done and how to do it. Upward flow of information is understood as information for the highest levels to ensure control.
The second formal (official) way of communication is horizontal communication. Its mission is to increase the coordination of the activities. Horizontal communication is the advancement of information flow aside, allowing the individual units to collaborate without the need to follow up and down the existing communications. Horizontal communication is possible between middle-level managers, as well as – between lower-level managers and staff.
Therefore the individual units would be able to work together. In contrast, vertical communication exists between the different levels of managers and their subordinates according to established organizational structure. Horizontal communication has the meaning of information flow guiding one level within the structure.
4.2. Informal communication
Informal communication in the organization satisfies a variety of social and emotional needs and is not based on the positions within the organization. The purposes of informal communication are to educate through information sharing, to motivate through personal contacts, and to resolve conflicts through participation and friendship. It seeks to involve workers in organizational matters as a means of maintaining their enthusiasm, loyalty, and commitment.
As a result, the communication is not managed or planned in any organized fashion. It is more relaxed and casual. Informal communication is seen on a person-to-person basis, in a face-to-face manner. Other ways to communicate in an informal manner may include texting, post-it notes, an informal visit to another person, or a quick and spontaneous meeting.
One of the informal communication channel type is called “grapevine”. The use of the organizational grapevine as an informal communication channel often results when employees feel threatened, vulnerable, or when the organization is experiencing change and when communication from management is restricted and not forthcoming. Informal communication also may take a non-verbal form as facial expressions, sign language, and manner of dress.
When used with thought and planning, however, there are several advantages of grapevine communication. It can: spread information quickly throughout an organization
serve a social purpose
reduce stress and anxiety
can be used to identify problems or lack of satisfaction in the organization Informal communication is used to help people feel more relaxed. This can be seen in an interview situation where an interviewer makes a little small talk to help get clients to relax, feel welcome and open up verbally. The use of informal language is far more prevalent in society than the use of formal language. Advantages and disadvantages of formal/informal communication are displayed in Appendix 3.
5. Examples of effective formal communication channels
Formal presentations – this could be an update of the organization’s performance in the previous period of time. An evidence for this is an annual staff meeting in hotel “Cumberland”. On a set day all the staff were gathered in a meeting room with everyone present from all levels, both managers and workers. In the meeting high level managers from departments were effectively presenting materials about last the organization’s last year’s performance, achieved goals, needs for improvement and future plans using graphs, diagrams and presentation software.
Newsletters – these are newspapers, magazines, online resources which provide the information about the organization’s current standings, performance and products being developed. This can be seen in many electronic manufacturing companies, for example, “Apple”, “Sony”, “LG”, and “Samsung”. “Sony” has designed a newsletter for staff that keeps information up to date and involves staff in company’s function. Awards – wealthy organizations award best workers in each department every year, some of them organize banquets for award events in luxury banqueting halls.
Recently the organization – “FIFA” organized notable banqueting event in Grosvenor square “Marriott” banqueting hall. Awards are meant to motivate workers to work harder and increase their performance.
6. Examples of effective informal communication channels
Texting is very common and quick method of informal communication between staff and management. It is quick and easy way to assign the next order of work or any changes and updates. Evidence for this is “All purpose cleaning” organization’s manager who communicates with co-workers in friendly and relaxed manner sending messages about work projects or even feedback from customers. Quick and spontaneous meetings are frequent in public sector where good customer service is essential.
The company “Sainsbury’s” regularly gather staff to discuss important daily matters to increase productivity and improve customer satisfaction. After work activities are very necessary to get to know each other better, share experience, thoughts and new ideas in personal and work relevant matter. Example for this is “St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel” where everyone after work joined an all staff barbecue in their casual look in a free and unrestricted environment which was fun and memorable experience.
Management functions can not be realized without communication. Correct choice of communication approach is an important condition for the organization’s productivity. Access to human resource communication is the most effective approach to the organization to enhance productivity. Employee concerns are not only heard but also are used to improve the organization’s activities. The main point for effective communication creation is a two-way communication and the development of various communication channels.
It is recommended to use both formal and informal communication styles. People who have learned and know how to use their knowledge in the art of communication achieve better results. In other words, those are people who can communicate with anyone in a way to attract
attention to their personality and ideas. An effective organization consists of employees who are able to interact and follow a talented leader, so they need to communicate with each other to succeed in their performance.
Effective communication is essential throughout the economy, government and military organizations, business, customer service or family, wherever people come into mutual contact. Communication between people form opinions of each another. Over time, the gained and practiced types and quality of communication determine productivity of communication and the basis for successful cooperation. “Communication is at its most effective when it is delivered face to face, allowing for discussions and questions” (R.Pettinger, 2006).
There are several options for improving the efficiency of communication which are divided into: • the improvement of information transmission and reception period; • provision of repeating information and returning it to the sender; • improving the organizational structure.
One of the ways to improve the transmission and reception is to avoid extensive, imaginative descriptions. It is important to formulate information laconically and specifically, so that words do not loose their importance. It should be noted that the repetition and returning information to the sender is an effective way of improving communication. Information returning to the sender improves both the sender and the recipient’s communication skills.
One of the key ways to improve communication is related to the organizational structure. It is important to ensure a clear flow of information, as well as the correct allocation of duties and responsibilities. It is stated that it is desirable to have minimal communication channel length to minimize the probability of distortion. References
1. Pettinger, R. (2006). Introduction to Management 4th edition. Basingstoke: MacMillan. 2. Buchanan, D & Huczynski, A. (2007). Organisational Behaviour. An Introductory text. 6th edition. Harlow: Pearson. 3. Boddy, D. (2008). Management an Introduction. 4th edition. Harlow: Prentice Hall. 4. Forauds I. Vadītājs un vadīšana. (2002). – R: Kamene. 5. Pavloviča A., Praude V.(2003). Menedžments. R: Latvijas Uzņēmējdarbības un menedžmenta akadēmija: Rīgas Komercskolas Tālmācības nodaļa. 6. Ruskule S., Ivans U. (2004 ).Vadīšana. Jelgava: LLU EF. Appendix 1
Communication between people
Promotes exchange of information
Is not always precise and carefully thought out.
Simple in use.
It is not possible to use regular entries.
Tends to be more precise and carefully thought out.
Does not contribute to the exchange of information.
Is used in regular records of performance.
Difficult and sometimes time-consuming.
Communication types in organizations