Communication, although important in all aspects of management, is particularly important in the function of leading. Communication is defined as the transfer of information from the sender to the receiver with information being understood by the receiver.
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Organization is a social system. Communication is the means by which social inputs are fed into social systems. It is also the means by which behaviour is modified, change is affected and information is made productive.
Communication is the force for influencing staff direction. Group activity is impossible without communication.
1. Purpose of Communication:
In its broadest sense, the purpose of communication is to influence action towards the welfare of the organisation. The assimilation of information and actions in response to it becomes more and more difficult as the size of operations enlarge.
Communication is essential for efficient internal functioning of the enterprise because it is needed:
i. To disseminate goals and develop plans for their achievement
ii. To organise resources in the most effective and efficient manner
iii. To appraise and develop members of the organisation
iv. To lead, direct, motivate and create a climate in which people want to contribute.
Communication is also essential for dealing with the external environment. Informational exchange permits health care organisations to become aware of the needs of patients and the concerns of the community.
It is through communication that an organisation becomes an open system interacting with its environment.
Although every person in an organisation shares the responsibility for good communication, it is the organisational leaders who have a major responsibility to set the right direction and tone for effective communication.
2. Communication Process:
Communication is a two way process in which everyone is both an originator and receiver of communication.
Components of the communication process are as follows.
3. Sender of the Message:
Communication begins with the sender. He encodes a thought or idea in a way that the receiver can understand.
4. Transmission of Message:
The information is then transmitted through different channels, viz. oral form, written memorandum, telephone, telegraph, fax or computer. Proper selection of the medium of media is vital for effective communication since there are many channels available.
5. Receiver of the Message:
The receiver has to decode the information into thought for action. Accurate communication can only occur when both the sender and receiver attach the same or similar meaning to the message. Use of technical or complicated jargon may be misunderstood by the recipient of the message.
To check the effectiveness of communication, feedback is essential. One can never be sure whether or not a message has been effectively encoded, transmitted, decoded or understood unless it is confirmed by feedback.
7. Communication Flow:
In any organisation communication flows downward, upward and crosswise
8. Downward Communication:
(Flows from people at higher levels to those at the lower levels) During its flow from the top, information can often lost or distorted as it comes down the chain of command. Since it has to follow the organisational hierarchy, downward flow of information through the different levels of organisation is time-consuming.
Downward oral communication includes oral instructions, speeches, meetings and use of telephones.
Written downward communication includes memoranda, letters, circulars, pamphlets, house journals, and bulletin boards.
9. Upward Communication:
(Travel from subordinates upwards to superiors). However, this flow has a tendency to be hindered at various levels in the upward link.
Usual means of upward communications are reports and returns, the suggestion system, appeal procedure, complaint system, counselling session, group meetings, the practice of open-door policy and the “grapevine”.
An effective upward communication system requires an environment in which subordinates should feel free to communicate.
10. Crosswise Communication:
A great deal of communication cuts across the chain of command crosswise communication covers horizontal flow of information with people on same organisational level, and also diagonal flow with persons at different levels who have no direct reporting relationships.
Many kinds of oral and written crosswise communication patterns are used to supplement the vertical flow of information.
Oral crosswise communication ranges from informal meetings of various grapevine groups, formal conferences and committee meetings.
Crosswise communication also occurs when members of staff, who have an advisory function, interact with line managers.
The types of written form of communication are the house-journal or magazine, published policies and procedures and bulletin boards.
Most of the communication in organisation is ineffective because it is usually one-way rather than two-way communication.
One-way communication may have its own advantages like it is speedy, there is no fear of disagreement, it is impressive and business like, protects one’s power, makes work life simpler, but it is ineffective in the long run.
11. Communication Models: Written, Oral and Nonverbal:
It can be read by a large audience, can promote uniformity in policy and procedure, and provides record.
However, it has the disadvantage that it provides no immediate feedback. Consequently it may take a long time to know whether a message has been properly understood.
A lot of effort is required for effective writing for communication. The communication matter has the danger of getting bogged down in complicated technical jargon.
Guidelines suggested for effective written communication are as follows.
i. Use simple words and phrases
ii. Use short and familiar words
iii. Use short sentences and paragraphs
iv. Give illustrations and examples
v. Use personal pronouns (such as “you”)
vi. Economize on adjectives.
A large proportion of information, up to 70 per cent, is communicated orally. Oral communication can be face-to- face meetings. It can also be formal or informal.
The advantage of oral communication is it provides for speedy interchange, with immediate feedback. In a face-to-face interaction, the effect can be noted. However, oral communication does not always save time. Committees may be costly in terms of time.
It can reinforce verbal communication. This is achieved through gestures, facial expression and body-language. Frowns, disappointed looks, placing hands on hips represent gestures of super correctness of the authoritative autocratic person.
Attentive eye contact, active listening, a show of confidence reflect a mature person. Slouching, self-consciousness, laughter, wringing of hands reflect an immature personality. By these gestures and body-language, nonverbal communication may support or contradict verbal communication.
Written and oral communication both are often used to complement each other. In addition, visual aids may be used to supplement both oral and written communication. When a message is repeated through several media, it will be more accurately received, comprehended and recalled.