Communication in the Workplace

Managers cannot rely on face-to-face communication alone to pass messages to the other staff members in an organization. The channels of effective communication available to managers are formal and informal. Formal communication is used to transmit information through a chain of command in an organised way. The information moves from the manager to the employees through business plans, employer manuals, newsletters, and annual reports. Informal communication is a relaxed and casual way of passing information through “word of mouth” and is used to satisfy social and emotional needs and is not based on the position held by the communicator. In order to ensure that action is coordinated throughout the organisation, managers need only be concerned with the formal communication channels in the workplace.
Informal communication, directives, counseling, coaching, disciplinary actions and instructions flows from directors to managers to the staff or may also flow upwards from the staff to the managers and subsequently to the directors in reports, statuses, questions, and data well as horizontally among departments. This message is always specific to the departments and jobs; hence it should be well planned and established in prescribed templates according to a set schedule. When a message is about the company’s direction and strategy from the directors, it has to be communicated in a formal way through the organisational chart and altered to fit each department. This cannot be possible through informal communication because top-level corporate strategy communication has to be planned to provide direction and command action to implement tasks and strategies. The staff will better understand and respect what has been communicated formally through the organisational chart.
Managers use formal communication to achieve organisational objectives because of its structure and organized form as opposed to informal communication, which may be fast with no systematic working and prone to negative outcomes. If those policies are communicated informally, they may be opposed and thus prove difficult to implement because the staff may give excuses that they had never heard of the policies. Thus informal communication is not ideal for communicating organisational interests but individual interests like rumours and usually leads to incomplete information. This makes managerial duties of coordination and organising harder to perform.
Even though Gray and Laidlaw note that informal communication may lead to bonding, collaboration, and teamwork among employees and enable managers to know more about their staff’s personalities and personal needs, it cannot lead to systematic and smooth functioning organisation like formal communication. Informal communication should only be used during company events when the staff is not on formal duty, such as the games organised, so that employees can bond amongst themselves.
Formal communication helps coordination of activities within the various departments of an organisation, a feat that informal communication cannot achieve for it does not form an organised structure for smooth working in an organization. Formal communication flows through pre-determined channels making every employee aware of how and where to send a message without distortions evident in informal communication. Communicating formally diminishes the chances for errors and mistakes in the information because of the formalities involved. This is not the case with informal communication which does not follow any set of rules and is concerned with transmitting any kind of information without regard to whom receives it and may harm employees and the organisation if it is distorted. Employees normally use informal communication to get to their colleagues if they have a dispute, and since there is no secrecy involved, such negative information spreads in the whole organisation and thus proving detrimental to employee relations which in turn impacts the organisation negatively.
Gray and Laidlaw assert that formal communication is lays a foundation for emphasis on work than interpersonal relations since most of the information spread through informal means is usually rumours fabricating the actual facts which mislead employees and thus damages the working environment. Thus formal communication makes it easier for the management to control the information flowing within the organisation and eliminate any chances of message distortion and rumours that may affect employee relations.
Studies have shown that formal communication is directly related to job satisfaction through communication satisfaction as well as reducing the cost of task coordination, strengthening trust and reducing conflict and negative effects of rumours in an organisation. In this way, there is consciousness of the communicator since the management utilises its merit, experience, and knowledge to make the communication process perfect hence a successful result is realized. Formal communication is a better predictor of dimension of information and communication in an organisation than informal communication. Thus information and communication procedure of organisation would be related with communication satisfaction in organisational level and there is no duplication or overlapping of work.
Formal communication helps managers get a well informed relational and procedural feedback about employee performance in the organisation through upward communication and hence act on it immediately. This is opposed to informal communication whereby employees can choose to keep silent or take no action regarding their productivity evaluation. For example, suppose a manager needs procedural feedback to ascertain staff acceptance of newly set policies, through formal communication feedback. In that case, employees will adjust their output in relation to the transmitted information. Informal communication is prone to limited feedback where company policies and goals are concerned since it does not allow for sufficient feedback, especially where the employees have to respond directly to managers.
Formal communication eliminates environmental barriers such as competition for attention and time spent between sending and receiving the intended message, especially if the message is directional. Employees will read the information and immediately understand what is expected of them. This is contrary to what informal communication can achieve because it basically involves listening, which requires emotional, physical and intellectual inputs; thus, the message can be incorrectly decoded. Messages sent formally are already carefully structured and the information is straight-forward while information sent informally, the receiver has thoroughly think about it before they can respond hence may decipher the meaning incorrectly.
To achieve organisational objectives and missions, managers and other decision-makers should apply formal communication because it is the most effective, easiest, and safest means. The manager will probably be a member of a group that engages in the same activity outside of the organisation and so can use that platform to pass some information informally. Informal communication may be inevitable, but if not controlled, it may damage employees’ satisfaction hence formal communication is the best and what managers should emphasize on. When an organisation effectively communicates up and down the chain of command, then confusion, low employee morale, and conflict is eliminated hence shifting employees’ attitude to cooperation and mutual respect. The staff thus focuses on what is important hence improving workplace satisfaction and productivity.

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