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Communication in organizations includes all the means, both formal and informal, by which information is passed up, down, and across the network of managers and workers in a business. These various types of communication may be used to distribute official information between workers and management, to trade hearsay and rumors, or anything in between. The dispute for businesses is to control these countless communications so they serve to advance customer relations, encourage employee satisfaction, build knowledge-sharing all through the organization, and most significantly, improve the firm's competitiveness (Communication in Organizations, 2012).
Communication is one of the most prevailing and important activities in organizations. Basically, relationships grow out of communication, and the functioning and survival of organizations is based on effectual relationships amid individuals and groups. Additionally organizational capabilities are developed and carried out through intensely social and communicative processes. Communication helps people and groups manage activities to attain goals, and it's fundamental in socialization, decision-making, problem-solving and change-management processes (Communication in Organizations, 2012).
A network represents how communication flows in a company. Networks can be formal and informal (Berger, 2008). Formal communication is planned and managed information that is shared with pertinent people in order to secure coordinated action all through the organization. Formal communication channels are based on a person's role in the company and distributed in an ordered way according to the established chain in organizational charts. "Typically, formal communication flows "downward" from executives to directors to managers to staff regarding company direction and instruction and "upward" from staff to managers to directors to executives in the form of data and reports. The communication flowing through these channels is specific to the jobs and departments" (Formal/Informal Communication Channels, 2012).
Such formal communication is well founded and planned. For instance, reports and data from staff are planned are usually submitted in prescribed templates and according to a set timetable. Communication centered on a company's strategy and direction, which comes from company executives, is channeled through the organizational chart and altered in such a way to be relevant to each department and manager. What starts out as high-level communication on corporate strategy needs to be thought out by way of planning sessions so that the communication provides direction and is actionable for the people who implement the tasks of the strategy. The better the communication the better workers and staff will comprehend what is expected and required of them (Formal/Informal Communication Channels, 2012).
On the other hand, informal communication in the workplace satisfies an assortment of needs, predominantly social and emotional, and is not based on the positions people occupy within the company. As a result, the communication is not managed or planned in any organized way. "It's more relaxed, casual and tends to be spread by word-of-mouth quickly throughout a department or organization because it's not restricted to approvals and an established path of distribution" (Formal/Informal Communication Channels, 2012).
Possibly the most widespread term used for the informal communication in the workplace is grapevine and this communication that is sent through the organizational grapevine is frequently considered gossip or rumor. While grapevine communication can spread information rapidly and can easily traverse recognized organizational boundaries, the information it carries can be altered through the removal or exaggeration crucial details therefore causing the information erroneous, even if it's founded on truth. The utilization of the company grapevine as an informal communication channel frequently results when workers feel in jeopardy, susceptible, or when the company is experiencing change and when communication from management is limited and not imminent (Formal/Informal Communication Channels, 2012).
A communication channel is a medium through which messages are transmitted and received. Channels are classified as print, electronic or face-to-face. "Common print channels include memos, brochures, newsletters, reports, policy manuals, annual reports and posters. New technologies have spurred the use of electronic channels, e.g., email and voice mail, Intranets, blogs, podcasts, chat rooms, business TV, video conferencing, instant messaging systems, wikis and electronic town-hall meetings. Face-to-face channels include speeches, team meetings, focus groups, brown bag lunches, social events and gatherings and management by wandering around" (Berger, 2008).
The most used channel is listening, which uses about half of a persons communication time. Effective listening is vital to learning, understanding, conflict resolution and productive team work. It helps leaders at all levels advance employee morale, maintain workers and uncover and resolve troubles. Yet, a lot of studies suggest that most people are not good listeners, and few companies assign resources to developing listening skills in managers and leaders (Berger, 2008).
Active Listening is a very victorious set of listening skills and techniques which support people to communicate more openly and freely. When one uses active listening skills, the person who is speaking ends up feeling heard, seen, and completely understood. Consequently, the two or more people who are in communication have a far greater chance at deciding conflicts, and attaining interpersonal peace and harmony, as well as greater intimacy. "Active Listening has many components, including body language (such as nodding, eye contact, open posture, body and facial expressions) and verbal techniques" (Boesky, 2011).
There is a real difference between merely hearing the words that people say and really listening for the message. When one listens effectively they understand what the person is thinking or feeling from the other person's own perspective. It is as if they were standing in the other person's shoes, seeing through their eyes and listening through the person's ears. Ones own viewpoint may be dissimilar and they may not necessarily agree with the person, but as they listen, they understand from the other's perspective. In order to listen effectively, one must be actively involved in the communication process and not just listening passively. Everyone acts and responds on the basis of their understanding, and too often there is a misunderstanding that neither of party is aware of. With active listening, if a mistake has takes place, it will be known right away, and the communication can be explained before any further mistake takes place (Nadig, n.d.).
Communications is one of the critical associations between a written plan and successful implementation. A communications effort is important to integrating select elements of a strategic plan throughout the organization. This creates understanding and steps up support for all or parts of the plan, from corporate mission and goals to important activities. An authentic, open process of communicating strategic plans also is a way to build greater trust and confidence among workers for leadership (Hipple, n.d.).
During corporate America's early history, American management functioned as strict top down communications companies. Whatever the preponderance of the company's owners said was the way it was. If the company had a senior management group, strategies for doing everything from selling goods to dealing with workers would be talked about behind closed doors. Once those choices were made by managers, lower levels of management were asked to put those things into effect. Workers had little involvement. They did as they were told or found work somewhere else. "Such management attitudes, particularly when they applied to worker safety issues in such places as coal mines and steel mills, led to the growth of labor unions. If nothing else, unions had the power in many cases to slow or shut down production until management at least listened to demands" (Communication in Organizations, 2012).
In reaction to union demands, corporations ultimately set up communication approaches where front line employees could speak their minds through union representatives. While forced to create the systems by unions, corporate managers have realized over the past thirty or so years that workers are not the monotonous drones that the managers of the early part of this century thought that they were. When presented the circumstance to help the company solve problems, many workers have jumped at the chance. This is called bottom-up communication (Communication in Organizations, 2012).
Most corporations now support workers to take an active part in their company. Workers who notice ways to advance production lines are encouraged, and typically rewarded, for passing those ideas on to managers. Workers who submit ideas that withstand concentrated study can be rewarded with a percentage of the company's savings. "Workers who are harassed on the job are strongly encouraged to report such harassment as far up the chain of management as necessary to stop it. Regular employee meetings are held where the lowest level employee can stand up and ask the CEO a direct question with the full expectation that a direct answer will be given in return" (Communication in Organizations, 2012).
Top management also has a way of observing how the company is running while meeting workers and managers in the middle. Sometimes known as management by walking around, this technique of communication and management calls for top managers to get out and see what is going on at the level where work is done. As an alternative to reading reports from subordinates, the CEO visits the factories or service centers, observes line managers' workers on the job, and asks their opinions.…[continue]
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