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1. The organisation as a whole and formal communication channels - establishing and maintaining formal and informal channels of communication downward, upward and horizontally.

  • What is organisational communication?
  • Formal communication channels
  • Informal communication channels
  • Strategies/tactics for communicating:
    • Downward
    • Upward
    • horizontally

2. Formal communication channels

  • Involves written and verbal ways of exchanging information among people who have recognised status in the organisation
  • Primary forms:
    • Downward and upward
      • Traditional, vertically organised companies
  • Today’s organisations emphasise horizontal communication
      • Sharing information across departments and levels
  • Management’s role in internal communications

Brief explanation to the topic

Downward communication

  • Refers to messages and information sent from top management down to employees
  • Typically involves:
    1. Goals and strategies
    2. Job instructions and rationale
    3. Procedures and practices
    4. Performance feedback
    5. Coaching and training

Upward communication

  • Includes messages that flow from the lower to the higher levels of the organisation's hierarchy
  • Five types of information communicated upward:
  1. Problems and exceptions
  2. Suggestions for improvement
  3. Performance reports
  4. Grievances and disputes
  5. Financial and accounting information

Horizontal communication

  • Refers to the lateral or diagonal exchange of messages among peers or co-workers
  • 3 main categories:
    1. Intradepartmental problem solving
    2. Interdepartmental coordination
    3. Change initiatives and improvements
Organizational Communication

Communication that takes place within the business environment is known as organizational communication. Such communication can take place either through formal or informal communication channel. Formal communication is the one which follows a proper chain of command while informal communication takes place without following the proper chain of command. This assignment provides a general overview of the formal and informal communication channels along detailed section on formal communication channels.

The term organizational communication can be defined as communication taking place within the business environment. In other words, organizational communication is the process of sending and receiving messages within a specific environment among interrelated individuals for the purpose of achieving common and individual goals. The two types of communication that takes place within the organization is formal and informal communication (Shockley- Zalabak, 2014)

Formal communication channel can be linked with the formal organizational structure of the company. This channel assists in the smooth and accurate flow of communication in a timely manner through the appropriate channel for the specific organization. The formal communication channel can take the form of conferences, meetings, company newsletters, telephone calls and performance reviews. Communication can be effectively standardized with the help of formal communication and benefits by providing clarity regarding every message (Raina and Roebuck, 2016).

The informal communication channel can be defined as the indefinite communication channel where there is no proper chain of command for the flow of information. Therefore, the flow of information can take place from anywhere. Social relations are developed among the people working in the organization on the basis of likings, disliking and interest.  The information that arises out of such social relations is the informal communication. Informal communication is also known as grapevine network which has various types such as gossip chain, single strand chain, cluster chain and probability chain (Pejoska, Bauters, Purma and Leinonen, 2016).

Every organization undertakes three types of directional communication i.e. downward, upward and horizontal communication.

Downward Communication- Downward communication can be defined as the communication that flows to the subordinates from the superiors. This is usually in the form of instructions, orders and policy directives to the employees working at the lower levels in the organization. Examples include information provided by the superiors regarding the policy and procedures and feedback on the job performance of the employees.

Upward Communication- Upward communication can be defined as the communication that flows to the superiors from the subordinates. Upwards communication is just the opposite of downward communication. The employees working at the lower levels in the organization originates such kind of communication and directs it towards the upper management levels. Examples include reactions, suggestion statements, proposals and reports (Steele and Plenty, 2015).

Formal Communication Channels

Horizontal communication- Horizontal communication can be defined as the communication that flows from the employees working at the same level in the organization. This communication type facilitates the employees to interact with their peers without making the involvement of employees working at the other levels of the organization. Examples of horizontal communication include communication between managers or subordinates of one boss (Tanner and Otto, 2016).

Formal communication channel involves both verbal and written ways of exchanging information among the employees of the organization. The information transmitted with the help of such channel involves policies, procedures and goals of the business. A chain of command is typically followed for the purpose of transferring this type of communication. In other words, the information passes from the manger towards their subordinates and then to the lower level of the organization.

Downward and upward communications are the primary forms of communication in the organization. It is often regarded as vertical communication where messages and information flows among or between superiors and subordinates of the organization. Traditionally, all the organizations were vertically organized. This is due to the fact that it offers a number of advantages and convenience to the organization. A chain of command is maintained in the vertical communications in order to develop a sense of discipline among the employees. Moreover, it aims at maintaining good relations between the superiors and the subordinates by way of systematizing the flow of communication. Recommendations, suggestions and complaints can be send through the upwards direction of the vertical communication system by the subordinates to the superiors. On the other hand, the upper level management can easily communicate the policies and procedures to the subordinates. Vertical communications are also suitable for the upper level management in their decision making processes as they can easily obtain the needed information from the subordinates.    Vertical communications can also be used for the purpose of delegated the duties and responsibilities to various departments (Sisko Maarit Lipiäinen, Ensio Karjaluoto and Nevalainen, 2014).

Nowadays, the organizations are emphasizing on the adoption of horizontal communication channels in which the information is shared among the different levels and departments of the organization.  Horizontal communication is considered to be very important for the smooth functioning of the various operations undertaken by the organization. It also facilitates interdepartmental communication within the organization and helps in maintaining coordination. It further offers a number of advantages such as reducing misunderstandings and conflicts among the staff and the managers which are common aspects of the organizational life. It also strengthens teamwork and group efforts which are prerequisites for the success of the organizational. Horizontal communication is also free from all kinds of distortions since the information can be directly exchanged between the sender and the receiver (Král and Králová, 2016)

Informal Communication Channels

Internal communications play an important role in engaging the employees and make them feel involved in the crucial matters of the organization.  There is an important role played by the management in obtaining effective results from these internal communications. Management can aim at creating a better working environment in the organization by facilitating higher levels of employee engagement. This, in turn, will boost productivity and improve morale of the employees. Internal communications are also very important for major decision making in the organization. The management can ensure that effective decisions are being undertaken with the help of proper transmission of suggestions, recommendations and complaints on the part of the employees. It is the role of the management to ensure that the communication is open and objective, consistent and regular and is taking place through an accessible medium (Karanges, Johnston, Beatson and Lings, 2015).

Downward communication can be defined as the information and messages that are sent by the top level management to the employees. Following factors are sent in the form of information by the top level management to the lower level management by using downward communication.

Goals and Strategies- the top management specifies the goals and strategies of the organization so that the employees can take the necessary steps for achieving such goals with the help of the strategies.

Job Instructions and Rationale- Top management can instruct the employees regard their job obligations, duties and responsibilities with the help of downward communication (Redmond, Jameson and Binder, 2016)

Procedures and Practices- the procedures and practices undertaken by the organization are also clarified with the help of downward communication.

Performance Feedback- on monthly and annual basis, the top management provides performance reviews of the employees and accordingly appraisals and increments take place (Men and Hung- Baesecke, 2015).

Coaching and training- training provided to the employees also comes under the downward communication undertaken by the top management.

Upward communication is used by the lower level employees for communicating information to the higher level levels of the hierarchy. Five types of information is communicated upwards by the lower level management. The most important communication is regarding the problems faced by the employees while performing their operations. The communication such problems assist the employees in its effective resolution in due time. Furthermore, the employees also provide suggestions to the top level management so that the operations of the organization can further be improved. The work done by the employees on daily and monthly basis is also required to be reported to the higher authority. This takes place with the help of upward communication. If the employees have any grievances or disputes with the processes of the organizations or with any other employees, such information can be communicated through this channel. Accounting and financial information is also provided to the top management through this channel (Geertshuis, Morrison and Cooper- Thomas, 2015).

Strategies/tactics for communication

Horizontal communication can be defined as the diagonal or lateral exchange of messages among co- workers or peers. It includes 3 main categories namely interdepartmental coordination, intradepartmental problem solving and change initiatives and improvements. All the departments are able to make coordination in their working and therefore there are no confusions. When the departments work by coordinating their processes, they are also capable of resolve their problems at the initial stages. Therefore, they do not face bigger problems as a result of lack of coordination. Moreover, horizontal communication allows the departments to take change initiatives and make the necessary improvements in the processes. Any processes that are creating complications for other departments or resulting in delays for other departments can be improved and initiatives can be taken (Bourne, 2015).

Conclusion

Therefore, it can be concluded that there are two types of communication channels namely formal and in formal communication channels. Formal communication is the one which follows a proper chain of command while informal communication takes place without following the proper chain of command. Moreover, the different types of formal communication channels are downward, upward and horizontal communication channels. The flow of communication in the workplace depends on the type of communication channel adopted. 

References

Bourne, L., 2015. Making Projects Work: effective stakeholder and communication management. Auerbach Publications.

Geertshuis, S.A., Morrison, R.L. and Cooper-Thomas, H.D., 2015. It’s not what you say, it’s the way that you say it: The mediating effect of upward influencing communications on the relationship between leader-member exchange and performance ratings. International Journal of Business Communication, 52(2), pp.228-245.

Karanges, E., Johnston, K., Beatson, A. and Lings, I., 2015. The influence of internal communication on employee engagement: A pilot study. Public Relations Review, 41(1), pp.129-131.

Král, P. and Králová, V., 2016. Approaches to changing organizational structure: The effect of drivers and communication. Journal of Business Research, 69(11), pp.5169-5174.

Men, L.R. and Hung-Baesecke, C.J.F., 2015. Engaging employees in China: The impact of communication channels, organizational transparency, and authenticity. Corporate Communications: An International Journal, 20(4), pp.448-467.

Pejoska, J., Bauters, M., Purma, J. and Leinonen, T., 2016. Social augmented reality: Enhancing context?dependent communication and informal learning at work. British Journal of Educational Technology, 47(3), pp.474-483.

Raina, R. and Roebuck, D.B., 2016. Exploring cultural influence on managerial communication in relationship to job satisfaction, organizational commitment, and the employees’ propensity to leave in the insurance sector of India. International Journal of Business Communication, 53(1), pp.97-130.

Redmond, V., Jameson, J.K. and Binder, A.R., 2016. How superior–subordinate relationship quality and conflict management styles influence an employee's use of upward dissent tactics. Negotiation and Conflict Management Research, 9(2), pp.158-176.

Shockley-Zalabak, P., 2014. Fundamentals of organizational communication. Boston, MA: Pearson.

Sisko Maarit Lipiäinen, H., Ensio Karjaluoto, H. and Nevalainen, M., 2014. Digital channels in the internal communication of a multinational corporation. Corporate Communications: An International Journal, 19(3), pp.275-286.

Steele, G.A. and Plenty, D., 2015. Supervisor–subordinate communication competence and job and communication satisfaction. International Journal of Business Communication, 52(3), pp.294-318.

Tanner, G. and Otto, K., 2016. Superior–subordinate communication during organizational change: under which conditions does high-quality communication become important?. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 27(19), pp.2183-2201.

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