Communication – Its Purpose in a Business Organization

Communication – Its Purpose in a Business Organization

The universal nature of communication has led to countries definitions of the term. Communication is a chameleon of a word changing the colour of its meaning with the speaker, the civil engineer thinks of roads and railways while the business concern thinks of correspondence. Haben (1985) defined communication as the process of creating and exchanging message within a network of interdependent relationship to cope with environmental uncertainty. In some government establishment and business organizations, communication is based on agreed symbols. According to Little (1968) “it is based on mutual exchange of thoughts, opinions or emotions that require presentation and reception resulting in common understanding all parts”. In other words, communication determines how effective planning, organizing, directing, controlling is going to be in an organization without effective understanding, sub-ordinates and supervisors are bound to clash.

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Frank Ugboaja (1988) says that communication process involves all acts of transmitting message to channels, which link people to the languages, and symbolic codes which are used to transmit messages, the means by which messages are received and stored. And the rules, customs and conventions which define and regulate human relationships and events. Chapel et al (1984), in their book “Business communication”, defines communication as any means by which a thought is transferred from one person to the other. “Focusing now on the organization, a business concern J. Chruden and W. Sherma (1978:325) says “At all levels in the organization, among and between executives, managers, staff, personnel, supervisors, and foremen and employees, the communication process is continuously, active, conveying information, ideas, attitudes and feelings among individual and among groups of individuals. Consider all these definitions, one will notice that although, the statements are different, there is a common thread running through them.

2.2    ORGANIZATIONAL COMMUNICATION

Organization is an association of persons or a group of persons set up by law and authorized to act as an individual person, which is invested with an independent personality and endowed with perpetual succession of members. When people come together to work for common goals, they constitute themselves into levels of authority (i.e hierarchies). They also divide the work according to areas of specialization so that they work together towards achieving the goals of the groups.

Organizational communication fits not only business organization but also hospitals, churches, government agencies, military and academics institutions. There is a hierarchy of responsibility in which each group is responsible, to which is usually illustrated in organizational chart (the graphic representation of organizations internal structure) this determines levels of responsibility, authority, relationship, channel of communication and accountability, it shows the arrangements of the separate departments. It tells at a glance who is in charge of the total system and who reports to whom.

2.3    COMMUNICATION PATTERNS IN ORGANIZATION

Hardly can any organization function properly without effectively communication network or patterns. However, every organization has two main systems: formal and informal.

2.3.1 FORMAL COMMUNICATION

This is the officially established channel through which factual information or messages flow in an organization, this system may come from both internal and external environment.

INTERNAL COMMUNICATION

This is the flow of information within an organization for effective actualization, control and evaluation of work to achieve organizational goal, the flow here can be vertical and horizontal.

The vertical communication flows for the top management cadre down to lower level workers of the organization. In form of (directions, policies, orders, instructions, etc) upwards communication is more of feedback device which supplies information about employees reaction to management decisions. Koonts (1988) states that upwards pattern is when there is information flow from employees in the lower strate up to the top management, through this their feelings which can be in form reports. On the other hand, horizontal or lateral is a situation whereby information and ideas flow between workers on the same level. It is used to speed up information flow, to improve understanding and co-ordinate efforts to achieve organizational goals.

EXTERNAL COMMUNICATION

Is whereby organization obtains or sends out information to their customers, branches, suppliers, business associates, government department etc linking with people outside an organizations environment.

2.3.2 INFORMAL COMMUNICATION SYSTEM

In every organization, there is an informal system of communication. This is whereby unofficial information about matters concerning an organization moves from one person or group or people to another persons or group. They discuss issues which are unofficial about the organization. Informal communication by-passes all official channels of authority and information from the system gets to people through these two channels – Rumour and Grapevine.

RUMORS

There are evidence to buttress the information and their origins are difficult to ascertain. In organization where rumour is life, it shows that there are communication problems within the organization.

GRAPEVINE

It is the positive counter part of rumour. It is usually based on facts and has origin, information carried through grapevine are often related to the organizations and the social life of employee, such as promotions pay increment and strike actions. At times organization deliberately used it to determine how employees reacts to a proposed policy.

2.4    TYPES OF ORGANIZATIONAL COMMUNICATION

Communication falls into two broad categories: verbal and non-verbal communications.

VERBAL COMMUNICATION

This is a type of communication in which human speech organ as well as alphabetical symbols are used, it takes two forms: oral and written.

 ORAL COMMUNICATION

This is a communication form in which speech organs are used to produce sounds. Many factors have contributed immensely to the use of oral communication and it includes the surprising increase in business activities. Nature shows that we speak above our writing capacities, it becomes faster and economical for managers to address workers orally. In business organization, oral communication can be in any of the following forms: – interview, general discussion, meetings, conference, telephone, seminars etc.

There are several advantages of oral communication which are as follows: –

  • It fosters friendly and co-operative spirits among workers and others.
  • This makes room for message clarifications
  • It provides an immediate feedback and response, which is the backbone of communication.
  • It has advantage of speed, a single telephone call can cover the content of exchange of letters.

But, it has some problems associated with it: –

  • It cannot be documented and therefore can be easily forgotten.
  • Due to its length nature, the memory might not retain everything said.
  • Impromptu speech may pose a barrier to effective communication.
  • Through telephone business secrets might be divulged.

WRITTEN COMMUNICATION

This is a form of communication in which human muscles are used to produce symbols. These symbols are then organized to convey ideas, or information between those who participate in the communication process.

Written communication ha major importance in the business world because faulty and incorrect written messages can lead to business losses, such as loss of time, corporate images. It normally takes the form of letters, memoranda, reports-routine, statistical information, queries, questionnaires, staff appraisals, instructions, etc.

Advantages of Written Communication are: –

  • Written messages tend to be less ambiguous, more accurate and precise, more grammatical and more formal because enough time is available to eliminate errors.
  • There is permanence of message because the information is filed.
  • Identical reproduction can be made by any of the many reprographic processes and disseminated.
  • The receiver can read the message over and over again to clarify doubts to ensure full understanding of the message, this making it an efficient medium of transmitting long and complex message.

It has the following problems: –

  • Slow feedback process because this medium requires writing and mailing, getting of feedback probably takes a lot of times, the message gets lost in transit thus causing communication breakdown.
  • Business reports and correspondences are often difficult to read.
  • A written document can be tendered as an evidence against the writer in case of libel.
  • It can create great social distance between people when face to fact communication is a possible alternative.

2.5    PURPOSE OF COMMUNICATION

Communication is essential for the smooth running of an organization because it integrates the management functions.

Nevertheless, communication is needed in the business organization in order to: –

  • Aid business organizations communication to gain business information by which to predict the probable outcomes of alternative behaviours available.
  • Develop plans for their achievement
  • Select, develop, motivate and appraise members of the organization.
  • Organise human and other resources in the most effective and efficient way.
  • Lead, direct and create a climate in which people want to contribute, meaningfully to the organizational goals and objectives.
  • Control performance.

All these purposes were ignored in the sense that there is communication gap, which brings ineffective communication flow and hinder organization from achieving its aims.

2.6    BARRIERS AND REMEDIES OF EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION

Communication has got chains of hindrances, interference or barriers which render it ineffective when a message has been distorted from serving its original purpose, we say that communication is ineffective. Some of the barriers have been examined below with their possible solutions.

2.6.1 LANGUAGE BARRIER

There is no doubt that communication cannot take place if either of the party does not understand the language of communication. Therefore, for the purpose of effective communication, proper care should be taken to ensure that only the language and symbols understood by the people are employed.

2.6.2 DISTORTION

This may be noise transmission or it may result from inadequacy of the words in carrying the precise ideas of the sender, sometimes it could be due to word ambiguity differences in the meaning of work.

In order to avoid this conscious efforts should be made so that background wise especially through telephone are eliminated and words which are ambiguous in meaning are not used.

2.6.3 FILTERING

This is another bearer, here the render intentionally sifts the information so that the receiver will look favourably on the message, or in order not to loss face especially when the boss is involved, by so doing, the receiver may get the main issue of the message. This gives way to grapevine or rumour. To eliminate this, management should provide an open communication climate that encourages free and open sharing of accurate information, it will encourage employees to ask questions on issues concerning them.

2.6.4 LACK OF PERSONAL INTEREST

Most communicators do not always design their message to be attractive in order to draw the full attention of their listeners or recipient. If one party to communication fails to show interest, communication becomes ineffective. To overcome this giver should always endeavour to make messages attractive and win some to the receiver.

2.6.5 PLANNING DEFICIENCY

Thinking and planning what to say always precede writing and talking, people often forget this fact, as a result this constitutes a barrier to effective communication. In order to eliminate this the communication must know the purpose of the message, visualize the receiver, choose the ideas to include, get all the facts to back up these ideas, organize the ideas in most effective way, write, revise and proofread.

 

2.6.6 TIMING

          Timing of communication (when to send) can result to problems for management.

Some messages need to be released in such a way that everyone will receive the message simultaneously, other messages should be transmitted sequentially so that receivers will not be over loaded with issues that are important to them at a time.

To overcome this, information should follow a smooth flow pattern, to avoid leveling the peak loads by delaying until a lull occurs.

In summary, to avoid unnecessary ineffective communication, and improve organizational management, there is need for business organization to communicate ahead of time.

Udensi, (1997), believed by so doing, the desired message will be put across in time and last minute rush avoided.

This article was extracted from a Project Research Work Topic

THE PROBLEMS OF INEFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION IN AN ORGANIZATION: (A CASE STUDY OF VETCO GRAY NIGERIA LIMITED)

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