Essay: Organisational communication

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Manager devotes important part of job in communication. Effective communication is essential for manager to perform basic managerial function. Communication is foundation for effective output. Internal communication should key component of organizational planning. top management and employees should make efforts for strong Internal communication. One of main organization objective should be development of strong communication strategy. Communication audit should be part of communication system.
Communication is exchange of information between two or more participants to convey the message through particular system (Braiotta, Louis 2004). Elements of communication process are
1. Sender-A person who has intention to send message.
2. Ideas- It is subject matter to communicate.
3. Encoding-Communication message need certain symbol to convey message. Words, actions, pictures are example of symbols.
4. Medium-Subject matter needs a medium to convey. For example email, paper, pen, and telephone.
5. Receiver-Receiver receives message.
6. Decoding- Receiver try to interpret message to understand in same meaning a sender sent.
7. Feedback-Feedback is process by which receiver ensures that message is understood in same manner.
To analysis, evaluation of these unlimited numbers of communication process is communication audit (Clark, David L 2013). But for deeper understanding about communication audit we have to understand organizational communication types.
Organization communication-
Organization communication is process of form of coordinated communication to obtain the objective of organization and individual. In other words it is structured flow of information which has particular direction and process.
Type of communication system in organization-
Internal communication-Communication which takes place within organization is called internal communications. Face to face, fax, phone, emails, internal publications are few forms of internal communication.
External communication-Communication between organization and outside audiences are external communications.
Formal communication-Formal communication is communication, which occurs within limits of official rules, procedures, systems, formalities. It is controlled by chain of command.
Informal communication-Informal communication is exchange of information among people on the spot. Gossip, grapevine, and chit chat are example of informal communication.
Horizontal communication- The exchange of information at same organizational level known as horizontal communication. Brainstorming, conflict resolution, information sharing are few examples.
Vertical communication- Exchange of information between various levels of organization structure.
Upward communication- When information is sent from bottom to top management. MBO (management by objectives) is famous example of upward communication.
Downward communication-When information is sent from top management to lower management level. These communications are filtered through chain of command.
1. Organizational discipline-downward communication is governed by chain of command so it is easy to maintain organizational discipline.
2. Efficiency-Downward communication brings efficiency. Main power lies with top management.
3. Effective communication-Downward communication is effective as roles, responsibilities are cleared to employees.
4. Delegation-Flow from top management makes it easy to delegate task.
1. Grapevine-Downward communication flows from multiple levels so chances of grapevine increases.
2. Time consuming-It takes much time in feedback. Communication flows from top to bottom then feedback flows from bottom to top.
3. Motivation-Command is in hands of top management so there is no say for employees.
It lowers motivation of employees.
Diagonal communication-This communication occurs when employee of one department communicate with employee of another department of higher level.
Importance of communication system-
1. Strong communication system helps employees to understand organizational objectives.
2. It covers all managerial function.
3. It should improve organization and individual performance.
4. Organization culture is dependent on communication system. Communication system should be well aligned with organization’s culture.
Communication strategy
A communication strategy is strategy to build a communication system for effective organizational communication to achieve objectives.
Communication Audit
Communication audit is comprehensive evaluation of organization’s all kind of internal and external communication. Communication is organization’s ability to send receive and share information with various parts of organization (Downs, Cal W, Allyson D Adrian, and Cal W Downs 2004). These audiences can be external or internal. Internal audiences include employees, management etc. External audience includes vendors, suppliers, distributors, government agencies etc. depending on the nature of organization.
Communication audit is review of all communication tools implemented in organizational communication system. A good audit comprises a complex analysis of internal and external communications. It gives true picture of communication policy and implementation in practice.
A good audit evaluates future recommendations. It gives company to take appropriate financial decision also.
Types of Communication audit
External communication audit-
External communication audit is strategic evaluation of communication. External communication is communication of company’s policies, goals, programs to public. And external communication can be directed to particular agencies with whom an organization interact and work. Suppliers, vendors, distributors and retailers are examples.
Internal Communication audit
Internal communication audit is audit of internal communicate system (Downs, Cal W 1988).It includes people working in organization. This audit asses effectiveness and rate of communication at different levels of organization.
Scope of audit
Audit can be in depth which covers all aspect of communication system. And it can be precise with limited scope and focuses on part of communication.
Who will do audit
Audit can be done by two ways.
a. Communication team
b. By independent communication auditor
A communication auditor can pinpoint problem areas like frequent misunderstanding, information blocks, duplication, and misrepresentation. Ideally audit should be done periodically but at time change like merger, expansion, new product launch communication audit is very helpful. Nature of audit depends on the type of organization. It also depends on organization’s need and objectives. Communication is complex process and encounter pitfalls at every stage. The message, medium, sender, receiver, feedback stage of communication process may encounter millions of issues. Audit is systematic approach to know what organization is really doing (Hargie, Owen, and Dennis Tourish 2000). The audit does in depth analysis of people (sender and recovers) and medium like telephone, mails, fax, face to face communication to draw complete picture of communication system. Every aspect of communication gives another piece of puzzle. But audit must be done within relevant framework. It is not feasible and worthy to capture every communication. Audit is also valuable tool to enhance employee motivation, loyalty and efficiency.
Issues, recommendation and results of Communication Audit
Communication audit should cover following aspects of communication system
1. Current goals and objective of communication system
2. Effectiveness of current communication system
3. Clarity and consistency of message
4. Actions on message
5. Perception of audience about communication
6. Alignment of communication with organization’s overall strategic plans, Mission, values, culture.
7. Recommendations for future
1. To get information about critical communication practices-It is first step to assess the performance of communication system. Few practices are important to implement at every level of organization.
1. Alignment of communication activities with organizational mission and values.
2. Decision about goal and objectives of communication system
3. Selection of target audience
4. Choice of most effective communication channel
5. Make assumption about risk and make plan to handle.
1. Preparation of effective communication material
2. Creating strong bond between top management and influencing employees
3. Maintain system for communication activities
4. Periodic monitoring of communication activities.
Support and integration
1. Develop support.
2. Ensure proper HR and financial resources.
3. Integration of communication into all organizational
4. Involvement of employees communication planning.
Step 2-Identify current level of communication system
There are different levels where an organization can stand.
1. Ad hoc-There is no system of communication. Communication is ad hoc and unorganized. Few individuals are stars who communicate with internal audiences. Successes of communication system depend on ability of star individuals (Kimbell, Lucy 2002). These communication systems are implemented successfully but efforts are insufficient. It can cross budget and time. Quality is badly affected due to different practice by different people.
2. Planned-This kind of communication system is organized. These are not on need basis. Organization invests resources for management of communication systems. Responsibility and duties are well assigns.
3. Instituionized -When communication systems become inherent part of organization. Organization take efforts to know the best way to communicate.
4. Evaluated-When communication system is properly evaluated and analyzed. Feedback of this evaluation is taken seriously (Kremer, Boris 2001). Corrective actions are taken for improvement of system,
5. Optimized-When evaluation of communication systems becomes a part of strategic planning for improvement. They realize importance of communication system.
ABC Food Chain Company has institutional level of communication system (Lundberg, Joe W 1988). A system is established. It is not properly evaluated to know the best level of operation.
Step 3-Assessment of current performance of communication system
In this step data are collected through various research methods. And make a detailed report of current performance of communication system.
Audit method-
There are various methods for communication audit.
a. Interviews-It is most common method for data collection. Auditor can better understand. He gets hidden clues. Clues are difficult to capture in other quantitative forms. At the same time respondents also widen horizons.
Personal interview- In Personal interview interviewer ask question to respondent face to face. Personal interviews can be structured or unstructured. When interviewer asks a certain fix questions, it is structured interview (McMillan, Edward J 2000). If interviewer asks randomly, it is unstructured interview.
By interview information can be gathered in depth. Interviewer can overcome the resistance of respondent. Personal information is easy to gather. Interview is expensive method. Interviewer’s ability to conduct interview influence quality of data. This method is time consuming. Sometimes respondent hesitate to provide information. Some people are difficult to approach like CEO Etc.
2. Questionnaire-Questionnaire is also very good instrument a collect data. It is easy to gather large number of people response. It takes less time as compare to interview. It is easy to administer (Murray, Sandra 2009). Questionnaires are easy to develop. It is free from interview’s bias. Employees are easily approachable. Auditor can take large samples for audit. In questionnaire it is difficult to know the truthfulness of data. This method is slow. There is possibility of ambiguous replies.
3. Critical incident analysis-Employs are asked to describe incident with communication system. It is done through interview or questionnaire. These incidents are specifically experience of employees which can be effective or non effective.
4. Network analysis-It is method for examining information flow. Network analysis tells about communication network of employees. Whom they interact on daily basis and why they interact. It reveals communication structure which is very different from papers. It reveals about informal communication system and their impact on organization success.
5. Participant Observation-Auditor participates in organization activities to get insight view of communication system. In observation method subjective biased is removed. Under this method, data are not influenced by past behavior (Power, Michael 1997). This method also removes respondent bias. These methods also suffer with few limitations also. It is expensive method. Information gathered by this method is limited.
6. Document review-Communication documents are deep analysis of company publications i.e. brochures, leaflet, policies, website etc.
7. Focus group-focus group is group of five to ten people who meet regularly. They discuss about communication system and organization capacity .They brainstorm about communication system and analyze whole system.
Step 4-Identification of key areas
After analysis of collected data, weak areas are marked. Following issues are common in communication system.
Top down communication- Top management communicate to head of departments through reports. HOD circulates reports to their staff according to requirement.
Lateral communication across departments-Staff members communicate with other internally for advice or for their wish.
Change-for growing company, management need to communicate effectively for changes which are result of these expansions.
Strong electronic communication-Emails are strong medium for written and formal communications. But excessive emails take productive time of employees.
Information sharing-Information is shared across organization.
Communication skills- Communication system of manager to communicate effectively to their subordinate.
Key communicators-To get knowledge about key communicators
Step 5-Decision of actions and action plans
After pin pointing key areas decision are taken how to improve communication system
1. To create single communication system so that employees can deliver internal message more effectively i.e. new launched dish, web page, events etc. It helps as single point of contact for internal and external audience (Reid, Mike, W. Glen Croy, and Stephen Wearing 2009). It will also help planning and delivery of all communication from the centre to all departments.
Action plan-
As company already has strong electronic communication system it is advisable to create communication team who is responsible to manage all staff publications, web peg etc.
2. To improve downward and lateral commendation so that message can reach to desired audience with clarity and consistency.
Action plan- Development of team brief activity is helpful to clear managerial role in mind of bottom level of staff. Top management support is must for this action plan.
3. To develop a strong electronic communication system so that tracking, sending and receiving of unnecessary emails can be reduced.
Action plan-There is various IT solutions are available in market to reduce stress of unwanted emails. Management should direct IT department to find out technical solutions to these issues.
5. Website is cumbersome and not easy to use. Development of user friendly web page and other electronic communications is solution.
Action plan- IT department should simplifying website by creating link or a way they feel suit. Management should communicate Information regarding changes in website. Trainings are effective medium to teach new leanings.
5. To create good image of employer for strong bond with employees, development and improvement of existing organizations publications are required. It should focus on employees need. Employees should know the information regarding their rights, duties, responsibility towards organizations. It should meet employee’s needs as internal stakeholders.
Action plan-
Internal review of employees will help to know the exact requirement of employees. These are communicated top editors of publications. A clear set of objectives of publication to help editors to work in particular directions.
6. To ensure the induction meet all requirements of new joiners. A thorough review about induction is important. Induction is first step of new joiners to know about organization. Induction helps to create positive perception in new joiners mind.
Action Plan-
A focus group between HR and HOD will help to figure out issues and recommendations in induction. What kind of information should be added for clear picture of organization?
Step7- Feedback
Periodic reviews are important to know the effectiveness of action plans.
Prerequisite of good communication audit (Schwartz, Stephen I 1998)
1. Involve employees. Because employees are part of the communication system so involve them
2. SWOT analysis-SWOT means strength, weakness, Opportunities and threat of any organization. His analysis will tell u the scope of audit and objective of audit.
3. Support from top management is must to conduct fair audit.
4. Auditor must be skilled enough to capture hidden clues of communication system.
Discussion and analysis
Communication audit reveal about effectiveness of current communication system. It tells management clarity and consistency of organizational message. Communication system should able to send right message to right people (Goldhaber, Gerald M, and Donald P Rogers 1979). Audit makes sure about the outcome of message. Audit also gives accurate picture about effectiveness of communication tools. There are high chances that employees are not satisfied with communication system in organization regardless of size (Goldhaber, Gerald M 1978). Employee survey says that only 40% employees are satisfied with internal communications. A survey was conducted in Australia by Rodney gray. Findings are mentioned below in various industries-
Bank (24% positive),
National insurance company (25%),
State government department (24%),
Leading Transport Company (42%),
Leading global merchant bank (47%)
National food manufacturer (55%)
Lack of satisfaction is not only about formal and written communication. Formal communication is responsibility of PR department. Employees are unhappy about informal communication system also. It contains day to day communication with managers, supervisors, and colleagues. In practice employees are kept in dark about company’s policies and decision deliberately. Sometime management hide negative survey finding to employees. It impact negatively on employee’s morale and engagement in long term. To handle these issues communication audit is valuable method. It evaluates current stage as well give recommendations to improve the same. Communication audits are not fairly conducted. It is a biggest challenge (Hamilton, Seymour 1987). Perhaps management wants to hide its shortcomings. So for successful communication audit management desire, supports and commitment are utmost important.
Communication is heart of organization. Effective communication is crucial for any organization’s success. Communication is foundation of culture. Communication audit tells about strength and weakness of internal communication process. Mistakes are human errs correction of mistakes are also human responsibility. Audit tells about mistakes in communication system and recommends solutions of same. It also draw comprehensive picture about missing elements in existing communication strategy if any. Communication audit is essential in modern times. It makes organization more valuable.
For strong internal communication organization should pay attention to following points.
1. Involve employees. Because employees are part of the communication system so involve them
2. SWOT analysis-SWOT means strength, weakness, Opportunities and threat of any organization. His analysis will tell u the scope of audit and objective of audit.
3. Support from top management is must to conduct fair audit.
4. Auditor must be skilled enough to capture hidden clues of communication system.
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