Management and Communication Skills
There are many formal definitions of the term communication. Explaining this term in simple words, it is the exchange of information. For a more technical definition of this term, it is “The successful transmission of information through a common system of symbols, signs, behavior, speech, writing, or signals”. (Massachusetts Department of Education 2001) Communication is an essential process in every sphere of life. In organizations, communication is the key to successful transfer of information between people working there. Hence the communication process-taking place in organizations must be in the most vivid form.
Organizational communication is the branch of communication which deals with the efficient transfer of knowledge in organizations. Organizational communication comprises of the following elements:
-The methods used by people to communicate in an organizational context.
-The impact of or the interaction with organizational structures in the process of communicating and organizing (Wikipedia 2006: Organizational Communication). When communication is referred to organizations, there are four major objectives that are focused on:
Communication behaves as to control member behavior in several ways. Organizations have the authority hierarchies and certain formal guidelines that the workforce is bound to follow. An example situation, to explain this aspect of communication in organizations is that when the employees desire to communicate any complaints regarding their job to their immediate boss, such as problems in performing their job responsibilities, or in accepting certain company policies, communication performs the control function.
Communication facilitates motivation by making it easy for the workforce to understand what is to be done, their performance level of doing it, and how to make improvements that are required. The structuring of specific organizational goals, the feedback on the progress towards the achievement of these goals, and the fortification of the desired behavior all stimulates motivation and require communication.
Many employees interact socially with their work groups. This communication that takes place within the work group is a major source for the members of the group for expressing certain feelings such as of frustration and satisfaction. Communication in this context in the organizations provides a means to the employees to express their emotions and feelings.
Communication is basic means for the exchange of information in organizations and our daily lives. This information can be exchanged through formal communication channels or informal communication channels. This function of communication in organizations enhances the process of decision-making (Robbins, 2006).
The Communication Process
The communication process comprises of six important factors:
-The sender of the message or the encoder
-The channel or medium of the message, such as oral or written
-The receiver of the message or the decoder
-The right perception of the message
The communication process is explained by this figure also:
SENDER –> MESSAGE –> VISUAL / ORAL / WRITTEN –>RECIPIENT
An example to illustrate the communication process in an organization is that the manager is the sender usually and the employees are the receivers or the decoders. The significance of the two dimensional nature of communication in which the probability of the successful communication lies mainly on the sender receiving feedback. The sender requires a prompt feedback or response that his / her points are being received and comprehended clearly without any doubts (Revision notes 2003: Methods of Communication).
The changes that have affected communication in organizations
People working in organizations, who know the importance of communicating effectively inside and outside the organization, have today become aware of the changes that have revolutionized the common communication methods used in organizations. There have been several big changes in the business environment since the last decade that have radically impacted the process of business communication or communication with in organizations. The new methods of communication that have transformed communication methods today are electronic communication, International communication, and non-discriminatory communication. In this paper, we will focus on the advantages and disadvantages of using electronic communication as a major means for communication in business. The importance of face-to-face communication will also be highlighted.
Electronic Communication in the Business:
The world today has advanced in every aspect, especially in information technology. This era is said to be the era of speed and technology. The advent of information technology techniques into our personal and professional lives has revolutionized our lives totally. This revolution has also impacted the forms of communication used in business. Today the most favored and speedy form of communication in a business is ‘electronic communication’. Electronic communication has brought about the advantages of being able to communicate from remote locations to almost every part of the world. Electronic Communication is a speedy and accurate transfer of information and cost efficient transfer services. Today, we find it amusing that business professionals used to communicate through writing letters with a pen and ink and filling in vertical stacks, one on top of another. The only electronic form of technology used for communication in business, almost a decade ago were typewriters, copy machines, horizontal file cabinets and telephone and telegram. There was a very minor use of computers by business professionals for their work. Today these electronic devices of communication seem pretty obsolete. Electronic communication has changed different approaches of business people and people working in organizations towards the methods of communication they use such as:
Electronic databases and storage systems have significantly changed the process of gathering information for organizational purposes. Through various electronic databases we can access more information in less time. It also helps in the speedy search or accurate information.
Electronic communication has also affected and changed our approaches to writing business letters, memos and notices. A major tool in this aspect is word processors. Word processors have had a drastic impact on business writing techniques. Today word processors are so efficient that they help the writers to correct their spelling, grammatical and punctuation mistakes while they write. They also provide different styles for formatting reports, resumes etc. Another way that electronic communication has impacted writing in business or organizations is email or electronic mail. Facsimile transmission is a more elegant form of electronic mail used in many businesses today (Munter, Mary 2006). Computerized electronic communications has made a global village in terms of the closeness through which people across the world can share conversations, televised pictures, and interactive software on VDU’s, maps, graphics, and circuits. The process of making decisions has also been speeded up due to the new technology that provides instant access to databanks of information stored in huge mainframe computer memory banks. Due to the advent of electronic technology, jobs, working locations and cultures are likely to be transformed. Local and Wide Area Networks (LAN / WAN) fax, messaging systems, telex and view data communication modems are utilized as personal computers in order to smooth the progress of certain organizational functions for instance assist an administrator, secretary etc to access world wide communication links without even having to budge from their table. Another newly introduced method in electronic communication is video conferencing.
Videoconferencing is an interactive tool that includes video, computing and communication technologies which enables people in different locations to meet face to face and carry on almost the same meeting activities that would be performed if all the participants of the meeting are present in the same room. The benefits of videoconferencing are that it increases more participation in discussions and meeting between and within organizations as all individuals who are supposed to participate will be there. Due to video conferencing contradictions that can create hurdles for the meeting such as flight delays etc can be avoided. This would result in more productive meetings and also provide the benefit of less debriefing to the staff who cannot attend, as there will be multiple local participants. This method of electronic communication also cuts down costs, as there would be no need to book airline tickets, for instance Videoconferencing is inexpensive than flying from England to New York. Videoconferencing hoards both time and money for the reason that the time and money that would be spent in going from one city or country to another would be saved. In addition to that the administrative organization is reduced as well or else travel schedules, reservations, tickets and various other expenditures all have to be arranged. The process of videoconferencing when used in businesses helps to make decisions quickly and professionals can furthermore be involved to improve the subject at hand. The representatives who are a part of the electronic conversation going on through video conferencing can communicate with each other anytime so it cuts down the work of flying in and out and this result’s in more timely and frequent communications. As a meeting through videoconferencing can be arranged at any time these meetings can then take place with little notice prior to the meeting and there can be briefer and more frequent interaction. This will have a positive impact on the productivity of the organization, as it will increase, enhancing the product quality at the same time. The increase in productivity helps a company to perform organizational functions in the future while meeting up the requirements of increasing competition and cutting down costs. The quality provided by videoconference meetings has been observed to be more efficient and has better participation levels than many traditional in person meetings. A videoconferencing setup is easy to install, use and manage and it provides more opportunities as technology advances. Its easy availability in the whole universe, enables it to be accessed anywhere in the world. Videoconferencing also provides visual advantages as visual communication is involved and it enhances the flow of information. This helps in the collection and distribution of information, which is faster and better so everyone is better informed. In contrast to teleconference, videoconferencing makes numerous members less uncomfortable to deal with due to its visual benefits. Furthermore, there is the ability to exchange graphical pictures interactively over a teleconference (audio only). The channels of communication chosen by organizations are dependent on the participants of the meeting (Revision Notes 2003: Videoconferencing for Business Communication).
Nowadays organizations are benefited from the use of electronic communication methods as they provide:
-A variety of methods for interacting with people situated at distant locations such as fax which transmits artwork, number, graphics, photographs and text etc on a single side of an A4 sheet. Computer conferencing (video conferencing) and teleconferencing offers interpersonal communications visually and by means of VDU screens.
-Accuracy of the sent or received message or information (Revision notes 2003).
Face-to- Face Communication in organizations
Although electronic communication has numerable benefits these days, this cannot be ignored but at the same time the effectiveness of face- to- face communication cannot be denied also. Face-to-Face communication is a historical communication method used in organizations. Face-to-Face communication conveys the true reactions and responses of people who are communicating with each other. People get instant, on the spot response and feedback, which is essential for effective communication in organizations. The differences between face-to-face communication and phone, email and other verbal communication are very obvious. On average, only seven per cent of our understanding of communication is based on actual words. Without other cues that are seen and observed through face-to-face communication the ‘real’ message is often understood in a wrong way. An important aspect of face-to-face communication is the ‘non-verbal’ facet such as including facial expression, gestures, body language and our appearance (Total Review 2005). The decrease in the trend of face to face communication has caused the disadvantage in organizations that employees, managers’ etc do not have time to properly comprehend and give feedback to the large amounts of information stored everywhere (Revision Notes 2003). In this era of speed and technology, there are certain questions that arise about the efficiency of face-to-face communication and its use today is being doubted. The answer to this doubt would be that no matter how many wonders technology can create it still tends to be distancing, or even isolating in certain situations where human presence is important. Organizations today must strive to achieve the right balance between the two main forms of communication, electronic and face-to-face. The importance of neither of these should be underestimated. Managers in organizations must be intelligent enough to comprehend that when it is necessary to rely on face-to-face communication as a leadership tool and when to turn to technology. As today’s complex workplace is filled with information, job insecurity, pressure for results and the conflicts that arise regarding priorities, make it important that every leader should be more able than ever to perform the role of interpreter for the people he or she leads. Hence the requirements for face-to-face communication proposals help such leaders to accomplish their communication responsibilities. Even with the increase in the use of modern communication methods, the influence and success rate of face-to-face communication in organizations cannot be ignored. Managers should be aware of the fact that the most effective work organizations are those that have good leadership at every level. Good leadership helps to produce greater employee satisfaction and loyalty towards the organization. A manager can attain the status of a good leader when he goes through the process of frequent face-to-face communication with his employees. Meetings where all employees and managers are interacting directly with each other create a sense of loyalty and consideration for the organization within the employees. The factors that determine the success of face-to-face communication are different for different organizations and it is also based on the complexity of the task. Some basic factors are that leaders who are successful at face-to-face communication have inborn management abilities, for instance the skill to listen non-defensively, the ability to understand what main events or inventiveness mean to the work entity, comprehend the business and its planned objectives and the most important feature is the aptitude to trust. Even face-to-face communication will not be effective if people to whom the message is being conveyed to do not trust you (D’Aprix 2004).
The importance of face-to-face communication can be explained by the example of the worldwide renowned fast food restaurant Mc. Donald’s. When Mc Donald’s was established in Russia, a large amount of money, around billions was spent in teaching the employees just ‘how to smile’. It seems funny and kind of insane to invest so much of money for teaching people how to smile. But as we read into the details of this training campaign we find that how to smile campaign focused on the importance of face-to-face communication of the employees with the potential customers. This was an extensive training campaign, which aimed at making employees understand the importance of greeting a customer politely and happily. Successful running of any business is largely dependent on the face-to-face communication that occurs between the employees and the customers.
Word Count: 2476
Munter, Mary. 2006. Business Communications Strategy and Skill. Prentic Hall International. Tenth Edition
Robbins, Stephen P. 2006. Organizational Behavior. Prentice Hall, Eleventh Edition.
Revision Notes (2003) Advantages and Disadvantages of Electronic Communication for Businesses. Retrieved on November 15th 2006 from:
D’Aprix, Roger (2004). Face-to-Face Communication Tool Kit. Retrieved on November 15th 2006 from:
Total Review ( 2005)INDUSTRY PERSPECTIVES- On Visual Conferencing And VoIP Convergence. Retrieved on November 15th 2006 from:
Revision Notes (2003) Methods of Communication. Retrieved on November 15th 2006 from:
Massachusetts Department of Education (2001) Science and Technology/ Engineering Curriculum Framework Retrieved on November 15th 2006 from:
Revision Notes (2003)Videoconferencing for Business Communication. Retrieved on November 15th 2006 from:
Wikipedia (2006) : Organizational Communication. Retrieved on November 15th 2006 from: