Meaning of communication
To commutate is to make known to impart or to transmit information. Communication forms the bridge between manager and employees. Communication is an integral part of managing because it is only through communication that manager can make himself understood by his employees.
Manager must receive and give ideas, reports, and instruction, explain problem and give demonstration. An organization must also keep in touch with relevant environments customers , supplies dealers regulation etc. talking listening , attending meetings , reading and writing occupies most of the manager time .
Communication is therefore essential for effecting organization performance .An excellent plan that is poorly communicated is useless. Effective and efficient communication result in better overall performance. Ineffective communication leads to loss of meaning or misunderstanding which in turn leads to mistakes. The success of an organization is a reflection of the effectiveness of its communication. Many mistake and negative results in a firm accident , waste , duplicate work and incomplete work can be traced directly to poor communication .
Communication is need to:
- Establish and disseminate goals of an enterprise
- Develop plans for their achievement
- Organize human and non human resources
- Select develop and appraise staff
- Control performance
- Direct lead and motive employees
Communication is a two way process where everyone is both a receiver i.e. the information received must understood by the receiver . If the receiver does not understand the meaning of the message then communication
The communication process
The process traces the movement of information from the sender to the receiver. The process has the following elements:
Any one who wants to communicate something to someone else. The sender has a thought or idea which must be put into a language by the receiver and sender ( this is called encoding)
Message: The information the sender wants to communicate.
Channel (Vehicle / media) The link between the sender and the receiver of the message i.e. the mode of transmission of the message e.g. letter, telephone or gesture.
Choice of the channel is affected by the following factors
- Urgency – when the message is very urgent a telephone call may be the more appropriate
- Importance- important message are better communication face to face
- Needs for documentation. Delicacy of the message
- Cost involved- if sender is constrained by cost the mass media may be the most appropriate
- Future reference- when future reference is required then written message must be based
- Noise – Anything whether in sender, channel or receiver that
- Hinders communication e.g. a noisy or confined
- environment may affect thinking by clogging the mind
Ambiguous symbols and may distort meaning
The person the sender wants to reach with the message. Once the receiver gets the message he/ she must decode it. This is the process by which the receiver interprets the message and attaches meaning to it. If communication has to be complete (Understood) the receiver and the sender must attach the same meaning to the message.
The action taken by the message receiver once the message has been convened. It is only through feedback that the sender can know whether the process was successful
To be able to communicate effectively it is important that one gains and old attention of the receiver. This is difficult because the competition for attention is enormous. One receiver too many message at the same time and because naturally the attention span is limited, people minds keep wondering. Manager at the top face more noise than their subordinates. They must keep up to date with many institutions outside the organization and each institution keeps sending different message to the manager which all require his attention For communication to be effective the message sender must have a good knowledge of the receiver managers using work manual establish whether the employees are capable of reading and understanding the manuals . Overestimation of the capability of the receiver e.g. his intelligence will lead to misunderstanding of the message . Income, social status, responsibilities and position of the receiver all effects and influence the way a message is perceived.
How well the receiver knows the sender may also influence perception of the message. People differ in many ways therefore they interpret message differently. The message sender must therefore tailor each message to suit the receiver. The biggest problem of
communication within business firms in Kenya is that few people understand human behaviours and this is why messages are misunderstood leading to accidents and mistake at the work place.
NOTE: The process is affected by many situational and organizational factors. Factors in the external environment include education factors , sociological factors , n legal factors , political factors , technological factors and economic factors . Time and geographical
distance are also other factors that affect communication. The manager may not have the time to send out communication or the message may become invalid with passage of time.
Communication is also affected by internal factors such as structure of the organization , managerial styles and change in technology .Using the communication process model manager are able to pinpoint problems and to take corrective action.
Types of Communication
Communication in an organization is either external or internal. Internal communication take place between people within the organization while external communication occurs between people in the organization and other outside
Today’s organization are complex and big and the amount of information handled is very large . Therefore a lot of efficiency in communication is required. All organization generates internal communication and other communication flow is multidirectional.
It could either be:
- Vertically upward from lower to higher level through the chain of command
- Vertically downward from higher to lower levels
- Direct horizontal when an individual from one department communicates to other in another department but at the same organization level.
- Indirect horizontal occurs between people of different organization levels and in different department.
- Depending on the nature of the firm zigzagging or diagnosing of messages cannot be ruled out.
The informal group through the grapevine forms an important communication channel. All organization have a: grapevine” or informal communication channel. News flow through the grapevine with or without the approval of the management. The information that flows through the grapevine is rarely ever true as it is based on gossip and half truths. Where management has not devised ways of passing information promptly the: grapevine “thrives. So the more fully and accurately management keeps people informed, the weaker the grapevine.
The firm also invites communication with group outside and as the organization grows external communication grows. These group include customers, suppliers government competitors etc.
Written communication is in form of letter, memos, manual or minutes. It has the advantage of providing record s and references. Written message are to a large extent uniform.
However written communication may:
- Increase paperwork
- Provide no immediate feedback
- One is never sure the receiver got the written document
- It can be made ineffective by poor writing
- Involves danger of using technical jargon not understood by the receiver.
Most communication in organization is oral. It provide immediate feedback and nuclear issues can be classified immediately. The communicator knows the effects of communication immediately. It can easily be altered or adjusted to suit the receiver. Face to face
communication when used by managers gives the subordinates a feeling of importance and self worth.
Non Verbal Communication
Includes facial expression, body gestures, eye movement, distance maintained etc. These can either reinforce what we say or contradict it. Communication must include expression finally so a manager must be able to supplement what he says with action.
THE ART OF ACTIVE LISTENING
Active listening refers to a method of listening for the total meaning of a message. A sender’s message has a verbal and a non verbal components as well as feeling component. The receiver must be aware of both components in order to understand the full meaning of
the message. The feeling component expressed in experiencing it at the time of communication. These may be of joy, hate, resentment or anger and are contained in the words may be expressed in a way to convey a sent message.
People can become more active listeners if the follow these guideline.
- Suspend premature judgment premature presents the receiver from listening for the total meaning and the sender defenses
- Listen with understanding the receiver should try and understand what is being said from the sender perspective
- Listen and respond to feelings- the content of a message often play a small part in interpersonal communication. The emotion and feeling during communication should be recognized.
- Note all non verbal cues.
- Rephrase the sender’s message. The receiver may restate or paraphrase the sender’s message in his own words to see if she/ he understand the sender’s message.
Commandments for active listening
- stop talking and listen
- put the talker at ease
- show the talker you want to listen
- remove distraction
- sympathize with the talker
- be patient
- hold your temper
- avoid argument and criticism
- ask question
BARRIERS TO COMMUNICATION
Communication barriers can arise from sender, channel, and receiver or from the surrounding.
- Lack of planning to communicate – good communication is not by chance. Clear thinking must precede talking or writing. Often people talk or write clear thinking an d without a clear purpose for their work.
- Unclarified assumptions most messages have an underlying assumption. for a message to be clearly understood both the sender and the receiver must understand the underlying .
- Semantic distortion (language ) where worlds are not clearly understood because they are ambiguous . Beside some words have several meaning and when used in a message they may mean different things to different people.
- Poor expression (Language ) caused by poor chosen words, omission , lack of coherence awkward sentence structure and unfamiliar jargon.
- Loss of transmission – as the message is passed around people insert their own words or they paraphrase the message and it distorts the original message
- Poor retention – few people retain things for a long period. People forget too fast.
- Poor listening – human minds keeps wandering and as a message is being passed people keep pending their own things. Some use he opportunity b to make impression on other and such people give ideas and comments totally unrelated to the message
- Hasty (premature) evaluation people have a common tendency to judge approve or disapprove what is being said rather than trying to understand the speaker.
- Distrust, threat and fear in an organization plagued by fear and distrust communication is difficult as each message is viewed aseptically.
- Insufficient period for adjustment to change the essence of communication is to effect change. Change usually disrupts the way people have been carrying on their work and usually people need outcome time to adjust to change.
- Noise- noise or interruption from without the communication e.g. giving instructions in a noisy environment, disease , weather etc
HOW CAN COMMUNICATION BE IMPROVED
Improvement in communication should be an ongoing goal for manager especially due to the vital role it plays in organization. Effects communication requires that meaning must b e transmitted and understood. The responsibility for communication rests upon management as they are the people in charge of the enterprise. In a business enterprise knowledge of the area of business e.g. of the
product , skills of doing the job and time are vital for communication .A person in charge of selling a product must for instance have a thorough knowledge of the product , must have selling and presentation skills.
Communication can be improved by either the sender or the receiver of the message
What the sender can do to improve communication
- Clarify ideas before communication
- Examine the purpose of communication
Remove hierarchical barriers
Status differences in organization can limit the effectiveness of communication between superiors and subordinates- this creates a psychological distance which makes employees filter the information they give to management , withholding any information they fell is distasteful.
Remove interpersonal barriers
Communication is an interpersonal process; interpersonal barriers such as distrust, defensiveness and domination hinder open communication
Be sensitive to the receiver’s perspective
The communicator should be empathetic to the receiver’s i.e. Be able to put himself in the shoes of the receiver.
Develop and maintain credibility
Credibility is usually measured by one’s expertise on the subject matters being commutated
Support words with action
Avoid information overload
Refrain from giving employees more information than they can handle or process .A gate keeper could be used to screen the information or filtering and prioritizing of information could help reduce overload. Giving too little information, this often leads to employee’s dissatisfaction.
Be a good listener
Effective communication takes place only when this sender is satisfied with the receiver response.
What the receiver should do
Communication is a two way process. The receiver can improve communication by becoming a better listener , by learning the art of active listening, by observing the ten commandment already outlined in section 7,34 and by practicing the art of providing
Feedback is the process of responding to what another has told you ie communicating how you feel. feedback can either be responsive where the sender’s message is restated or corrective where one communities the effects of the message .certain guidelines could be
observed for effective feedback by the receiver.
- Aim to help the recipient
- Consider the recipient’s ability
- Focus on behaviours rather than on person
- Be descriptive rather than evaluative
- Respect the recipient’s privacy
Other Ways to Improve Communication
- Brief message – a lengthy message gives room for distortion
- Appropriate vocabulary language used must be understood by both the sender and the receiver
- Accuracy and completeness
- Selective communication
- Use of visual devices
- Use of combined media
- Follow up
- Good listening
Other Qualities for Improving Organization Communication
1. Define specific communication goals prior to actual communication
2. Establish communication mechanism through which organization members can interact regularly
3. Facilitate frequent face to face interaction between supervisors and employee
4. Encourage employee to express their ideas and concerns in dealing with their job.
5. Solicit information from employee concerning their careers and personnel problems.
6. Involves employees with timely feedback on their job performance.
7. Provide employee with timely feedback on their job performance.
8. Inform employees on any changes in the company’s goals and policies as soon as possible.
9. Periodically evaluate the firm’s communication effectiveness