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Formal and Informal Communication

Formal and Informal Communication

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Published by: ankit161019893980 on Oct 07, 2012
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Formal and Informal Communication
Communication channel
In an organization, information flows forward, backwards and sideways. This information flow is referred to as communication. Communication channels refer to the way this information flows within the organization and with other organizations. In this web known as communication, a manager becomes a link. Decisions and directions flow upwards or downwards or sideways depending on the position of the manager in the communication web. For example, reports from lower level manager will flow upwards. A good manager has to inspire, steer and organize his employees efficiently, and for all this, the tools in his possession are spoken and written words. For the flow of information and for a manager to handle his employees, it is important for an effectual communication channel to be in place.

The Working of a Communication Channel
Through a modem of communication be it face to face conversations or an inter-department memo, information is transmitted from a manager to a subordinate or vice versa. An important element of the communication process is the feedback mechanism between the management and employees. In this mechanism, employees inform managers that they have understood the task at hand while managers provide employees with comments and directions on employee's work.

Importance of a Communication Channel
Promotes motivation:
Communication promotes motivation by informing and clarifying the employees about the task to be done, the manner they are performing the task, and how to improve their performance if it is not up to the mark.

Source of information:
Communication is a source of information to the organizational members for decision-making process as it helps identifying and assessing alternative course of actions.

Altering individual’s attitudes:
Communication also plays a crucial role in altering individual’s attitudes, i.e., a well-informed individual will have better attitude than a less-informed individual. Organizational magazines, journals, meetings and various other forms of oral and written communication help in moulding employee’s attitudes.

Helps in socializing:
Communication also helps in socializing. In today’s life the only presence of another individual fosters communication. It is also said that one cannot survive without communication.

2. A challenge the managers face today is to determine what type of communication channel should they opt for in order to carryout effective communication. customer satisfaction survey. employer's manual. . It also includes the transfer of information with regard to memoranda. directions. A business plan. As organizations grow in size. 3. policies. Types of Communication Channels The number of communication channels available to a manager has increased over the last 20 odd years. This means information flows from a manager to his subordinates and they in turn pass on the information to the next level of staff. Video conferencing. informal and unofficial. Formal Communication Channels Introduction 1. mobile technology. Messages in this type of communication channel follow a chain of command. and procedures of an organization. reports. annual reports.Page 2 of 13 Assists in controlling process: Communication also assists in controlling process. and scheduled meetings in the chain of command. Communication helps in controlling function of management. In order to make a manager's task easier. the types of communication channels are grouped into three main groups: formal. electronic bulletin boards and fax machines are some of the new possibilities. A formal communication channel transmits information such as the goals. An example of a formal communication channel is a company's newsletter which gives employees as well as the clients a clear idea of a company's goals and vision. It helps controlling organizational member’s behaviour in various ways. review meetings are all formal communication channels. managers cannot rely on face to face communication alone to get their message across.

accuracy of information can be insured.Page 3 of 13 Definition: In case of formal communication information transmitted through official chain of command. and across an organization‟s formal hierarchy. Robbins said. Discipline: As information is transmitted by following organization hierarchy. “In case of formal communication information may travel down. “Formal communication are typically vertical. It has documentary evidence which can be used as future references.” Thus it can be said that communication by using the formal official channel can be termed as formal communication.P. Efficiency: Through formal communication coordination among different division of an organization increases. Advantages of formal business communication are as follows: Transmission of official messages: Documentary evidence: Enhance coordination: Formal communication facilitates the smooth transmission of official messages. Formal communication enhances the coordination by using the official channels. For the achievement of the goal of an organization there must be coordination among different departments and employees. Reliable: As it has documentary evidence it is more reliable than other form of communication. Major media for routine communication 5. Chance of mistakes can be minimized. Uses official channel. and are limited to task related communication. In the words of Thill and Bovee. As a . Accuracy: As discipline is maintained. Features: 1. It may be oral or written. discipline is strictly maintained. 2. Mainly used for vertical communication 3. Used for task related communication 4. up." S. follow the authority chain.

Thus chance of distortion increases in formal communication. Creates mental distance: In case of formal communication lower level employees cannot exchange their views freely with the executives by breaking the chain of command. Clarity: Clarity of the message is another considerable advantage of formal communication. it is not flexible.Page 4 of 13 result organizational efficiency also enhanced. As a result sometimes it creates mental distance. Creative thinking not encouraged. As information flows through the chain it takes long time to convey information from upper level to lower level. . Artificiality: Due to strict formalities and lack of flexibility artificiality developed among the employees of the organization. As formal channel is used chance of ambiguity decreases. Not suitable for motivation: Creates misunderstanding: Formal communication is not suitable for the motivation of employees. Lower level employees become more interested to comply with the instructions of the authority. In the way of communication messages can be distorted. Costly: More time and more formality increases the overall cost of the communication. Lack of creativity: Another drawback of formal communication is lack of creativity observed among the employees. Disadvantages of formal business communication are as follows: Lack of flexibility: Time consuming: As strict formalities or chain of command is maintained.

Feedback: Both downward and upward communications are allowed in vertical communication which ensures proper feedback. . This is the most common form of communication of an organization. Record: As it follows the formal media it has documentary evidence which can be used in future .Page 5 of 13 Flow of communication Vertical communication The official communication that takes place between superiors and subordinates are known as vertical communication. Provide direction: Instructions or directions for proper implementation of official functions can be transmitted through vertical communication. Vertical communication can be depicted by the following diagram: Advantages of vertical communication: Discipline: In vertical communication official channels are used thus strict discipline can be maintained. It can be downward or upward.

it .” Thus it can be stated that exchange of information between same level employees of different departments in horizontal communication. “Communication between department or people on the same level in the managerial hierarchy of an organization may be termed as horizontal or lateral communication. productivity increased. It helps employees to perform the task efficiently. Pal and Korlahalli. Horizontal communication minimizes the problems of understanding among various departments as a result. Advantages of horizontal communication: Horizontal communication ensures better understanding. Lack of creativity: Horizontal communication When an employee of same level communicates each other than it can be labelled as horizontal communication. When lower level employees allowed communicating each other through horizontal communication. Better Understanding: Direct communication by breaking the vertical channel strengthens the bondage between employees of different departments which helps to boost up co-ordination.Page 6 of 13 Recognition: Vertical communication is one of the recognized media of internal communication. Disadvantages of vertical communication: Time consuming: As it follows the official channels it is a time consuming process. Coordination: Increase Productivity: Better implementation of decision: Decisions are made by top management but they are executed by the lower levelemployees. thus failed to cope up with the changed situation. accordingly employees of different division able to perform their job more efficiently. Co-ordination: Both wary communications under vertical system ensures coordination among the employees. Lack of flexibility: Vertical communication is not flexible. Dependable: Information transmitted through vertical communication are authentic and dependable. In vertical communication employees become mechanized and want to go by books. In the words of R. As a result they become less creative.

Page 7 of 13 helps to realize the policy and ensures better implementation of decision. it increases job satisfaction of the employees. Lack of discipline: As strict rules are not followed organizational discipline also can be hampered in horizontal communication. Horizontal communication is a prerequisite for successful teamwork. Horizontal communication not only increases the level of coordination but also facilitates the task of motivation. By ensuring cordial atmosphere and lifting the morale of employees horizontal communication plays a vital role in increasing the job satisfaction. Motivation: Cordiality: Employee morale: Teamwork: Better understanding and cordial environment also boost-up the morale of the employees. Due to the free flow of information cordiality among the employees increases considerably. Another major advantage of horizontal communication is. Lack of control: Conflict: Time consuming: Communication in addition to vertical instruction may delay the implementation of decision. In any organization for some specific purposes teamwork is essential. Job Satisfaction: Disadvantages Sometimes too much horizontal communication creates problem for the management and controlling may become difficult as the horizontal communication increases. . By passing the vertical channel horizontal communication allows the employees to communicate freely but sometimes it leads to personal conflict.

The strict hierarchical web of communication cannot function efficiently on its own and hence there exists a communication channel outside of this web. skip authority levels and is as likely to satisfy group members. Communication without using formal channel is known as informal communications. Quality circles. 3) Management by Working around where a manager informally walks through out a work area and casually talk to employees. Lack of evidence. In the words of Thill and Bovee. Within a formal working environment. in a relaxed atmosphere.” S.P. “Informal communication if free to move of any direction. there always exists an informal communication network. 4) Administrative assistance Assistance of top bosses pass and received information informally. “informal communication travels along the organization‟s unofficial lines of activity and power. Organizational hierarchy not followed 2. team work. . fall under the category of informal communication channels. 2. Free flow of information 3. An example of an informal communication channel is lunchtime at the organization's cafeteria/canteen.Page 8 of 13 Informal Communication Channels Introduction 1. Also managers walking around. different training programs are outside of the chain of command and so. a good manager needs to find the fine balance between the formal and informal communication channel. In an organization a considerable portion of communication are completed through informal channels. social needs. 2) Social Gathering gives people chance to meet of various price to meet and talk. adopting a hands-on approach to handling employee queries is an example of an informal communication channel. Information may be distorted 5. Rapid communication 4. 3. discussions among employees are encouraged. Robbins said.” Types of Informal Communication: 1) Grapevine is a channel mostly associated with gossip and rumours. Characteristics/Features of informal communication: 1. Here. Definition Formal channels are not only media of communication. While this type of communication channel may disrupt the chain of command.

Evaluation of employees: Sometimes it is necessary for the management to evaluate the attitudes of the employees. Accordingly problems of lower employees can be minimized and their enthusiasm increased. Through informal communication management can come closer to the operational level employees and judge their attitudes clearly. As a result mental distances are reduced. Remove mental distances: Through informal communication employees can share their views on any problem. . Meaning of formal communication can be clarified by the informal communication. Enhance mutual trust: By removing mental distance informal communication also enhance the mutual trust between the management and employees. Infect it is popular among the employees for its flexibility. It can adopt with the demand of the situation. Increase co-operation: Flexibility: Co-operation among the employees increased by informal communication. Increase enthusiasm: Due to the very nature of informal communication it allows lower level employees to communicate freely with the top management. Free flow of information: Rapid communication: In case of informal communication messages can be transmitted to the ultimate recipient faster than formal communication.Page 9 of 13 Advantages of informal communication are as follows: As no formal channel is maintained information can flow freely among the employees of the organization. it is also supportive to the formal communication. Suitable for motivation: In modern days many communication experts advocated that informal communication is more appropriate for motivating employees. Supportive: Informal communication is not just a separate system of exchanging information. One of the major advantages of informal communication is flexibility.

Keith Davis. dynamic and varied as people are. More information can be transmitted through grapevine. Fraudulent activities also can take place. A major loophole of the informal communication is secrecy of the information is not maintained. Thus sometimes interest of the organization may be hampered. No documentary evidence: Secrecy not maintained: Another demerit of informal communication is it has no documentary evidence. it is as fickle. Chance of error: As official chain and procedures are not followed. Rumour can take place: By taking the opportunity of informal communication rumour can take place. There is a negative idea about grapevine but the reality is it coexists with the formal communication system. It consists of gossip and rumour. If rumour is not properly controlled it can be detrimental to the organization. Distortion: Another major limitation of informal communication is. Conflict: Due to lack of control information may be distorted.” . Not reliable: Informal communication is not reliable and can not be used safely. chance of error increase. there is a chance of distortion of messages as it passes from top to bottom. “Grapevine arises from social interaction.Page 10 of 13 Disadvantages of the informal communication: Lack of control: Sometimes informal communication damages the official decorum which lead to lack of control. It is the exercise of their freedom of speech and is a natural. which may lead to internal conflict among the employees. Grapevine informal communication The grapevine is an informal communication system. In the words of Prof. normal activity.

It is perceived by the most employees as being more believable and reliable. The major factors that encourage grapevine are as follows o Excitement and insecurity o Involvement of friends and associates o Recent information o Procedure that brings people into contact o Work that allows conversation o Job that provides information desired by others o Personality of communicator . Newstrom and Others. 2. “Grapevine has three main characteristics: 1. Used for self-interests: Grapevine is basically used for the self-interest of the employees. There is no documentary evidence of grapevine that can be produced as future reference. Rapid communication: No record: It is faster than other formal or informal channels. It is not controlled by management. it is not created by a person. Now features of grapevine can be discussed in the following manner: Flexibility: As there is no formal control on grapevine it is more flexible than any other forms of communication. 3. Spontaneous: Grapevine is spontaneous. J. According to Prof. rather any even or attractive phenomenon can lead a man to initiate grapevine. Lack of control: Infect management has no control over the grapevine. Popular among employees: Grapevine is very much popular media among the employees. The factors that encourage grapevine activity Grapevine is the product of the situation. It is largely used to serve the self-interest of those people within it. Distortion: One of the major characteristics of grapevine is message are distorted as it passes from man to man. It is more believable and reliable than formal communication. W. it passes automatically from top to bottom of the organization.Page 11 of 13 Features: The most common informal communication network in an organization is grapevine. no one needs to be urged to deliver. 3.

Page 12 of 13 Sources of Grapevine Communication Grapevine is informal channel of communication. Disadvantages of Grapevine Communication 1. i. 3. It spreads like the grapevine. it spreads hastily. Cluster Chain: This move through selected groups. 4. 2. It spreads by way of gossip and rumours. the feedback obtained is quick compared to formal channel of communication. Most informal communication flows through this chain. and spreads fast. Gossip Chain: One person tells everybody else. Primarily grapevine is a channel of horizontal communication but it can flow even vertically and diagonally. 1. This chain passes a message regarding a „noton-job‟ nature. it does not clearly depicts the complete state of affairs. 5. The grapevine is a supplement in those cases where formal communication does not work. Probability Chain: here information may move from anybody to anybody. This chain is found when the information is somewhat interesting but not really significant. „A‟ tells something to a few selected individuals and then some of these individuals inform a few other selected individuals. The grapevine leads to making hostility against the executives. in any direction anywhere. The managers get to know the reactions of their subordinates on their policies. Advantages of Grapevine Communication. he becomes inquisitive and passes the details then to his closest friend who in turn passes it to other. grapevine helps in developing group cohesiveness. Thus. Specialists in this field have identified four types of grapevine chains. Thus. 2. Thus. 2. It doesn‟t follow any set lines or nay definite rules. 4. As soon as an employee gets to know some confidential information. Single Strand Chain: It flows like a chain. The grapevine serves as an emotional supportive value. 5. „A‟ tells something to „B‟ who tells it to „C‟ and so on. The grapevine may hamper the goodwill of the organization as it may carry false negative information about the high level people of the organization. .e. The grapevine carries partial information at times as it is more based on rumours. The productivity of employees may be hampered as they spend more time talking rather than working. Cluster chain is the dominant grapevine pattern in an organization. 4. 3. The grapevine creates a sense of unity among the employees who share and discuss their views with each other.. The grapevine is not trustworthy always as it does not follows official path of communication and is spread more by gossips and unconfirmed report. Grapevine channels carry information rapidly. 1. Thus. 3.

com www. Sally Johnson. Michigan State University.com www.businesscommunicationnew.com www.wikipedia. David Johnson. William A. Donohue.authorstream. .com Pdf by R jayasree Book by KK Sinha Pdf by J.Page 13 of 13 Bibliography         www. Charles K. Atkin.tutorialspoint. Lansing Community College. Some sites by using google search engine.blogspot.

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