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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.

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

" S. 2. For the achievement of the goal of an organization there must be coordination among different departments and employees. discipline is strictly maintained. Mainly used for vertical communication 3.Page 3 of 13 Definition: In case of formal communication information transmitted through official chain of command. As a .P. follow the authority chain. In the words of Thill and Bovee. Efficiency: Through formal communication coordination among different division of an organization increases. Reliable: As it has documentary evidence it is more reliable than other form of communication. Chance of mistakes can be minimized.” Thus it can be said that communication by using the formal official channel can be termed as formal communication. “In case of formal communication information may travel down. It may be oral or written. Robbins said. 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. accuracy of information can be insured. and across an organization‟s formal hierarchy. Formal communication enhances the coordination by using the official channels. Discipline: As information is transmitted by following organization hierarchy. “Formal communication are typically vertical. up. It has documentary evidence which can be used as future references. Used for task related communication 4. Major media for routine communication 5. Features: 1. Accuracy: As discipline is maintained. Uses official channel. and are limited to task related 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. As information flows through the chain it takes long time to convey information from upper level to lower level. As formal channel is used chance of ambiguity decreases. Clarity: Clarity of the message is another considerable advantage of formal communication. Lower level employees become more interested to comply with the instructions of the authority. Lack of creativity: Another drawback of formal communication is lack of creativity observed among the employees. Costly: More time and more formality increases the overall cost of the communication. Disadvantages of formal business communication are as follows: Lack of flexibility: Time consuming: As strict formalities or chain of command is maintained. it is not flexible. Not suitable for motivation: Creates misunderstanding: Formal communication is not suitable for the motivation of employees. Creative thinking not encouraged.Page 4 of 13 result organizational efficiency also enhanced. As a result sometimes it creates mental distance. Artificiality: Due to strict formalities and lack of flexibility artificiality developed among the employees of the organization. Thus chance of distortion increases in formal communication. In the way of communication messages can be distorted. .

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

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

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

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

Accordingly problems of lower employees can be minimized and their enthusiasm increased. Free flow of information: Rapid communication: In case of informal communication messages can be transmitted to the ultimate recipient faster than formal communication. 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. Infect it is popular among the employees for its flexibility. One of the major advantages of informal communication is flexibility. As a result mental distances are reduced.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. Enhance mutual trust: By removing mental distance informal communication also enhance the mutual trust between the management and employees. Through informal communication management can come closer to the operational level employees and judge their attitudes clearly. Increase co-operation: Flexibility: Co-operation among the employees increased by informal communication. Evaluation of employees: Sometimes it is necessary for the management to evaluate the attitudes of the employees. Meaning of formal communication can be clarified by the informal communication. Remove mental distances: Through informal communication employees can share their views on any problem. . It can adopt with the demand of the situation. Supportive: Informal communication is not just a separate system of exchanging information. Increase enthusiasm: Due to the very nature of informal communication it allows lower level employees to communicate freely with the top management.

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

rather any even or attractive phenomenon can lead a man to initiate grapevine.Page 11 of 13 Features: The most common informal communication network in an organization is grapevine. Rapid communication: No record: It is faster than other formal or informal channels. J. 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 . Used for self-interests: Grapevine is basically used for the self-interest of the employees. 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. According to Prof. Lack of control: Infect management has no control over the grapevine. Popular among employees: Grapevine is very much popular media among the employees. W. “Grapevine has three main characteristics: 1. It is not controlled by management. The factors that encourage grapevine activity Grapevine is the product of the situation. Distortion: One of the major characteristics of grapevine is message are distorted as it passes from man to man. It is perceived by the most employees as being more believable and reliable. Spontaneous: Grapevine is spontaneous. no one needs to be urged to deliver. It is more believable and reliable than formal communication. 3. 2. it passes automatically from top to bottom of the organization. There is no documentary evidence of grapevine that can be produced as future reference. It is largely used to serve the self-interest of those people within it. 3. Newstrom and Others. it is not created by a person.

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

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

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