Organizational Communication

Types of Organizational Communication 

Formal Communication
Communication that follows the official chain of command or is part of the communication required to do one¶s job. 

Informal Communication
Communication that is not defined by the organization¶s hierarchy. 

Permits employees to satisfy their need for social interaction. Can improve an organization¶s performance by creating faster and more effective channels of communication. 

Communication Flows

U p w a r d


D o w n w a r d

Direction of Communication Flow 

Communications that flow from managers to employees to inform, direct, coordinate, and evaluate employees. 

Communications that flow from employees up to managers to keep them aware of employee needs and how things can be improved to create a climate of trust and respect.

Direction of Communication Flow (cont·d) 

Lateral (Horizontal) Communication
Communication that takes place among employees on the same level in the organization to save time and facilitate coordination. 

Diagonal Communication
Communication that cuts across both work areas and organizational levels in the interest of efficiency and speed.

Types of Communication Networks 

Chain Network
Communication flows according to the formal chain of command, both upward and downward. 

Wheel Network
All communication flows in and out through the group leader (hub) to others in the group. 

All-Channel Network
Communications flow freely among all members of the work team.

Three Common Organizational Communication Networks and How They Rate on Effectiveness Criteria

The Grapevine 

An informal organizational communication network that is active in almost every organization.
Provides a channel for issues not suitable for formal communication channels. The impact of information passed along the grapevine can be countered by open and honest communication with employees.

Grapevine has the following characteristics 

It arises from social interactions among people. It is a natural and normal activity due to desire of the people to talk to one another. It generally operates like a cluster chain as every person tells in turn many other persons. Only a few persons are active communicators in it. These can be called liaison individuals. People are active on the grapevine when their own interests and interests of their friends are involved. It operates at a fast speed because it functions through word of mouth or observation. Grapevine functions partly in a predictable manner that offers managers a chance to influence it.

Advantages of Grapevine   


Helps in developing better relations amongst employees. Has a flexible and personal nature, and hence fills in gaps arisen in formal channels of communication. Has a fast speed. Links persons not in official chain of command. Serves as an important feedback channel, if utilized effectively.

Limitations of Grapevine 

It is not authentic. Is prone to distortion. May give rise to rumors in the organization. It is difficult to pinpoint responsibility. May result in leakage of confidential information.

It is apparent that management cannot eliminate grapevine in an organization. But by keeping the informal groups informed about concerned organizational matters in a systematic way, it can use the power of the grapevine to disseminate information.

Types of Grapevines
Single Strand
Communication is through intervening persons in a string. Thus information is passed through persons who are in form of a strand.

Non selectively, one representative communicates with the other.

Types of Grapevines
Communication is done randomly with others according to laws of probability.

Communication is selective with those the employee can trust. Thus different such clusters are formed in the organization.

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