COMMUNICATIONS IN BUSINESS ORGANISATION
People live successfully in any community because of their ability to communicate with one another. Similarly, the office that is established for a purpose depends largely on communication, hence it is often said that communication is one of the fundamental functions of the office – a process acclaimed to be essential to all forms of business.
DEFINITION OF COMMUNICATION
Communication may be said to be the process by which a thought is transferred from a person or persons to another person or persons. Simply put, Mills and Standingford (1978) defined communication as the process of conveying information from one person to another through the post, by telephone, teleprinter, messenger service, or by other means. The term communication should be interpreted widely and not taken as including only such obvious things as letters and telephone calls to and from persons outside the business; it includes also the transmission of memoranda, reports, instructions, invoices, orders, estimates, quotations, drawings, and even samples. Form instance, the majority of business communications are received of originated by the office in the course of the work.
COMMUNICATION MAY BE IN THE FOLLOWING FORMS:
1. An order: in which case it would be part of the direction process.
2.A request or appeal: such as one from the work-force to management.
3.An observation-being perhaps a contribution to decision-making or merely an expression of a viewpoint.
4. As information such as the provision of data for the use of management.
5.As instruction-perhaps related to training or as part of the delegation process.
6.In policy making- whereby principles and standards are promulgated.
Basic principles of communication/characteristics of effective communication.
There are certain principles of communication which should be understood and applied in all situation.
a. That communication is between the mind of one person and the mind of another. The most effective communication is between interested persons, face to face, when speech is supplemented by gesture and sometimes facial expression. It has been noted that communication is always more difficult between strangers.
b. That people can only understand one thing by relating it to something else already understood. It is naturally to say that people can only comprehend [information] by relating new ideas to existing knowledge Of course this is the basis of education
c. That the communicator has a duty to make himself understood. It is frustrating to blame the receiver of the communication if he does not understand it reason for the lack of understanding is that the communicator (Speaker
communication received are not properly understood, it is useless merely blame the other party or to guess what is meant. In order that the purpose writer) has not sufficiently and adequately chosen his word correctly, or perhaps
how not given sufficient explanation
d. The person who does not understand has a duty to ask for an explanation. If communication received are not properly understood, it is useless merely to blame the other party- or to guess what is meant. In order that the purpose of communication can be achieved, the party that is in difficulties should see for more explanation
CHANNELS OF COMMUNICATION
There are four channels of communication, namely: (1) oral (2) written (3) visual mechanical and (4) staff location system
1.Oral communication: This relates to direct speech between two people between small groups of people. Obviously, it is the most prevalently form communication and consist of orders, instructions, requests, the planning of
information etc. The quickest and best way of ensuring co-operation is to take the matter over with the people concerned. Oral communication may include
a. Courses for trainees
c. Joint consultation
d. Meetings and conferences
e Personnel department
h. Telephone systems
j. Traveller’s (sales representatives)
k. Trade union
Advantages of oral communication. Some of the advantages of oral communication are
i. The communication can recognize the aptitude for
understanding in the recipient and can speak in a manner suitable to the
ii. It allows the recipient to ask for elucidation where necessary
iii. If the contact is in the form of a discussion, each can contribute to the achievement of a decision without further consultation being necessary.
DISADVANTAGES OF ORAL COMMUNICATION ARE:
i. The recipient may subsequently require guidance in carrying out his task, the necessity for which was not obvious at the time of communication
ii. The lack of written record is the absence of evidence of what was agreed. There may be a subsequent dispute as to exactly what the instructions were or what authority had been given.
iii. The relationship existing between the parties may be verbal contact unsatisfactory
iv. The communication may be inadequate in his vocal expression, so that the message is misinterpreted.
2. Written communication: Most written communications are typewriting, and typewriting, as compared with handwriting, is faster and the result is easier to read.
Handwriting is not however, to be regarded as obsolete. Forms are entered and inter-departmental memoranda written as operations incidental to the main jobs of clerks who are not trained typists. Written communication is made by the following means:
1. Agenda forms
5. House journals
8. Official publications
9. Organisation manuals
10. Organisation schedules
11. Policy manual
12. Procedure manual
15. Trade journals and
16. Suggestions schemes
Advantages Of Written Communication
i. It provides for written communication
ii. It is clearer and more detailed
Disadvantages of written communication
1. It is costly
2. It requires careful thinking
3. The absence of parties involved might create some problems
Visual/mechanical means of communication
These are all around us, an important part of our daily lives. Some of those employed in the business world are:
a. Closed-circuit television
b Films and film strips
d. Notice boards
e. Organisation charts
i. Statistical graphs
j. Visits and
k. Wall charts
4. Staff location system, which may be by:
b. Public address system
C. Light signals
Factors to consider when choosing type of communication
In arriving at a decision as to the means of communication to be used in business offices, there are seven major factors to be considered:
a. Speed: How urgent is the communication?
b. Accuracy: Will the information be received accurately? If figures are spoken over the telephone they are liable to be misheard.
c. Safety: What is the risk of losing the communication in transit? If an important legal document is to be sent through the post, it may be prudent to send it by registered mail.
d. Secrecy: Does it matter if unauthorized person become aware of the information communication?
e. Record: It is necessary that the communication should be in writing for purpose of record?
f. Impression : Is the communicator in such a form as to produce the desired reaction from the person receiving it? In some instances a form letter is adequate, but in others this might give offence or result in the communication
being put into the waste-bin unread.
e. Cost: All elements of cost must be taken into account. The greater proportion of cost usually lies in the stages of preparation rather than in transmission For example, the cost of labour and material expended in preparing and
posting a letter will far exceed that of the postage.
Lines of communication: People are hired to perform one kind of services or the other in an organisation. From time to time, employers communicate with employees vice versa. Therefore, lines of communication refers to the flows of communication, some of which conform to defined patterns, whereas other do not
1. Informal: These relate to the countless communication passing every day between equals and near-equals whose work brings them into close relationships. According to Pitfield (1977), informal covers all that which follows from the procedure of work, the giving of instructions, and the discussion which have no positive objectives but which contribute to the morale of the business.
2. Downward: This is the passing of instructions down the line of command, each tier delegating the authority it has been given.
3. Upward: This is the system for:
a. procedural feedback, whereby the results of work delegated are fed back to the authorising body;
b. workers to approach management, whereby complaints, suggestions,
demands, etc can flow upward.
Where such lines flow in reverse of the lines of delegated authority, danger exists. Dissatisfaction amongst employees will have time to fester if complaints have to go through many stages. With the growth of a business there is a tendency for lines of communication to lengthen and it is essential that “short cuts’ exist so that matters of contention can be dealt with quickly. Overlong lines mean a wider separation of the two sides and are conducive to the corrosive them and us” attitude.
4. Broadcast: This concerns statements from the management to the staff generally or to certain sections of it. It can also relate to public announcements and to communications to shareholders.
5. Horizontal: In the same way that absolute vertical organisation is not practical, so communication will not invariably flow upwards and downwards. Information must flow across between the various functional areas in the normal work pattern. There must also be provision for the mutual exchange of information between managers of different departments.
6. “The grape-vine”: These are unofficial flows of information, largely based on rumour. They exist in any business, and management must when any particular rumour has reached dangerous proportions Stories distorted. It is essential, therefore, that before a dangerous level is reached gain in dramatic effect with re-telling and may soon be completely management issues a definitive statement. The ideal would be to anticipate staff concern (e.g about possible redundancies) and make a statement at
7. Committees: Good administration thrives on committee These committees therefore form part of the communication used in most The relevance and application of internal communication: Hall (1974) States that all means of communication between employers and employees and between an early stage. organisations to system and resolve some issues,
The relevance and application of internal communication; Hall [ 1974] states that all means of communication between employers a company and its shareholders (if we may regard these as internal”) are important
Their importance cannot be over-emphased, in view of the fact that it is used to clear misconception and misinterpretation arising from employers and employees Internal communication is important for the following reasons:
i. Employer-employee understanding can be obtained, strengthened and maintained, and this is the basis of sound management,
ii. Instruction is communicated, intelligence is imparted from management to supervisors, from supervisors to subordinates, from instructor to trainees. as a vital part of normal management and administrative functions.
iii The creation of employees interest in the progress, results and policy of the business is an important part of management’s function of motivation
iv. The shock of technological change is lessened. Adequate and timely communication of working conditions, and timely communication wages personnel, etc, and of the imminence of redundancy resulting from the introduction of automation, lessens the shock and ensures that the change is more readily accepted by those affected.
v. Future capital is more readily obtained as the shareholders (and debenture holders, where applicable) are provided with a steady flow of information concerning the company, and contended, well informed shareholders are
more likely to be happy with their investment and more ready to provide further capital when the company requires it for further developments.
vi. Employees are given opportunity for communication back to their employers. This is important in two ways: the employee is able to register any complaints with his employer or seek advice through the personnel officer, the employer obtains information from his employees which often enables him to make decisions and/or improve methods.
Many business organizations in Nigeria and the world over are judged by the quality of communication with the outside world. The goodwill and reputation are earned through the efficiency manner with which communication is
perceived To this end, the standard between a business Office and those outside it is important
a. Increased prestige results: An impression of efficiency as well as its actuality is enhanced by the standard of communication in the use of letters and the telephone. Correspondence should be answered promptly. Letter
should conform to a style common throughout the business, should be well laid out and be unambiguously worded. Telephone operators should be trained, so that good service is given to callers.
b. Improved public relations: A company uses communication in a variety of ways to keep its public, employees, shareholders and customers informed of the activities it carries out, and to earn public understanding of
itself and of its products
c. Business improvement will result from good communication, whether aimed deliberately at achieving that result- as in adverting and public relations- or arising out of the careful handling of everybody correspondence and the
What constitute effective communication: Not all communication are effective, even though majority of letters and correspondence sent out meet the requirements of the recipients organisation. To this end, the intention contained in the communication is conveyed in such a manner as to be fully understood by the recipient. Besides, there must be a coincidence of thought by both parties. One of the major areas of failure in management is the frequent inability of
communication to meet this criterion. The achievement of effective communication is therefore vital if management is to be successful. For instance, management is concerned with working with others and unless understanding can be reached between people, of its products. consequent increased prestige, the job of the manager is made very much more difficult. Some of the essentials for effective communication are as follows: are
i. Adequate briefing of the recipient: The communicator must appreciate that facts which are known to him may not be available to other party.
ii. Use of a suitable language: In making the communication, the language used must be related to the knowledge and intellectual ability of the recipient.
iii. Clarity: The value of a communication is reduced if there exists verbosity, complicated phrasing, objectivity, etc
IV. Use of appropriate media: Different vehicles of expression are appropriate to different circumstances. There are many sub-divisions to the two broad categories- oral and written – but the choice of which to use can be very important.
IMPLICATION OF DEFECTIVE COMMUNICATION:
The failure by management to meet the requirements of effective
communication as outlined above, the following can also make understanding more difficult.
Organization inadequacies- The danger here can be that of poorly designed channels of communication in that
information does not reach all those who should receive it:
the channels are too long, thereby showing the flow of information:
too few (and, sometimes, too many) are involved in consultation before
Inadequacies of the communicator: Poorly baid-out written
communication is made:
quick access of workers to management is not available.
b. Physical conditions: A noisy atmosphere, for example, (such as in a factory) can make communication difficult.
communications or those vaguely worded, a speaker unable to express himself clearly- all these failings can seriously detract from effectiveness
Interpretation failure: An excellent report can fail because of the inability of those receiving it to interpret it fully. A report from a specialist may be
unacceptable to management, either because:
i. it refuses to agree to something it does not understand and rejeet the knowledgeable opinion of the expert; or
ii. of personal prejudice- a board largely consisting of technical people may be suspicious of recommendations by accountants, in the same way that financial experts sometimes react contrarily to technicians
Personal animosity: A communication may be almost deliberately misconstrued because of the pre-existing attitudes of the parties. Where bad labour relations exist, the most innocent statement by management may produce a completely unwarranted reactions, an order from a foreman to a labourer, where personal friction exists between them, is likely to be unsuccessful.
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