Many managers devote a significant proportion of their time to
communications both within and outside the business.
Communication can be simply defined as the flow of information from
one person to another.
Effective communications are, therefore, vital to the success of the
business, since the delegation of work, the feedback of information
and the controlling of the business all rely on accurate, quick and
effective communication flows.
Good communication will reduce conflict and will prevent any
misunderstandings of what is required by employees.
Formal -v- Informal Communication
Formal communication refers to the official channels of communication
which exist in a business, such as information being passed through
‘line’ and ‘staff’ relationships (e.g. between superiors and
subordinates, or between people on the same level). These information
flows will be concerned with the content of the jobs and may be in one
of several forms, spoken, written, or electronic for example.
Informal communication refers to the unofficial channels of
communication that exist in a business (often spoken as opposed to
written communication). This is often referred to as the ‘grapevine’.
This can be concerned with the content of the jobs (e.g. two employees
commenting on the poor performance of a task by their superior), or it
can be discussing non work-related matters (e.g. arranging a staff
It could also refer, for example, to the anonymous passing of
information to the media relating to unethical business practices.
Communications can also be classified in terms of direction, vertical
or horizontal. Vertical communication can be top-down (e.g. directions
and instructions given from superior to sub-ordinate) or it can be
bottom-up (e.g. feedback from sub-ordinate to superior).
Horizontal communication refers to contacts and flows of information
between people at the same level in the business. Where there is no
facility for feedback, (often under an authoritarian management style)
then this is referred to as one-way communication.
There is a danger here, however, that the message will be
misunderstood or poorly performed, since the employee performing the
task is unable to ask his superior for assistance or clarity.
It is a widely-held view among many businesses today that
communication must be multi-directional (i.e. top-down, bottom-up and
horizontal) in order to involve employees and make them feel valued by
the business (e.g. implementing systems of quality circles or works
councils). This will help to improve their job satisfaction and level
of motivation, as well as encouraging lower rates of absenteeism and
Quantitative communication involves the transmission and
interpretation of data and numerical information (e.g. sales figures
or financial data).
Qualitative communication involves the use of...