Before we discuss the channels of Business Communication, let’s understand What is Communication?
Definitions of Communication:-
The term communication is ambiguous, despite the fact that it is a daily phenomenon.
Definitions of communication vary widely. Besides human communication, some definitions cover animal communication with members of the species, as well as with human beings.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines communication as “the action of conveying or exchanging information and ideas.”
Peter Little in his book Oral and Written Communication defines communication as “the process by which information is transmitted between individuals and or organizations so that an understanding response results.”
According to Keith Davis
“Communication is the transfer of information and understanding from one person to another.”
As Business Communication plays an important role in any business organization, it is necessary to focus on its meaning. Business Communication is the sharing of information related to business activities and their results.
Channels of Business Communication:-
“Administrative communication is a process which involves the transmission and accurate replication of ideas ensured by feedback for the purpose of eliciting actions which will accomplish organizational goals.”
Most organizations have a hierarchy, levels of authority, and power within the ranks. Communication is perhaps the unique link that runs through the structure and holds these levels together. Organizations transmit messages with the help of formal and informal networks that exist within their structure.
I. Formal Communication:-
Formal communication may be verbal or written and maybe in the form of letters, telephone calls, computer messages or memos. At times, a gesture may communicate as effectively as writing or speaking. Messages convey decisions and can be transmitted personally, or in writing, or by machines. From the sender, the messages move along designated routes to designated receiver/s, who must act on these messages.
As a general rule, all formal communication is recorded and filed and becomes a part of the organization‘s record. File copies are retained by the sender and the receiver. Some examples of formal communication include work orders, notices, accounting records and reports, inventory and sales reports, policy statements, job descriptions, work-method protocols.
Communication in an organization serves several purposes. It provides a road map for senders and receivers who must know about the planned action, work in progress, and work results. Next, it provides a place for the storage of information that may be required for planning, operations, and control.
1. Downward Communication:-
Download communication is the formal communication in which the line of authority starts from the top and extends to the lowest level. Top management of an organization transmits decisions taken by it, along with its intended goals, vision, culture, and ethics through various levels of authority. All decisions taken by the top management are passed down the ladder of authority for their implementation.
The messages that flow through this channel are orders, memos, rules, practices, procedures, circulars, regulations. Written orders, bulletins, bulletin boards, posters, house journals are commonly used modes of this communication. As it proceeds from superiors to the subordinates, this communication is also called “Top-Down communication.
Downward Communication is needed –
-to get the work done
-to prepare the workforce for challenges
-to tackle misinformation and suspicion arising out of it
-to create a feeling of pride and confidence in the workforce in order to motivate it and to boost its morale.
-to transmit work ethics and the organization’s culture.
2. Upward Communication:-
Communication from lower levels of an organization to the top is called upward communication. An organization needs suggestions and feedback from its employees on its routine work, and this system of obtaining employee reactions is known as upward communication.
Upward communication is needed-
-to forward employee-feedback
-to report on official matters
-to give voice to the difficulties, grievances, dissatisfaction and work-related demands of employees
-to invite suggestions, creativity and participation in problem-solving
-to create a sense of belonging through participation
Suggestion schemes, complaints, grievance-procedures, counseling, open-door policy, exit interviews are some of the common modes of this communication.
3. Horizontal / Lateral Communication:-
Horizontal communication is communication that takes place between employees belonging to the same or comparable status. Communication between two marketing managers, or between two directors, is horizontal communication.
Meetings, seminars, inter-office-memos, e-mails are some of the modes of this communication.
This type of communication takes place both at the higher level and the lower level.
Horizontal Communication is needed-
-to exchange official information
-to create understanding and team spirit among members
-to solve difficulties
-to seek and extend co-operation
-to save time when quick decisions have to be made.
4. Diagonal / Crosswise:-
Diagonal or crosswise communication takes place when individuals from different levels interact with one another, outside their reporting relationships. An example of diagonal communication is when a purchase manager, instead of communicating with the assistant purchase manager, or the sales manager, communicates directly with the assistant sales manager. In a complex and multilayered organization diagonal communication.
Diagonal Communication is needed-
-speeds up the flow of information
– creates healthy work relationships
– brings in proper co-ordination among different sections
– makes problem-solving easy
– controls distortion and dilution of the message because of direct, inter-level communication.
II. Informal Communication:-
Informal communication at work is any type of communication that doesn’t take place using formal methods or structures in a company. It can be spoken, written, or even conveyed through gestures and body language.
The Informal channels of business Communication are the casual and unofficial forms of communication wherein the information is exchanged spontaneously between two or more persons without conforming the prescribed official rules, processes, system, formalities and chain of command
The grapevine is an unofficial channels of business communication. Although it doesn’t have a formal structure, it is still very effective at conveying information.
This is a major informal channels of business communication networks found in any organization. This is personal communication that is transmitted between individuals or groups and comprises personal interpretations, opinions, gossip, reactions, hearsay, half-truths. This kind of communication travels the fastest and has a vast reach. this kind of communication poses a big challenge to any organization. It often leads to a lack of motivation and morale of employees. Management could face greater challenges to maintain trust and factual positions between itself and its employees.
Managements must be fully aware of the potential power of the grapevine. This can often fail formal communication, as it is difficult to trace its origin and is difficult to control or stop completely.