Information and Communication Technology: Communication Barriers & forms

Communication Barriers

Ineffective communication may cause errors, misunderstanding, poor performance, lower motivation and morale, negative atmosphere in the environment of the workplace and various other matters, that may detract from achieving organisational goals. It is very crucial to minimise and lower down the barriers to achieve effective communication: Communication barriers degrade or interrupt the message as well as the meaning.

Organizational Communication

Organizational communication is majorily done to influence, inform, control or inspire. Organisational communication is categorised into two broad systems of communication-formal or structured i.e.. Within the ‘systems’ established by management and another one is informal i.e.. When co-workers discuss regarding the company matters. Both the areas are very remarkable and both must be ‘healthy’ to ensure a healthy growth of an organisation.

Formal Communication Channels and Networks

Formal communication channels follow the organisational structure or hierarchy and flow in four directions:

The four forms of directions in which communication can travel are as follows: Downward; upward; lateral or horizontal and diagonal.

  • Downward communication is a form of communication which flows from the higher levels of management to the lower levels, In this basically company's goals, strategies or role expectations are communicated by the managers.
  • Upward communication is a form of communication which flows from the lower levels of management to the higher levels in the organisation, for example generally it comprises communication regarding grievances, problems, results, suggestions or feedback.
  • Horizontal communication is a form of communication which flows across the same level in an organisation, for example integration of activities with peers (teams, committees), dissemination of vital information from one department to another. It comprises sales forecasts from the sales department to production and problems such as a problem with product design from the production department to research and development. Horizontal communication provides a great ease in the interaction process in various areas of expertise and also induce innovation.
  • Diagonal channels have the potential to create disputes as they comprise communication between the lower level of one department to a higher level in another. In the diagram above, this may cause friction between the employee in accounting department C and the Vice-President (VP) of Accounting as the employee has gone around his or her own superior. This form of communication may be useful as it simplify the desirable information and reaches to the Marketing Department and the VP Accounting does not need to be engaged in the whole process.

Formal communication is a communication which takes place within the hierarchy of the organisation and shows how groups of employees, for example those in a department, work together. Networking or mapping the flow of communication in an organisation can be a helpful device. Basically, fomal structure follows scalar chain. It can become easy to identify who is communicating with whom and whether the lines of communication are effective or whether there is a destructive conflict or tension arising from the communication channels, for example inappropriate diagonal communication.

Formal Communication: Problems and Solutions

Various communication problems arise because of the organisational framework. Dwyer stated three related organisational factors: Centralisation; the creation of too many organisational layers; and the structure of the organisation. Other factors may comprise downsizing which leads to ambiguous reporting structure and poor leadership. Many of these problems may be overcome by: Analysing the organisation structure and communication networks for barriers to effectiveness and efficiency ensuring downsizing is well planned and the ‘survivors’ i.e.. Those left in the organisation know the influence of the process on communication networks and procedures recruiting for competent communication, specially when recruiting for leadership roles.

Informal Communication

Informal communication is a part of an organisation and its inevitable, It exists outside the formal horizons of the organisational framework. A very common example is friendship groups. The informal communication fulfills majorily two core objectives: It allows employees to satisfy their desire for social interaction in the workplace and it can enhance an organisation's task and work by creating alternative and a faster and more effective, channels of communication (Robbins et al. 2000).

Grapewine communication is one of the very common form of informal communication, Kreitner and Kinicki in the year 1995 defined the term grapevine is originated from the American Civil War practice of stringing battlefield telegraph lines between trees as a means of effective communication. Now a days in an organisation it complements the formal communication.