Employees, who make the organization and run its operations, work only when some right person or some other right method tells them in a comprehensible way to do so. Communication is the prime shaft that runs the machine of entire organization no matter how big it is. Employees, if properly communicated to, will understand the vision or grand plan or short term plan or daily work scheme of the organization and contribute their share to its success. A subordinate who understands the mind of the boss when the latter employs right communication methods would comply with latter’s instructions to his highest satisfaction. If a subordinate sends in the right report, the boss or the management team would take the right decision. If the chairman of a company explains to the media correctly the future plans of the company, the investing public would invest their funds with the company. If the employee who has been denied a promotion makes representation correctly, the management may reconsider the earlier decision. All the preceding situations confirm that communication is the trigger of actions as well as the agent of change, without which the organization either stagnates or fails in effective delivery of its offering.
The need for better and organized communication has never been more accentuated than now all owing to replacement of owner-managed small organization with big organizations employing numerous employees. In earlier days, the owner could get done what he wanted with oral instructions or conversation where there was little likelihood of its being distorted or lost, since the communication was direct- there were not so many levels as we see now. Though communication, irrespective of the size of the organization, has the potential of being distorted or lost, the impact of such failure then was not as much as it would be now. Today, the flow of communication passes through many levels and thus faces several occasions of failure like distortion, loss and delay.
Now that the power of communication has been fully realized which was not so for over several decades, the business is no longer limited to geographic boundaries and further, expanded across the globe and that too very effectively with the best control over such business wherever it is being located and operated. Many organizations like nationalized banks in India which were lagging behind in bringing its communication systems like ATMs in step with other competitors were about to lose their business but for their realization of necessity of installing best communication systems-ATMs & Core Banking Software- which are now operational in most of the banks.
Henry Mintzberg (Sekaran, 2004, p-120), while researching on the managerial jobs, found that managers spent 6 % of their working time in communicating with others over phone, 10% in unscheduled meetings and 59% scheduled meetings. It means that mangers spend 75% of their time in communicating.
The function of communication in organizations has risen in its importance of late due to varied reasons like advent of large sized organizations, technological advancement, growth of trade unions and so on. Sri K.K.Sinha (2002, pp-9-11) has enumerated the reasons for increasing importance for communication function, which are briefly discussed in the following paragraphs.
1) Large -sized Organizations: When organizations grow in terms of operations, workforce, locations, volume and product variety, which usually happens over a period of time due to the opportunities presented to a business organization, the organization will be staffed with numerous employees arranged in multiple hierarchical levels. In a multi-hierarchical organization, communication is indirect in that several persons will be in communication with several others but not directly. The person needing to get a job done does not communicate directly with the person enjoined to do it but conversely talks to a person who is subordinate and who is not necessarily the one who executes, but only sends the communication down the hierarchy. The communication flows down the several levels numbering from three to fifteen levels. These multiple levels inherently cause the communication to be either distorted or lost or delayed unless properly managed.
2) Technological Advancement: The world, since the beginning of the twentieth century, has been witnessing astonishing developments in technologies like those related to new electronic products, new delivery services, new transport methods etc, which not only benefit the organizations but also complicate the process of organizing and managing businesses so much so that new technologies are being resisted now. Hence, it requires a lot of best-managed communication. That apart, the new technologies coupled with blurred boundaries created wider physical distances between different departments of the organization. These distances necessitate the proper management of communication so that all organs work in tandem rather than at cross-purposes.
3) The Human Relations Aspect: The management has to maintain good human relations with employees to get the best out of them. There is a growing awareness in corporate circles that the relationship between the manager and the subordinate is not the one between master and servant but that between partners. For the relationship to be best maintained, hearty, rapport-building and problem-solving communication is necessary. Good relations with employees boost their morale and thus ensure best cooperation and best productivity.
4) Growth of Trade Unions: Trade Unions have grown too large to be ignored while any kind of change is introduced into the organization. The change may cover new technology, new procedure, new work goals, new product, new locations etc. All these cannot be successful unless the all those connected with them put their heart and soul into such changes. Any change is resisted since on its face it seemingly presents a host of nervous feelings- insecurity, difficulty and disturbance to smooth flow of life. A well-designed communication only clears all the confusion and fear, leading to the acceptance of change and thus working it out to the benefit of the organization.
5) Public Relations Aspect: Corporate bodies owe their existence and growth very much to a certain host of stakeholders such as shareholders, customers, suppliers, lenders, employees, government and general public. All these stakeholders cherish certain expectations of reciprocation from corporations. Organizations also have the responsibility to take care of the stakeholders and vulnerable sections of general public. The organizations have to communicate constantly and effectively with the stakeholders about its programs and plans related to the service to stakeholders, else the former doesn’t get the necessary support or resources from the latter. It takes a lot of quality communications from the organizations to build goodwill among the public about the organization.
6) Interpersonal Relationships: The recent developments in the behavioral sciences covering transactional analysis, good relationships, empathy etc and also the teachings of Stephen Covey, Dale Carnegie, Eric Berne, Edward De Bono etc have placed a lot of emphasis on relationships and the role of communication in building relationships. The success of an individual is attributed to the ability of his to communicate with his peers, superiors and subordinates.
The communication is the lifeblood of the organization, which fact has to be realized by all those wishing to make their venture a success. While focus on the best communication and the requisite systems to facilitate it is a compelling need for the organizations, communication skills are highly essential for managers across all levels as well.
Lesikar &.Flatley ( 2002, p.3 )made note of the research findings in their most well read reference book on communication, which are briefly mentioned in the following.
A nationwide survey of corporate recruiters conducted by Charles M Ray, John J Stallard, and C Steven Hunt in 1993 confirms the highest importance placed by recruiters on communications skills of the candidates for employment. The findings of the survey revealed that the recruiters ranked four communications – writing, speaking, listening, and interpersonal communicating- in the top five criteria for selecting employees. Further, in a study by Robert Half International of 1000 largest employers in United States, 96% reported that employees must have good communication skills to get ahead.
A study on MBA applicants also revealed that 85% of the recruiters opine that the communication skills are the most important of the skills sought. In another study of 500 undergraduate and postgraduate students, they ranked business communication first among all core business courses.
In another survey, it was found that college graduates with higher scores in literacy (use of printed and written communication) earn 47% more than lower scoring graduates earn. A study by Office Team concluded that such skills as writing and speaking well, displaying proper etiquette, and listening attentively will probably determine career success.
It is clear from the foregoing discussion that communication skills are a must for entry into employment as well as career success. In regards to importance of communication in organizations, if an organization fails to appreciate its importance, it is bound to hit the dead end.
Sekaran, U. ( 2004). Organizational Behavior: Text and Cases, Second Edition. New Delhi: Tata Mcgraw Hill Companies
Sinha K.K ( 2002) Business Communication, New Delhi: Galgotia Publishing Company
Lesikar, R.V.Raymond & Flatley, E.M. (2002). Basic Business Communication, New Delhi: Tata Mcgraw Hill Publishing Company Limited