Communication is central to all human activities. The success or failure of every organization
depends on the strength or effectiveness of communication in the organization. Communication
helps both the managers and workers in an organization to know and strive to achieve the
organizational goals and objectives. Through communication, the workers know their roles and
responsibilities; the organization becomes aware of their competitors’ activities. Broadly
speaking, communication is the life source of every organization because organization must
involve people who can effectively interact with each other through communication.
COMMUNICATION IN THE WORK PLACE
Communication is the process of conveying information through the exchange of thoughts,
messages, or ideas by speech, visuals, signals, writing, or behaviour. Simply put, it is the
meaningful exchange of information between two or more people. The word communication is
derived from the Latin word, communis, which means common. The definition underscores the
fact that unless a common understanding results from the exchange of information, there is no
Communication in the work place is the exchange and free flow of information within the
context of an organization. It include activities of sending and receiving message through various
layers of authority, using various message systems put in place by the organization and getting
prompt feedback. Communication has crucial impacts among work groups in an organization
because it acts as a channel to share information, resources, and policies with members so as to
coordinate their activities, reduce unnecessary managerial burdens and ultimately improve
organizational performance. Communication is the life blood of any organization.
FORMS OF COMMUNICATION IN THE WORK PLACE
Communication is a basic element in organizational structure and functioning. It is the key
mechanism for achieving integration and coordination of the activities of specialized units at
different levels in the organization. The two major forms of communication channel within an
organization are: formal and informal patterns of communication.
FORMAL PATTERN OF COMMUNICATION
Formal patterns of communication are the official paths recognized by management. They follow
the established chain of command or line of authority. For example official meetings, letters and
a manager asking an employee to carry out a particular task. Formal information can be
transmitted internally or externally.
1. Internal Communication
Internal communication takes place within an organizational framework to coordinate
organizational resources. It conveys information through letters, memos, circulars, telephone,
fax or mail, intranet etc, to employees. Internal members of the organization such as workers,
managers, the board of directors, members of trade unions etc. are the participants of internal
communication. This type of organizational communication could be in oral or written form.
Oral communication occurs through face-to-face conversation, telephone, meeting, speech
etc. While written communication is done through reports, memos, letters etc.
In this modern time, many organizations provide intranet facility for internal electronic
communication. This enhances the speed and reduces the cost and time length of
Internal communication occurs in various patterns depending on the flow of information
within an organization. They are divided into three broad parts: Horizontal, Vertical and
A. Horizontal Communication: This is also called lateral communication. It is the
transmission of message along the same lateral or similar level in an organization. This
occurs between team members, between different teams and employees on the same or
similar level. The use of horizontal communication is on the increase because of the
interactive electronic communication technologies such as e-mail and phone messages that
greatly enhance horizontal communication by making it possible to establish leaning
communities and virtual teams of employees who work together even at different locations.
B. Vertical Communication: In Vertical communication, information flows between
superiors and subordinates. It involves two different movements, that is, from “up to down”
and from “down to up” along the organizational hierarchy. This comprises downward and
i Downward Communication: this refers to the flow of information from superiors to
ii Upward Communication: this is the pattern through which superior gets necessary
feedback on subordinates’ actions, I.e. when subordinates convey their attitudes, opinions,
suggestions etc. to the superiors.
C. Quasi-Vertical Communication: it is the pattern of communication in which organized
body of employees called labour union intermediate between management and employees.
2. External Communication
External communication has to do with disseminating information and interaction with the
external environmental elements such as customers, suppliers, creditors, suppliers,
government agencies, local community and the general public. Without effective
communication with these external parties, it will be impossible to achieve organizational
INFORMAL PATTERN OF COMMUNICATION
Informal channel of communication is an official chain of command which flows in any
direction. It is mostly used when there are gaps or barriers to formal communication which
disturb the employees from getting the information they require or desire. Common sources are;
rumour (an unofficial channel which transmits unreliable information), grapevine (it carries more
reliable and valuable information. It can be single strand, gossip or cluster).
Grapevine is a form of informal communication. It arises due to the co-existence of people in an
organization: it is characterized by conversations between employees and superiors that do not
follow any prescribed structure or rule-based system. Through the grapevine, information flows
in different directions linking almost everyone of an organization. Grapevine operates both in