Factors Affecting Communication in Organisation

  • Post last modified:26 October 2021
  • Reading time:8 mins read

Organisation design factors have an effect on the nature and flow of information. The effects that some organisation characteristics have on communication process are discussed under the following heads:

Factors Affecting Communication in Organisation

Following are the factors affecting communication in an organisation:

Organisational Level and Status Differences

Level and status differences may significantly affect the quality of communication among organisation members. When individuals are socialised to defer to others of higher status and position, it takes the form of respect, submission and agreement.

People with higher status expect to control the communication and this control do not mean that such people do most of the talking. Besides talking, control can be made through facial expressions, nods, body gestures and other tactics.

Symbols may also communicate an individual’s status. Symbols are often manipulated to influence others. Office locations, desks, furnishings etc in an organisation may be status symbols. They create certain behavioural expectations.

Level differences in organisations may affect the feelings of those involved in communication, particularly the subordinates. Supervisors reported the most anxiety when talking to bosses, slightly less anxiety when talking to workers, and the least anxiety when talking with peers.

Managers place a higher value on communication contact with superiors than tjose with subordinates and they listen more carefully when communicating with their bosses than with peers or subordinates. Thus, a manager may convey to subordinates consciously or Interpersonal Processes unconsciously, that the interaction with them is not valued.

Because organisational level reflects status and power differences, communication distortion will occur. The greater the stress differential, the more restricted the channels of communication, the more the tendency for information to flow from low to high status people, and the more distorted the content of the message.

Distortion of upward communication is greatest when there is a large status differential between a superior and a subordinate and if the superior has the power to make or block promotions for the subordinate.

Organisation Complexity

Organisations differ in structural complexity. Some consist of many different, specialised subunits, whereas others are smaller and simpler. When there are a large number of specialised subunits, coordination is more difficult and both formal and informal communication increases.

Higher organisational complexity also leads to more formal, prescribed communications instead of the informal mutual adjustment processes used in simpler organisation structures.

Organisational Reward

The system Reward system in an organisation may influence the communication process taking place. When a superior controls promotion or other potential rewards for subordinates, the subordinates will communicate the information to the superiors that will enhance their own careers. They may also distort information for the same reasons.

Communication Networks

The location of people in different communication networks affects access to information. An organisation’s communication network is dominated by certain individuals in key positions who have formal authority, power, or expertise. The effectiveness of these communication networks varies with tasks.

For example, a wheel structured communication network is efficient for simple tasks, but the individuals at the end of the spokes, who simply take orders, are dissatisfied with their position. Performance in simple tasks is greatest in the Y structure, less in a chain and least effective in a circle.

However, a circle network, where each can communicate with all seems to produce high performance and satisfaction for complex tasks and it appears to be most effective when there are sudden and confusing changes in the task requirements.

Communication Roles

Individuals perform different communication roles in networks. Two important communication roles are the opinion leader and the liaison. Opinion leaders have high credibility with other members, especially in a particular subject area. Opinion leaders tend to be specific to certain issues and topics: the same person is not the opinion leader for several subjects, and anyone in the work group can be an opinion leader.

Liaison roles are performed by those who pass on information to others. Liaison connects two or more groups and may not be a member of any of them. In the usual transmittal pattern, one liaison passes information to several other managers.

One of these may be another liaison person, who in turn passes it on. Some liaisons in organisation boundary-spanning positions secure information from outside the organisation and pass it to the inside.

Communication Links

When a message is transmitted from one person to another, there are chances of changes, omissions or distortions in the message.

As the number of communication links through which the message passes increases so do these problems. Individuals change messages in various ways and for various reasons. Sometimes, this is deliberate as when a subordinate tries to simplify information to avoid communication overload from the supervisor.

However, omissions and distortions occur for other reasons. The omission or distortion may correspond to the receiver’s attitudes, may have been done to please the next person in the communication chain or may have resulted from oversimplification.


Management of Interpersonal communication within organisation and within teams

There are several things that can be done to make communication more effective and to improve understanding in organisations. Individuals can learn how to be more persuasive, organisations can be restructured, the architecture itself can be designed to facilitate interaction and upward communication channels may be operated.

Persuasion

A person is persuaded by communication only after a message has been received and understood, beliefs are modified and attitudes change and an intention to respond is formed. Then the appropriate action will take place. This occurs, though, only for situations in which the targeted individual is open to the message.

Research points to some ways to make communication more persuasive. For example, arguments should be presented both for and against the proposal, especially if it is expected that the audience is in disagreement. Emotional appeals, as opposed to just discussing the merits of an issue in logical terms can be effective in persuasion, especially when the audience is given explicit directions about how to act on the information.

Restructuring Organisations

There are several ways to restructure organisations to improve communications. Greater decentralisation, providing more latitude for organisational units, and creating self-contained units will improve their information-handling capacities. This should reduce information overload as well as other problems that arise out of the need to coordinate and control independent subunits.

Organisational Restructure

The open office is one in which employees are visible to each other from their workspaces. This concept is increasingly used in the physical design of the buildings and these can have significant effects on the communication process in the organisation. Some aspects of communication are improved because of easy access to colleagues. Also, lower-level employees seem to be more satisfied with working in open spaces than professionals and managers.

Upward Communication and Innovation

Another approach to achieve better communication is the creation of ways for those at lower levels to communicate their ideas to those at upper levels. This is the reason for underlying the origination of quality circles in Japan in 1961 by Kaoru Ishikawa. He suggested that small groups of workers be used by companies to address problems in their own work areas.,

A similar type of problem–solving approach for lower management levels is called multiple management. Groups made up of middle managers from different specialised functional areas provide ideas for improvement to higher management levels. They also sometimes serve as a communication link between rank and file workers and also between other lower-level managers and higher management levels.


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