Ineffective Communication in an Organisation
Submitted to Prof Swat Makadi
For the Subject Communication Skills
By MMS A
Hozefa Khambaty (32)
Jamila Udaipurwala (40)
Khozema Burhanpurwala (46)
Mohammed Naeem Shaikh (58)
Rizvi Institue of Management Studies and Research
In today’s world, every organisation, business or non-business, large or small, needs to communicate both within and outside the organisation. Without communication, it would be almost impossible to function. Effective communication is vital to the success and survival of any organisation.
But as seen through the studies, organisations does not have an effective communication system to link different groups and people of the organisation so that they work collectively to achieve desired objectives.
We are hereby thankful to Prof. Swati Mankad for giving us an opportunity to limelight the areas concerning ineffective communication in an organisation. We are quite confident that this report will help our future managers to understand the importance of communication process in an organisation.
“Communication is not an end in itself; it is a means to achieve an end.”
S.No Topics Page No 1 Introduction 5 2 Communication 7 3 Organisational Communication 8 4 Causes of Ineffective Communication 9 5 Effects of Ineffective Communication 12 6 Types of Communication and their Relative Importance 13 7 Ways to Overcome Ineffective Communication 19 8 How to Improve Superior – Subordinate Relationship 23 Index
Origin of the report :
Mr. Satish Agarwal is a young dynamic MBA professional in Finance. After tough 2 years of an MBA programme, he has now got placed in a reputed bank as a Credit Manager at AMII level (Assistant Manager).
Mr. Satish is very excited for his first job and is continuously performing well to make his dreams come true. As time passes by, he realizes that he is been over loaded with the work and his immediate reporting boss does nothing except for enjoying free meals and chit chatting with the colleagues. Now, he starts questioning himself that “Why he works for 10 hours inspite of 8 hours and his reporting boss works for only 6 hours?”
Mr. Satish, himself finds no answer for his question. He approaches his colleagues but still does not find any answer, as even his colleagues are seeking answer for the same question. Satish and friends cannot complain about their bosses, as their performance appraisal is in the hands of immediate bosses. Left with no option, Mr. Satish continued working for few months and finally changed his job.
What do you think, why Satish could not find his answer?
> Because he was not being properly communicated about his job responsibilities.
> Because he was unaware about the grievances procedure.
> Because he had no direct communication with the Boss of his reporting boss.
> Because he was never asked for feedback about his boss.
> And lots more could be the reason.
In order to avoid future mangers being trapped in similar situation as of Mr. Satish and to create awareness about the importance of organisational communication, topic of Ineffective Communication in an Organisation has been selected.
Scope of the report:
The study primarily deals with the problem of Ineffective Organisational Communication that affects the employee morale as well as the organisation.
Sources of Data:
Primary data was collected through verbal discussion with people. Secondary data was gathered from various books and websites.
The word communication is derived from the Latin Word Communicare which means to impart, to make common, to share or to transmit.
Communication is an exchange of information between the giver/sender and the receiver; between the source and destination. At times, the source and destination are individual persons; then such communication is called inter-personal communication. On the other hand, if the communication is done by one individual or by a group to larger group of people through radio, TV, magazines, etc., then such a communication is referred as mass communication.
Business communication makes use of both inter-personal and mass communication. When a superior informs his subordinates of an action to be taken, it is a case of inter-personal communication. When an organisation informs the people in newspapers about the introduction of its latest product, then it is a case of mass communication.
Organisational Communication focuses on general communication processes and dynamics within organizations. It includes instruction in the development and maintenance of interpersonal group relations within organizations; decision-making and conflict management; the use of symbols to create and maintain organizational images, missions, and values; power and politics within organizations; human interaction with computer technology; and how communications socializes and supports employees and team members.
In addition to the usual face to face, telephone, fax or mail; modern organisations may use technology to communicate internally. Technology may be used for e-mails or a linked internal communication system such as the intranet which is an internet system designed solely for use by those working for the organisation.
Causes of Ineffective Communication
* Perceptual and Language Differences:
Perception is generally how each individual interprets the world around him. All generally want to receive messages which are significant to them. But any message which is against their values is not accepted. A same event may be taken differently by different individuals. For example : A person is on leave for a month due to personal reasons (family member being critical). The HR Manager might be in confusion whether to retain that employee or not, the immediate manager might think of replacement because his teams productivity is being hampered, the family members might take him as an emotional support.
The linguistic differences also lead to communication breakdown. Same word may mean different to different individuals. For example: consider a word “value”.
a. What is the value of this Laptop?
b. I value our relation?
c. What is the value of learning technical skills? “Value” means different in different sentences. Communication breakdown occurs if there is wrong perception by the receiver.
* Information Overload:
Managers are surrounded with a pool of information. It is essential to control this information flow else the information is likely to be misinterpreted or forgotten or overlooked. As a result communication is less effective.
At times we just not listen, but only hear. For example a traveler may pay attention to one “NO PARKING” sign, but if such sign is put all over the city, he no longer listens to it. Thus, repetitive messages should be ignored for effective communication. Similarly if a superior is engrossed in his paper work and his subordinate explains him his problem, the superior may not get what he is saying and it leads to disappointment of subordinate.
* Time Pressures:
Often in organization the targets have to be achieved within a specified time period, the failure of which has adverse consequences. In a haste to meet deadlines, the formal channels of communication are shortened, or messages are partially given, i.e., not completely transferred. Thus sufficient time should be given for effective communication.
Communication is also affected a lot by noise to distractions. Physical distractions are also there such as, poor lightning, uncomfortable sitting, unhygienic room also affects communication in a meeting. Similarly use of loud speakers interferes with communication.
Emotional state at a particular point of time also affects communication. If the receiver feels that communicator is angry he interprets that the information being sent is very bad. While he takes it differently if the communicator is happy and jovial (in that case the message is interpreted to be good and interesting).
* Complexity in Organizational Structure:
Greater the hierarchy in an organization (i.e. more the number of managerial levels), more is the chances of communication getting destroyed. Only the people at the top level can see the overall picture while the people at low level just have knowledge about their own area and a little knowledge about other areas.
* Poor retention:
Human memory cannot function beyond a limit. One cant always retain what is being told specially if he is not interested or not attentive. This leads to communication breakdown.
Effects of Ineffective Communication
* Spread of misinformation.
* Delay in transmission of information.
* Erosion of employee trust and confidence.
* Conflicts between employees and management.
* Misinformed employees can make wrong decisions.
* Internal brand image suffers.
* Dissatisfaction among employees leads to higher attrition.
* Lack of coherent and shared vision.
* Low employee morale results in lower productivity.
* Impact on company’s stocks.
* Organisation’s external brand value suffers
* High employee turnover.
Types of Organisational Communication and their Relative Importance
> Formal Communications
Formal communication is defined as communication which occurs through the official organisational channels or is undertaken by an employee to do their job. For example official meetings, letters and a manager asking an employee to carry out a particular task. Further, it is categorized to :
* Upward and Downward Communications
Downward communication is communication created by directors and managers and passed down the hierarchy of workers in the organisation. In traditional organisations this is the preferred method of communication ie Managers decide what the systems, rules and procedures will be and then they pass these down to employees they manage and supervise. Downward Communication can increase efficiency by synchronising organisational procedures and can ensure that everybody is working towards the same overall aims and objectives. Types of downward communication include job descriptions, appraisals/evaluations, organisational policy, and organisational systems.
Although there are advantages to downward communication organisations have began to encourage upward communication. This is communication which originates at the lower level of the employment hierarchy and is then communicated up through the line. Organisations encouraging upward communication believe that everybody is capable of generating thoughts and ideas which may help the organisation to progress, particularly when they are working closely in the area that the idea applies to. Upward communication may increase motivation and make employees feel valued and respected whilst enabling managers to understand how employees are feeling. Furthermore if problems occur at they are more likely to be identified earlier by those working closely in the area that they occur. Types of upward communications include suggestion schemes, feedback forums/surveys, grievance procedures and employee-manager discussions.
* Lateral Communication
This is communication that occurs between employees on the same level in the organisation. As this can involve decision making it can create efficiency as employees do not have to wait for managerial approval. On the other hand if the manager is not kept informed or if the manager fails to set boundaries there is potential for conflict.
* Diagonal Communication
This occurs when communication occurs between workers in a different section of the organisation and where one of the workers involved is on a higher level in the organisation. For example in a bank diagonal communication will occur when a department manager in head office converses with a cashier in a branch of the bank based on the high street.
> Informal Communication
Informal communication is that which occurs outside the recognised communication networks such as talking in the lunchroom or hallways between employees. Informal communication can be productive or negative. It has the potential to build teams, improve working relationships and generate ideas as employees are in a relaxed environment.
Grapevine Communication ( Informal Communication)
Grapevine is an informal channel of business communication. It is called so because it stretches throughout the organization in all directions irrespective of the authority levels. Man as we know is a social animal. Despite existence of formal channels in an organization, the informal channels tend to develop when he interacts with other people in organization. It exists more at lower levels of organization.
Grapevine generally develops due to various reasons. One of them is that when an organization is facing recession, the employees sense uncertainty. Also, at times employees do not have self-confidence due to which they form unions. Sometimes the managers show preferential treatment and favour some employees giving a segregated feeling to other employees. Thus, when employees sense a need to exchange their views ,they go for grapevine network as they cannot use the formal channel of communication in that case. Generally during breaks in cafeteria,the subordinates talk about their superior’s attitude and behaviour and exchange views with their peers. They discuss rumours about promotion and transfer of other employees. Thus, grapevine spreads like fire and it is not easy to trace the cause of such communication at times.
Examples of Grapevine Network of Communication
1. Suppose the profit amount of a company is known. Rumour is spread that this much profit is there and on that basis bonus is declared.
2. CEO may be in relation to the Production Manager. They may have friendly relations with each other.
> Feedback Communication
Receivers are not just passive absorbers of messages; they receive the message and respond to them. This response of a receiver to sender’s message is called Feedback. Sometimes a feedback could be a non-verbal smiles, sighs etc. Sometimes it is oral, as when you react to a colleague’s ideas with questions or comments. Feedback can also be written like – replying to an e-mail, etc.
Feedback is your audience’s response; it enables you to evaluate the effectiveness of your message. If your audience doesn’t understand what you mean, you can tell by the response and then refine the message accordingly.
Giving your audience a chance to provide feedback is crucial for maintaining an open communication climate. The manager must create an environment that encourages feedback. For example after explaining the job to the subordinated he must ask them whether they have understood it or not. He should ask questions like “Do you understand?”, “Do you have any doubts?” etc. At the same time he must allow his subordinated to express their views also. Feedback is essential in communication so as to know whether the recipient has understood the message in the same terms as intended by the sender and whether he agrees to that message or not.
There are lot of ways in which company takes feedback from their employees, such as : Employee surveys, memos, emails, open-door policies, company news letter etc. Employees are not always willing to provide feedback. The organization has to work a lot to get the accurate feedback. The managers encourage feedback by asking specific questions, allowing their employees to express general views, etc. The organization should be receptive to their employee’s feedback.
A manger should ensure that a feedback should:
1. Focus on a particular behaviour – It should be specific rather than being general.
2. Impersonal – Feedback should be job related, the manager should not criticize anyone personally.
3. Goal oriented – If we have something negative to say about the person, we should always direct it to the recipients goal.
4. Well timed – Feedback is most effective when there is a short gap between the recipients behaviour and the receipt of that feedback.
5. Use “I” statements – Manager should make use of statements with the words like “I”, “However” etc. For example instead of saying”You were absent from work yesterday”, manager should say”I was annoyed when you missed your work yesterday”.
6. Ensure understanding – For feedback to be effective, the manager should make sure that the recipients understands the feedback properly.
While giving negative feedback to the recipient, the manager should not mention the factors which are not in control of the recipient.
Ways to Overcome Ineffective Communication
As, in the previous section we have discussed the major causes of ineffective communication. Let’s talk about how to overcome these barriers of communication
* Eliminating differences in perception: The organization should ensure that it is recruiting right individuals on the job. It’s the responsibility of the interviewer to ensure that the interviewee has command over the written and spoken language. There should be proper Induction program so that the policies of the company are clear to all the employees. There should be proper trainings conducted for required employees (for eg: Voice and Accent training).
* Use of Simple Language: Use of simple and clear words should be emphasized. Use of ambiguous words and jargons should be avoided.
* Reduction and elimination of noise levels: Noise is the main communication barrier which must be overcome on priority basis. It is essential to identify the source of noise and then eliminate that source.
* Active Listening: Listen attentively and carefully. There is a difference between “listening” and “hearing”. Active listening means hearing with proper understanding of the message that is heard. By asking questions the speaker can ensure whether his/her message is understood or not by the receiver in the same terms as intended by the speaker.
* Emotional State: During communication one should make effective use of body language. He/she should not show their emotions while communication as the receiver might misinterpret the message being delivered. For example, if the conveyer of the message is in a bad mood then the receiver might think that the information being delivered is not good.
* Simple Organizational Structure: The organizational structure should not be complex. The number of hierarchical levels should be optimum. There should be a ideal span of control within the organization. Simpler the organizational structure, more effective will be the communication.
* Avoid Information Overload: The managers should know how to prioritize their work. They should not overload themselves with the work. They should spend quality time with their subordinates and should listen to their problems and feedbacks actively.
* Give Constructive Feedback: Avoid giving negative feedback. The contents of the feedback might be negative, but it should be delivered constructively. Constructive feedback will lead to effective communication between the superior and subordinate.
* Proper Media Selection: The managers should properly select the medium of communication. Simple messages should be conveyed orally, like: face to face interaction or meetings. Use of written means of communication should be encouraged for delivering complex messages. For significant messages reminders can be given by using written means of communication such as : Memos, Notices etc.
* Flexibility in meeting the targets: For effective communication in an organization the managers should ensure that the individuals are meeting their targets timely without skipping the formal channels of communication. There should not be much pressure on employees to meet their targets.
* Clarity of Purpose: The message to be delivered must be clear in the mind of sender. The person to whom it is targeted and the aim of the message should be clear in the mind of the sender.
* Completeness: The message delivered should not be incomplete. It should be supported by facts and observations. It should be well planned and organized. No assumptions should be made by the receiver.
* Conciseness: The message should be concise. It should not include any unnecessary details. It should be short and complete.
* Modify the message according to the audience: The information requirement by different people in the organization differs according to their needs. What is relevant to the middle level management might not be relevant to the top level of management. Use of jargons should be minimized because it might lead to misunderstanding and misinterpretations. The message should be modified according to the needs and requirements of the targeted audience.
* Multiple Channels of communication: For effective communication multiple channels should be used as it increases the chances of clarity of message. The message is reinforced by using different channels and there are less chances of deformation of message.
* Make effective use of Grapevine (informal channel of communication): The employees and managers should not always discourage grapevine. They should make effective use of grapevine. The managers can use grapevine to deliver formal messages and for identification of issues which are significant for the employees. The managers can get to know the problems faced by the employees and can work upon it.
Ho w to Improve Superior – Subordinate Communication
Communication between managers and employees is an important issue in any organization. Employees want guidelines from their supervisors, and the management wants input from the entire team. Most companies have little trouble communicating downward, but getting information to flow upward is more of a challenge. When employees stay quiet about what they need, the negative results can include missed opportunities, delayed projects, and failed initiatives.
The key to getting employees to communicate better and to keeping the company’s progress on track is to build a quality interaction between the employee group and the management team. Breaking through the barriers and getting employees and managers working together helps everyone advance a strategic vision and attain goals. This process includes four elements.
* Communicate needs: Communication is a two-way process. Employees have as much responsibility as the management team for speaking up, setting expectations and requirements, and communicating barriers and opportunities. Encouraging employees to communicate with the senior team helps each group understand the other’s duties and what can be done given the budget and expectations.
Ask employees to proactively tell the management team what they are struggling with and how managers can help. Reinforce the company’s vision and state how current objectives contribute to it, then explain that the employees’ input is needed to make attaining the vision a reality.
* Share skills and knowledge: While most people are knowledgeable about and skilled in their own job duties, many managers are unaware of their employees’ daily activities. Ask employees to explain what goes into each project by listing the activities, costs, and time spent on each. This dialogue can include reviewing survey results, client satisfaction ratings, safety metrics, or other factual data. Questions can spur employees to offer suggestions. Discussing “what if” scenarios based on suggestions offered enables employees to see their impact on the bottom line and will prompt employees to participate in the process.
* Create a motivation cycle: Management input plays a large part in motivating employees to communicate about and work toward goals. To make communicating with management easier, arrange a group conference call so employees can share their ideas about a particular project or strategic plan. Set aside a half day to conduct roundtable discussions with employees that address their concerns. Offer short one-on-one sessions between managers and employees to discuss employee issues.
* Establish empowerment expectations: An effective work team must document its common understanding. Like Ken Blanchard’s One Minute Manager, write a one-minute goal and its requirements in 400 words or less. Discuss the goals and parameters with everyone involved before assigning tasks so that the entire team recognizes and makes any tradeoffs needed to ensure success.
* Books referred:
Organisational Behaviour by Michael Vaz
Commnication Barriers in an Organisation by Himanshu Juneja
* Website visited:
Ineffective Communication in an Organisation Communication Skills