Importance of effective communication

In this age of competition, the communication is the number one problem of the management. Competition, complex methods of production, large scale operations and specialisation in production functions have increased the importance of communication. Without effective communication, a manager cannot perform his obligations well. Communication is as essential to the business as blood to the human body. The following points will prove its importance in the business :

1. Smooth Working of an Enterprise : Communication is necessary for the successful, smooth and unrestricted working of the enterprise. All organizational interaction depends upon the communication. The manger co-ordinates human and the physical elements of the organization into an efficient and working unit that achieve common objectives. Be it an activity of purchase or sale or production or finance, it is the process of communication that makes co-operative action possible. The internal and external communication process of the organization decides the various activities to be done and various objectives to be achieved. Communication is basic to an organization's existence-from birth of the organization through its continuing life. When communication stops, organized activity ceases to exist.

2. Basics of Managerial Functions : Communication plays an important role in discharging the various functions of management. No function of management is possible without the communication process. Its importance in performing the various functions is as follows :

(i) Planning : Planning, the most important among the functions of management, requires extensive communication among the executives and the other personnel. Communication is important in executing a planned programme and then controlling the activities of the personnel with the help of feedback information. The planning is useless in the absence of communication. It is also necessary in evaluating the performance of the personnel in the light of planned objectives.

(ii) Organization : Organization is the second important function of the management which decides the various activities of the organization, divides them into workable units, delegates authority to perform them. For this purpose, communication is a must because different persons, departments and groups come to know their powers and jurisdiction only through an effective means of communication. In the words of George R. Terry "Communication is the means by which the act of delegation is accomplished". According to him, communication serves as the lubricant fostering the smooth operation of the management process.

(iii) Direction and Leadership : Direction and effective leadership requires an efficient system of communication in the organization. A good leader can direct or lead his subordinates only when an efficient system of communication is present. It brings both leader and subordinates in close contact to each other removes misunderstanding if any. It promotes co-operation and helps in getting the work done in the desired direction.

Communication is a very important tool in the hands of management to get the work done effectively. The importance can be judged from the following facts :

1. Communication is necessary for the smooth running of the enterprise.

2. Communication is the basis of managerial functions, i.e.,

(i) Planning needs communication among executives and workers.

(ii) Organization decides the various activities of the organization and suggests best ways to perform them. It requires communication.

(iii) Direction and leadership requires efficient communication system to remove misunderstanding and getting work done effectively.

(iv) Motivation requires communication for the change in the attitude of workers.

(v) Co-ordination of the efforts of subordinates and of organization is the result of efficient communication.

(vi) Control requires feedback, evaluation of work, locating the deviations and their removal in the next plan. It can be done only with the help of good communication system.

3. Maximum production at minimum cost needs efficient internal and external communication system by promoting the efficiency of workers and improving social relations.

4. Prompt decision and its implementation is the outcome of an efficient communication system.

5. It promotes human relations, co-operation and industrial peace in the organization.

6. Job-satisfaction and good morale improves the productivity of the enterprise and communication fulfills that need.

7. Communication avoids illusion and misunderstanding.

8. Contacts with external agencies is possible only through an effective system of communication.

Principal Barriers to Communication

When a message is sent by the sender to the receiver, it may be possible that it may not be effectively understood by the receiver in the same sense as the sender intended it. There may be several reasons for its ineffectiveness. The message may not reach the receiver at all or some problems may arise in its encoding and decoding, or communication channel may be wrong or defective and there may be noise in the channel or there may be several personal reasons. The barriers to communication in an organization may be broadly categorized into following groups :

1. Physical barriers : It may occur due to noise, physical discomfort, distance or physical distractions.

2. Socio-psychological or Personal barriers : It is the hurdle created by social and phychological factors. Psychological barriers may occur due to emotional disturbance, anxiety or over acrousal of emotions.

3. Organization barriers : It arises due to defective structure of the organization.

4. Semantic barriers : Misunderstanding message received is an example of semantic barrier.

Language (semantic) barrier : Language is a central element in communication. It may pose a barrier if its use obscures meaning and distorts intent. The receives of the message with their different educational and cultural backgrounds find it hard to understand the message in the senders' senses due to jargons used in the message language. The word may be attributed different meanings by the sender and the receiver of the message. This is known as the problem of semantics.

5. Mechanical barriers : It is due to faulty functioning of the instruments used in communication.

Physical Barriers

Physical barriers are environmental factors that obstruct or reduce the sending and receiving of communication. They include physical distance, distracting noises and other interferences. Communication of message becomes difficult as the physical distance increases.

Personal or Socio-psychological Barriers

Personal barriers arise from motives, attitudes, judgement, emotions and social values of people which may create psychological distance similar to physical distance. Psychological distance prevents the communication or filters part of it out or simply cause misinterpretation.

Persons differ in their motives, attitude or sentiments.

A person may be unaware of his motives, attitudes or sentiments or there may be problems in encoding and decoding others' sentiments, attitudes and motives and therefore interpersonal perceptions or interpersonal emotion may cause breakdown because each perceives the things in light of his own experiences, prejudices and thinking. The interests of people differs and so is their attitude.

A problem may be important for one person but may carry no weight for another.

It sometimes happens that the ideas, questions, attitudes, feelings, etc. of other party present an obstacle to his own personal goal. In the absence of adequate self-confidence or for fear of retaliation, one restrains the expression of his true wants and needs. When we think of a person to be fool, any message from him is looked upon only in that spirit.

Division of People into classes, castes and communities also affects communication of ideas and view points. In an organization dominated by people of certain castes or communities, those belonging to minority group may have less opportunities of being heard. Viewpoints may differ and so communication suffers. Productivity for example may be looked from profit point of view by managers and from wages point of view by workers and trade unions. An executive may be harsh enough not to hear and accept others' viewpoint whether right or wrong. Thus, respectability and creditability of message are subject to several mental and social barriers.

Filtering Barrier

In formal organizations, the message travels through many layers or levels of hierarchy. It is found that the message tends to be distorted or impaired while passing through intermediate levels in upward and downward communications. This is because the message is passed on to suit the convenience or serve the interest of the ultimate receiver of the message.

Status Barrier

Status differences related to power and the organizational hierarchy pose another barrier to communication among people at work, especially within manager-employee pairs. It is due to the status difference that subordinates often suppress or withhold information which may not be liked by their superiors, or pass on distorted information to please their superiors. On the other side, status consciousness of the superiors prevents them from fully communicating information to their subordinates.

Emotional Barrier

When people are eloquent with emotions, it influences their understanding of the message accordingly. Psychological barriers do also impair effectiveness of communication. When the subordinates hold favourable image of the superior, they become psychologically more inclined to accept and respond positively to the message sent by the superior. Obviously, it does not happen so when they have an unfavourable image of their superior. The image is built on the basis of experience and interaction between the superior and the subordinate. Any change when its effects are uncertain also creates psychological barriers to effective communication in an organization.

Organizational Structure Barriers

Effective communication largely depends upon sound organizational structure. If the structure is complex involving several layers of management, the breakdown or distortion in communication will arise. It is an established fact that every layer cuts off a bit of information. In the words of W.C. Bennis (1966), "Communication gets distorted particularly as it goes up the hierarchy". Moreover, information travelling through formal structure introduces rigidity and causes-delay because of long lines of communication. Similarly, lack of instructions for further conveying information to the subordinates and heavy pressure of work at certain conveying information to the subordinates and heavy pressure of work at certain levels of authority also act as barriers to effective communication.

Premature Evaluation

Some people have the tendency to form a judgement before listening to the entire message. This is known as premature evaluation. As discussed in the previous point, "half-listening is like racing your engine with the gears in neutral. You use gasoline but you get nowhere". Premature evaluation distorts understandings and acts as a barrier to effective communication.

Emotional Attitude

Barriers may also arise due to emotional attitude because when emotions are strong, it is difficult to know the frame of mind of other person or group. Emotional attitudes of both, the communicator as well as the communicate, obstruct free flow of transmission and understanding of messages.

Resistance to Change

It is a general tendency of human beings to stick to old and customary patterns of life. They may resist change to maintain status quo. Thus, when new ideas are being communicated to introduce a change, it is likely to be overlooked or even opposed. This resistance to change creates an important obstacle to effective communication.

Barriers due to Lack Mutual Trust

Communication means sharing of ideas in common. "When we communicate, we are trying to establish a commonness". Thus, one will freely transfer information understanding with another only when there is mutual trust between the two.

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