It is an established fact that the present era is often called the ‘Age of Communication and Information.’ The importance of communication has been greatly emphasized by all management experts. Communication, like birth, death, growth and decay, is a part of individual life as well as organizational existence. Its importance is self-explanatory and is a common experience of all as well.
Communication is easily overlooked, but the ability to communicate effectively is necessary to carry out the thoughts and visions of an organization to the people. The importance of speech and words whether through a paper or a voice is a communication medium to convey directions and provide synchronization. Without communication, there is no way to express thoughts, ideas and feelings.
In recent times, communication has turned into business; rarely would you find managers, subordinates, salesmen, technicians, foremen, lawyers, auditors, consultants, teachers, doctors or anyone else who is not concerned with the difficulties associated with communication.
The ability and the importance of communication become much more crucial when you are on a mission or need to fulfill a goal. Without a means to communicate, your organization will become isolated. The ability to effectively communicate is very important when it is usually underestimated and overlooked.
It has been rightly observed that ‘the number one management problem today is miscommunication. Group activities in context with common goals cannot be accomplished without communication. The entire organization control, coordination and motivation cannot be accomplished in case of lapses in communication. A common practice among many organizations is moving messages vertically, horizontally and diagonally between various officially designated positions. The modern industrial scenario relies heavily on communication for its augmentation and survival. George R. Terry states: “Communication serves as the lubricant, posturing for the smooth operations of the management process”.
The reasons for the growing significance of communication can be judged from the following paragraphs:
Modern complex organizations are large, consisting of numerous employees working towards accomplishing common goals. The organizational structure illustrates many levels of organization hierarchy- both horizontally and vertically. More often than not, this leads to issues related to coordination. Effectual systems of communication encourage better coordination. Coordination is viewed as a necessity among groups; channels are vital for efficient functioning of the organization as a whole.
2. Smooth Working
Smooth and uninterrupted working of an enterprise, largely depends on good communication network. Communication takes on a greater role in this direction. Accurate decision-making and efficiency of the organization is anchored in information supply. If messages have obstacles in the course of their flow, it is impossible to bring about a smooth functioning and uninterrupted working of the organization. According to Herbert G. Micks, “Communication is basic to an organization’s existence from the birth of the organization through its continuing life”.
3. Effective Decision-Making
It is essential to have a record of past and present data for immediate and effective decision-making. Communication is the primary base by means of which information is supplied to further help in making decisions. Problem-defining, alternative courses of action, selecting the best option available, can be possible with the provision of relevant and adequate information conveyed to the decision-maker. In event of inadequate or no information, it would be relatively impossible even for the top management to take important decisions. Conversely, it is unlikely to achieve goals and objectives unless the top management has a smooth interaction with all levels of the organization.
4. Managerial Efficiency
As quoted in George Terry’s remark earlier, communication encourages managerial efficiency. Efficiency lays in the manner individuals and groups are assigned their respective targets.. Managerial functions like planning, control, coordination, motivation cannot be discharged without communication. As management is an art of ensuring targets are achieved in collaboration with other people, communication educates personnel working in the organization about the desires of the management. Management communicates goals, policies and targets by issuing verbal and written orders and instructions. The yardstick for measuring managerial efficiency is communication.
Co-operation among workers is possible only when there is an exchange of information between individuals and groups and between the management and the employees. This not only promotes the industrial peace but also maximizes production. The two-way communication network enhances co-operation between people. The flow of communication can be smooth and receptive with co-operation, confidence and message flow vertically, horizontally and across the organization. In short, communication promotes co-operation and understanding among employees.
6. Effective Leadership
Leadership implies the presence of a leader and followers. There is always a continuous process of communication between them. Communication is the basis for direction, motivation as well as establishment of effective leadership. The followers have to follow the leader and through conveying of ideas, opinions, feelings and be in constant communication with them. Thus, transmission and reception ensures a two-way traffic, the sine qua non for effective leadership. A manager with good communication skills can become a successful leader of his subordinates. E.g. In 1981, Narayana Murthy, with an investment of Rs. 10, 000 ($250 at the time) from his wife, founded Infosys with six other software professionals. Under his leadership, Infosys was listed on NASDAQ in 1999. Today, Infosys is acknowledged by customers, employees, investors and the public as a highly respected, dynamic and innovative company. The Economist ranked Narayana Murthy among the ten most admired global business leaders in 2005.
7. Job Satisfaction
Communication is essential for achieving job satisfaction. Management conveys messages, which promote mutual understanding. Reception and recognition provide job satisfaction to employees. Two-way communication creates confidence, which leads to job satisfaction among employees. Openness, straightforward expression of opinions is necessary in this direction.
8. Increase Productivity
Communication helps the management in achieving maximum productivity with minimum cost and eliminating waste. These are the main objectives of the management. It is remarked that an archenemy of communication is the very illusion of it. This illusion can be avoided only with an effective system of communication. It is through communication that the workers can be well informed about the process of production, new methods of production and the activities of the workers in a similar organization. Thus, a good system of communication helps the management to achieve maximum productivity with minimum cost, elimination of waste, reduction of cost etc. Inter-firm comparison is not possible without effective communication.
9. Morale Building
Morale and good relations in the organization are essential for achieving goals of the organization and promoting its benevolence goodwill in the public. An effective system, of communication builds good morale and improves human relations. Participatory communication is the best technique of morale building and motivation. S. Khandwala remarked, “Most of the conflicts in business are not basic but are caused by misunderstood motives and ignorance of facts. Proper communication between the interested parties reduces the points of friction and minimises those that inevitably arise”.
10. Achieving Managerial Roles
Henry Mintzberg has described a manager’s job by assigning three roles, namely inter-personal roles, informational roles and decisional roles. Communication plays a vital role in these three types of role. In case of interpersonal role, a manager has to constantly interact with subordinates. In informational role, a manager has to collect information from various people and supply the necessary information to others both inside and outside the organization. A manager in a decisional role or written media of communication discharges interpersonal, informational and decisional roles as well.