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Formal and Informal Communication in Organization

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In an organization, the flow of communication can either be formal or informal. Communication that flows through normal channels can be upward, horizontal or downward. Communication that flows through informal organizational channels is generally referred to as grapevine. Previously, informal communication acted as a hindrance to the operations of an organization, but it is no longer the case since nowadays it is applied to boost organizational operations (Johnson et al., 1994).

Informal communication does not follow any particular channel instead it flows in all directions. Informal communication which is at times referred to as informal communication spreads in an organization in the form of single-strand messages, rumors and gossip. It mostly spreads quickly and effectively in an organization that has access to personal or individual interpretation. Informal communication is normally more direct and faster than formal communication. Employees are classified into two categories of informal communication, and they are either dead-ender or isolate employees. A dead-ender is an employee that does not pass information to others after he receives it in large quantities. An isolate is an employee that receives less than half of the open information. Informal communication can result in devastating miscommunication that may partially or fully paralyze the operations of an organization. In contrast, informal communication can be beneficial since it allows employees to express their emotions or grievances without any limitations. Thus, employees tend to be motivated when they are allowed to express themselves freely resulting in improved performance and productivity (Johnson et al., 1994).

Top-downward or downward communication is a category of precise information. Top-downward communication is a strategy applied by executive management to communicate to employees in lower organizational positions. Downward communication is used to implement management guidelines and company policies. In downward communication, distortion of information relayed by the executive management usually occurs. Downward communication can be made more effective by allowing feedbacks from employees at lower organizational positions. For downward communication to be more effective, executive management has to be respectful of subordinate employees, and the employees have to be obedient to the commands or messages that are relayed to them using the communication channel. Downward communication facilitates achievement of leadership development goals because organizational leaders can pass information to employees under them and can easily guide them using the form of formal communication.

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