Types of Workplace Communication

Types of Workplace Communication

Communication is the process of sharing ideas, information, and messages with others in a particular time and place. It can be defined as the process of transmitting information and common understanding from one entity to another. The essence of communication is that it is a process or an activity which serves to connect senders and receivers of messages through space and time.

Two common elements in every communication exchange are the sender and the receiver. Workplace communication is the process of exchanging information between these two entities. It is the act of transferring information from one place to another place. In a good and effective communication, the transmission of message takes place without any distortion. Effective workplace communication ensures that organizational objectives are achieved. Workplace communication is greatly important to the organization since it increases both the productivity and the efficiency.

In a workplace setting, there take place a large number of interactions in the ways which get the job done effectively and in ways which maintain the relationship between the employees. Effective communication at the workplace is an essential activity in the organization. It is very important since communication increases the efficiency of the workplace processes and assists everyone to run the organization without any problems.

The workplace has a unique communication setting, with its own set of guidelines and responsibilities. The very life of the organization is dependent on the communication. In an healthy and productive organization, communication is geared towards the actual work processes, as well as information sharing, problem solving, and heading off potential problems before they take their toll. Communication at the workplace is required to be improved in order to have smooth, reliable, and efficient working in the workplace and to reduce risks.

There are several components necessary for the communication to take place. First, there need to have an information source. The information source creates the message. The message is sent by the information source and received at the destination by the receiver. A sender or a transmitter captures the signal, converts it into an electronic signal, and amplifies it for transmission through communication channel. Transmission is readily generalized to encompass a wide range of transmitters.

The simplest transmission system, which is associated with face-to-face communication, has at least two layers of transmission. The first, the information is created and is modulated into a signal. The second layer, which is described as a channel, is the medium which enables the transmission of the created signals from one entity to another entity. The transmitting channel can have many layers, with the filtering systems, and a signal distribution network.

The signal flows through a channel. There can be multiple parallel signals, as is the case in face-to-face interaction where sound and gesture involve different signal systems which depend on different channels and modes of transmission. There can be multiple serial signals, with sound and / or gesture turned into electronic signals, radio waves, or words and pictures.

A carrier or channel is necessary for transmission. Examples of channels are air, light, electricity, radio waves, wires, and paper etc. There can be multiple channels associated with the multiple layers of transmission. Noise, in the form of secondary signals, obscures or confuses the signal carried. Noise is to be restricted so as not to obscures or obliterates some portion of the signal within the channel. A receiver is an entity which is necessary to receive the signal. In face to face communication it can be a set of ears (sound) and eyes (gesture). The receiver can be the destination of the signal which consumes and processes the message. Fig 1 shows the process of communication at the workplace.

Fig 1 Process of communication at the workplace

No matter the type or mechanism of communication, every instance of communication is required to have a message which is being transferred from the sender to the receiver. In order for communication to be successful, the sender and the receiver need to have some signs, words or signals in common with each other so that the sent message can be understood. The ideal definition of communication is a two way interaction between two entities to transmit information and mutual understanding between themselves

Communication takes place when the sender sends a message, and the receiver receives it. The entity in a communication can be a person, a process, equipment, an instrument, or any such thing. Where one of the entity or both the entities are non persons, the purpose of communication is normally to control. Non personal communication is used in the workplace are there for ensuring that the technological processes are running while maintaining the desired technological parameters. Where both the entities consist of persons, communication at the workplace consists of the creation or exchange of thoughts, ideas, emotions, and understanding between sender(s) and receiver(s). Communication between persons is essential for building and maintaining relationships at the workplace.

Communication is about sending, receiving, and understanding of the information and its meaning. Receiving and understanding are the most important operations in the communication process, since the response of the receiver defines whether the communication attempt is successful or not. There are two types of communication which are related to workplace communication. They are (i) the effective communication and (ii) the efficient communication. Effective communication takes place when the message of the sender has a successful decoding from the receiver and the efficient communication takes place when the communication is done effectively at a low cost.

For communication to occur, it is essential that it passes from a sender to a receiver. This has to occur irrespective of the form of communication. For communication to be effective it is required to be correctly understood by the receiver. As communication passes from the source to the receiver there is plenty of opportunity for the message to distort. Hence, it is essential to ensure that the message as sent by the sender is understood without any distortion by the receiver. An important consideration associated with the communication is the ‘noise’. Noise can have a big impact on the distortion of the message which the receiver decodes.

In the communication process, the sender originates the message. The sender uses words, symbols, or signals to put forth information into a message for the receiver. Message when received by the receiver is decoded or interpreted. Accurate decoding of the message by the receiver is critical for effective communication. The closer the decoded message gets to the intent of the sender, the more effective is the communication. However, environmental and personal barriers can cause hampering of the communication process.

In one-way communication, the sender sends a one-directional message without interaction. Two-way communication is more accurate and information-rich when the message is complex, although one-way communication is more efficient. For communication to be effective, communication is to have built in mechanism for feedback.

For ensuring messages are received as intended, feedback is a necessary component of the communication process. The receiver creates feedback to a message and encodes it before transmitting it back to the sender. The sender receives and decodes the feedback. Feedback is the reaction of the destination to a message. It is an important element of the communication process since it allows for information to be shared between the receiver and sender in a two-way communication.

Feedback is a very important part of any communication. Through the feedback process, senders and receivers can adjust their outputs as related to the transmitted information. In the absence of feedback or in the case where the communication process does not allow for sufficient feedback to develop or feedback is ignored, a certain amount of feedback occurs spontaneously and tends to take a negative form.

An important component of the communication process is the communication channel. A message is transmitted through a medium or channel, which is the carrier of the communication. Selection of the particular medium for transmitting the message is critical, since there can be several choices.

Hence, it can be summarized that the important elements of the communication are the sender, the encoding, the message, the medium, the decoding, the receiver, and the feedback. If barriers exist in these elements in any way, complete clarity of meaning and understanding of the messages does not occur. The greatest problem with a communication process is the illusion that it has been accomplished. Several forms of barriers can impede the communication process. The barriers can be classified into two categories namely (i) environmental, and (ii) personal. Both these barriers can block, filter, or distort the message as it is encoded and sent, as well as when it is decoded and received.

Environmental barriers are characteristic of the system and its environmental setting. Multiple and simultaneous demands cause messages to be incorrectly decoded. The receiver receives the message, but does not understand it. Personal barriers arise due to an individual’s frame of reference or beliefs and values. They are based on a person’s socio-economic background and prior experiences and shape how messages are encoded and decoded. One can also consciously or unconsciously engage in selective perception.

Recognizing that environmental and personal barriers exist is the first step to effective communication. By becoming aware of their existence, then conscious and positive actions are needed to minimize their impact and to overcome them. Fig 2 identifies the important elements in the process of communication.

Fig 2 Process of communication with feedback

Communication is normally considered to be taking place between people. But in an industry consisting of several technological processes like a steel plant, the processes are continuous and there exists linking of the equipment and processes. In such an industry, it is essential that there exists a proper communication between linked equipments, linked processes, and the employees for the smooth running of the processes. This communication between the linked equipments and the linked processes is carried out with the help of instruments and automation.

There are several types of communications which are taking place at the workplace. These are (i) communication between linked equipments, (ii) communication between linked processes, (iii) communication between instruments and equipment, (iv) communication between operator and equipment, (v) communication between operator and process, (vi) communication between process and supervisory control, (vii) communication between workplace employees, (viii) communication between employees and line manager, and (ix) communication between employees and the shop management and the senior managers.

The first five types of workplace communications are important necessities for the smooth and efficient running of the workplace processes. The sixth type is the higher level of communication which takes place when the controls of the workplace processes communicate with the higher level supervisory controls.

Communication between equipments is a very important aspect of continuous processes. In case of a change in the parameters, which can take place due to several reasons,  a signal is required to go to the  succeeding and / or preceding equipments for the adjustment of their parameters so that the integrity of the continuous process remains and does not get disturbed.

Communication between linked processes is necessary, since any disturbance taking place in one of the processes, it becomes necessary that the preceding and succeeding processes are adjusted to avoid the mismatch between the processes. This communication can take place through the operators of the processes or through an automation system.

Communication between instruments and equipment is necessary since it is the instrument which picks up the signal and then transmits the signal to the equipment to adjust itself. Further, the transmission of the signal is to be in noise free environment so that the signal does not get distorted while reaching the equipment.

Communication between operator and equipment becomes necessary when there is disturbance in the equipment operation and operator is required to intervene to correct it. This intervention takes place through HMI (human machine interface) which connects the operator to the equipment.

Communication between a process and its operator is taking place when the operator is monitoring continuously the process parameters through the monitoring devices provided in the process. Through this communication, the operator keeps a watch on the process and intervenes to adjust the process parameters in case the operator notices that there is some disturbance in the process.

The remaining three communication types namely (i) communication between workplace employees, (ii) communication between employees and line manager, and (iii) communication between employees and the shop management and the senior managers comes under the category where communication takes place among people at the workplace. Communication between people is the essential function of any workplace. Effective, team-based communication buffers stress and improves productivity of the employees. Effective communication strategies can help employees act with their responsibilities.

Most of the employees at workplace spend around 70 % of their time actively communicating. Effective communication at the workplace can help reduce safety and behavior risk issues. Communication in the workplace can be either best friend or worst enemy. It can improve the overall workplace culture. Good, solid workplace communication eliminates barriers and resolve problems at the workplace.

One of the most important things the employees do at work is to communicate with each other. Whether with words, gestures, body language, or even silence, employees are always communicating. Employees communicate face-to-face or on the telephone, communicate via computers, faxes, or radios, read and write messages, handle requests, process paperwork, respond to calls, and deal with employees of other departments. Hence, communication is the essential function of any workplace. Without communication workplace activities cannot take place. In particular, effective team-based communication can help buffer many of the safety, productivity, and morale issues caused by co-employees use and abuse of various issues.

Communication among people at the workplace is a major challenge for the line managers and shop management since they are responsible for providing information, which results in efficient and effective performance at the workplace. Communication is the creation or exchange of thoughts, ideas, emotions, and understanding between sender and receiver. It is essential to building and maintaining relationships in the workplace.

Listening is an important aspect of communication. It is the foundation of effective communication. Effective listening leads towards effective speaking. If nothing else, it helps the employees to avoid jumping to conclusions. It is a skill which when practiced more leads the employees towards the better communication. Further, learning to listen better can help reduce stress and confusion in most of the areas of the life at the workplace.

Grapevine communication is considered to be bad for effective communication. When there is a lot of gossip, employees are less likely to talk about what is bothering them since they fear information can leak into the grapevine. They are likely to wall themselves off from others unless (i) they feel information is going to be kept private or confidential, and (ii) they trust others to respect their private concerns.

Communication among people at the workplace is fundamental and vital to all administrative functions of the workplave. It is a means of transmitting information and making one employee understood by another employee or other employees. Communicating effectively is an art and is to be practiced effectively at the workplace for better output and successful achievement of goal and objectives of the organization. Communication is a major challenge for the shop management since they are responsible for providing information, which results in efficient and effective performance at the workplace. The effective workplace communication among people impacts the workplace performance in several ways as described below.

Creates job satisfaction – Workplaces where an open and easy communication is available among people provide employees with job satisfaction. There is lesser mis-understanding among people and higher level of teamwork among people is available. If the work environment is friendly where the subordinate  employees are encouraged to communicate their ideas to their line manager or senior manager regarding work-related issues, and their feedback is given due consideration, it motivates the employees to work better and makes them feel valued in the organization. Thus, effective communication in the workplace helps in building loyalty and trust which eventually attributes to greater job satisfaction.

Lesser conflicts – Open communication among people in the workplace can help prevent and resolve many conflicts. Workplace conflicts are easily resolved through open and clear communication and mutual discussions. This also leads to personal and professional growth of the people.

Increased productivity – Effective communication among people at workplace is the most important matter for the success and failure of the organization. Every organization has a set of clearly defined vision, goal, and objectives. If the line managers and the organizational management are clear in their communication, the employees at the workplace know exactly what is expected from them and hence, are able to deliver the same to the best of their abilities. Thus, the importance of communication skills can be judged from the fact that it leads to better deliverance of work, and increasing of the workplace productivity.

Formation of relationships – Open communication among people in the workplace, whether between the employees and the line manager or between the management and employees, leads to the formation of better personal and professional relationships. This makes the employees feel genuinely cared and valued for, and they are more likely to remain loyal to the organization. This creates a friendly environment and promotes a better working relationship which is conducive to the work.

Proper utilization of resources – If the organization faces problems, crisis and conflicts due to miscommunication at the workplace among people, it causes unnecessary delays in the daily work. This leads to wastage of resources and lowers the overall work productivity. So an environment of good communication is a necessity for the organization for the better utilization of the resources and increase in the productivity.

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