The communications that arise not out of formal relations between people but out of informal or social relationship is called the grapevine or informal communication. The management has no absolute control over this type of communication as they neither created nor destroyed it. Communication need not flow through authority-responsibility relationship or channels of organization in informal communications. In informal communication there is no formal superior subordinate relationship.
The informal communication does both good and bad to the organization. The advantages of informal communication are:
1. It acts as a driving force to untie the workforce in cases of common matters;
2. It saves time and energy as the information flows at high speed;
3. It has immediate response from the receiver;
4. It provides the scope for creation of new ideas;
5. It satisfies the communication needs of various employees,
6. It provides scope for immediate feedback.
Informal communication suffers from various drawbacks. They are:
a) Informal communication sometimes spreads wrong information and rumours;
b) It distorts information;
c) Grapevine provides only inadequate information;
d) Information provided through grapevine has no formal authority; and
e) It overlooks superiors.
The most effective communication results when managers utilize the informal organization to supplement the communication channels of the formal organization.
It should be remembered that it is a part of the managerâ€™s job to have a little control over this informal communication so that he can take the appropriate action to minimize the adverse effect of this channel.
Organizational climate is very important in the context of communication. Organizational climate is the summary perception which people have about an organization. It is thus a global expression of what the organization is:
Organizational climate refers to a system of shared meaning held by members that distinguishes the organization from other organizations.
The characteristics of organizational climate are:
1. Individual Initiative: The degree of responsibility, freedom and independence that individuals have.
2. Risk Tolerance: The degree to which employees are encouraged to be aggressive, innovative and risk-seeking.
3. Direction: The degree to which the organization creates clear objectives and performance expectations.
4. Integration: The degree to which units within the organization are encouraged to operate in a coordinated manner.
5. Management Support: The degree to which managers provide clear communication, assistance and support to their subordinates.
6. Control: The number of rules and regulations and the amount of direct supervision that is used to oversee and control employee behavior.
7. Identity: The degree to which members identify with the organization as a whole rather than with their particular workgroup or field of professional expertise.
8. Reward System: The degree to which reward allocations are based on employee performance.
9. Conflict Tolerance: The degree to which employees are encouraged to air conflicts and criticisms.
10. Communication Patterns: The degree to which organizational communications are restricted to the formal hierarchy of authority.
Communicating with the Employees
Both formal as well as informal communication channels are used to communicate with the employees. In addition to following written communication, oral and nonverbal communication should be relied upon. In addition to downward communication to communicate rules, procedures and programs of the organization to employees, employees should also be encouraged to communicate to their superiors.
In order to make use of team work, all channels of communication or star communication pattern should be encouraged. Interpersonal communication should be encouraged with a view to develop interpersonal relations. Employees should also be encouraged to develop effective and active listening skills.