What role does organisational communication play in your company's success?

Though every company has its own unique way of finding success in the marketplace, all truly successful businesses share one thing in common: superior organisational communication. But what does that really entail? For business leaders, understanding how to manage effective organisational communication is essential for success.

In this post, we'll look at a common definition for organisational communication, examine different types of organisational communication, and consider the dimensions of communication. We'll also explain why this is all so important for business success.

What is organisational communication?

As the name suggests, organisational communication is a term that encompasses all the different ways in which any company communicates. It includes internal communication between employees, and external communication to customers, vendors, shareholders, and others. This communication can be conducted through a variety of mediums, including:

  • Group meetings with staff

  • Person-to-person interaction

  • Memos, newsletters, and emails

  • Informal conversations

  • Press releases

  • Regular calls and emails to clients

  • Stakeholder meetings

  • Social media activity

Understanding the types of organisational communication

The more complex an organisation is, the more it will find itself relying on a variety of distinctive styles and mediums for communicating. These different types of organisational communication include:

Directional communication

Directional communication is a term that describes the various directions in which communication can flow within an organisation. For example:

  • Downward communication. What mediums and processes do upper-echelon staff use to impart information and direction to lower-level employees? Are there policies in place that guide that communication process?

  • Upward communication. How do employees communicate with superiors like managers and executives within the company? What channels are used to enable those employees to provide information and feedback to those higher-level authorities?

  • Horizontal, or lateral, communication. How do workers deliver information to other employees on their own level? Since most of the communication that occurs within any company involves lateral messaging, it's important to focus on encouraging positive interactions so that this communication facilitates increased teamwork and productivity.

Internal and external communication

As noted above, companies not only communicate internally, but also engage in a great deal of external communication. It is important to understand how your company manages each of these types of communication processes.

  • Internal communication. Each company has its own processes for managing internal communication between employees and different levels within the organisation's hierarchy. Which systems does your company use to help create effective and efficient communication for its workers? This may include specific technological platforms, rules-based processes for communicating, or cultural practices that encourage a certain way to interact with others and deliver information.

  • External communication. Companies also need well-defined processes and systems for interacting with their customers, vendors, suppliers, and other stakeholders. In many instances, company policies for external communication are carefully crafted to ensure that the organisation presents a unified and cohesive image to the world.

Oral and written communication

Communication can also be viewed as either oral or written, depending on the means of delivery. Companies use both communication forms to achieve their ends, since each has its own distinct advantages and uses.

  • Oral communication. For most companies, oral communication makes up the largest share of internal information-sharing. The advantage of this form of communication is that it provides an interactive forum for the participants, who can easily exchange questions and answers. It also allows each party to acquire and provide additional information via nonverbal communication like vocal tone and body language.

  • Written communication. Companies also use written communication both internally and externally. This type of communication is useful for ensuring that messaging is organised, easily delivered in a variety of mediums, and well-documented for recordkeeping purposes.

Formal and informal communication

It's also important to recognise that organisational communication can be either formal or informal in nature. It is always important to consider this vital distinction when you're examining any communication process.

  • Formal communication. Any official messaging from the company, whether delivered internally or to external parties, is typically considered a form of formal communication. This is true even when companies engage in marketing or other messaging that's delivered in a less formal way, and includes messaging during meetings, branding efforts, communications with vendors, press releases, policy statements, and operational instructions.

  • Informal communication. Of course, many aspects of organisational communication occur through informal avenues. Some examples include employees sharing information with one another, chatting during their breaks, or any other type of communication that doesn't rely on standard official processes and structures.

Five dimensions of organisational communication to consider

When establishing organisational communication structures, it's vital to consider the essential dimensions of communication. Let's briefly examine each of these important dimensions.

Define your audience

No message can be effectively communicated if you don't understand your audience. That's why it's always important to define your target audience, consider their unique perspective and needs, and identify which questions they are most likely to want you to answer.

Tailor the content

Identifying your audience can help you to better tailor your message to fit their needs. If that audience is internal, then you can focus your communication on the things that employees may need to know to benefit from the message.

On the other hand, if you're focused on an external audience, then you'll want to shape that message to focus on their needs. For example, if your message is directed at shareholders, you'd want to tailor the communication to emphasise financial benefits, stock price, and so on. 

Define your intent

Never deliver a message that has no real purpose. In fact, before you engage in any communication, you should always understand what you're trying to achieve with your message. That intent can include things like providing useful information, inspiring others, motivating your team, requesting feedback, or gaining buy-in from employees and other stakeholders.

Design the communication process

With those concerns fleshed out, you can then move on to the design stage. This is where you design the communication process that you'll rely on to deliver your message. Consider things like when you'll communicate the message, what medium you'll use for delivery, who will be communicating the information, and whether it will be a one-time message or an ongoing effort.

Focus on the message's style and tone

As you create the message, you should also focus on important considerations like tone and style. Your message should be clear, concise, and compassionate. It should also demonstrate your dedication to the company's well-being, deliver information in a confident and courageous manner, and attempt to forge a connection with the audience by addressing their needs and concerns.

Why is organisational communication important?

If you're still wondering why organisational communication is so vitally important for business success, just consider some of its most obvious benefits:

Brand and image enhancement

Well-organised communication processes can be a critical component of any branding or image enhancement strategy. When messaging processes are designed properly, and everyone within the company is on the same page, it's easier to present an intentional image and brand to the public.

Creating common goals

Organised communication enables a company to facilitate the type of collaborative environment needed to create a sense of shared goals. This can better ensure that employees remain motivated, engaged with their jobs and teams, and focused on working together to achieve the company's mission.

Promoting a positive work environment

Good communication has a way of reducing many of the most common morale busters that plague the modern workplace. When employees know what companies expect of them and feel as though their interests are being considered as decisions are made, that can boost their morale and increase productivity and efficiency.

Responding to change

Since the economy is always in a state of evolution, it's critical for companies to have the means to respond to change in a positive way. Proper organisational communication can make it easier for companies to quickly adapt to change. In addition, superior communication structures can be an invaluable asset for any company that experiences an unforeseen crisis.

Creating internal order and structure

The right organisational structure can also ensure that companies maintain sustainable systems and policies that provide a sense of order within the workplace. Over time, companies always benefit when their employees can understand their roles, company procedures and processes, and management's expectations.

The takeaway

If you're a business leader or someone who aspires to a leadership position, it's critically important to recognise the important role that organisational communication plays in any company's success. Human beings naturally rely on a wide range of communication types to build and strengthen relationships, share information and ideas, and solve problems. The more you know about these different types of communication and their benefits, the more effective you can be in your role as a business leader.

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