What is Formal Communication?
Formal communication refers to communication that takes place through a proper structure. A proper structure means a chain of command i.e. from upper management to lower rank and vice versa. An organization uses formal means of communication to inform employees of the latest developments.
To put it simply, Formal communication is said to be that communication that takes place through formal channels of the organization. The formal channel is a deliberately created, officially prescribed path for the flow of communication between the various positions in the organization.
Formal communication implies the flow of information along the lines of authority formally established in the organization. It is a deliberate attempt to regulate the flow of organizational communication so as to make it orderly and thereby ensure that information flows smoothly, accurately, and timely to the points to which it is required.
Formal communication generally follows a well-defined hierarchical pattern and periodicity. Memos, circulars, instructions, guidelines, clarifications, agreements, and reports are some of the channels that facilitate the flow of formal communication in business organizations.
Types of Formal Communication
The types of formal communication are four kinds which are discussed below:
Under this system, communication flows from the top management down to the lower management. It is also called communication from a senior manager to a subordinate/junior manager. Downward communication consists of plans & policies, orders, instructions, procedures, rules, etc. Downward Communication is a very long and time-consuming process. It is too much of an authoritarian process.
It means the flow of communication from the lower management of the organization to the upper management. Upward communication is as essential as downward communication for the smooth functioning of an organization. It may also include innovative ideas, reactions to a particular policy, rules, or the behavior of any person on the job.
The flow of information and understanding between the employees of equivalent strata of organization authority is called horizontal communication. This type of communication is known as lateral, sideways, or adjacent. The main objective of horizontal communication is to synchronize teamwork and promote group coordination within various departments of the organization.
Diagonal communication kind of communication which cuts across both vertical and horizontal dimensions and is referred to as diagonal touch. For example, a junior might jump over to the immediate supervisor and consult a senior consultant to get information about a particular job.
Advantages of Formal Communication
The advantages of formal communication are discussed below:
- Smooth and Efficient Working
- Effective Control
- Systematic Communication
- Increases Managerial Efficiency
- Record as Written Document
- Maintenance of Authority
- Facilitates Coordination and Control
Smooth and Efficient Working
Formal communication makes a possible smooth and efficient working environment in an organization. It is only through proper communication that the management changes and regulates the actions of the subordinates in the desired direction.
Formal communication acts as a tool for effective control in an organization. The plans have to be communicated to the subordinates, the actual performance has to be measured and communicated to the top management and corrective action has to be taken or communicated so as to achieve the desired goals.
Formal communication develops a particular system or order for communication. Communication is made in a systematic way. A proper system means a chain of command for instance, from upper management to lower rank and vice versa.
Increases Managerial Efficiency
It is only through formal communication that management conveys its goals and desires, issues instructions and orders, allocates jobs and responsibilities, and evaluates the performance of subordinates.
Record as Written Document
Mostly formal communication is used in a written way to issue orders, and instructions, and allocate jobs and responsibilities so that can be recorded as written documents for future reference.
Maintenance of Authority
Formal communication helps to maintain authority relationships in an organization. Organizational hierarchy is followed in the process of communication.
Facilitates Coordination and Control
Formal communication ensures better coordination and control in an organization. The unwanted flow of information is restricted in such a communication system. It ensures better monitoring of organizational activities.
Disadvantages of Formal Communication
The disadvantages of formal communication are discussed below:
Slow and Rigid Communication
Formal communication is made in a systematic way. so the process of communication tends to be slow and rigid. It creates a gap between the top executives and subordinates at the lower level.
Formal communication is a time-consuming method of communication as the message travels at different levels to reach the receiver.
Reduction of Efficiency
Efficiency is increased when there is a cordial or communicative environment. But formal communication is generally commanding, which is against the rules of effective communication. So workers or employees do not get the opportunity to become efficient.
Sometimes managers do not communicate the complete information to the team members because they want the team members to be dependent on them. However, managers do not realize that without complete information the team members will not be able to carry out the tasks efficiently.
What is Downward Communication?
Downward communication flows from the top management down to the lower management. Downward communication consists of plans & policies, orders, instructions, procedures, rules, etc.
What is Horizontal Communication?
This type of communication is known as lateral, sideways, or adjacent. The main objective of horizontal communication is to synchronize teamwork and promote group coordination within various departments of the organization.
What are the merits of formal communication?
Merits of Formal Communication:
1. Smooth and Efficient Working
2. Effective Control
3. Systematic Communication
4. Increases Managerial Efficiency
5. Record as a Written Document
6. Facilitates Coordination and Control