1.1   Background of the Study

Weinrich and Koontz (1984:537) see communication as “the transfer of information from a sender to a receiver with the information being understood by the receiver”. The cardinal idea behind this definition is that the information sent must be clearly understood by the receiver before communication can be said to be complete. Weihrich and Koontz (1984) assert that communication applies to all phases of managing but that it is more apt in the function of leading. In a nutshell, the function of communication is a unifier of organization activities. Through communication, behavior is modified, social inputs are fed into social systems, information is made more effective and productive, change and Total Quality Management (TQM) is achieved and organizational goals / objectives are realized.

Inyang (2002:97) sees communication as the creation, transmission, interception and use of information. It is the process of transmitting meaning from sender to receiver.

Management problems today are traceable to failure in communication, that fact is that even the executives still do not understand what communication is and what it can do. They underestimate its complexity, powers and importance. Too few acknowledges that communication is at the heart of all business operations, that it encompasses all those activities by which we influence others. Actually, communication is the most important tool we have for getting things done and the basis for understanding, co-operation and election (Inyang: 2000: 27)

No organization can function without communication because it ties together the component parts of an organization and impels people to action; thus, in order for groups and organizational activities to take place, there must be communication among the people.

Organizational communication is referred to as the transmission of information, experience, knowledge, ideas, decisions, feelings attitude that are essential for group effort and attainment of organization goals/objectives (Hambagda: 1996:32).

Robbins (2002:284) sees communication as the process of transmitting an idea or thought in such a way that the mental picture perceived by the receiver was exactly the same as that envisioned by the sender. This definition adds a behavioural or psychological dimension to the conceptualization of communication. From that point of view, communication is simply the transference and understanding of meaning.

The major functions of communication in an organization are as follows:

  • To maintain the flow of accurate information within the organization
  • To stimulate rotational decision – making and appropriate action.
  • To foster motivation by clarifying organizational objectives with a view to enhancing performance.
  • To provide a release for the ‘emotional expression of employees’ feelings and the fulfillment of their social needs.
  • To serve as a coordinating and controlling mechanism in the human organization through the effective and efficient combination of human material resources. All key functions of management – planning, organizing, controlling, directing, leading, motivating and infact decision making depend on effective communication (Nwachukwa, 1989:163)

Communication is however divided into three (3) types which include: formal communication, informal communication and lateral communication. Formal communication system follows the classical hierarchical structure of an organization. Such a structure follows the lines of authority, which also determine the upward and downward directions of all formal communications. Formal communication in it downward form transmits policies, instructions and such information as necessary for the determination of what must be done from the top-level managers through the middle level down to the lowest levels of the organization.

Informal communication system provides necessary communication outside the established formal lines of authority. This is important to maintain organizational linkages and to fill in the gaps and omissions of the formal system. This type of communication is mostly limited to oral face-to-face. In most organizations in Nigeria, a lot of informal communication is done via rumours and gossips flowing though ethic cliques and other sectional associations.

Lateral communication is informal communication however, while informal communication is most commonly found in one and the same organization or in one organization unit, leveral communication cuts across organizations or units. It is normally between colleagues or person at the same level of organization. Lateral communication is mainly oral and face-to-face. Its main use is consultation for technical advice or opinion lacking in one organization and prevalent in another.

The communication process include: encoding process, the message, the medium, decoding process, the receiver, feedback