Communication allows us to develop a civilized society and to transmit knowledge from one generation to another. It dramatically distinguishes humans from other forms of life. It allows us to organize and work together in groups. In fact, without communication, there can be no social organization.
Communication then is important to human society and to organizations in general. Its importance is even more pronounced for more pronounced for business organizations specifically. If you thing about them, these words of communication expert Harold Janis are certainly true: “The word of business is a world of action. Products are designed, made and sold. People are learned and performed. Yet there is no practical way in which any of these events can take place without communication.”
Although communication has always been essential for business, it is especially important today – given current business trends. Companies tend to be larger than ever, and more mergers and acquisitions are on the way. Departments within a company may be spread all over the country, or even the world. With larger companies has come an increase in the number of hierarchical level and the complexity of organizational patterns. At the same time, the more complex the organization, the more specialized the job each person performs within that organization. This trend toward experts, in turn, leads to increased use of specialized language, or jargon, which only experts can understand. Add to all of this the increase in the constituencies – such as community groups, special interest groups, labor, and government – with whom business people must now communicate, along with their traditional audiences, such as clients, subordinates, and superiors. These additional audiences, of course, mean additional communication. Trends in management style –away from the strictly authoritarian and toward the more collaborative – also make communication more important than ever.
And, as if this weren’t enough, recent developments in the electronic communication field are changing the ways in which we can communicate. For example, using electronic mail, we3 can type message to one another by means of a computer terminal. Teleconferencing allows us to see and speak with a group of people who are not all in the same place. Word processing makes it easier for us to change our writing. In summary, all these trends lead to more need for an opportunity to communicate in business.
Besides being important in today’s changing business environment, effective communication will be important for your personal satisfaction and success. Through communication, you will be able to clarify your concepts and ideas. You will be able to understand, persuade, and work with other people. In many ways, your success will be based on your ability to communicate: sometimes the only proof of your good work will be the written report or the oral presentation culminating a project.
Not only will you find communication important, chances are you will find yourself spending most of your time at work communicating: writing, talking with a group, talking to one person, listening, or reading. Many students imagine communication will account for only a small percentage of their work time. Various surveys, however, prove that business people in fact spend from 60 to 90 percent of their time at work communicating. The specific amount of time will vary with your business, your company and your working style.
Furthermore the higher you move in your organization, the more communicating you are likely to do. Supervisors must communicate more than technicians, for example, and managers more than supervisors. As management expert Peter Drucker says: “If you work as a soda jerker you will, of course, not need much skill in expressing yourself to be effective. If you work on a machine your ability to express yourself will be of little importance. But as soon as you move one step up from the bottom, your effectiveness depends on your ability to reach others through the spoken or the written word. And the further away your job is from manual work, the larger the organization of which you are an employee, the more important it will be that you know how to convey your thoughts in writing or speaking.” One study concludes that first-level supervisors spend 74 percent of their time communicating, send-level managers 81 percent, and third-level managers 87 percent. Another study shows that CEOs spend 78 percent of their time in oral communication alone.