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Updated on November 30, 2011

Eather Communication

The Communications Roles


A manager has to maintain a link with different persons and/or organizations for proper job functioning. His business day passes through a variety of activities. The activities that a manager performs on a typical day include most of the following:

Desk work, attending schedul3ed and unscheduled meetings, telephone calls, reading and answering letters, memos and reports. Most of these activities involve communication. In fact, managers usually spend will over half of their time involved in some form of communication. The opening incident also underscores the role of communication.

The managerial roles observed by Henry Mintzberg (In his book “The Nature of Managerial Work”) involve a great deal of communication in the discharge of these managerial roles are mentioned below:

A. Interpersonal Roles:

  1. Figure Head: The manager is often asked to serve as a figurehead---taking visitors to dinner, attending ribbon-cutting ceremonies and the like. Although these activities are typically more ceremonial and symbolic than substantive. Still their discharge involves communication.
  2. Leader: The manager is to serve as a leader i.e. he is to perform the job of hiring, firing, training and motivating employees. A manager is a good leader if he can formally or informally convince the subordinates how to do things and how to perform under pressure. Communication through exchange of views and opinions plays a vital role in this regard.
  3. Liaison: This role involv4es serving as a coordinator of link between persons, between groups and/or between organization. This liaison role of a manager is impossible to be performed without some form of communication.

B.Informational Roles: (that involves processing information):

1. Monitor: The process of interpersonal roles brings a manager at a point that makes him collect relevant information for decision making. For this propose, the manager questions his subordinates, is receptive to unsolicited information and he tries to be al well informed as possible. In all the cases, communication is the only way to reach the goal.

2. Disseminator: Like gathering information, disseminating is also an important function of a manager. He disseminates relevant information to others in the work place. The manager sends memos outlining new organizational initiatives. Communication facilitates a manager to disseminate the decisions.

3. Spokesperson: Sometimes a manager acts as a spokesperson by relaying information to people outside the unit or outside the organization. For example, a plant manager of an organization may send information to the top-level managers, so that they will be better informed of the plant’s activities. Again the plant manager may represent the organization before a chamber of commerce or consumer group. In both the cases communication is the main instrument.

C. Decisional Roles: (that relate to decision making)

1. Entrepreneur: Sometimes a manager plays the role of an entrepreneur. He voluntarily initiates a change of the organization. To this end, he develops new ideas for innovation. But to sell his ideas he has to exchange views with others particularly skeptical managers inside the company. Communication emerges as a vital link between the entrepreneur (manager) and others.

2. Disturbances Handler: The second decisional role is initiated not by the manager but by some other person or group. The manager in such a case appears as a disturbance handler---handling problems such as strike, electricity failure, etc. To handle these problems also is to involve communication.

3. Resource Allocator: As funds/resources are limited, so for the sake of well calculated resource allocation, a manager is to take decision after reviewing intensively cannot be taken properly without some form of communication.

4. Negotiator: As a negotiator, a manager enters into negotiations with other groups or organizations and tries to reach an agreement. The manager, for example, may conduct mediation for settlement of dispute arising between two subordinates of negotiate with another department for additional support. Communication is a must for the manager to discharge these poles.

Other than the above day t-to-day managerial roles, communication also directly relates to each of the following:

  1. Basic Management Functions: A manager has to discharge the functions such as: i) planning. ii) Organizing.iii) leading and IV) controlling. (For discussion of linkage between communication and the basic management functions, see topic functions of communication discussed earlier in this chapter).
  2. Delegation: Delegation of authority becomes essential in a bug organization. Before delegation, decision is to be taken regarding who will be delegated authority, to what extent and the like. This decision making entails communication.
  3. Organization Change: Organization change is any substantive modification to some part of the organization. The management of organization change is a challenging task in any context because people tend to resist it for a variety of reasons such as uncertainty, threatened self interest, different perceptions, etc. Managers need to know why people resist change and what should be done in this regard. Communication helps management to educate employees about the need for and the expected results of an impending change and thus can reduce resistance.
  4. Organization Development: It is concerned with changing beliefs, attitudes, values, behaviors, expectations, and structures and practices so that the organization can better adapt to fast changing technology. Bringing about these changes is only possible through well organized communication.
  5. Reward System: Developing a reward system would be impossible without the help of communication.
  6. Standard: Communication is highly essential in establishing standards, checking performance and taking corrective action.

The above discussion indicates that communication is a pervasive part of virtually all managerial activities.

The Role of Communications

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