When an organization communication occurs by following the prescribed or official or predetermined rules, policy and regulation of the organization, it is called formal communication. Formal communication is governed by the established chain of command. Internal information exchanged form one to another through formal communication channels following the conventional rules. But this type of communication system may be used for both internal (upward communication and downward communication) and external purposes. Some important definition are as follows:
According to Bartoal and Martin, “Formal communication refers to vertical and horizontal communication that flows path specified by the official hierarchical organizational structure and related task requirements.”
According to Bovee and his associates, “Formal communication is the flow of information that is dictated by the organization’s official structure.”
So, formal communication is the process of exchanging information between two or more person by following the predefined channels or official rules, procedures, systems, formalities and chain of command in the organizational structure.
Difference Between Formal and Informal Communication
Formal communication is the process of exchanging information by following the prescribed or official rules, procedures, systems, formalities, chain of command etc. in the organizational structure.
On the other hand, informal communication is the process of spontaneous exchange of information among various people of different status in the organizational structure. The difference between formal and informal communication are as follows:
- Rules: informal communication, organizational rules are followed strictly, however, the informal communication channel does not always follow the rule of the organization.
- Other names: informal communication is also referred to as grapevine communication whereas formal communication is also referred to as official communication.
- Recognition: formal communication methods requires official recognition, however, the informal communication network does not require official recognition.
- Secrecy: formal communication process is not open to all, so secrecy is maintained here, whereas in informal communication which flows informally giving no chance for company secrets.
- Record keeping: the method of communication utilized in these forms of communication also matters. Informal communication mostly involves oral communication, therefore almost no record is kept, however, formal communication networks are usually documented since they are usually in form of formal writing.
- Time and cost: official communication such as upward communication usually takes more time and higher cost since it follows organizations perspectives and procedures while informal communication requires a bit of time since it requires no formalities.
Features or characteristics of formal communication:
The important features or characteristics of formal communication are as follows:
- Well defined rules and regulations: this form of communication has well-defined rules and regulations. Regardless of the communication quality, following the prescribed norms or pre-determined channel is crucial.
- Bindings: Employees of the formal organization is bounded to follow formal rules and regulations and maintain formal relations. No casual conversations of any form is allowed in the organizations perspective.
- Chain of command: Proper chain of command is followed by formal communication.
- Delegation of Authority: Authority is delegated by the superiors to the subordinates through this communication. This communication style involves communication flows from the upper management to employees at subordinate levels.
- Use as a reference: Documents of the formal communication is recorded by the organization. So, these recorded documents are used as a source of reference to the employees.
- Recognition: Formal communication occurs among the employees of the organizational structure so it has recognition.
- Task-related: All types of formal communication between the employees should be task-related.
- Routine Communication: Generally, formal communication is routine communication of the employees.
- Cooperation and coordination: Formal communication is a part of cooperation and coordination.
- Status symbol: Formal communication of the employees shows the status symbol.
In conclusion, formal communication requires that you are speaking to an audience that you are not familiar with, whether it be in person or through email. Because of this, it is always best to be formal when speaking to a group of people you are not familiar with, in order to make a good impression. Formal and informal communication is essential to the success of any business. Not only does it play a vital role to help improve the quality of life for its employees, but it also plays an important role in instilling a positive corporate culture.