Models of effective communication provide perspectives that clarify the process of communication and how it can be assessed and enhanced. These models can be used in communication that determines interpersonal relationships, societal development, and leadership effectiveness. Communication models apply to organizational development, which depends on effective communication among workers and the organization’s customers.
In organizations, communication effectiveness is among the most important factors in leadership when it comes to performing organizational duties and responsibilities. Leaders need to apply appropriate communication models and tools to achieve effectiveness in professional practice and in steering the organization.
Communication effectiveness and the chosen communication model influence organizational capacity – a factor that affects leadership in organizational development. Organizational capacity is the combination of organizational resources and capabilities, and the knowledge, skills, and abilities of the organization’s human resources. This capacity affects the level and quality of support for leadership and for operations and their expansion. Organizational capacity influences what managers and leaders can do to fulfill the organization’s mission and vision.
Communication affects the development of organizational capacity. Leaders must pay attention to the effectiveness of communications in the organization. Leaders’ communication efforts and the communication models they use must align with human resource needs and expectations in the context of the organization.
Various models of effective communication apply to different situations. There are also many models for different purposes. For example, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) uses an 8-step communication model specifically for strategic communications.
The MBI model accounts for mapping, bridging, and integrating. Mapping refers to the collection of information or knowledge about the communication situation in order to achieve awareness regarding the needs and issues involved in the situation. Mapping puts emphasis on the need to understand the communication context before doing anything about it.
Bridging is the establishment of factors or measures that can be used as channels for communications. For example, bridging may involve the implementation of a new information technology as a new channel between the leader and subordinates for effective communications. A bridge may also be a new process specific to the organization’s need to communicate more effectively.
Integrating refers to implementing and strengthening the link or bridge between the leader and the target audience. For example, integrating may involve institutionalizing the new technology that has just been installed to support effective internal communications in the business organization. In this regard, the MBI model puts emphasis on developing a link, bridge, or connection between the participants in the communication process.
Shannon and Weaver Model
The Shannon and Weaver model considers the occurrence of noise that reduces the integrity of the message being communicated. Various sources of information are in the environment, such that the message communicated from the sender to the receiver could become altered in undesirable ways. This alteration or message modification could lead to misunderstanding or confusion about the message.
In the Shannon and Weaver model, to achieve effective communication, the communicator must recognize the sources of noise in the communication process and environment. The communicator must then address such sources of communication noise, such as by changing the communication channel or schedule, or by using different communication tools. For example, in a business organization, the sources of communication noise may include other people in the organization or the technologies used for internal communication. The leader, in properly addressing the sources of noise, increases the effectiveness of the communication process by preventing or minimizing the undesirable modification or alteration of the message.
The Intermediary Model or Gatekeeper Model describes the significance of intermediaries that exist between the message sender and the message recipient. This model is similar to the MBI model in the sense that both of these models emphasize the use of connections or links between the message sender and message receiver. However, the MBI model is more general in terms of how or what the connection link could be.
In the Intermediary Model, the main connection or link is an active person or actor who serves as the intermediary or gatekeeper between the participants in the communication process. For example, in a business organization, the intermediary may be a mid-level manager who decides which messages from lower organizational levels should or should not reach the corporate headquarters. The Intermediary Model requires that, for communication to be effective, the leader must use the services of an intermediary. This intermediary must be a person who is highly effective in communications, such as internal communications in the organization.
Tools for Effective Communication
Appropriate vocabulary is a tool that leaders can use to improve their communication skills in the organizational context. Leaders need to choose the most appropriate words to achieve the best possible impact. For example, a team leader can use technical jargon specific to the team to maximize comprehension of the message. However, caution is necessary in using jargon, which could also lead to confusion and misunderstanding in some cases.
The feedback system is another tool that contributes to the improvement of communication effectiveness of leaders and to the development of organizational capacity. Feedback systems allow leaders to acquire information from their target audience to determine communication effectiveness and to improve communication. For example, the feedback system in a company may allow frontline employees to file issues or complaints. Leaders can use the feedback to assess communication effectiveness and miscommunication, and adjust the communication process accordingly.
Information technologies can facilitate effective communication by making the process more interactive. Interactive tools encourage employees’ active involvement in the communication process. These technologies optimize communication efficiency, which improves business productivity and increases the performance of learning organizations.
Intermediaries are also tools that leaders can use for effective communication and for developing organizational capacity. An intermediary, based on the Intermediary Model of effective communication, may be a person who serves as the bridge between the leader and the target communication audience in the organization. In current organizational contexts, the intermediary may also be a computer program designed to route messages to the appropriate destinations or offices in the organization.
Traditional communication tools can support effective communication when used appropriately. For example, bulletin boards, posters, and booklets can help disseminate the information that employees need. These traditional tools can supplement other tools to maximize communication effectiveness and support organizational capacity development.
- DiStefano, L., Imon, S., Lee, H., & DiStefano, J. (2004). Bridging Differences: A model for effective communication between different disciplines through conservation training programs for professionals. City & Time, 1(2), 1-15.
- Greenbaum, H. H. (2020). Measures of organizational communication. In Communication research measures (pp. 57-78). Routledge.
- Johansson, C., & Bäck, E. (2017). Strategic leadership communication for crisis network coordination. International Journal of Strategic Communication, 11(4), 324-343.
- Katz, E., Lazarsfeld, P.F. (1955). Personal Influence: The Part Played by People in the Flow of Mass Communications. Free Press.
- Kulkarni, S., & Kulkarni, S. (2017). Communication models in Internet of things: A survey. International Journal of Science Technology & Engineering, 3, 3.
- Narula, U. (2006). Handbook of communication models, perspectives, strategies. Atlantic Publishers & Dist.
- U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency – 8-Step Communication Model.