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Channels of Communication

6 October, 2015 - 11:36

There are a wide variety of communication channels possible within organizations. Communication channels involve both formal and informal mediums of information exchange. Formal mediums include such things as town hall meetings, newsletters, workshops, videos, e-mail, bulletin boards, manuals, roadshows, and progress reports. 1Informal mediums include such things as hallway discussions, one-on-one meetings, departmental briefings, and having senior leaders walking the talk. In both cases, the invisible social network within the organization plays a powerful role in interpreting the message.  2

While most organizations tend to prefer using certain communication channels in all situations, the selection of the channel should be based on the specific change context. The reason for this is that communication channels vary in their efficiency and information richness. Rich communication channels are typically interactive and face-to-face, and they provide an abundance of contextualized information.

Some channels, such as e-mail, are extremely efficient but not information rich at all. Other channels, such as one-on-one private meetings, are not efficient at all, but extremely information rich. In general, the more complicated and emotionally charged the change initiative, the more communication channels will be needed, and they need to be information rich, particularly in the beginning of the change program.