Gaining Power Through Effective Communication in Organization


Nowadays, in any organization, human resource is not a normal resource as others such as material, finance, etc… like what already existed in the past organization perspective. The more development of society it is, the more value of human being is defined. Knowledge more and more creates valued material. This trend leads to the higher level of managing human resource requirement, especially of the top managers. To run the business smoothly, sensemaking must be existed. So how do managers can make sense their employees? Communication is the core factor!

By generating effective communication skills, managers can lift their power to higher level. This essay will point out the strong relationship between communication and power and how to gaining power by using well communication factors after analyzing the core of communication and power. Furthermore, the case study at the last part of the essay will also clearly draw and illustrate this relationship.

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Concepts of Communication and Power

Communication Definition

Before go to further aspects of this topic, the definitions of communication and power should be discussed firstly. Communication always existed in every individual, team and entrepreneur. According to Dale Carnegie (Carnegie, cited by Clegg 2004), communication is the process of exchanging the ideas, thinking and any information with different meanings through many ways like using words, email as well as gestures or signs, etc… Everyone has their own thinking, ideas, and sometimes they want to share to others. The process of sharing those thinking and ideas above are considered as communication, but the way each individual sharing idea might different.

Someone will talk face to face (verbal language) with each others, but other ones are willing to use their body movements (non-verbal language) to describe what they want to say. It depends on particular situation. However, even the information sender uses whatever channels to transfer; it must be understood by the receiver. Otherwise, the communication becomes meaningless. In the same regard, Robbins and Judge (2009) also clarify communication as the transfer and understanding of meanings. It one more time strongly emphasizes the indispensable of meaning in the communication.

Power Definition

Another key point of this essay is power. Many people just define power as B must do what A requires. But in my opinion, in term of human being management, A really has positive power when B volunteer does what A asked, and B is influenced by A. It is claimed that power is the prospect of a person to realize her own will in a social action, even against the resistance of others; and power can be far more positive and less mechanical when it shapes and frames what others want to do (Robbins, Judge, 2009).

Communication Functions

The definitions of communication above already a little bit disclosed the reasons why organization needs to maintain effective communication. To gain power, the business must maintain effective communication first. How to do so is the core question that link to needed answer, and the manager firstly should understand clearly communication functions. Generally, there are four main functions which are control, motivation, emotional expression and information that communication brings to the organization. Firstly, communication helps organization controlling its employees. Each firm has its own policy, strategy, culture, etc…, and it cannot keep for its self without letting other people know; the way that employees receive that information is through communication.

By delivering those business strategies, employees are required to follow them because they know them. Then the organization can control its employee’s job performance. Besides, the firm also can control employee’s behavior by communicate informally with each other. Secondly, the other function of communication is motivating. Encouraging employees through verbal or even non-verbal language also create motivation them to work.

A had performed to everyone; even A had received nothing or just a very small bonus from the company, but he still feels very happy and tries to work harder. In this case, the company motivates A by bringing A the feeling of proud of himself with what he paid his efforts to do. Thirdly, communication helps organization creating emotional expression for its employees. Workplace, in effective management, is the place for everyone maintaining social interaction, social relationship. It is the place that employees can share emotional with each other through different communication ways.

Positive joking in workplace can release stress for people during working time. Finally, information is one of the most important functions of communication, especially in decision making. All of employees must have information to support for their job such as information for doing statistic to make a decision in a project. To accurate that information, they need to communicate with other people, and the role of the firm is strongly important in providing or supporting employees to maintain the data. Each function of above has its own features, and it should not claim that this function is more important than the others. To be an effective communication organization or even just a group, each function should be maximized its factors.

Communication Process and Channels

Communication Process

After clarify four main functions of communication, this paragraph will show the process of how communication is goings on and communication channels. Basing on these conceptions, the managers can observe their own perspective in improving their organizational communication. The author (McShane, Charles W. L. Hill and Steven L. , 2008) says that at first, the sender sets a massage in his mind and encodes it into words, actions or signals.

Then he will transmit the encoded massage to intended receiver through some channels. The receiver understands or is made sense by the incoming massage then decodes it into meaningful things. The point here is whether the receiver understands correctly what the sender wants to transfer or is there exited the sensemaking. It’s the case of Midwest manufacturing organization in the US (P. Robbins and David A. Decenzo, Robert Wolter, 2001). The company has restructured jobs and processes resulting in thousands of workers being laid off.

For the luckier ones who still working at the company, their pay levels have either held constant for several years (no raise given), or worse. But the organization still faced problems and someone decided to lay off employees one more time but the other doesn’t agree. Then finally, the company decided to reduce pay levels without saying its problem of finance to employees. The communication got stuck and sensemaking also didn’t appear. Employee dissatisfy with the pay level of the company without awarding the reasons why they were treated like that.

Therefore they began to steal something from the company. Anything and everything that they could take was looted. If the company makes employees understand its trouble, employees might appreciate and at least they would happily leave the company.

Communication Channels

Moving to communication channels, in general there are two main communication channels. One is verbal communication and the other is nonverbal. Verbal communication includes face-to-face meetings, electronic mail, telephone conversation, written forms and whatever that the sender uses words to delivery.

Nonverbal communication is the rest one where words are not used in massage transferring such as signals, symbols, body movements, etc… Besides maximizing communication functions, the managers must choose the suitable channels to make the communication meaningful. In details, there are two channels in organization communication that the organization should consider to choose which one before decided to delivery its massage. The first one is formal channel which is official and frequently used to communicate within an organization. It concludes downward – upward and horizontal communication.

Downward communication is the process of information flowing from higher management hierarchy to the lower ones. In occurs when the employers want to delivery their mission, vision, expectation, job requirements, etc… to employees. In the contrast, upward communication is the flowing information from lower level to higher management level. It is mostly the project reports, feedbacks, suggestions of employees to the managers. In the between, horizontal communication occurs among people who have the same level. Another organizational channel is informal one which is unofficial and is not established by the managers.

It occurs between individuals and often creates social relationships for every employee. Sometimes formal communication is very necessary to accurate the riches information. The case of how Jim Donald, CEO of Starbucks maximized information sources from his employees is a very good demonstrative example. He worked closely with employees, so they knew him well; then he added them to his personal network. Because of so closed relationship, employee had shared everything about the organization like products, working environment, etc… with him just like they were talking to a friend.

By that way, he can take full of information, and this information cannot be maximized by formal channel. Through choosing right communication channel in right situation, it can be said that Jim Donald already gained power as what power had been defined above that is his employees were influenced and volunteer to provide riches information that Jim asked.

Communication Barriers

Also included in how to maintain effective communication to gain power, the managers need to know barrier factors that affect to the communication and avoid them. It is said that there are six biases factors: perceptions, iltering, language barriers, information overload, cultural differences and gender differences, that make noise the communication (McShane, Charles W. L. Hill and Steven L. , 2008).

People grow up from different environment, education and social interaction, so the way they evaluate things also different. In other words, their perceptions are different with each other. Filtering can be easily understood that A will talk what B wants to hear rather than saying the truth. Language barrier happens very often, especially between people come from different countries.

For instance, there is a team working in an international organization, and this team is a mix group of employees who come from three different countries as well as different languages. It can be very easy occurring conflicts between those members because of misunderstanding language then leading to misunderstanding idea, thinking. Next, information overload is also a bias to communication effectiveness because too much delivered information will make the receiver feel tired, stress and sometimes fall in to forest with losing direction.

Each nation, religion has its own culture; even every individual has its own value, and individuals often bring their value and culture into the communication. That’s why culture also affects to the communication. The last barrier is the difference of gender. Male and female also have different adjustment about things happen around them. For example, male may prefer take risk more than female, and if in a team working there is no agreement between, conflict will occur. From those biases above, manager must aware of and avoid them if he doesn’t want to lose power because of making employee dissatisfaction.


Another important factor is polyphony which is recommended to use more in organization to generate effective communication. Polyphony, as what Clegg (2004) said, is the process of producing creative outcomes by diversifies the inputs. As what already discussed about the bad effect of culture difference is occurring communication conflict; in the other side, different culture will create different ideas which helping the result of the project be more diversity, creative, objective and excellent. Therefore, being well managing polyphony is so important in order to maximize organization talent and capacity.

Power Characteristics and the Relationship between Power and Communication

Temporality interrupting of how to be effective communication here, we move to power characteristics to see more deeply of how communication is important in purchasing power. According to DuBrin (2008), individuals tend to achieve power need. They want to control resources like money and even people. Some will want to maintain high position in workplace and the others just want to be highly influential people. There are two types of power which are legitimacy and uncertainty.

Legitimacy is the power that the manager using his official rights to force others do what he requires. Not likely legitimacy, uncertainty is the ability to influence others people and having strong voice in the team, organization, social, etc… by having unique skills. The uncertainty power is where effective communication important the most. Even manager has best skills in many fields but if he communicates with employees not well, what he receives from others is just “willing speech but unwilling heart”. The right of high position in company can make employees scare and force them to do but it cannot buy the influence on them.

Case Study

To demonstrate for the important role of communication in gaining power, the case of how Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi inspires Indian citizen escape from Great Brittan will show this strong relationship. Mohandas K. Gandhi, considered as the Father of India, is a strongest power in the world. He gained the respect of the world by leading Indian using non-violent to against and escape from their colony. The chosen case to clarify how communication affects the power is when Mahatma Gandhi met Darwen’s mill workers (BBC News, 2011). When he came to this town, everyone was really happy and welcomed him as their God.

So why did they so admired like that? Let’s see the way he behaved and communicated with other people! Guste Green, at that time was ten years olds remembered that when meeting Gandhi, Gandhi looked down at her, stroked her hair, grinned and handled her. Especially, the way he handled her made her so surprised, and she could feel that he loved children. It proves that not only words can show one’s sentimental value but also nonverbal communication can do that. The point is the way manager show his feeling; whether it is effective or not. Come back to the case, Green also said that Gandhi never said a single word.

Definitely, word is the most important factor that directly affect to the communication. Just from those small actions above, Gandhi already strongly impacts on people mind. He made people believed him, felt his sentimental for everyone, etc… It helped him attract a lot of followers not only Indian but also people all around the world.


In conclusion, the manager in order to gain best power, he needs to be an effective communication person by accurate reliable information and choosing the right channels in delivering intended massage to avoid noise during communication process. Besides, manager must also awards some barriers then avoiding them and knows how best to be an effective listener. More important, manager must create sensemaking within the organization. Anyway, communication is the core tool that every manager must have in order to maintain their positive power.


  1. BBC News, 2011. When Gandhi met Darwen’s mill workers. [Online] Available at: http://www. bbc. co. uk/news/uk-england-lancashire-15020097 [Accessed 25 March 2013]. Carnegie, D. , 2004. In Managing and Organizations. 3rd ed. London: SAGE Publications. p. 296.
  2. DuBrin, Andrew J. , 2008. Communication in Workplace. In M. Carnis, ed. Human Relation for Career and Personal Success. 8th ed. New Jersey: Person Prentice Hall. p. 56.
  3. McShane, Charles W. L. Hill and Steven L. , 2008. Communication. In Principles of management. 1st ed. New York: Mc Graw Hill. p. 428.
  4. P. Robbins and David A. Decenzo, Robert Wolter, 2001. Motivating Followers. In G. Baure, ed. Supervion Today. 6th ed. New Jersey: Person Prentice Hall. p. 214.
  5. Robbins, Judge, 2009. Communication. In Organization Behavior. 13th ed. Personal Prentice Hall. p. 385.
  6. Stewart Clegg, Martin Kornberger, Tyrone Pitsis, 2004. Managing Communications. In Mangaging and Organization. 3rd ed. London: SAGE Publications. p. 326.

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