Employee perception of the effectiveness of communication patterns in organizations

A case of Kenya Seed Company, Kitale

Master's Thesis, 2016

83 Pages










1.0 Introduction
1.1 Background of the Study
1.2 Historical Background
1.3 Statement of the Problem
1.4 Objectives of the study
1.5 Research questions
1.6 Research Hypotheses
1.7 Significance of the Study
1.8 Scope and limitation of the study
1.9 Assumptions of the study
1.10 Theoretical framework
1.11 Conceptual framework.

2.2.1 Written communication
2.2.2 Oral communication
2.2.3 Non-verbal communication
2.2.4 Audio-visual media
2.2.5 Effective communication
2.2.6 Communication and organizational structure
2.3.1 Downward Communication
2.3.2 Upward Communication
2.3.3 Horizontal Communication
2.3.4 The Grapevine
2.4 Employee Relations in Communication
2.5 Communication and the achievement of objectives
2.6 Consultation and Communication
2.7 Summary

3.0 Introduction
3.1 Research Design
3.2 Study Area
3.3 Study Population
3.4 Sampling Procedures
3.5 Data Collection Instruments
3.5.1 Questionnaires
3.5.2 Observation Schedule
3.5.3. Interviews
3.6. Validity
3.7 Reliability
3.8 Piloting
3.9 Process of Data Collection
3.10 Data Analysis
3.11. Summary

4.0 Introduction
4.1 Data of the study population
4.2 Awareness of communication patterns
4.3 Patterns of communication
4.3.1 The patterns commonly Used
4.3.2 Employee involvement in Communication
4.3.3 The rating of communication patterns in the organization
4.3.4 Flow of information in the organization
4.4 Downward Communication
4.4.1. Oral communication
4.4.2 Written communication
4.4.3 Audio-visual communication
4.4.4 Upward Communication modes
4.4.5 Horizontal communication
4.4.6 Various modes of horizontal communication and grapevine The graph below shows the responses regarding horizontal communication;
4.5.1 Hypothesis one
4.5.1a Perception of communication patterns against employee participation
4.5.2 Hypothesis two
4.5.2a Rating of communication patterns against awareness
4.5.3 Hypothesis three
4.5.3a Perception of communication patterns against service delivery

5.1 To establish the patterns of communication used in the organization
5.2 To determine Employee Awareness of communication patterns and the evaluation of its effects on Service Delivery.







This work is dyed-in-the-wool to my Beloved Dad, Mum, My brothers; Davie, Peter, Steve, Shady, Johnny and sister Carol for the all-round support and counsel that inspired me to embark on this study.


A communication system links together the constituent parts of an organization and provides for the creation, distribution, interpretation and execution of instructions.

The purpose of the study was to investigate employees’ perception of the effectiveness of communication patterns used in organizations, establish employee use, evaluating and rating of the known patterns of communication, and how the known patterns are effective in service delivery.

This study was guided by the kite orientation model (1973), which focuses on interpersonal communication on communication that is two-way and emphasizes on the dynamics of communication situations. Related literature on this model, Human Resource Management and relationship between communication patterns and Human Resource Management was reviewed.

Survey research design was used and was carried out at Kenya Seed Company. There are over 300 employees from the departments of Human Resource, Public Relations, research and development, auditing and field, Marketing and Finance. Out of this, a sample of 180 which represented 60% from the whole population was selected using purposive and stratified sampling. Data was collected using questionnaires, observation and interview schedules. The data collected was then classified, presented, analyzed and interpreted through descriptive statistical techniques. The data was presented in the form of percentages and frequency tables.

The findings were that employees perceived the use of communication patterns as ineffective, and the study further suggested that organizations should put in place structures that will improve communication between employees and management.

The findings of the study will be useful to management of Kenya Seed Company as information will be provided as a benchmark to evaluate its communication patterns to enhance effectiveness in service delivery. The study will serve as an additional reference material for scholars interested in exploring the communication patterns as a broad aspect in the world and specifically in such organizations as Kenya Seed Company.


Table 1: The Demographic data of the study population

Table 2: Awareness of Communication patterns

Table 3: Patterns Commonly Used

Table 4 :Employee involvement in communication

Table 5: Employee rating of the communication patterns

Table 6: Flow of information in the organization

Table 7: Staff meetings

Table 8: Telephones

Table 9: Committees

Table 10: Seminars

Table 11 : Letters

Table 12: Memos

Table 13: Notice boards contains outdated information

Table 14: Newsletters

Table 15 : Modern Equipment

Table 16: Internet facilities

Table 17: Bosses not listening to problems considerably

Table 18: Regular meetings and conferences

Table 19: Perception of communication patterns against employee participation

Table 20: Rating of communication patterns against awareness

Table 21 Perception of communication patterns against service delivery


Figure 1: A kite co-orientation model

Figure 2: The Conceptual framework

Figure 3: The flow of information

Figure 4: Suggestion boxes

Figure 5: Horizontal communication


I sincerely register my insightful gratitude and positive reception to the individuals, groups and institutions without whose assistance and shore up this work would not have been realised.

My greatest thanks go to the almighty father without whose mercies and powers this work would not have yielded.

I do extend my appreciation to Moi University for offering me an opportunity to pursue my education.

I thank my supervisors Mr. Magero, J.M and Dr. Okumu-Bigambo, W from the School of Human Resource Development who guided me throughout that enabled me apprehend my dreams.

To my beloved parents: Papa Nicholas Sawenja and Mama Justine Sawenja for the invariable all round support and encouragement channeled to my studies up to this phase

My fellow colleagues: Jacob, Amunga, Toroitich, Julius, Mbui and Mrs.Koros for the enormous moments we had together.

Lastly, to all those who backed me in one way or the other, but whom I have not named here, please take my earnest appreciations, it is not possible to single out all of you.



This is a predisposition or the way somebody understands, evaluates or rates something. In this case it denotes the way employees’ rate or understands the use of communication patterns effectively in organizations.


A collection of people joining together in some formal association in order to achieve group or individual objectives.


Process of understanding and sharing meaning, information, thoughts, feelings, opinions, messages, ideas, facts or ambitions.


Are lines of communication in an organization. They depict the flow of messages within an organization and between an organization and other organizations.


This is the act of producing the desired results, in this context; effectiveness constitutes use of communication patterns to yield the expected response.


1.0 Introduction

This Chapter presents the Background of the Study, the Statement of the Problem, Objectives of the study, Research questions, Hypothesis, Significance of the study, Scope and limitations, Assumptions and Theoretical framework. The chapter tries to establish the existence of the problem and the justification for the study to be carried out in relation to the set objectives.

1.1 Background of the Study

Every managerial function and activity involves some form of direct or indirect communication. Communication is used for planning, organizing, directing, evaluating and controlling personnel and activities in organizations. There has to be communication between subordinates and managers and vice versa to enhance effectiveness. The communication process in organizations is a complicated one; complicated by the fact that individuals have idiosyncrasies, biases, and abilities, and complicated by organizational characteristics such as hierarchy or specialization (Smeltzer, 1996). However, communication is the process most central to the success or failure of an organization (Hargie et al., 1999). It is through communication of one kind or another that employees learn what is expected of them, find out how to do their jobs, and become aware of what others think of their work.

According to Rosenbloom (1991), Communication is a vehicle for all interactions among the organizational members whether such interactions are co-operative or conflicting. Communication binds the people of an organization and helps them attain the understanding that is essential for their cooperation in the accomplishment of organizational objectives.

In Kenya today, at least all organizations are engaged in communication initiatives.

There are many organizations that exist in Kenya, some are governmental, others non-governmental, Parastatals, profit and non-profit.

Communication is very important in any organization; it aids the process of flow of material, information, perceptions and understanding between various parts and members of an organization. All Organizations in Kenya today have internal communication structures; Kenya seed company inclusive. However, the Communication structures that ideally should be the nerve centre for communication continues to play a second fiddle in as far as communication is concerned.

Effective communication still remains elusive in many organizations. Effective communication should be that which involves deliberate, reciprocal and voluntary pursuit of information regarding organizational objectives (Sasser, 1998). To this regard, it is vital to meeting this challenge because without communication no meaningful co-operation can be achieved.

1.2 Historical Background

The Kenya Seed Company limited was started in July 1956. The main objective was to promote the use of improved strains of pasture seed, which had been selected by the national agricultural research station-Kenya. It is a government parastatal that produces and markets top quality seeds for farmers.

In 1958,with the expansion of the company which was necessitated the fiscal demands, it then started an enterprise to deal in commercial sunflowers for the European bird feed market that generated enough funds to sustain the expansion. In 1962, the company introduced the hybrid seed maize production programme following the release of the first hybrids by the government research centre in Kitale.

In 1972, further growth was realised when the wheat and barley certified seed programme was introduced where previously farmers depended on farm-to-farm exchange. Later in 1979, Kenya Seed Company entered the horticultural and flower seed market through acquisition of a business dealing in the importation of and distribution of the same.

Remarkably, the company has over the years expanded beyond all expectations sanctioning its coveted position of a market leader in the seed industry in the great lakes region and beyond, and just recently, the company celebrated 50th anniversary recounting its vast achievements.

1.3 Statement of the Problem

Many organizations are experiencing management problems due to lack of strategic link between management problems and communication. The problem with the management of human resources is lack of clear communication patterns. Lack of feedback in communication process may render all managerial functions difficult in any organizational setting.

However, despite various meetings, complaints have been emerging from employees in relation to poor communication between employees and management. These complaints mainly range from lack of feedback, delays and unhealthy competition among employees and various departments. This contributes to poor teamwork. Although the company has done a lot in terms of training itself, the perception of employees on the effective use of communication was still wanting. Since effective communication had a lot of significance on all the activities of the organization, it was vital to determine how employees perceived the practice of communication patterns at Kenya Seed Company.

It was therefore, the intention of this research to establish the problems which lead to ineffective use of communication patterns in organizations. The main emphasis of the study was to identify the perception of employees on the effective use of communication patterns, share their experiences and come up with possible solutions towards achieving effective communication in the Kenya seed Company.

1.4 Objectives of the study

Main objective

To investigate employees’ perception of effective practice of communication patterns used in the organization.

Subsidiary objectives

a) To establish the patterns of communication used in the organization.

b) To determine employees’ awareness of communication patterns and evaluation of its effect on service delivery.

1.5 Research questions

The study sought to answer the main research question:

What are the perceptions of employees of the effective practice of communication patterns used at Kenya seed Company?

Subsidiary questions.

a) What are the communication patterns used in the organization in service delivery?
b) How do employees rate the communication patterns used in the organization?
c) How do employees evaluate the patterns in relation to service delivery?

1.6 Research Hypotheses

1. Employees perceive the choice and use of communication patterns as effective in organizations.
2. There exists a relationship between Employee use of communication patterns and its influence and awareness among employees.
3. There’s no significant relationship between communication patterns used and its effect on service delivery.

1.7 Significance of the Study

It is expected that the findings of the study will be useful to management of Kenya Seed Company as information will be provided as a benchmark to evaluate its communication patterns to enhance effectiveness in service delivery.

If implemented, the findings will help improve the employees’ perceptions of communication patterns from negative to positive.

The study will serve as an additional reference material for scholars interested in exploring the communication patterns as a broad aspect in the world and specifically in such organizations as Kenya Seed Company.

The study also established a common basis for employee participation in two-way communication, as there is empirical justification for the involvement of both parties.

1.8 Scope and limitation of the study

The study mainly concentrated on the employee perception on the effective use of communication patterns .It was conducted at Kenya seed company -Kitale. A sample of top managers, middle level managers and lower staff were sampled. Then the participants were selected regardless of age, gender, level of education, ethnicity and professional qualifications

The research concentrated on Kinds of communication patterns in practice, perception of employee of these patterns, the attitudes towards use of available communication patterns.


Descriptive survey design gathers limited data on a large number of cases, thus only a few employees at management level and non-management level participated; findings only generalisable to organizations with similar structures and characteristics. This was addressed by choosing a sample size and technique that was highly representative.

Due to logistical difficulties, the study did not include all the branches of the company countrywide. However, generalizations were made but with caution for each organization have different policies regarding communication.

Another limitation concerned reluctance by management of such organizations in disclosing their communication patterns to the public and unwillingness of employees to give honest responses with the fear of victimization.

1.9 Assumptions of the study

1. Organizations have communication patterns that are practiced in facilitating Service Delivery.
2. Communication patterns affect communication flow between management and employee.

1.10 Theoretical framework

This theoretical framework is illustrated in the form of a kite as below:

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 1 A kite co-orientation model

Source: Communication Models: 1983; Longman, London.

The study was based on the kite orientation model (1973) by McLeod and Chaffee. It focuses on interpersonal communication; communication between groups i.e. on communication, that is two-way and interactive. It puts emphasis on the simultaneous inclusion of information sources, communicators and receivers and puts emphasis on interest in the dynamics of communication situations. The theory states communication as a process involving the initiator or sender, of information to be communicated, the message to be communicated, the channel or medium through which the message passes and finally the receiver or destination of the message. The lines connecting elements stand for different things: relationships, attitudes and perceptions; one or two-way communication.

The definition of communication varies according to the theoretical frames of reference employed and the stress placed upon the fundamental aspects mentioned above.

Communication theory also underscores the media of communication process. It is worth noting that communication is a vehicle for conveying messages between the source and the receiver in order to create a climate of consensus between two parties, this requires both parties to be active.

This model introduced the role of communication in society, which is to maintain the state of equilibrium within the shared environment. This model goes forth to describe the relationship between management and employees where one of them is a communicator and another receiver. These therefore, form a social system, thus interdependence of members and the relationship between employees and management on one hand affects the relationship between employees and employees as well as management to management consequently affecting the entire social system in the organization. The relevance of interpersonal adjustment and information seeking described lies in the fact that the outcome of what is dynamic situation will depend on the relationships between the public and given elites, attitudes of the public to the media and relationships between elites and media channels. As a result this leads to the equilibrium. This affects the achievement of corporate goals. The model assumes that people need information to make them feel part of the organization they are working for. This information must be adequate. Kenya Seed Company is an organization with both internal and external publics. The study was based on the internal public. One of the ways of maintaining this equilibrium is by establishing effective patterns of communication that involves all levels of human resource. For communication to be effective, the theory dwells on; the image of the sender and receiver and vice versa, the personal experiences, values and expectations of both the source and the receiver, the variations and meanings that the symbols can have, and the many varying aspects of the cultural context within which the act of communication is taking place.

The receiver of the message is a vital component of this theory. He is the central determinant of every effort the source makes in his attempt to communicate his message because if he does not reach the receiver with his message, he might as well have talked to himself.

This view is echoed by Berlo (1990); when we write, it is the reader who is important, when we speak; it is the listener who is important. This concern is a guiding principle for any communication source.

Effective communication takes place when there’s high degree of correspondence between the sender’s intention and the receiver’s interpretation. This is evident when pairs of interactive individuals share belief, values, educational background and social status.

Kite orientation model is relevant to this study as they put emphasis on the process of communication and maintenance of a state of equilibrium within a shared environment of employees and management, which if ineffective leaves employees dissatisfied creating room for grievances and at the same time no outlet for the pressure.

The view of kite orientation model that if the process of communication from conceptualization of the idea in the transmitters mind to the interpretation of the issues by the public is perfected, it will reduce uncertainties and ambiguity which is prevalent in organizations. Therefore the researcher sought to determine how the process of communication in this company could be best utilized bringing the employees and management into the state of mutual satisfaction thus ensuring effective operations of the organization.

1.11 Conceptual framework.

Figure 2 The Conceptual framework

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Source: Researcher’s Perception.

The conceptual framework was a graphical attempt to show how employee perceives communication patterns (independent variable) interacts with, and affects organizational service delivery (dependent variable). Communication patterns were operationalized into its constituent elements which include downwards, upwards, horizontal, diagonal, direction of communication flow and media of communication. These patterns have an effect on service delivery. As shown in the figure, several other factors influence effectiveness of communication patterns in organizations. These factors include available organizational structure, goodwill by workers and management, organizational culture, policy framework and infrastructure.


In essence, this chapter concentrated on exploring the background of the study, statement of the problem, significance, objectives, hypothesis, theoretical and conceptual frameworks. Having looked at these divisions, it is therefore evident that a problem had been established and thus there was need to carry out the study.




As a subject of professional and academic inquiry, communication patterns have overwhelmingly attracted remarkable attention evident in various organizations.

This section presents a review of related literature on communication patterns and their effectiveness, explores the various communication patterns, how they are effectively used, direction of communication flow, barriers to effective communication and steps in overcoming them. The review considered both primary and secondary publications in a pyramidal manner as espoused by Peter (1994:39) “You should be able to review literature on the broad area of research, more literature on its limited aspects, and then the remaining bulk on the actual problem of research.”

Accordingly, information on communication patterns and direction of communication flow.


Human resource management can be broadly defined as a; strategic coherent approach to the management of organizations’ most valuable assets that individually and collectively contribute to the achievements of its objectives (Armstrong, 1994). Human resource management involves all management decisions and actions that affect the relationship between the organization and the employees.

Many of the managerial functions require some degree of effective communication to succeed. The end result of the reverse is that great programmes go largely unused. One of the most effective ways to enhance organizational performance is to increase productivity. This means the efficiency with which the organization uses its labour, capital, material or energy resources (Rue and Byars, 1997). Though it may be difficult for managers to exert great impact on the material, capital and energy aspects of productivity, this isn’t the case with the labour components, here a manager should have greater control as human resources form a wider percentage of organizations composition and performance. Communication therefore becomes a salient avenue with which this impact can be realized. Devito et al (1988); communication helps managers define purposes, objectives and assess their ability to do what they want. It is a challenge for human resource managers to adopt a relevant definition of communication, which is effective.


According to Devito (1988) messages sent and received in communication may take any form. This could be through written, oral, non-verbal or electronic forms.

2.2.1 Written communication

Internal communication systems in organizations can be enhanced by various forms of written communication. These forms are always slow due to information delays in the channels. Similarly, written channels are characterized by ‘red tape’; too procedural and thus sometimes there’s no feedback. They range from memos, letters, notices, advertisements, newsletters, reports, bulletins, magazines and posters.

2.2.2 Oral communication

This is the most commonly used means of communication and contains clarity. This is appropriate for use in internal communication in organizations, especially when it comes to employee relations.

It enhances reception of messages by non-verbal cues. There’s an opportunity for face to face interaction, which creates chances for an effective internal communication system.

There’s a high level of feedback thus suitable in addressing employees’ grievances. Bauman (1969; 37) states that to understand and use oral communication in a modern organization, one must map formal and informal channels and make careful decisions about using either or both for a given communication purpose.

2.2.3 Non-verbal communication

Non-verbal indicators within an organization may include the way we act, walk, eat, location of offices, number of secretaries, eye contact and posture. These paint a positive image of the organization and communicate a lot about the organization to the insider even though they mean little to the outsider. Non-verbal communication too elucidates feedback. Though actions or body language back up verbal communication,

it is not the case in the modern world where our words or actions are ever having conflicting intentions, (Kreitner, 2000).

Listeners or the audience too require a lot of skill to match the uttered words and the body language lest one escapes his/her attention and the message is missed out or distorted.

The importance of non-verbal information is also limited when verbal message is well crafted which after all, carries a huge amount of meaning.(Payne, 2001) indicates that as little as ten percent of messages importance comes from non-verbal communication since it is found to reinforce verbal behaviuor positively or negatively. However, some non-verbal cues are not planned and come naturally without being aware of their existence.

2.2.4 Audio-visual media

With the current trends of technology revolution, there are many changes taking place in organizations. These recent developments have fostered a faster transmission of messages to their destinations with electronic communications such as E-mail.

E-mail sends messages faster and the faster the information moves through the channel the closer the sender and receiver are brought. This accelerates all aspects of life and commerce. By acknowledging the importance of technology in the modern enterprises, Andrews and Herschel (1998; xi) posit that, technology has changed the way employers interact with their employees.

--a decade ago, group meetings were held in traditional conference rooms, where employees shared information and ideas, argued, and sometimes confronted each other face to face across a conference table. Now, in many organizations, electronic meeting allow employees to share data and ideas, solve problems and make decisions without necessarily using their voices.

This indicates that now, more than ever, those at the bottom of the organization have access to those at the top. Therefore, formal bureaucratic channels can be by-passed readily as workers collaborate electronically across units, seeking solutions to today’s complex problems.

Though there are many communication media, it is upon the organizations discretion to determine that which suits it best. According to Gamble (1993); we send and receive messages through all senses equally, whether written, orally and non-verbally. Gupta (2004) echoes this view by observing that the choice of a medium of communication will depend not only on the direction of the communication, but also on the specific nature of the message to be communicated. Indeed, many messages are by the use of more than one communication medium in which case it is imperative that each message reinforces the other thus avoiding conflicting messages.

Consequently, the medium adopted will solely depend on the feedback systems in place. Proper feedback and follow up requires establishing an informal and formal mechanism by which the sender can check how the message was interpreted. There are however many components of communication that a human resource manager must embrace, the focus should be on ensuring that the media and feedback mechanisms enhance effective communication.

2.2.5 Effective communication

This is salient in the achievement of organizational goals, but it has remained a major setback to modern management .Some estimates of the extent of its use go up to about ¾ of an active human beings life. Managers in their day to day behaviour up to 1/3 of their activity to routine communication as in exchanging routine information and processing paper work.

Kinichi and Kreitner (1998) emphasize effective communication saying it is critical for both managerial and organizational success. For example a study was carried out involving 65 savings and loan employees and 110 manufacturing employees. It revealed that employees’ satisfaction with organizational communication was positively and significantly correlated with both job satisfaction and performance. The quality of organizational communication was found to play a significant role in employees’ acceptance of organizational change.

2.2.6 Communication and organizational structure

As a manager, it is vital to study the organizational structure of a certain organization in order to be able to make a few choices necessary in the setting up of an internal communication system. Understanding the structure of the organization helps the management to choose the type of communication to use the channel to be used and the patterns of communication. It again helps the management to make choices about which media of communication is suitable in different communication situations, whether written or non-verbal channel. This will be relevant in communicating the working relationships that both separate and integrate tasks within an organization such as job descriptions, duties and responsibilities, workers rights, privileges and obligations. A human resources manager in any organization therefore needs to understand the patterns of communication for him to employ those that are suitable to his organizational structure.


James, (2002) noted that “co-operation over work or relationships could not occur at all without communication and social interaction”. To be effective, communications must be multi-directional, from management down, from operating levels up and from staff to staff (Reitzfeld, 1989). Scholars believe this to be a vital move for all organizations (Kane, 1996; Smith, 1990). In fact some go so far as to say that the traditional authoritarian style of management with its emphasis on one-way communication between superiors and subordinates simply has no place in the modern working environment (;Kane, 1996).

Sandra, (1992) posits that in many organizations however, creating, transmitting and interpreting is done by management team, while the employees are on the receiving end. Communication should be two- way; that is mutual interchange between two or more persons. When communication breaks down, uncertainty based in communicative cognitive dissonance begins to erode the intended value of communication. Once the phenomenon of missed communication, withheld communication or incorrect communication is perceived, the knowledge worker is already beginning disengagement.

An effective system of communication between employees and management can overcome obstacles to the satisfactory flow of information. The steps involved in developing an effective communication system include making communication a fundamental component of the management role, obtaining the commitment of top management, and evaluating the communication process of all its members on a regular basis (Smith, 1990).

Management should see two-way communication not as a bothersome task, but as a fundamental means of helping to release the valuable opinions of all employees. The difficulty is that changing established patterns of human behaviour is not easy. According to the present study, employees want to know what is expected of them. Smith, (1990),Without this type of understanding, most employees will simply not be willing, or know how, to modify established attitudes and work behaviour required to make changes successful and personally rewarding . Ineffective management styles, rigid and autocratic in nature make the flow of information to delay to reach employees thus making them to be dissatisfied with the communication patterns and the impact on service delivery. The communication process in organizations is a complicated one; complicated by the fact that we as individuals have our idiosyncrasies, biases, and abilities, and complicated by organizational characteristics such as hierarchy or specialization (Smeltzer, 1996). However, communication is the process most central to the success or failure of an organization (Vevers, D(1989) et al., 1999). It is through communication of one kind or another that employees learn what is expected of them, find out how to do their jobs, and become aware of what others think of their work

According to Rosenbloom (1991), communication is a vehicle for all interactions among the organizational members whether such interactions are co-operative or conflicting. Communication binds the people of an organization and helps them attain the understanding that is essential for their cooperation in the accomplishment of organizational objectives.

2.3.1 Downward Communication

Communication that flows from one level of a group or organization to a lower level is a downward communication pattern. Thus the flow of information from a higher level to the staff below them.

According to Robbins (2003) downward communication is used by managers and group leaders to assign goals, provide job instructions, inform employees on policies and procedures, point out problems that need attention and offer feedback about performance. Downward communication is used to direct and control the behavior of employees in the workplace. This includes; memos, notices.

On planning downward communication, the capabilities of intended receiver in form of knowledge, skills and attitudes to what is communication should be considered. According to Hannagan (2002) downward communication has the role of cascading managerial messages in the organization.

Drucker (1982) postulates that downward communication does not work in modern times as it focuses on commands without giving room to employees to express their views.

Supervisors have to know what their employees perceive and what to do. For this reason, the supervisors should find what information subordinates want to know, what they are interested in and what is of great importance as it pertains to their areas of operations.

Besides the capabilities of intended receiver should be considered, contents of communication have to be designed in a way that the objectives of the organization are achieved the communicator /transmitter of the message has to be clear, lucid and precise.

Katz & Kahn in (luthans, 1992) identified five general purposes of superior –subordinate communication in organizations:

To give specific task directives about the job instructions. In this case the superior are charged with the responsibility of giving instructions and directives on what is expected of them

To give information about organizational procedures and practices. Regarding this, the superior staff go about availing information about the various stages and activities that are carried out as part of the organizational development.

To provide information about the rationale of the job. The superior staff engages the subordinates in a form of induction process that helps in imparting the rationale of different jobs.

To tell subordinate about their performance. In this case the superior can use performance appraisals to determine the performance of the individual employees in the organization.

To provide ideological information to facilitate the indoctrination of goals. The goals and objectives of the organization are inculcated into workers through conferences, workshops etc at departmental levels.

Downward communication enhances performance of jobs effectively since it makes employees know the reasons for performing a particular assignment and instills understanding in them regarding their job in relation to their subsystem in a manner making them identify with organizational goals. This can be especially true in dealing with employees who are new on the job or have little understanding of the requirements of the job.

However, a communication system that gives only specific directives about job instructions and procedures and fails to provide information about job performance has a negative organizational impact. This promotes authoritative atmosphere.

The pattern of communication can best be achieved when there exists an organizational structure with a chart showing employee-reporting relationships. Many writers such as Payne, 2001:123 have noted that superior subordinate communication is not necessarily one way:

“True the subordinate is expected to respect the superiors, listen to him, refer to his judgments, and trust his decisions---- but good leaders, the superior in the hierarchy, should be just as respectful,considerate,and trusting of subordinates”(123).

Effective managers and bosses are often ranked as good communicators because they respect their subordinates, listen to them and trust them. Effectiveness in the use of this pattern of communication ensures fast flow of information that reaches a great many people in an organization.

2.3.2 Upward Communication

Upward communication flows to a higher level in a group or organization. It is used to provide feedback to higher levels, inform of progress towards goals, and relay current problems. Upward communication keeps management aware of how employees feel about their jobs, co-workers and organization in general. managers also rely on upward communication for ideas on how things can be improved (Robbins,2003). Examples of upward communication includes; performance reports, suggestion boxes, employee attitude surveys, grievance procedures, superior-subordinate discussions and informal grapevine.Buchannan (2001) asserted that upward communication has always been stifled, badly misused and conveniently ignored by managers.

According to a research done by Prasad in Payne(2001), three reasons that adversely affect upward communication flow in organizations are:

Managers dislike on themes on classification in areas which would be of help to the subordinates to perform well. Managers’ insistence of formal communication, which inhibit upward transmission. Supervisory and middle managers view on superiors attitude as to force rather than encourage upward communication.

The objectives of upward communication are generally to promote participation and provide management with information on policies and practices and opportunity to make mid course corrections in plans and activities.

For managers to improve upward communication, they have to consider the following techniques: Adopt a grievance procedure, this allows employees to make appeals beyond their immediate managers.

The open door policy literally meaning the managers door is open to employees to raise any issue troubling them. Use of attitude surveys and exit interviews, attitude surveys and questionnaires are administered to employees while exit interviews conducted to those who have left or those almost leaving the organization.

Use of suggestion boxes for employees to bring forth suggestions concerning their work and organizations in general. There are cases where ombudsman is used when the open door policy fails.

Chandra (2002) posits that most managers use upward communication more than they receive form their superiors. These managers according to him send favourable information upwards often while neglecting the unfavourable one.

Many organizations perceive communication in terms of formal and informal. The latter including media of communication, skills of communication and organization of communication for instance the chain of command while the former constituting the grapevine.

Justifying the existence of upward systems of communication in an organization, Memoria and Ganker,(2001) note that it is the study and responsibility of the employee to know how and what to communicate to the executive, (James,2002), It is necessary that both patterns receive equal attention so as to stimulate employee interest and participation; receive and use valuable employee ideas; evaluate effectiveness or otherwise of downward communication; have a proper objective understanding of employees problems and acquire more information for better evaluation and decision making.

Communication in an organization is supported by the existence of an organizational chart that shows lines of authority or hierarchy. This chart guides communication patterns in organizations. These patterns tend to follow some simple rules; people communicate more directly with people who are in the same level of authority, the tendency for communication to flow down and as you interact within a hierarchy, you will be called upon to communicate with subordinates, superiors or peers.

2.3.3 Horizontal Communication

Regarding horizontal communication, information can be shared among employees in the same work group or between people in different departments necessitating seeking solutions jointly to common problems. According to Luthans (1992), this interactive communication is suitable when it comes to larger organizations, complex and subject to change. The underlying factors, resulting from horizontal communication contribute to morale and effectiveness of work performance, conflict resolution; members of a department meet to discuss a conflict inherent in the department or between departments.

By allowing interaction among peers, social and emotional support to employees is achieved. The importance of horizontal communication is affected by high levels of task specialization, where managers don’t share information about their activities or care about what goes on in other units. In addition, it can also be stifled by language barriers between different parties for instance differences emerging between financial managers and operations, mechanical organizational structures that impede horizontal contacts among managers.

An effective pattern of communication especially by managers at the same level as well as staff can suffice to address these challenges. When matters are handled at the same level of an organization, one acts speedily and at the same time, relieves superiors of unnecessary problems (Memoria &Ganker, 2001).

2.3.4 The Grapevine

This is an informal pattern of communication that comes in to fill the gap created by classical structures in meeting the needs of interactive communication. In most cases these form of communication effectively supplements the formal channels as it quickly disseminates salient information that assists the formal systems in achieving the goals. Grapevine has really gained mileage in today’s technological era where informal communication is easily passed on through telephone-mail and computer networks in the electronic grapevine (Koontz &Weihrich, 2001).

However, grapevine is not wholly counterproductive. It can work negatively for the organization especially when the information passed is irrelevant in relation to the organization. It has been criticized to be a source of rumors thus 25% of the whole information received, (McGrath, 1997).

Aswathapa,(2002;390); research reveals that grapevine is faster than formal channels., people rely on it when faced with insecurity, threatened or faced with organizational changes and employees use it to acquire information about their job. Keith cited in Kreitner & Kinicki (2000; 447) say;

No administrator in his right mind would try to abolish the management grapevine. It is as permanent as humanity is. Nevertheless, many administrators have abolished the grapevine from their own minds. They think and act without giving adequate weight to it. It is a factor to reckon with in the affairs of management. The administrator should analyse it and consciously influence it.”

A research conducted in a management development seminar in Europe (Kreitner, 2000). revealed that grapevine is more prevalent, visible at lower levels of the managerial hierarchy where supervisors can readily feel its impact, logically informal communication exists where there’s any form of grouping, thus the larger the organization the more groupings and consequently higher rates of grapevine. It is understood that unplanned grapevine as an informal system of communication cannot be relied upon to provide adequate information as it distorts and embellishes news. However, regardless of effects whether negative or positive, organizational operations depend on the goals of the person communicating, it is the degree of compatibility that exists that will have a major impact on the effect that the grapevine has on organizational goal attainment.

2.4 Employee Relations in Communication

The communication climate of organizations reflects the attitude of top management. (Tedesco, 1984). When managers and the employees are able to communicate effectively, the philosophy of sharing information through the entire organization. Although top management initiates and guides communication, those at lower levels are still responsible for maintaining good communication among their subordinates.

Employee communicate in order to bring about change and growth in the organization. In principle, five basic reasons why communication still remains important and will still be in organization structure are as follows:

(a) Invitation of social relationships

Management and employees need to establish relationships with one another both within and outside the organization.

(b) Exchanging of information

There’s need for employees and management to explain their ideas to each other so that they can know and understand exactly what each other means.

(c) Gaining of acceptance of oneself, ideas and the organization

Management must be concerned with gaining the goodwill of others towards the organization and themselves as well. People in the organization must be able to sell their ideas and develop rapport with others. Subordinates must be made to feel that they too contribute to a worthwhile organization.

(d) Encouraging team work and cooperation among subordinates

Managers should explain to workers what they want them to do and what exactly they expect of them. Towards this end, they should assist the subordinate to achieve satisfaction from their work, because supervision is accomplished more through continuous communication with subordinate.

Provision of information needed in decision making, as a manager one has the responsibility to periodically communicate information about the progress and direction of the department. This communication maybe in the form of written reports or even casual conversation but they are still very in organizational communication endeavors.

The socioeconomic interactions and task specialization result in hierarchical structures of communication and authority (Baumann et al: 1969). Each hierarchical structure has an important effect upon the communication in the organization by influencing the expectation that people have of who should communicate and to whom about what and in what manner. This has led to classes of workers as managerial and production process level, thus the notion of controllers and recipients of formal communication. This leads to grievances at lower level employees as they perceive this as being marginalized from the organizational decision making.

Communication has a crucial role in the managing of organizations (Hannagan: 2002). However, many problems are associated with failure in effective communication processes in virtually all organizations which have led to a diversity of complains.

Managers are frustrated since they perceive that their downward directions and instructions are often garbled and ignored. In the same vein, there are complains that upward communication patterns are ineffective, since higher levels of management do not react to information transmitted to them on time. Corollary, lower level employees contend that their efforts at getting managements attention are futile or get little attention (Robbins: 2003).

Ineffective communication has seen many organizations fail since their objectives could not be achieved. The employees perceive management as being negligent of their well-being.

There’s need to improve communication, shift from one way to two way system for mutual interaction, lay emphasis on the right media to use and update skills of communication if we are to escape from the cocoons of strikes, mass protests to that of prosperity which ultimately punctuates the vision of most organizations.

The concept of the “employees’ attitudes” encompasses a wide range of Organizational phenomena (Loscocco and Roschelle in Mathewman, I (1993). However, the most relevant aspect of this study is the view that employees’ attitudes are “the extent to which members of a work organization are able to satisfy important individual needs through their experiences in the organization.”

Thus, the employee attitudes of an individual are defined “by the individual’s affective reactions to both objective and experienced characteristics of the work organization” (Mehra, 2000).

2.5 Communication and the achievement of objectives

An organization needs to create the communication channels that most effectively enable it to achieve its business objectives. In some instances downward communications channels may be most effective- particularly where clear instructions need to be carried out that must to be followed to the letter.

However, it is widely recognized that upwards communications are also helpful. People at the base of the organization are used to making all sorts of responsible decisions in their daily lives. They are the sorts of people who should be trusted, by the organization to come up with ideas. Many organizations give greater emphasis to open channel, multidirectional communications in the organization, based on self-managing teams.

2.6 Consultation and Communication

Employees naturally want to know what is going on in the firm where they work. Many of the firms’ activities and policies directly affect their day to day lives: others will certainly interest them. Unless they are kept informed or kept in the picture, employees may feel that they are regarded merely cogs in a large machine.

In turn management needs to know what its employees are thinking. Good communication and joint consultation are partial insurance against bad management-labour relations. Many industrial troubles arise, infact, out of genuine misunderstanding. The organization of a business firm is usually very complex. It is not easy for management and employees to keep each other informed on matters of common concern.

All dealings between management and employees involve communications of one form or another-formal or informal, oral or written. It has been found out that joint consultation contribute to better communications. Management has come to believe that good communication gives employees a better understanding of their work and factors that might affect them. It may also lead to a more efficient working of the departments. In the absence of proper communication, there will be grapevine, mostly unfounded.

Employees feel they should have clear and definite information on matters necessary for carrying out their jobs properly. Also they should have full information about the terms and conditions of employment and any major changes likely to take place in the organization.

2.7 Summary

After reviewing the literature, there is a clear indication that most scholars have tried to explore the use of communication in organization by tackling the various communication patterns used in organizations, employee- management relations, and the different modes of communication patterns. It is with this background that necessitated this study by investigating how the employees perceive the current use of communication patterns in organizations as either effective or ineffective in relation to service delivery, involvement and awareness of the same.


3.0 Introduction

This chapter consists of the study area, the research population, population sampling techniques research instruments, administration of research instruments and methods of data analysis. This deals with methods applied in carrying out the research study, showing how all the parts of research addresses the central research question of employee perception of the effective use of communication patterns in organizations. Thus, generating answers to research problems.

3.1 Research Design

This study adopted a descriptive survey design. The study aimed at collecting information from respondents on their perception and opinion in relation to effective practice of communication patterns at Kenya Seed Company limited. The purpose of descriptive design is to determine factors and relationships that have resulted in the behaviour under study. Ideally, this study would have sought views from all Kenya seed company branches in Kenya, but due to logistical problems, a countrywide survey would not be possible. A case study approach was adopted from which generalizations could be made.

3.2 Study Area

The study was conducted at Kenya Seed Company- Kitale. This is the administrative centre of Trans-nzoia district. It is a major agricultural centre of the district and is uniquely termed as the country’s granary for its ability to produce lots of maize. The district has potential for industrial development and boasts quite a number of Agro-based industries such as Western Seed, Kitale industry. Kenya Seed Company has subsidiary Depot in Endebes division, 35 km away from Kitale town. The company’s structure consists of several departments as human resources, sales and marketing, Public Relations and Administration, Finance, Research and Development, Auditing and Field. This is because it is well organized, more visible and elaborate communication outlets all over the country.


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Employee perception of the effectiveness of communication patterns in organizations
A case of Kenya Seed Company, Kitale
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employee, kenya, seed, company, kitale
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James Wanyama (Author), 2016, Employee perception of the effectiveness of communication patterns in organizations, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/338222


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