What are the Functions of Communication? - Definition & Examples

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  • 0:05 Functions of Communication
  • 0:19 Inform
  • 1:47 Persuasion
  • 3:44 Motivate
  • 4:47 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jennifer Lombardo
The functions of communication in an organization are to inform, persuade, and motivate. Employees need to have effective organizational communication in order to achieve excellent job performance.

Functions of Communication

The most basic functions of communication in an organization are to inform, persuade, and motivate. Yummy Cakes is a manufacturer of desserts that utilizes all the functions of communication in order to be successful.


Let's take a look at how Yummy Cakes uses communication to inform within their organization. The idea of informing within an organization is to provide data and information so that employees can effectively complete their job. Information ensures that an employee is aware of the rules and procedures of an organization. It also eliminates job uncertainty for workers when they are fully informed.

There are three types of ways information can travel in a company. Downward-moving communication is information that moves from superiors to subordinates and usually consists of directives or updates. Yummy Cakes' CEO recently sent out an email to all of his managers that there would be mandatory layoffs that needed to be implemented by the end of the month. This would be considered an example of downward-moving communication.

Upward-moving communication is information that moves from subordinates to superiors and usually consists of feedback or reports. For instance, Yummy Cakes' marketing manager wanted an increase in her monthly advertising budget. She asked the vice president of marketing for a consideration of a $10,000/month increase.

Horizontal-moving communication is information that flows from worker to worker or manager to manager (peer to peer) and consists of reports or data. An example of this type of communication would be one coworker telling another coworker about the company stock price.


Another essential function of information would be the element of persuasion. Yummy Cakes uses persuasion as an element of their communication plan. It is the ability to change the attitude or behavior of employees, vendors, clients, etc. The three parts of persuasion are source credibility, emotional appeal, and social and ego needs. In general, persuasion is used in an organizational environment effectively when the source of the information is a trusted figure. For example, if a coworker at Yummy Cakes starts telling people that it would help the company to buy another small dessert company, most people will not trust the source. If, though, the CEO sends out an email outlining the new acquisition plan of a small dessert company, employees will trust that this is a good business decision.

Emotional appeal is when emotions or arguments are used to persuade others instead of facts or logic. Organizations can use emotional appeals when delivering bad news. Last year, the CEO spoke to the entire company at an emergency meeting. He explained how devastated he was over the need to have a corporate downsizing. He used emotion to explain that it was better for the overall security of the company to eliminate some positions.

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