Define and give examples of downwards, upwards and horizontal organizational communication. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the different forms of communication
Define and give examples of downwards, upwards and horizontal organisational communication. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the different forms of communication.
The study of organisational communication is not new, but it has only recently achieved some degree of recognition as a field of academic study. It has largely grown in response to the needs and concerns of the business. The study of organisational communication recognises that communication in organisations goes far beyond training managers to be effective speakers and to have good interpersonal communication skills. Moreover, it recognises that all organisations, not just business organisations, have communication needs and challenges. New communication technologies and possibilities, combined with new challenges confronting organisations, are encouraging a whole new approach to organisational communication that challenges the very nature of organisations themselves. Radically new communication-enabled organisational forms are possible and are now emerging ( and , 1999).
Communication may be defined as the transmission of meaning and information from one person to another ( and , 1998). While the transmission itself may appear to be a simple task, the interpretation of the message being relayed through communication poses a challenge, particularly on the establishment of human relations. In general, communication becomes effective when both parties involved are honest and open to share information and have the ability to decipher the meaning of their messages. Effective communication must always be practiced as it is significant to individual health as well as for the creation of positive relationships. Specifically, the ability to communicate directly affects an individual’s stress levels, self-esteem and relationship quality ( and , 1998; , 1992).
The process of communication can be done through a number of styles. However, regardless on whether the style applied is verbal or nonverbal, the communication process always involves a sender and a receiver. This process involves five steps: idea struck the sender, the sender then encodes the message, the message is carried through a channel, the receiver will have the message decoded, and a feedback will be given by the receiver ( and , 1998). This paper discusses the different communication forms (i.e. downward, upward, and horizontal communication) present in an organisation/company.
Communication that flows from one level of a group or organisation to a lower level is a downward communication ( and , 1998). When we think of managers communicating to their employees, the downward pattern of communication is actually we are thinking of. Actually, downward type of communication is usually used by group leaders and managers to assign their goals, provide instructions, inform their members regarding policies and procedures, point out problems that need attention or solution, and offer feedback about performance. But the downward communication doesn’t have to be oral or face-to-face contact. When management sends letters to employees’ home to advise them of the organisation’s new sick leave policy, it’s using downward communication. So is an e-mail from a team leader to the members of his/her team, reminding them of an upcoming deadline.
Upward communication flows to a higher level in the group or organisation. It’s used to provide feedback to higher-ups, inform them of the progress toward goals, and relay current problems ( and , 1998). Upward communication keeps managers aware of how employees feel about their jobs, co-workers, and the organisation in general. Managers also rely on upward communication for ideas on how things can be improved.
Some organisational examples of upward communication are performance reports prepared by lower management for review by middle and top management, suggestion boxes, employee attitude surveys, grievance procedures, superior-subordinate discussions, and informal “gripe” sessions in which employees have the opportunity to identify and discuss their problems with their boss and representatives of higher management. For example, FedEx prides itself on its computerised upward communication program. All its employees annually complete climate surveys and reviews of management.
When communication takes place among the members of the same work group, among members of work groups at the same level, among members at the same level, or among horizontally equivalent personnel, we describe it as horizontal communications ( and , 1998).
Why would there be a need of horizontal communications if a group or organisation’s vertical communication are effective? The answer is that horizontal communications are often necessary to save time and facilitate coordination. In some cases this horizontal relationships are formally sanctioned. More often, they are informally created to short-circuit the vertical hierarchy and speed up action. So horizontal communications can, from managements’ view point, be good or bad. Because strict adherence to the formal and vertical structure for all communications can impede the efficient and accurate transfer of information, horizontal communications can be beneficial. In such cases, they occur with the knowledge and support of superiors. But they can also create dysfunctional conflicts when the formal vertical channels are breached, when members go above or around their superiors to get things done, or when bosses find out that actions have been taken or decisions made without their knowledge.
Importance of Communication
In employee/member relations, communications has emerged to be a necessary function in personnel management. There are several areas where good communications with employees/members are important. Some of these are:
1. In disciplinary cases, communicating through counseling is necessary to enable self-improvement through self-discipline.
2. In complaints and grievances. In most cases, the problem which is the subjects of complaints and grievances could be solved through proper communication with the employees.
3. In employee/member attitude and behavior. These may involve psychological problems. Negative attitude and bad behavior of an employee may be the result of lack of understanding of certain matters about the company/organisation and his relationships with the people around him. By communicating with the employee/member, such problems may be solved while they are still small or just developing. Maybe the employee/member is bothered due to changing conditions in his economic and social life, including his environment.
4. In inter-relationships either with the employee’s coworkers or with his superiors. When those situations arise, there is no better way to talk with the employee/member involved.
The so-called communication gap arises in the absence of adequate personal or face-to-face communication between the superior and the subordinate. They do not spend enough time together to discuss matters about their tasks and problems. Oftentimes, the supervisor does not find time to say even few things about the work of his subordinate and he does not give the subordinate time to talk to him about his job and problems. The subordinate may think that he is not welcome to air his difficulties or make suggestions. Talking and listening between supervisor and subordinate breaks the tension and it is good in preventing or “nipping in the bud” any misunderstanding or conflict that is brewing. It is an antidote to bigger labour problems. The company/organisation should therefore provide for a means by which employees can communicate with management particularly to supervisors about the work or problems within the organisation.
For communication to become effective, companies/organisations must be able to address its key publics. The primary public in this study is the employees/members in the company/organisation, belonging in all branches and sectors in the organisation. Employees/members are considered to be the first public to address because the success of the organisation depends on their overall performance, and include the company’s managers and team leaders, for they must be aware of the problems in the company/organisation.