Formal communication is an organization operates downward (top down), upward (bottom up) and horizontally.
All these lines of communication must work effectively and efficiently to ensure the smooth functioning of the organization. Communication at all levels should be supported by systems that encourage trust and openness while allowing for confidentially if necessary.
Downward communication (top down)
The purpose of information flowing down from senior management in an organization is usually to instruct or inform staff. It may be either verbal or written, but it should be clear. It can be issues such as:
- Information about the job to be undertaken
- Policies and guidelines
- Performance appraisal
- Corporate goals and objectives
Examples of downward communication are:
- Information sheets
- Corporate videos
- Pamphlets and newsletters
- Corporate/strategic plans
- Meetings of senior management who then disseminate information to other staff members
Upward communication (bottom up)
The employee of an organization can communicate with management both formally and informally. This communication may be either verbal or written.
It flows upward from employees to supervisors or managers and can take the form of:
- Suggestions for improvement
- Grievance and unresolved problems
- Feedback concerning service or product issues
- Safety problems
- Performance reporting
Some of the problems which exist with upward communication are that:
- Staff may be reluctant to openly discuss certain problems in case they ‘rock the boat’
- Staff may feel that management is not approachable and doe not care
- Staff may feel that they will be disadvantaged or punished for being outspoken
Ways to overcome these problems are to:
- Keep communication channels open all the time
- Encourage open discussion of complaints and unresolved problems with management
- Resolved any problem areas quickly
- Maintain management’s objectivity
Horizontal communication take place between employees at the same level in the hierarchy, for example, managers with managers and clerks with clerks. It generally involves workplace coordination and cooperation in relation to such matters as planning, jobs, solving problems and discussing a variety of work issues. A meeting is one of the formal methods used to achieve horizontal communication.