Picture yourself introducing a new workflow policy. You invite each manager to a 20-minute video conference, which you schedule, and you make the change. You remind the managers to relay the information to their team members before pressing the End call button. That’s it, you’re done, what could possibly go wrong?
You are aware that the IT department may have been breaking the new policy unintentionally because two weeks have passed since the call. It’s likely that the information slipped through the cracks somewhere during the process of spreading the word down, so should the managers take the blame or should you have handled everything yourself?
Downward communication may seem straightforward, but it requires a little more preparation than just adding an event to your virtual calendar. But you don’t have to boil the ocean to get the information out. We are here to step in and tell you everything you need to know about downward communication, including its benefits, difficulties, and the best ways to use it without having your notice vanish with the wind.
Downward and Upward Communication: Workplace Communication Skills
How does downward communication work?
Direct conversations between managers and staff members are among the most prevalent examples of downward communication in the workplace. This enables managers to share the information with staff members and be accessible to address any questions or clarify any details of the news. Managers may create information or instructions on their own occasion, but they may also receive them from senior managers or the board of directors of the company. Businesses and organizations can discuss company changes or directives using additional downward communication techniques, such as:
Companies can gain a lot from using downward communication, including better project coordination, elevated company morale, and improved employee performance. To maximize these advantages and promote business growth, clear and concise downward communication systems with little ambiguity should be developed.
What is downward communication?
The act of relaying crucial information within a business or organization from higher levels to lower levels is known as downward communication. Businesses frequently use this type of communication to explicitly outline policy changes, assign crucial tasks, or alert staff to specific changes to roles or responsibilities and the reasons behind them.
The majority of the time, this form of communication is unidirectional, allowing managers and executives to give instructions to workers without seeking a reaction to the information Effectiveness of downward communication and employees’ comprehension of the information relayed are frequently directly related to an organization’s effectiveness and success.
Downward communication vs. upward communication
Upward communication is the opposite of downward communication, which occurs frequently when information is passed from lower levels to higher levels within a company or business. The following are some key distinctions between downward and upward communication:
The desired outcomes for each form of communication can vary and change depending on the business. Most frequently, the objectives of downward communication are to convey critical information from managers to staff without providing feedback or comments.
Upward communication, however, can vary in its uses. It may be requested feedback from company executives and officials about business practices or recent changes, or upward communication may take the form of questions or concerns about company policies, projects, or expectations.
Companies and businesses frequently employ upward and downward communication in a variety of ways due to the various purposes for which it is used. Depending on what is being passed down, downward communication from executives or managers frequently necessitates special sources of information transmission.
For instance, face-to-face conversations, phone calls, or emails are some of the most efficient ways for managers to convey information when delegating projects or tasks. However, it might be preferable to inform staff members through memos, newsletters, or staff meetings if they’re trying to communicate significant policy reforms.
There are only a few efficient ways to communicate information because upward communication frequently begins as a discussion between staff and managers. These methods may include direct communication with managers as well as emails or phone calls to various executives or divisions of the business.
The nature of the communication, the audience’s receptivity, and the degree of ambiguity are a few factors that frequently affect each type of communication’s effectiveness. It can be crucial for managers and executives to communicate information downward in the best way possible, to ensure that the content is understandable, and to allow time for employee clarifications or questions. This can ensure that staff members effectively hear and accept company directives or changes.
It’s possible that some managers or executives may favor some forms of communication over others when it comes to upward communication. For instance, some supervisors might prefer an email to a face-to-face discussion so they can refer back to it when necessary. In order to fully understand any issues facing the company and how to address them, managers and executives may find it helpful if you are direct and unambiguous in your feedback.
Both downward and upward communication have advantages, including better productivity, clarified company roles, and raised employee satisfaction. However, sometimes combining downward and upward communication is necessary to effectively reap these benefits. It can be advantageous for businesses and organizations to promote upward communication and feedback in response to downward communication.
This can help executives understand any business issues they can address to aid in the development and improvement of the company and can enable employees to feel heard by the company. Additionally, it can promote employee involvement in business growth and guarantee that any significant business transitions go smoothly.
How to effectively use downward communication
You can use downward communication effectively by following the steps listed below:
1. Understand the information thoroughly
It’s crucial to comprehend the information completely before relaying it to employees, whether you are implementing the changes or information yourself or receiving it from executives and the board of directors. Asking clarification questions you anticipate staff members may have can be helpful if the executives are making the decisions.
Writing down what you intend to say or send to employees and having other managers or executives review it can be helpful in ensuring that nothing is missed or ignored.
2. Know the best type of communication
Sometimes different news or instructions call for different communication styles. Examining the complexity of the information can be useful when determining the best form of communication. Create a written document or include the information in an updated employee handbook if the company or organization is making significant, detailed policy changes. This enables people to refer to the new rules whenever they need a reminder or useful clarification.
It may be simpler to notify employees in writing, such as via email, or in person if you need to assign them important tasks or increase their responsibilities. As a result, they will be able to ask questions that will help them understand the instructions and foster open dialogue.
3. Be honest
Employee commitment to the growth of the company can increase when leaders are open with them about the challenges or complexity of organizational changes or directives. List the main difficulties or issues raised by the news, how staff members can work to resolve them, and how you can assist with the transition when using downward communication.
For instance, if two departments are merging and employees are receiving more responsibilities, it may be beneficial to acknowledge the difficulty of the situation while also outlining how individual goals are changing until the transition is complete and how you are available for questions and feedback.
4. Set aside time for clarification and questions
Making time for questions and clarification can make workers feel heard and help them fully comprehend the important information you’ve shared with them. For instance, when using in-person discussions or staff meetings, think about allocating time right after for questions.
If no one asks any questions right away, it might be helpful to check back with everyone later to see if any new ones have emerged. Create office hours where staff members can come to you with questions about the information or changes if you are sending out a memo or newsletter.
What are the 5 types of downward communication?
An illustration of downward communication would be the sharing of company policies and procedures, which would guarantee that everyone is aware of the rules they must abide by by guaranteeing the uniformity of the shared information.
What are the methods of downward communication?
According to Katz and Kahn’s typology, there are five different types of downward communication: indoctrination, job instructions, job rationales, procedures and practices, and feedback.
What is the advantage of downward communication?
Other media: Downward communication also uses audio, visual, and audio-visual media in addition to oral and written communication. Radio, television, poster, signal, symbol, graph, etc. some of the instruments that are frequently used to communicate with subordinates