2. I.Formal Communication in Organizations
Formal communication flows along prescribed channels which
members desirous of communicating with one another are
obliged to follow.
A. Vertical Communication
1. Upward Communication
B. Horizontal Communication
C. Cross Channel Communication
II. Communication Networks
III. Informal Communication In Organizations
It is the transmission of information through nonofficial channels
within the organization.
3. F I G U R E 1.
Formal Communication in Organizations
Vertical Communication Horizontal Communication
4. I. Formal Communication
A. Vertical Communication
Vertical communication is communication that flows
both up and down the organization, usually along
formal reporting lines-that is, it is the
communication that takes place between managers
and their superiors and subordinates. Vertical
communication may involve only two persons, or it
may flow through several different organizational
5. 1. Downward Communication
Downward Communication occurs when information flows down the hierarchy from
superiors to subordinates.
Examples : Orders, circulars, individual instructions, policy statements, Inter-
Office Memos, e-mail, notices
It is best suited for organizations where the line of authority runs distinctly downwards.
To give specific directions to subordinates about the job entrusted.
To explain organizational policies and procedures.
To apprise the subordinates of their performance.
To give subordinates the rationale of the job so that they understand the
significance of the job in relation to organizational goals.
6. Limitations of Downward Communication
- Superior may talk little about the job.
- Withholding of information
- superior may talk too much
- Leaking of information
- Line of communication being long.
4. Loss of Information
-Unless written, it will not be transmitted fully.
-Sometimes written communication may not be fully understood.
-Long lines of communication- exaggerating or under-statement
7. 2. Upward Communication
Upward communication consists of messages from subordinates to superiors. This flow is
usually from subordinates to their direct superior, then to that person’s direct superior,
and so on up the hierarchy. Occasionally, a message might by-pass a particular superior.
Examples : The typical content of upward communication is requests, information that
the lower-level manager thinks is important to the higher-level manager, responses to
requests from the higher-level manager, suggestions, complaints, and financial
lProviding feedback: Whether directions issued are understood by lower staff.
lOutlet for pent-up emotions : Grievances and problems addressed, solutions are
developed and employees feel better after having talked about them.
lConstructive suggestions: These can be secured for improvement of the organization.
8. Methods of Upward Communication
l Open-door policy: Employees are given a feeling that their views,
suggestions are always welcome by superiors.
l Complaints and suggestion Boxes : Are installed in the company.
Employees are encouraged to drop in these boxes.
l Direct Correspondence: Write directly to superiors or managers.
4. Counseling : Employees are encouraged to talk to their superiors of their
9. Limitations of Upward Communication
Employees are reluctant to initiate upward communication as they
- feel it may reflect their efficiency.
- fear of disapproval from superiors.
Upward documentation is prone to distortion. Unpleasant information is
Workers/juniors may ignore immediate superiors and approach higher
management. Immediate superiors may feel:
- become suspicious of intentions.
10. B. Horizontal Communication
Whereas vertical communication involves a superior and a subordinate, horizontal
communication involves colleagues and peers at the same level of the
For example : an operations manager might communicate to a marketing manager
that inventory levels are running low and that projected delivery dates should be
extended by two weeks. Horizontal communication probably occurs more among
managers than among non managers.
Horizontal communication serves a number of purposes.
It facilitates coordination among interdependent units. For example, a manager
at Motorola was recently researching the strategies of Japanese semiconductor firms
in Europe. He found a great deal of information that was relevant to his assignment.
He also uncovered some additional information that was potentially important to
another department, so he passed it along to a colleague in that department, who
used it to improve his own operations.
Horizontal communication can also be used for joint problem solving, as when
tow plant managers at Westinghouse got together to work out a new method to
Finally, horizontal communication plays a major role in work teams with
members drawn from several departments.
11. Limitations of Horizontal Communication
Subordinates making commitments / passing information beyond their
Harmful if subordinates do not inform superiors of interdepartmental
12. C. Cross Channel Communication
Cross channel communication is the exchange of information among
employees in different work units who are neither subordinate nor superior
to one another.
Example: An accounts clerk sends out a request to all company employees
for updated information about the number of exemptions they claim on their
Staff specialists use cross-channel communication frequently because their
responsibilities typically involve many departments within the organization.
Because they lack line authority to direct those with whom they
communicate, they must often rely on their persuasive skills, as, for
instance, when the human resources department encourages employees to
complete a job-satisfaction questionnaire.
13. II. INFORMAL COMMUNICATION IN ORGANIZATIONS
that takes place
follows any of
methods. Fig. 3
F I G U R E 3. Informal Communication in Organizations