Organizational Communication Flow
In the next 10 minutes or so of reading, you will learn about the four main communication flows in organizations: upward, downward, lateral, and, the grapevine. Armed with the knowledge in this booklet, you will be better able to diagnose communication failures and successes. Furthermore, you’ll know how to turn around those failures and reinforce those successes. More
In this concise booklet (eight standard pages in print format) we look at the four main types of communication flow in organizations, whether in businesses or not-for-profit organizations:
First, downward, or enabling, communication that moves instructions or instructional information down or through a hierarchy. It's the type of communication we use when we want to get something done.
Second, upward, or compliance, communication that provides feedback to the people who originate downward communication. It allows us to report to the people above us in the hierarchy.
Third, lateral, or coordinating, communication that moves between peers to maintain or improve operational efficiency.
Fourth, the grapevine, which fills in gaps in official communication and provides answers to unaddressed questions.
Next time you set out to communicate something important, spend a moment reflecting on the types of communication available to you, and how you can use them.
Understanding that there are different forms of communication, and that each has a distinct set of functions and characteristics, is the first step toward mastery of organizational communication.
Organizational Communication Flow is part of the Quick and Easy Communication Library, one of a series of booklets designed to help you focus immediately on specific business communication challenges and opportunities. Written for leaders and managers, it aims to give you the essence of one important issue in just 10 minutes of reading.
About the author
This booklet was written by Robert F. Abbott, a veteran writer and publisher who specializes in business communication. He is the author of A Manager's Guide to Newsletters: Communicating for Results (Word Engines Press, 2000). He has also written numerous booklets and articles that appeared in his weekly online
newsletter, Abbott's Communication Letter, between 2000 and 2006. Earlier, he operated The Newsletter Company, which wrote and published custom newsletters for companies in various industries. In addition, he's been a radio news writer and announcer, a farmer, and a construction worker. He lives in Airdrie,
Alberta, Canada and actively participates in the management of non-profit organizations.