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DIFFERENCE BETWEEN UPWARD & DOWNWARD COMMUNICATION

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What Is Upward Communication?

When information or communication flows from juniors to senior managers, it’scalled upward communication. This type of communication is increasingly gaining traction in new, highly competitive markets. Some examples of upward communication include feedback, complaints, suggestions, performance reports and market intelligence.

Upward communication usually provides a wealth of information to senior management, aiding their decision-making process.

The prime objective of encouraging upward communication is to empower the workforce. It is a way to addressemployee concerns and share ideas, providing them opportunities to contribute to the organization’s growth.  It also enables employees to receive information related to their primary duties and job roles in the organization. Downward communication plays a crucial role in ensuring adherence to the organization’s objectives and policies.

What Is Downward Communication?

When information or communication flows from senior managers to juniors, it’scalled downward communication. This type of communication follows the formal chain of transferring information—messages reach all teams across levels. Among the various types of communication, downward communication is the most traditional form of organizational communication. It follows a hierarchy and allows senior managers to dictate the flow of work.

Downward communication aims to disseminate organizational goals, strategies and programs related to an organization’s functioning. It also enables employees to receive information related to their primary duties and job roles in the organization. Downward communication plays a crucial role in ensuring adherence to the organization’s objectives and policies.

Similarities Between Upward And Downward Communication

Before we get into the differences between these two types of communication, let’slook at some similarities.

Both upward and downward communication relate only to communication that takes placewithin an organization. While the purpose may berelated to external issues, the transmission itself is always internal.

 

Whether it is upward or downward communication, the key objective is to enhance organizational performance.

 

Depending on the organization’s nature, their styles and philosophy of management, upward and downward channels may have specific communication limitations. Most organizations adhere to hierarchical guidelines, whichcan limit the scope and nature of what communication can achieve.

 

Both upward and downward communication have equally critical objectives to eliminate possiblegaps in information.

Key Differences Between Upward And Downward Communication

While the most obvious difference is the direction of communication, it is essential to be aware of several other differences.

        The frequency of upward communication is almost always lower compared to downward communication.

        Upward communication promotes worker and employee participation in organizational dynamics. It encouragesemployees to speak up, give feedback and make suggestions. On the other hand, downward communication is authoritative by nature and it’s used to give instructions, advice and assign responsibilities.

        Due to the nature of themessage, the pace of upward communication is usually slower compared to downward communication, which almost always takes precedence through the channels.

        Downward communication is a traditional channel that dominates communication upward. But upward communication is a relatively modern format that is finding its use and importance in newer organizational structures.

        The common forms of upward communication are reports, suggestion boxesand meetings. On the contrary, common forms of downward communication are circulars, notices and audio-visual media.

Conclusion

Both upward and downward communication are equally essential for organizationalgrowth and development. Upward communication encouragesinclusivity with an increased level of employee-involvement in day-to-day management. With downward communication, organizations have a lot more at stake as mishandling or mismanaging the flow cancreategaps in the chain of command,leading to adverse consequences. However, to ensure the smooth functioning of organizations, proper monitoring of both communication channels is critical give feedback and make suggestions. On the other hand, downward communication is authoritative by nature and it’s used to give instructions, advice and assign responsibilities.

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