Definition: Vertical communication is a form of communication that occurs between two individuals who are at different positions of hierarchy within the same organizations. It follows a a linear system where information flows from one individual to the next as per their titles.
What is Vertical Communication?
Vertical communication is a communication process in which information or messages flows between or among the superiors, supervisers, leaders, or manager to subordinates, employees or team members of different levels of an organizational structure in the downward or upward direction.
As such, vertical communication may be upward or downward in nature. Some examples of vertical communication include instructions, formal reports, business orders, and work reports. This form of communication may be formal or informal.
Types of Vertical Communication
1. Downward Communication
Downward communication involves the dissemination of information or orders from the senior management to associates. The management shares information via E-mail, and it’s usually not directly shared with the employees.
Studies have shown downward communication to be most effective when the top managers communicate directly with the supervisors, who relay the instructions to the staff. Some of the purposes of downward communication may include:
- Implementing new objectives and announcing them to the staff.
- Explaining new organizational procedures to intern or new employees.
- Socializing with the staff and building a friendly and cooperative atmosphere with them.
2. Upward Communication
When the information flows from the associates or subordinates to the senior management, it is defined as upward communication. This is done by the employees to update the supervisors or managers by providing work reports or to share important information. Some purposes of Upward Communication involve:
- Updating the senior management with regards to the difficulties and issues faced by staff members.
- Suggesting changes to improve workflow and productivity.
- Providing updates regarding results.
- Informing the top-level management about any grievances and complaints.
To improve upward communication, the leader must always be mentally prepared to listen to opinions, make decisions based on suggestions from the staff, and listen to the grapevine to get information about the mood and biases of the staff members.
Advantages of Vertical Communications
- The right way of conveying messages – It helps to convey messages effectively from the top-level management to the bottom-level management or vice versa.
- Develops organizational relations for labor-management – It helps maintain good relations between the superior and the subordinates since the flow of information is effective and organized.
- Provides a chain of command – It helps to maintain discipline, as there is a chain of command in this system.
- Easy explanation of company policies – It makes it easier for the top-level management to convey and explain company policies to newcomers and interns.
- Easy reports, feedback and decision making – Information and work reports are easily collected via Vertical Communication, and so the senior associates and the supervisors are greatly aided in decision making.
- Effective delegation of duties – This form of communication is useful to delegate duties to the staff and avoid too much authority to be concentrated within the hands of a few individuals.
- Resolves miscommunication issues – Since the top-level management and supervisors communicate directly, there is no mismatch of messages or any confusion whatsoever.
- No by-passing of information – The top-level management can easily share confidential information with the supervisor instead of the whole organization at once.
- Optimizes organizational discipline – Respect is maintained since the staff has to report to the respective superiors, and everyone understands each other’s positions.
Disadvantages of Vertical Communication
- Vertical communication may cause employees to become too complacent, as they may operate under the belief that their work will be checked and corrected before finalization.
- There may be misinterpretations and conflict due to the sender’s tone and body massage.
- Employees at the lower end of the hierarchy may feel neglected as there is too much of a barrier between the top-level management and the staff at the bottom.
- This method is tedious and can cause delays, thereby disrupting workflow and overstepping deadlines.
- If the staff lacks respect for the top-level management, the chain of command and discipline is likely to be broken. Reputation is, therefore, crucial.
- Since the information is passed from the in a lengthy manner, it may become distorted on the way to the top.
- Lack of efficiency can damage the relationship between the supervisors and the subordinates.
- There is a tendency for the board of management and the supervisors to neglect the subordinates due to the chain of hierarchy.
Vertical communication is a fascinating concept that considers the hierarchy of the various people in the organization and creates a chain of command in an attempt to instill discipline and efficiency.
It is clear now that both upward and downward communications set ground for vertical form of communication in the organization.
What are your thoughts about the effectiveness of this type of communication? Share your opinion with us in the comment section below.