Organizational Communication

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  • 0:10 Organizational Communication
  • 1:50 Formal Communication
  • 3:08 Informal Communication
  • 3:58 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Sherri Hartzell

Sherri has taught college business and communication courses. She also holds three degrees including communications, business, educational leadership/technology.

If you've ever had a job, you likely understand that there are different ways to communicate with colleagues and employers. This lesson describes the role of organizational communication in the workplace while defining terms such as downward, upward, horizontal and informal communication.

Organizational Communication

Have you ever tried to eat soup without a spoon? Tried to drive a car without gas? Or tried to build a house without nails? If these questions sound ridiculous to you, they should, because each of the items I mentioned are necessary to facilitate the corresponding action. The same is true of organizational communication - without it, any organization would fail to meet its objectives.

Organizational communication, or the sharing of organizational information, remains a vital and critical tool when trying to create and maintain a competitive advantage. Without organizational communication, it would be extremely difficult to know what an organization stands for, why it exists, who its customers are, how work is completed, who has authority over others and so on. Organizational communication serves as the glue that holds everything together while, at the same time, acting as a magnifying glass by making this more clear.

Organizational communication is the glue that holds everything together.
organizational communication

There are two types of communication businesses are concerned with: internal and external. External communication includes those communications between organizational members and external parties such as customers, manufacturers, shareholders, investors and the general public. Internal organizational communication facilitates the flow of information among members of the organization. The flow can be upward, horizontal or downward depending on the organization's structure, chain-of-command and culture.

Formal Communication Channels

Upward communication is all about feedback, namely, subordinates providing feedback to their managers. For example, if Johnnie was unhappy with the particular process related to his job, he could report this to his manager and make suggestions for how to improve the process. Complaints are just one example. Upward feedback can also include things related to requests for help (or training) and employee performance. Upward communication allows for increased employee involvement, shared decision making and positive working relationships between managers and their employees.

Downward communication includes communication that goes from top to bottom, or from manager to subordinate. Things such as performance feedback, training, delegation, policy statements, directions or orders are all examples of downward communication. Horizontal communication occurs between organizational members who are on the same level in the managerial hierarchy of the organization. Some examples of horizontal communication would include collaborating on a task, coordinating resources or peer mentoring a new team member.

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