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Downward communication

Date post:12-Jan-2017
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Communication is about sending and receiving information or the transmission of information and meaning from one party to another through using shared symbols.

The word communication goes beyond of the word speaking and writing and it includes all aspects of verbal, unspoken and unwritten communication.

Downward communication means that the manager tells employees about a decision that has been already made. It allows decisions to carried out quickly.

DEFINITIONKatzandKahn(1978)Information flowing from the top of the organizational management hierarchy and telling people in the organization what is important (mission) and what is valued (policies).

Some types:NoticesCirculars instructionsOrders letters Memos Bulletins Handbooks Annual reportsLoudspeaker announcements Group meetings

The other elements of downward communication include: -Directions to carry out a specific task.Job instructions. Information intended to create understanding of the task and its relation to other organizational tasks.Information about organizational processes and patterns.


Implementation of goals, strategies, and objectivesJob instructions and rationaleProcedures and practicesPerformance feedbackSocialization


DisciplineOperational efficiencyWarning the employeesNotification/AnnouncementWatching the performanceAssignment of goals:Relation establishmentDelegation of authority


DistortionLack of feedbackTime consumingNegative impact on moraleNot suitable for motivationLack of interpretation

DOWNWARD COMMUNICATION:Downward Communication, which is directed from higher to a lower level. Thus, it is a process of sending a message from a superior to a subordinate.

For example:The managing director of a public limited company sending a message issuing instructions to an assistant manager, or a supervisor giving directions to the workers, all are chased in Downward Communication.The main objectives of Downward Communication are to supply the sub-ordinates with relevant information and necessary explanation.There are many forms available for Downward Communication. Some of these are letters, circulars, Bulletins, posters, memos, E-mail etc.

Most of the communication flow within or organization is downward, became it has various advantages such as:To increase efficiency, to maintain good relation, to maintain discipline, no bypassing, to inform etc.It has some limitations also such as-under communication, delay, loss of information low efficiency etc.But these are not absolutely beyond control. These can be removed if management and the managed sincerely desire.Through downward Communication, management is able to carry out its basic Functions of planning, organizing, directing and controlling.

Problems in downward communicationCommunicating to employees can seem relatively straightforward, yet it is plagued with problems in many companies. The most common trap is assuming that once you have told everyone something, they will both understand exactly what you mean and remember it forever. In practice, people will ignore, misunderstand, misinterpret, forget and generally make you feel that it was hardly worth the effort.Problems can also happen when information is cascaded, for example where managers are told something to tell their people. In many organizations, few will communicate exactly as requested. Some will shorten, some will edit and others will ignore the communication altogether.Secrets of success with downward communication include using multiple channels and testing.Using multiple channels include announcements in meetings, web information, magazines, posters on notice boards and so on. People have their preferred ways of learning an the more ways you communicate, the more people will get the message. The repetition effect also helps hammer home the point.Check that what has been said has been heard and understood. Ask people immediately what they have understood by what you have communicated. Check later also to see if they have remembered it. And if you are seeking a change in how they behave then watch for these.

AppraisalManagers should regularly give their subordinates feedback on how they are doing, praising good performance and correcting wrong or inadequate actions.There is often a formal system of regularperformance managementwith meetings in which forms are completed to cover assessment of past performance and laying out of future objectives. This may include plans for training and other education.A good appraisal is motivating and gives the employee a clear direction forward. A critical appraisal can result in less pay increase, job change or even dismissal.

Policies and proceduresIn a broader sense, there are always a number of policies, procedures and so on that apply to everyone, from company security policies to how to apply for time off for holidays. These include rules that must be followed and various reward and benefit systems.These are often owned by infrastructure groups such as HR, Finance, IT, etc. who update and administer them on a regular basis.There are often many of these rules and processes, and it is easy not to know them. Key instruction may be given when the person joins. Updates may be regularly given to all. Otherwise learning these can be a social process, with informal as well as formal direction from managers and workmates.Changing strategy often results in changes in policies and procedures. When these change there needs to be a careful communication of the changes and consequent impact.

Job instructionThe employee needs to know what is expected of them in terms of their performance. Most jobs have a job description. There may also be process details and, with lower skill activity, detailed instructions. Then there are the various tools of the job that the person must know how to use correctly.Job instructions should be linked to corporate strategy through a downward cascade of objectives.Typically the job instruction is given on starting the job and then in coaching and support along the way.

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