What Is Top-Down Communication?

David Woolley/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Business communication is an integral part of the company's overall success. Top-down communication emphasizes managerial hierarchy and the methodical transfer of information from the highest levels in the organization to company's staff. One of the benefits of top-down communication is that leadership can use it to evaluate how well their employees use the communication the company provides to them.

Top-Down Communication, Literally

Top-down communication literally is a method of issuing communication, instructions and information within a business using a hierarchical structure. Information from the highest-ranking officials within the company filter down to employees using the company's managerial structure. Each rung on the managerial ladder learns information from the rung above until the information or command passes to all relevant tiers within the organization.

Staff Depend On Leadership

An organization's hierarchy factors significantly in using top-down communication. And it's necessary to have a clearly defined employee structure for managers to know their immediate superiors and their subordinates so they can effectively receive and communicate company directives. Companies that use disseminated leadership models may find it difficult to use top-down communication because there's a lack of clearly defined management control. Lack of a rigid managerial hierarchy impedes the direct flow of top-down communication.

The Good and the Bad

Top-down communication enables leadership to control the flow of information and ensures that each employment level has only the information necessary to complete relevant tasks. This keeps each employment level focused and reduces the risk that employees will focus on irrelevant information or details. A primary disadvantage arises from the risk of orders getting lost in translation or critical details of a project being left out because a high-ranking supervisor forgot to include it in a report. This can cause gaps in project development, particularly when there's no checks-and-balances system in place to ensure all departments receive the correct information.

Employee Performance Evaluation

An employee evaluation may also use a top-down communication strategy. In this evaluation method, an employee receives detailed information regarding techniques to succeed. Management provides feedback on employee performance and strategies to achieve work goals. Feedback is integral to allow employees opportunities to make adjustments to techniques and strategies in the interest of improving job performance and furthering the organization's goals and objectives.

References

About the Author

Jonathan Lister has been a writer and content marketer since 2003. His latest book publication, "Bullet, a Demos City Novel" is forthcoming from J Taylor Publishing in June 2014. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Shippensburg University and a Master of Fine Arts in writing and poetics from Naropa University.

Photo Credits

  • David Woolley/Digital Vision/Getty Images