As is the case with any structured organization, you must establish rules of protocol and explain to team members the lines of communication and authority levels. Protocol is a set of guidelines regarding the chain of command for how various members of an organization must communicate with each other. Establish and manage the various lines of communication within a business early on so that all workers and managers understand who they should contact. Lines of communication examples include a manager communicating to an employee and an employee to a customer.
Owner to Manager
The lines of communication must stay open between company owners and management. It’s rare that an owner speaks directly with employees or other contacts at the business, as a rule of order, when he has managers to do this form him. The company owner provides direction for how to manage the company as well as updates and news he wants to give employees through managers.
Manager to Employee
The lines of communication between managers and employees is crucial to the day-to-day operation of the company. Managers must delegate specific duties to workers and answer questions about work projects. A manager commonly communicates through regular meetings with her entire department. She may also schedule yearly employee review sessions with individual workers to discuss performance and productivity.
The relationship between a manager and employee requires reciprocal communication – if an employee has questions, he must ask his direct manager or supervisor to respect the chain of command.
Employee or Manager to Business Contacts
An owner might also have to establish rules of communication for his employees or managers and outside business contacts. For instance, employees of a manufacturing company may have to communicate directly with representatives of companies that supply raw materials to submit orders or request information. An investor may want to speak to the company’s management team. As venture capitalist Brad Feld states, “It's hard enough getting a business up and running; having forced barriers to communication between the key leaders and influencers of the company just makes it more difficult.”
At the same time, if the owner or manager allows too many individual employees to contact an outside contact, it could cause confusion. For this reason, managers assign specific employees, such as purchasing agents or business liaisons, to communicate with outside business contacts.
Communication with Customers
Possibly the most important line of communication at a business is between the employees of a business and its customers. It’s not uncommon for any level employee, including the business owner, to make direct contact with a client. However, in some cases, certain employees are not authorized to speak to clients or customers for the same reason they cannot speak with service providers and business contacts – the potential for confusion.