Organizational Communication Styles

by Rebekah Smith; Updated September 26, 2017
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America’s employees demand communication within their organizations. Employees believe only 64% of the information that they receive from their managers, according to a Dickinson College study. Corporations are not adequately explaining decisions or plans to their employees, managers or society as a whole, even with all the communication styles available to them. Explore the organizational communication styles to improve your company’s communication.

Formal

Formal communication includes downward communication, which occurs when management communicates with its subordinates. Downward communication may include job duties and expectations, procedures, feedback and other information the subordinate needs. Upward communication occurs when subordinates communicate with management. Upward communication is used to explore job-related problems, policies, job tasks and procedures and other employee problems. Horizontal communication occurs when employees or managers are conversing with individuals at their level in the organization. Problem solving and task coordination occur through horizontal communication.

Informal

When employees and managers communicate through undesignated channels, this is informal communication. Discussions of personal interests and social problems fall under informal communication. When individuals are able to share their personal views with others inside an organization, they are more comfortable working in the company. Informal communication can affect job performance if it is allowed to proceed without limits, because individuals may be distracted from their jobs. Informal communication should not be accepted in the place of formal communication.

Internal and External

Communication may be directed within the company or a specific department within a company, or directed outside the company or department. Internal communication will involve company-specific communication, such as job duties, performance evaluations or internal reports. External communication involves suppliers, customers, stockholders or society. External communication includes ordering supplies, shipping orders or marketing to customers, submitting annual reports to stockholders and marketing or public relations activities.

Other Forms

Organizations and individuals within organizations may communicate in a defensive or non-defensive way. They will be responsible for speaking to groups or the masses. Individuals communicate both verbally and non-verbally through facial expressions, postures or written words. Communication can happen through voice-mail, email, letters, memos, reports, bulletins or in face-to-face conversation.

About the Author

Rebekah Smith is a writer and editor from Montana and the owner of several businesses. Smith has consulted and worked with businesses in the fields of commercial greenhouses, ecommerce, technology and home improvement. She holds a Master of Business Administration and is working on a Ph.D. in business.

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