Difference Between Upward Communication vs. Downward Communication

Main Difference

The main difference between Upward Communication and Downward Communication is that Upward Communication is a process of sending a message from subordinate to superior, and Downward Communication is a process of sending a message from a superior to a subordinate.

Upward Communication vs. Downward Communication

Upward communication is the communication where information or messages flows from the down or bottom of the organizational structure form the top of the organizational structure, and downward communication is the communication where information or messages flows from the top of the organizational structure form the bottom of the organizational structure. Upward communication is for providing suggestions, complaints, and the like to superiors. So, it is not directive, whereas downward communication is for instruction, orders, advice, and the like. So, it is directive naturally. A democratic environment may ensure the application of upward communication. Conversely, an authoritarian communication environment needs to apply downward communication.

Upward communication does not happen so frequently, whereas downward communication, happens frequently because of keeping organizational functions smooth and active. Lower level/Employees/Workers of the organization take the initiative to start upward communication; on the other side, higher authority or top level of the organization take the initiative to start downward communication. Upward communication stated as like as consultative management, and downward communication called an instruction type communication system. Methods used in upward communication include open door policy, report, counseling, meeting, complaint box, suggestion system, grapevine, etc. And methods used in downward communication include letters, bulletin, circulars, brochures, memos, orders, telephone, etc.

Comparison Chart

Upward CommunicationDownward Communication
Upward communication is the line of communication by which subordinates can convey information to their seniors.Downward communication is the proper chain of command established to direct subordinates and convey information about the organization’s objectives, policies, and strategies.
Objective
To make objections or complaints, give feedback, and suggestions.To give orders, instructions, advice, or assign responsibilities.
Nature
Participative and AppellateAuthoritative and Directive
Speed
SlowFast
Flow
Subordinate to superior.Superior to a subordinate.
Frequency
LowComparatively high
Examples
Reports, direct letters, and proposalsCirculars and Notices

What is Upward Communication?

Upward communication is the stream of data or information from front line employees to managers, supervisors, and directors. Upward communication remains managers aware of how employees feel about their jobs, policies and procedures, and the business in general. Upward communication helps employees to express their requirements, ideas, and feelings. For top management, upward communication is an important source of information for business decisions. It helps in alerting top management about the requirement of changes in an organization.

Advantages of Upward Communication

  • Feedback: Managers can obtain feedback from employees that can help improve organizational development. Employees who are encouraged to give feedback feel respected and that they have a say in how the organization run.
  • Mutual trust: Mutual trust elevates employees and managers closer to each other. As trust grows, relationships among employees and managers get stronger.
  • Initiation of new policies: Front line employees do the job or work every day. They can generally tell managers if something works or doesn’t work. Employees can be instrumental in making new policies or changing those that are outdated.

What is Downward Communication?

Downward communication occurs when information and messages flow down with an organization’s formal chain of command or reporting line. Within context, messages and orders start at the upper levels of the organizational order and move down toward the bottom levels. Responses to downward communications move up by the same path. In the workplace, directives from managers to employees are the most basic form of downward communication. These can be written manuals, handbooks, memos, and policies, or oral presentations. Another example of downward communication is a board of directors instructing management to take a specific action.

Advantages of Downward Communication

  • Organizational discipline: Downward communication follows the organization’s hierarchy, meaning that organizational discipline and member compliance is much easier to maintain.
  • Efficiency: Downward communication provides efficiencies because instructions and information come from the sources in power that can coordinate activities from the top of the organization. Employees get feedback from the supervisors who manage them.
  • Effective communication of goals: Upper management can easily communicate goals and assign responsibilities regarding achieving those goals.
  • Ease of delegation: Delegation is much easier if the delegation comes directly from the vertical communication structure representing the chain of command.

Key Differences

  1. The class of communication, which is initiated by the lower level employees, to convey their message or information to the upper-level management of the organizational order, is known as upward communication. Inversely, when the transmission of information takes place through the organization’s formal chain of command, then the communication is known as downward communication.
  2. Upward communication is used to made complaints or appeal, give feedback, opinions, and suggestions. Unlike downward communication, which is used to give orders, commands, warnings, advice, or assign responsibilities.
  3. The happening of upward communication is occasional, while the occurrence of downward communication is frequent.
  4. The nature of upward communication is concerned one, which invites subordinates to share their views and opinions with the top management. On the other end, downward communication is authoritative that tends to direct subordinates regarding the mission and goals of the company.
  5. Upward communication is more take long than downward communication, as the latter empowered by authority and is time bounded.
  6. The common types of upward communication are reports, direct letters, and proposals. On the contrary, the common forms of downward communication are orders, circulars, and notices.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the success of downward communication ascertained by upward communication, i.e., it evaluates the effectiveness of policies, plans, and strategies executed by the top-level management, through the response of those working at the lower levels of the organizational echelon.

Author: