Upward Communication

The upward communication process is non-directive in nature, unlike the downward process, which is directive. Effective upward communication is possible only when organizations empower their employees and allow them to participate freely in decision-making. The techniques described below are used to promote upward communication in organizations:

1. The grievance redressal procedure: Enables employees to appeal to management and seek redressal of their grievances.

2. Open-door policy: Allows employees to approach managers at any time and discuss their problems with them.

3. Counseling, attitude questionnaires and exit interviews: The Personnel Department can conduct nondirective counseling programs to help employees deal with their work-related problems as well as work and family conflicts. Attitude questionnaires may be administered periodically to find out employees’ attitudes towards the workplace and the workload. Exit interviews may be held for the employees quitting the organization to find out their reasons for leaving and their suggestions for improving the workplace.

4. Participative techniques: upward communication can be achieved through formal participation programs like union-management committees, suggestion boxes, junior boards and quality circles or through informal involvement of employees. Research has shown that employees who participate in these programs are more satisfied with their job, show greater commitment toward the job, and perform better than non-participating employees.

5. The ombudsperson: A position created to receive and respond to inquiries, complaints, requests for policy clarification, or allegations of injustice by employees. Through an ombudsperson, employees can have their problems resolved quickly without going through lengthy channels. This position had initially been created in Scandinavia as an outlet for people who felt that they had been treated unfairly by the government bureaucracy.

6. Lateral Communication : Lateral communication involves communication across chains of command. It facilitates coordination among departments. It probably takes place because people prefer the informality of lateral communication to the formal downward and upward communication. Those actively involved in lateral communication are called “boundary spanners.” Since “boundary spanning,” allows for accumulation of vast amounts of information, such persons wield tremendous power and enjoy greater status by filtering and communicating with others.

7. Interactive Communication : Interactive communication is beneficial when communication is necessary between peers involved in tasks that require coordinated effort. However, if they are not involved in tasks that require coordinated effort, interactive communication would result in reduced productivity. Interactive communication among peers may also affect vertical communication in a negative way. Employees at each level may communicate freely among themselves but fail to communicate upward and downward.

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