Upward Communication

Communication is the process of exchange of information, experience and data. Communication is an integral part of the business management, and the manager spends from 50 to 90% of his/her working time on it. Communications can coordinate activities both within the enterprise and to establish external contacts. Communication is a vital system of the organization, which enables the message flows in the organization. Communication permeates all activities in the organization; it is an important working instrument for the perception of individuals of their organizational roles and integration of organizational units. From the standpoint of the theory of open systems, organization is a developed network of communication channels, which are designed for the collection, collation and analysis of information about the environment, as well as for the transmission of processed messages back to the environment. Communication provides the means to develop and implement the decisions based on the feedback and adjust the objectives and procedures of the organization in accordance with the requirements of the situation. Upward communication is a key element for the successful interaction of organization’s staff and management, as it defines effectiveness of organization’s performance. This essay is aimed to discuss the phenomenon as upward communication and show its impact on the effectiveness of organization’s performance.

Upward communication is the process of transferring information from the performers (staff) to the head (manager). This type of communication is most often seen in the form of reports on the activities and innovations. Upward communication (from the bottom up) also functions as warning the top of what is being done at the lower levels. In this way, management becomes aware of current or emerging issues and suggests possible options to remedy the situation. One of the last managerial innovations in upward communication is the creation of groups of workers who regularly, usually 1 hour per week, discuss and resolve problems in production or service. These groups are known as quality circles.

Implementation of upward communication involves overcoming a number of difficulties:

Slow ascent of information on higher levels of organization when managers do not risk raising issues because they fear a backlash leadership;

Filtration of the information to employees of lower levels when they think it would not important for them to hear what their boss has to say;

Deliberate distortion or changing of the message, so that it helped to achieve one’s personal goals.

If the two-way flow of information (upward and downward communication) is weakening due to the limited uplink communications, the company begins to experience a lack of data needed for informed decision-making, losing understanding of the needs of employees, and thus loses its ability to ensure effective implementation of its functions and social support.

This process involves the exercise of initiative, positive action, sensitivity to weak signals and the ability to adapt to different information channels, but above all it requires awareness and conviction that sent up messages are very important.

Implementation of upward communication, especially in large and complex structure of the organizations, is associated with overcoming specific difficulties. The first is in a delay that is a slow ascent of information on higher levels of organization, when managers do not risk raising issues because they fear a backlash leadership. Therefore, at each level of concern information is “inhibited,” as managers try to solve the problem by themselves. The second, closely related to the first factor, is the filtering. It is seen in some form of “censorship” from the bottom, as the natural inclination of all employees bring to the attention of the leaders only that, as they seem to like to listen to the boss.

Sometimes in an attempt to avoid filtering, employees seek direct access to the manager, avoiding immediate superiors and skipping one or more steps in the communication hierarchy. The positive aspect of this release is reducing the degree of filtering and delay, and negative – insubordination, which causes resentment “bypassed” of managers, usually the practice is not encouraged. Another issue that appers periodically is the need for a response. Since ascending initiates communication workers, they act as senders and urgently need feedback. Prompt response management encourages further messages from the bottom up. Conversely, the lack of response inhibits upward communication.

Employees need to know how to deal with the managers, therefore, upward communication can be seen as the transfer of any information from subordinate employees up the career ladder (Chow, Hwang, & Liao, 2000). Due to the increase in quality of communication there is a rise in productivity of all employees.

The starting point of improving upward communication is the formulation of policy guidelines inquiries by staff, including the areas of responsibility of senior management, controversial topics, issues on which the opinion of managers is required or recommended changes. In addition to policy statements, there is a need to develop practical methods for improving the uplink communications.

Questions to the employees. One of the practices is sensible questions of managers to employees that demonstrate leadership interest to the views of employees, their desire to obtain additional information, and evaluation of the role of subordinates. Questions can be defined in various ways, but the most commonly used are open and closed. Open-ended questions provide an opportunity to address any responsibility one is interested in and in any form. “How’s it going?” – A classic example of the open questions, the answers to which provide the manager with a lot of signals. However, regardless of the form of questions they hardly serve to improve the upward communication, if the manager is not able to listen to the answer.

The ability to hear. Active listening, not just hearing, involves not only the existence of the ears, but also of the mind. Effective “receivers” mastered the art of perception of not only “pure” information, but also of the emotional message of the sender. It is equally important to listen closely to regularly sent signals that demonstrate interest in the subject of conversation. Everyone has the opportunity to improve his/her skills in special courses, to be able to focus on the goals of the interlocutor, to weigh the arguments and look for examples that are key to understanding and using the pause in order to analyze what has already been said.

To get rid of barriers to upward communication at work, there are also some points to remember. Managers should always make sure that employees have no questions, and if there are any, they can ask them. It will establish relationships between employees at different levels of the career ladder. In addition, it increases the level of participation of ordinary employees in the office activities.

Meeting of workers. One of the most effective methods of upward communication is managers’ meetings with small groups of employees, in which employees have the opportunity to speak out their issues, management techniques, talk about their needs, etc. These meetings (provided adequate response management) contribute to the degree of employee participation in the labor process and reduce rates of employee turnover.

Manager should increase the number of ways that employees participate in the life of organization. They should participate in general meetings to better understand the goals and objectives of their work. It is necessary to ensure that employees are not afraid to ask questions, so the manager needs to establish good relations with them. In addition, managers should be able to communicate with different people of various nationalities, etc. This ability can help to minimize the number of problems between supervisors and subordinates.

Open-door policy. The open door policy suggests that treatment of employees to supervisors (primarily), or the heads of a higher rank on any issues of concern are encouraged by senior management organization. However, to achieve this noble goal, many psychological and social barriers between managers and employees must be overcome, as these make employees refrain from trying to enter in the “wide-open” door supervisors (Garnett, Marlowe, & Pandey, 2008). Some employees are afraid to manifest incompetence, others do not want to recognize any problems, and others are afraid to displease managers.

Participation in social groups. Informal, entertaining events provide unique opportunities for the implementation of “above-plan” upward contacts. Such a spontaneous exchange of information allows managers to understand the real situation in the company much faster than the formal communication (Tourish & Robson, 2006). Therefore, employers should not skimp on entertainment such as parties in the departments, sporting events, picnics, etc., upward communication is not meant to be the main purpose of such events, but very often it is their most important side “product”.

Communication in the organization covers all means, formal and informal, through which information is transmitted between the employees up, down, and across. For business challenge is to channel these numerous messages, so that these improved relations with customers, maintain employee satisfaction, develop knowledge sharing throughout the organization, and, most importantly, increase its competitiveness. The role of communication in the organization cannot be underestimated. Effective communication is crucial for the formation on the work activities such as planning, organization, management and control. It helps managers to do their jobs and perform responsibilities.