What’s Upward Communication?

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Effective communication is crucial for the success of companies. Upward communication, from lower to higher levels, allows employees to inform management about reports, concerns, customer complaints, and questions. Regular updates and reports should only include significant updates, and employees should communicate customer concerns and complaints privately. Managers should set rules to avoid overwhelming higher-level employees with concerns and questions that can be handled by lower-level employees.

All companies must maintain effective communication to be successful. Communication in companies generally has to flow from higher to lower levels and vice versa. When communication flows from lower to higher levels, this is known as upward communication. Often, upward communication involves information from general employees to managers, from managers to general managers, and then from general managers to CEOs or store owners. This type of communication, when executed effectively, allows lower level employees to inform upper management employees about reports, concerns, customer complaints, questions and more.

Through upward communication, many lower-level employees provide regular reports and updates to higher-level employees. For this type of communication to be effective, only significant updates are reported, as many managers do not have time to receive basic updates. Regular updates and reports often include whether or not lower-level employees completed assigned tasks. When a lower level employee fails to complete his or her assigned tasks, in the regular update, he or she typically provides the reasons why the assigned task was not completed successfully. Most managers prefer their employees to provide a “no change” status update when no significant changes occur.

Upward communication is often used as a way for employees to inform management of customer concerns and complaints. To effectively communicate these types of issues, employees often include possible solutions. Most of the time, employees find it best to communicate these issues privately, unless the issues at hand are a group concern.

Many employees also use upward communication to ask questions, such as raising wages. Some employees, however, find using upward communication to ask for things too difficult. Whenever an employee uses this type of communication style to ask for something, he or she must prepare in advance for what will be said, as well as for not receiving what is being asked.

Managers often benefit from employees who execute effective upward communication, but many feel that some lower-level employees take advantage of this type of communication style. Through upward communication, a higher-level employee is sometimes overwhelmed with concerns and questions that can be handled by lower-level employees. Many managers set rules about how this type of communication style should work in their organization. These rules generally require lower-level employees to provide regular updates, do not demand deadlines from upper management, and only upwardly communicate concerns and issues that cannot be resolved by anyone but upper management.

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