Formal communications are those that flow within the chain of command or task responsibility defined by the organization.. (Daft, 2012, p.577). The three formal channels and types of information conveyed is downward, upward, and horizontal communications in an organization. Downward communication takes place during speeches, videos and blogs such as those posted on YouTube, and Kroger’s intranet. Upward communication is just that, messages that flow from the lower to the higher levels of the organization’s hierarchy. For example, suggestions for improvement to increase quality or efficiency, performance reports that inform managers on how individuals and departments are performing, and grievances, disputes and financial information (Daft, 2012, p.579-580). A healthy flow of upward and downward communication ensures that the communications between managers and employees is complete. For example, in 2010, Kroger surveyed some 250,000 associates in its “Associate First Tracker survey” and found the feedback both invaluable and “humbling.” Kroger shares the results with employees who participate which creates a new dialog about what the next steps should be (Orgel, 2010).
Horizontal communication is the lateral exchange of messages among peers or coworkers. This can take place within or across departments. Horizontal communication informs and can also request support and coordinate activities. The three categories are intradepartmental problem solving, coordination and change initiatives and improvements. Personal communication channels that exist outside of the formal channels can take place informally, such as when managers get out of their offices and mingle with employees. Another informal, person-to-person communication network that is not sanctioned by the organization is gossip that typically travels along the grapevine. The grapevine will always exist and can become a dominant force when formal channels are closed.
One problem with downward communication is a “drop-off”, or the distortion or loss of message content. The communication becomes distorted or broken down the further it travels from its original source. Drop-off cannot be avoided completely, but it can be substantially reduced. When formal downward communications are not functioning effectively, workplace gossip and misinformation can take place. Where upward communication is poor, employee grievances will fester driving down morale and productivity or even increase a companies vulnerability to union organizing.
Culture or certain expectations for social behavior within a society or group will always have an impact on the current methods of business communications. For example, externally, Kroger is embracing the growth of digital communication with its customers. The company is making great strides through the use of its mobile app and the distribution of digital coupons. Kroger’s digital team is an equal mix of people from internal and external company. ...