The Pros and Cons of Upward Business Communication

A group of arrow moving upwards across a blue background. Publié le 27 February 2023 Par

Improve your organization and don’t let anything slip through the cracks by understanding the pros and cons of upward business communication.

In life, nothing is simple. Things that seem entirely positive can harbor problems within. Take upward business communication; there are distinct advantages and disadvantages to it. We’ll be assessing both in this article. Before we do, however, let’s look at exactly what we mean by the term. 

What is upward business communication?

Upward business communication refers to a model of information flow wherein ideas and data get transferred from lower-level employees to upper management. It differs from the top-down model of information flow, known as downward communication. 

What shapes can upward business communication take? In essence, whatever the medium of communication that is used by a business within a workforce can be utilized. That includes face-to-face formal meetings, emails, suggestions boxes, and quick chats in the elevator.

These are the means by which innovative ideas can reach upper management. But is it always a happy story of free and beneficial communication? Let’s see. 

Pros of upward business communication

86% of staff blame poor communication as the main cause of workplace failures. Therefore,  improved communication is required. Here’s what upward business communication can deliver. 

1. Suggestion power

Lower-level employees are sometimes largely ignored in an organization. As long as they’re doing their job, chipping dutifully away at their tasks, who needs to hear from them? Well, you do.

The perspective that frontline and admin employees can bring is an invaluable help to business decision-makers. They can brief upper management on new developments with customers or with product issues because they have firsthand experience with both. 

In addition, you may have approachability and soft skills in spades, but there has to be a structure put in place for you to demonstrate these facets, whether it be an open-door policy or something else. 

For this reason, it makes sense for upper management to institute effective communication routes so that feedback, ideas and observations can be transferred in a timely manner. Nothing ruins an idea like being outmoded. 

2. Employee Progression monitoring

When you set up a subordinates-to-superiors channel, you avail yourself of the opportunity to monitor employee progress. Employee performance reviews depend on a type of communication that sends information up the chain of command. This benefits both management and employees, as they will have the opportunity to better track their progress on their career path within the company.

3. Enables a conversation

It’s all very well issuing edicts through company-wide mass email like they’re going out of fashion. However, sooner or later, you’re going to need to hear back from your employees, or you’re just shouting into a vacuum. You need two-way communication. This means actually listening to their feedback, taking the time to consider their opinions, and turning the best of these to actions. This type of business communication is vital to ensure high-quality leadership

4. Sorting out grievances

When an employee’s not happy with something, you’re going to need to hear about it.

Failure to do so could mean that you miss out on a real issue, in which case this form of internal communication is crucial, otherwise, how are you going to fix it? What was just an internal issue can quickly become an issue that impacts multiple levels of the company and affects your ability to serve your customers, which leaves you with a bigger problem. 

Therefore, it’s best to nip these issues in the bud, courtesy of direct vertical communication. 

5. Morale booster

Nobody likes to be ignored. It’s bad for employee relations, morale, and employee engagement. What’s more, engagement needs all the help it can get. 

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Make sure that regardless of the types of business communication you have in place, you have a clear and widely-publicized route whereby those at the bottom can air their feelings with those at the top.

For global companies with employees working in different countries, this can take the form of a special line employees can use to get themselves heard. Using a cloud phone system, you can set up all kinds of numbers with ease. With a virtual phone number, the possibilities span the globe. 

You might also want to consider a forum or a similar kind of talking group. Or perhaps you’d like to investigate means wherein those not so comfortable with verbal communication and public speaking can have a voice. Written feedback is equally valuable and deserves just as much consideration.   

Cons of upward business communication

1. Distortion

As information travels, it becomes distorted. This can be courtesy of some interference en route or some inadequacy in certain forms of business communication. Many are the misconstrued emails that were sent in jest only to ruffle feathers when they arrive at their destination. 

On the other hand, there could be deliberate distortion inserted into the communication to guarantee that the message is read and understood. For instance, if I’m working in customer service and I experience two complaints about the assembly instructions for a product, I might report that I’ve had numerous complaints in order to up the ante a little. 

2. These things take time

One of the biggest problems with upward business communication is inherent in the sheer volume of communication you’re opening your business internal channels up to.

Unlike downward business communication, which involves flow from the relative few at the top of the organizational pyramid, upward communication opens the floodgates to the myriad employees that make up the comparatively massive layers at the bottom of the commercial structure. 

There’s absolutely no point in instituting all this communication if nobody’s going to read it, and that’s going to be quite a task. Depending on the size of the organization, you may need to devote a whole team to it. 

Then, you’ve got to be sure that your system has an efficient call routing feature so that whoever needs to see the communications actually has access to them.

3. Buy-in from seniors

Regardless of any individual misgivings about the desirability of upward business communication, all upper management individuals have to give it their support. If there’s any reluctance, this will undermine the whole strategy and poor communication will result — and poor communication is expensive.

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4. Structural instability

If employees feel they can communicate directly with those at the very top, they might bypass their line managers. This leads to disgruntlement and a lack of cohesion among managers. 

Also if you are likely to be communicating via email with people who work remotely, it may be worthwhile to use an email verification system to protect your business from cyber attacks and ensure that your messages go only to the intended recipient.

Onwards and upwards

Upwards business communication is worth having. However, it’s only through securing widespread employee engagement through the adoption of high-quality communication strategies that an organization can thrive. This is as important with internal communication as it is with external communications.

What an organization does need to do, though, is adequately cater to the volume of communication thus unleashed, as well as make sure that all in the structure are supporting the workplace culture of communication and not abusing it in any way. 

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