William Bill Arganda’s view on Upward Organizational Communication
In both private and public sector organizations, well established channels of communication are a must for operational survival. Executives and managers are quick to implement matters through proper channels of downward communication. The direction, policy and tone of an organization is made through certain communication that efficiently relays the information downward, from the top, to line level personnel. Everyone knows what is intended and expected because duties and direction are made through policy, announcement, training, verbal instruction and example. However it gets communicated, it comes from the top down. This is a standard and efficient means to operate no matter the industry.
Sadly what is not as standard or efficient is the way in which executive and managerial staff receive communications from the bottom up….upward communication. Although there is protocol in how to communicate information to a boss, how accurately and prioritized is that information communicated upward? How well do organizations ensure important information makes it way to the necessary levels upward? Certainly safeguards are needed to avoid unnecessary bombardments of information coming from line personnel, but is that structure of filtering also hindering proper information from making its way where needed best, simply because one becomes the bad guy or gal when the boss is told something negative they won’t want to hear? Inherently we label the messenger with the bad news, and because of that, our process of communication runs the risk of avoidance.
When we initiate an upward correspondent, the content is usually concerning, negative or can initially seem vulnerable. However, providing the minimally bad news reaches its proper levels immediately, minor adjustments can quickly be implemented, rather than mass change due to a failure of proper communication. No one ever wants to be the bearer of bad tidings. No boss likes hearing bad news, and certainly no one wants to be stuck with that job of messenger.
A real organizational leader (president, CEO, Chief, sheriff, Mayor, etc) will take great strides to implement certain and safe upward communication policy that allows not only for necessary information to channel well, but a policy that expects all levels of supervisors and managers to avoid avoiding, and properly relay information with certainty and positive approaches. Often we can’t help what has happened negatively, but we can definitely communicate the news with a proactive solution attached to the inevitable problem.