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What’s Your Best Chance to Foster Effective Top-Down and Reverse Communication in Your Organization?

Top Down Reverse Communication

There are pros to both top-down and reverse communication within an organization. Learn how to strike the right balance.

Key takeaways:

  • What is top-down communication? This method is when information is shared starting at the top with the leaders of a company and trickles down to the rest of the company, or when communication comes from leadership directly.
  • What is reverse communication? Reverse, or bottom-up, communication is when employees can share their thoughts with higher-ups.
  • 5 tips for establishing a better communication strategy:
    1. Establish a system for feedback
    2. Be consistent
    3. Address feedback from the top
    4. Admit mistakes
    5. Know the value of repetition

Sharing information within an organization can be a challenge for many companies. One study found that 60% of companies don’t have a long-term strategy for internal communications, and of the businesses that do have one, 12% don’t measure whether these communications are effective.

Effective communication is actually one of the most important factors for determining how engaged and satisfied employees are at their job and within a company. It can also boost company culture and drive productivity and profits.

A couple of ways to look at workplace communication are through top-down communication and reverse communication. We will walk through each of these methods and offer tips for improving communication within your company.

What is top-down communication?

Top-down communication is fairly self-explanatory: This method refers to leaders at the top of an organization trickling down information to the rest of the company, either directly or through managers. This kind of communication follows the hierarchical structure of a company, so each person receives information from whoever is on the rung above them. Information may include instructions, new guidelines or policies, news or announcements.

When employees hear information from the top, it can help leaders build trust and increase transparency. They may feel like they’re getting valuable information at the same time as everyone else and are thus valued by company leaders. A 360PR report found that 82% of employees feel that communication with the head of the organization is important.

Top-down communication may also help establish authority while ensuring that there aren’t several versions of the same information being told to people in positions lower in the hierarchy. That can create confusion and sometimes even resentment. Top-down communication can emphasize the organization’s vision and make sure that everyone is working toward a common goal.

What is reverse communication?

Bottom-up communication also known as reverse communication is the opposite of top-down. It’s where employees give their feedback and voice their opinions to management. This method can play an important role in decision-making.

Asking employees for feedback will help them feel heard and appreciated. They need opportunities to provide their perspective instead of always being told what to do. Leadership can learn a lot from what workers are feeling about company culture, processes and procedures and the day-to-day work life in their positions.

To feel engaged and satisfied, employees need to feel like their ideas and perceptions about the organization are prioritized and valued. Leadership may invite the entire staff to participate in brainstorming or decision-making processes or just ask for everyone’s feedback about what they could be doing better. Bottom-up communication can help people feel included and more of a part of the organization.

5 tips for establishing a strong communication strategy

The key to good communication within an organization is to find the right balance of both top-down and reverse communication methods. An organization requires both to ensure that decisions are executed successfully while allowing room for feedback and ensuring employee satisfaction.

Here are five tips for effective communication:

  1. Establish a system for feedback

Employees are likely already used to frequent performance reviews, where they are evaluated by their manager, a top company leader, or both. Make sure you have a system in place to also let them speak about their experiences. Whether through surveys or meetings, ask workers to provide their input on people who manage them or the company as a whole.

  1. Be consistent

A risk of the top-down communication style is that multiple leaders or managers may be inconsistent with what they disclose. Make sure that whoever is providing the information is on the same page with other leaders so that employees won’t become confused or frustrated.

  1. Address feedback from the top

Part of using both of these strategies effectively is knowing when the top needs to respond to feedback from the bottom. Maybe leaders have asked employees for their opinions and want to address a concerning trend they received in responses. Having company leaders communicate to the entire company about the issue will show lower-level employees that they are paying attention to them regardless of their rank and will improve transparency and trust even more.

  1. Admit mistakes

Nothing is worse than leaders who can’t admit their mistakes or who gloss over major issues to preserve appearances. In any kind of communication from the top-down, make sure that everything is truly transparent and honest. Employees may have a lot of questions when a problem arises or there are rumors. Face these issues head-on.

  1. Know the value in repetition

Sometimes, information needs to be emphasized again and again for it to stick. The organization was built on a set of values, and those values should be weaved into each aspect and department of the company. Incorporating this idea into communications can also help keep people on the same page and working toward the same objective.

When everyone can see the big picture as leadership does, they may feel a greater sense of purpose and pride in their positions. So, communications should prioritize repetition. Even if it’s already been said, repeating important values or information will help them become a part of the ongoing company culture.

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Establishing the right communication practices is one of the most important considerations for an organization’s leaders, alongside HR strategies that will support employees best.

StaffLink Outsourcing is here to help you prioritize people and improve your HR processes. We are a national Professional Employer Organization (PEO) and offer HR solutions including risk management, payroll, benefits administration and more.

Request a proposal or contact us at (954) 423-8262 for more information.