The most basic form of downward communication is giving subordinates orders and instructions to get work done: The management function if commanding. This can be done using a number of communication media.
An Organization Manual and Handbook
An organization manual is often used to draw together information about the structure and products of the organization, conditions of employment and so on. In a bureaucratic organization, where work is routine in nature, it may also be used to give guidance or instruction on: Rules and regulations, Standards and procedures for health and safety, grievance, discipline and Procedure and standards for routine tasks.
Oral communication can be achieved face-to-face or remotely by telephone. The advantage of oral communication for giving orders and instructions is that it allows for immediate feedback to be sought and given. The team members can ask for clarification of points which are not clear, or for more information, and can signal clearly to the manager that the orders have been understood and accepted. The advantage of using the telephone is that it cuts down on the time and physical movement required for a face-to-face exchange.
Written Direct Communication
Written communication has major advantages in business, as it provides concrete evidence and confirmation of the message. Details cannot be forgotten or misremembered as easily as with a spoken message: nor is understanding subject to the interpretation of tone of voice, or mishearing. Instructions, especially if they are lengthy or complicated, may be best provided in writings: alternatively, team members should be encouraged to take notes themselves, in any oral briefing. A memorandum is an often-used format for internal written communication in organizations.
The Content of Orders and Instructions
Orders and instructions will obviously vary widely, from “Take that package down to the post room, please” to the plan for a complete work process or project. The main point about orders and instructions is that they should be clear and sufficient for the recipient to be able to proceed to fulfill the instructions to your satisfaction. Complete and detailed instructions for a complex task may include the following elements: Desires outcomes or results, Definition of all relevant terms to minimize misunderstanding, a breakdown of the task or project into logical components and Information required understanding and carrying out the task.
Briefings on specific tasks or topics will be much like the giving of instructions, as outlines above. However, briefings can also be used as a wider communication medium, as part of the empowerment of work terms. An organization, or individual manager, may wish to have a scheme of regular short meetings in order to communicate and explain on an ongoing basis, such issues are: Organizational policy and any changes to it, Plans, Progress in comparison to plan and Results “good news swapping” from around the organization.
One should be aware that downward communication is not just about directly getting things done. It is also about maintaining the ability and willingness of team members to carry out your orders and instructions.
Positive and negative reinforcement
- Downward communication plays a role in the form of: Praise for good work or effort, Encouragement, Discipline: expression of dissatisfaction with poor performance, reemphasizing required standards and Constructive criticism.
- Leaders communicate the organization’s values and beliefs to their teams.
- Team leaders should constantly provide feedback to members on: How they are doing in their tasks and in the team, how results are progressing in comparison to the plans and standards set for them. Feedback is essential both for motivation and for learning and development – for the adjustment of performance to bring it back in line with the original plan.