Information Flow: Analysis and Types of Information Flow

Information Flow: Analysis and Types of Information Flow

Concept of organizational information flow

Information or communication flow within an organization refers to the movement of instructions and communications within an organization. There can be several directions in which it takes place within an organization such as downward, upward, horizontal, diagonal and external. The direction of information within an organization depends on the size, structure and the nature of the business. In the case of most of the traditional organizations, the flow of information occurs in a vertical motion that is in a downward and upward direction. In such situations, the managers give instructions to the subordinates and hence the flow of information travels from an upward to a downward direction.

Then, the flow of information also takes place when the communication occurs from the subordinates to the employees in the managerial positions that lead to a flow of information in an upward direction. In the case of non-traditional or informal business organizations, like technology start-ups, the flow of information happens mainly in the horizontal and diagonal directions. It can be said that this form of information happens in the case of organizations with a flat hierarchy and there is the need for some form of collaboration.

Apart from these information flow, there are some unofficial communications in several organizations like those that occur in the case of company grapevines and this type of information might take place in the case of both formal and informal organizations. The success of an organization depends on the effective communication flow or information that happens between the internal stakeholders as also between the internal and the external stakeholders of the organization. Therefore, there should be effective communication strategies in place for a business to succeed in terms of growth, profitability, and sustainability. Our experts from Assignment Writing Service will now make you understand the types of Information Flow.

Types of Information Flow
Types of Information Flow

Types of information flow

Information flow within an organization is extremely important in determining the success or failure of the business in the long run. For example, it is essential for any type of business organization to be able to share information with all the employees effectively by the management. When the management takes an important decision then it should be communicated to all the staffs that are within the organizational hierarchy.

This flow of information happens in a vertical direction at the time when the management personnel gives some instructions that flow from an upward to a downward direction. The information must effectively flow from the management personnel to the senior managers, middle-level managers, lower-level managers, senior executives and executives that are in the lowest position of the organizational hierarchy. Then there can be a flow of information in horizontal direction also in the case of communication between peers in an organization or in the case of organizations that do not have the traditional hierarchical organizational structure.

Organizations with matrix organizational structure can depict signs of the flow of information in a horizontal direction because there can be various departments that are at the same level of the organizational hierarchy. Therefore, it is evident that for the success of a business organization, irrespective of its size and organizational structure it is highly desirable that the organization is able to demonstrate the effective flow of information within the business premises and also with the external stakeholders of the business. This will ensure long-term growth, profitability, and sustainability of the business. So, it can be said that out of the various business strategies, the strategies for organizational communication are highly important for ensuring the success of the business establishment in the long run.

Downward information flow

This form of information flow takes place when the person in top management and leadership positions share instructions with employees working in the lower levels of the organization. Unless there is any request, the top-level management personnel do not expect to get a response from the lower level personnel because they expect that the message that has been shared from the top management will be observed diligently without any question. For example, when the CEO of a company is changed and some new CEO is appointed in the business then there is a downward flow of information within the organization.

Furthermore, in the case of a merger with a competitor, the management undertakes downward communication strategies where there will be a flow of information from the top to the bottom. Apart from all these situations, other scenarios where downward communication takes place are communications that are undertaken through videos, podcasts, blogs, and speeches within the organization. Another relevant example of downward communication is when the departmental managers or the line managers in an organization gives the daily directives to their subordinates regarding their daily professional activities and targets that they ought to achieve. Interestingly, the downward flow of information can also be in the form of company handbooks or instruction manuals that are also shared within an organization on various occasions.

Hence, it is evident that one of the major advantages of downward information flow is that it enables the organization in sharing information that updates the employees about the major organizational changes, and new strategic objectives and goals and it also helps in offering performance feedback within the organization. There are some other key areas where downward information flow takes place such as undertaking coordination, discuss an official policy such as public relations and messages that are directed towards enhancing the morale of the workers and consumer relations.

Upward information flow

In this type of information flow, the communication of information flows from the downward to the upward direction such as from the lower-level employees to the higher-level employees. This form of communication is also known as vertical communication. We can say that in modern organizations, vertical flow of information is a very common incident to happen. For example, there is upward communication in an organization at the time when the workers report their day’s works to their supervisors or during the times when the team leaders report the day’s proceedings to their departmental managers.

Upward information flow happens in an organization when communication takes place in an organization encompassing sharing of progress reports, sharing estimates of budget, communicating problems and grievances, communication improvement suggestions or communicating project proposals. On many occasions within an organization, a downward communication stimulates an upward response. For example, when a manager seeks a recommendation from the subordinate or inquires about the probable time when a project will be completed. Today, many of the organizations encourage prompt upward information flow through instant feedback from the subordinates without even asking for such feedback from the juniors.

There are many organizations that even offer prizes and rewards to employees for their prompt feedback to the superiors through creative solutions. However, the employees need to feel absolutely confident on the management before taking part in such upward communication in terms of the event that their contributions will be duly recognized and there will not be any effort to undermine their efforts. In this context, it is worth discussing that there are ‘whistleblowers’ in many organizations that have been installed for reporting any unethical behaviour by any employee to the top-level management. This also is a form of upward communication.

Horizontal information flow

The horizontal flow of information happens within an organization when there is an exchange of information across various departments of the business that exist at the same level. This is also known as peer-to-peer communication. One of the major objectives of horizontal communication is to ask for support or achieve coordination in several activities. Employees functioning at same levels within an organization have the opportunity to work together and try to solve various problems and achieve the organizational objectives. Here, the working of the employees occur in an informal approach and also as and when required.

For instance, the production manager can communicate with the purchase manager for the purpose of dealing with shipment issues of products within a company. Again, the finance manager of a company can coordinate with the inventory manager for achieving successful strategic planning on behalf of the company. Another example of horizontal information flow can be the process of interaction between two employees that report to the same manager. However, there are some challenges in horizontal information flow within an organization.

For instance, if one of the managers at the same level of the organization is unwilling to cooperate and share information with the other manager then that will lead to communication gaps and naturally, the productivity of the organization will suffer. Often, managers can demonstrate communal behaviour or territorial behaviour while interacting with another manager who belongs to a different background. This will lead to a manager at the next higher level intervening into the issue and undertaking downward communication to solve the problem.

Diagonal information flow

Diagonal communication or information flow within an organization takes places when there is a cross-functional communication between staffs working at different organizational levels. For instance, when the VP of Sales Department shares an email with the VP of Manufacturing Department seeking information regarding the availability of a product for shipping then it is an example of horizontal information flow. However, when an email is forwarded by a sales executive to the VP of Marketing then there is an instance of diagonal communication within the organization. During the times when there is a flow of communication from one department to another, the manager of the department that is sending the message should be kept in the loop.

In this context, we can say that a manager might find himself or herself in an extremely unsolicited position if he or she is not aware of all the proceedings that have been happening within the department. This can lead to a devastating situation where there will be a lack of trust between the employees and there might be a significant influence on the careers of the employees if the communication protocols are not successfully observed. It is interesting to learn that today, the diagonal flow of information has been gaining increasing popularity within the organizations that have matrix organizational structures or much flattened or product-based organizational structures.

There are several benefits to the diagonal information flow such as it helps in developing warm and hospitable relationships between the lower-level and the senior-level employees across diverse departments of the organization. An informal flow of information within the business is highly encouraging and it reduces the possibility of the message being tampered with by passing through additional filters. Finally, diagonal communication flow reduces the workloads of the managers at different senior-level positions within the business.

External information flow

The external flow of information or external communication is the process in which flow of information occurs between a manager and an external group such as the various financial institutions such as banks, financial organizations or with the vendors and suppliers of the business. For example, for the purpose of raising capital for business, the Managing Director of a company might need to communicate with the Bank Manager which is a form of external communication or external flow of information.

A business establishment has to interact with several external stakeholders for the purpose of ensuring that the daily functions and processes of the business are being undertaken effectively and at par with the set goals and objectives of the business. The better the communication process between the organization and the several external stakeholders, the better are the chances of the organization to gain competitive advantage within the industry.

Therefore, it is undeniable that the long-term success of a business depends not only on the effectiveness of internal information flow but also on the external information flow. A business needs to have proper communication with the external stakeholders to achieve long-term growth, profitability, and sustainability.  Now instant assignment help will tell you about the success factors for efficient information flow.

Critical success factors for efficient information flow

For ensuring effective flow of information within an organization it is extremely essential for the business to achieve the following critical success factors in the communication strategies:

  • The communication process model should be observed diligently by all the stakeholders engaged in the communication process. These stages consist of: The sender developing an idea, the sender formulating the message, the sender choosing a medium of communication, the sender transmitting the message effectively across the chosen medium to the intended recipient, the recipient receiving the message and decoding it effectively, and finally, the recipient offering feedback to the sender such that the communication loop is completed.
  • The sender of the message should be an active listener also. This is because without being an active listener the sender will not be able to formulate the message effectively that satisfies the recipient. It is essential to acknowledge the ideas and thoughts of the recipient and then develop the message accordingly that remains sensitive to the recipient and addresses the concerns.
  • Any barrier to communication should be effectively overcome in order to ensure that the communication process has been able to achieve the desired objectives effectively. There needs to be a cooperative tone in the message and the sender should empathize with the recipient of the message.
  • There needs to be continuous learning in the domain of how to observe effective communication procedures with various stakeholders. So, it is extremely important to learn from the previous mistakes and ensure that those will not be repeated in the future such that the future communication processes are even more effective.

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