What is downward communication? Methods of downward communication

Downward communication is that communication in which information flows form superior to subordinates. Through downward communication, managers communicate organizational goals, policies, procedures, orders, instructions, decisions, etc. to their subordinates.

In the process of downward communication, messages of the top executive reach to the lower levels moving through the chain of hierarchy. Downward communication can be of written or oral. Written forms of downward communication are manuals, handbook, notices, electronic news displays, etc. whereas, face-to-face conversation, telephonic conversations, speeches, meetings, etc. are the oral media of downward communication. In the following, some quotations on downward communication are cited:

In the opinion of Weihrich and Koontz, “Downward communication flows from people at higher levels to those at lower levels in the organizational hierarchy.”

Newstrom and Davis defined, “Downward communication in an organization is the flow of information from higher to lower levels of authority.”

According to Ricky W. Griffin, “Downward communication occurs when information flows down the hierarchy form superiors to subordinates.”

L. E. Boone, Kurtz and Blocksaid, “A message that flows form a supervisor to a supervisee is known as downward communication.”

Bartol and Martin opined, “When vertical communication flows form a higher level to one or more lower levels in the organization, it is known as downward communication.”

According to Himstreet and Baty, “Downward communication is that form superior to subordinate-from boss to employee and from policy makers to operating personnel.”

The flow of downward communication is shown below:What is downward communication? | Methods of downward communication

In conclusion, we can say downward communication occurs when messages flow form upper level of lower levels by following the organizational hierarchy. The objective of downward communication is to carry organizational objectives, plans, policies, and procedures form a higher level to lower levels of the organization.

Methods of downward communication

Both written and oral methods are used in transmitting messages of downward communication. Actually, the section of media depends on the nature, urgency and importance of the message to be communicated. The followings are the frequently used media or methods of downward communication.

  1. Oral Media or Method: Downward communication is mainly done by means of oral media or method. Usually, the supervisors give instructions to their subordinates through face-to-face and telephonic conversation. Beside this, managers also exchange relevant information to their subordinates through meetings, conferences, lectures etc.
  2. Written Media or Method: Organization of any size and nature sends important information to its employees in written forms through letters, circulars, manuals, bulletins, posters annual reports, etc. generally, letters and memos communicate important organizational directives; circulars, manuals, and bulletins communicate policies and procedures and annual report communicates organizational activities and performance at the end of the year.
  3. Other Media or Method: In addition to oral and written media or method, audio, visual and audio-visual media are also used in downward communication. Radio, television, poster, signal, symbol, graphs, etc. some of the commonly used instruments that convey messages to the subordinates.


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