The communication channel which pushes the flow of information upward is known as upward communication. Managers of the business organizations have to receive information continually from the lower-level employees below them to know about the progress of works. It occurs when there is a hierarchical upward flow of information from subordinates to the upper management. Media of these types of communications are meetings, suggestions, direct letters, direct communications, etc. Some important definitions of upward communication are given below:
According to Bartol and Martin, “Upward communication is the vertical communication flows from lower level to one or more higher levels in the organization.”
According to Ricky W. Griffin, “Upward communication consists of messages from subordinates to superior.”
According to Weihrich and Koontz, “Upward communication travels from subordinates to superiors and continues up the organizational hierarchy.”
According to Bovee and others, “Upward communication is the flow of information form lower level to higher levels in the organization.”
So, upward or “up-down” communication is the communication where there is undistorted communication from subordinates to upper management under any organizational climate. Communication messages or information flows through channels for employees of the organizational structure to the top of the organizational structure.
Differences between downward vs upward communication
Downward communication is the art of communication where information or messages flows from the upper levels of the organizational structure to the bottom of the organizational structure. On the other hand, upward communication is an upward communication process where information or messages flows from the lower-level staff(s) of the organizational structure to the top of the organizational structure. The differences between these two forms of communication are as follows:
- Direction: the communication flow varies for the two types of communication. In downward communication, its direction is top to bottom or superiors to subordinates whereas upward communication involves communication from employees to superiors.
- Nature: downward communication from managers to employees is directive in nature whereas upward flow of communication with superiors is participation-oriented.
- Subject matter: downward channels of communication involves giving order, instructions, advises etc. to subordinate. The upward type of communication on the other hand involves providing feedback, opinions, suggestions, requests etc. to direct managers and superiors.
- Purpose: downward communication mediums share employee-generated content such as goals, plans, procedures, orders, instructions, advice, etc. with subordinates for organizational performance. The upward workplace communication are geared to convey complain, feedback, opinions, suggestions, requests etc. to superiors at upper levels.
- Field of application: downward communication systems are used in autocratic and authoritarian situation. Upward communication skills are utilized in democratic and engaging situations.
- Distortion: the downward communication strategies offers little or no possibility of distortion of messages. The communication from non-managerial staff to officials at higher levels of authority has possibility of distortion of messages.
- Frequency: up-down communication occurs frequently used under organizational climate to perform organizational activities. However, down-up communication is not frequently used in business environment but promotes workplace trust.
- Uses: the downward forms of communication offer more uses in making business decisions, attainment of project tasks, etc. and even amongst traditional organizations. Whereas, upward communication is only intended to keep superiors and managers aware of progress.
- Flow: the “down-up” communication are communication efforts where information flows from higher level to lower level. However, in upward communication, communication in organisations moves from lower level to higher level (company leaders).