Communication structure in an organization
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Communication Structure in Organization | 4 Types & Practical Examples

When someone says “communication structure in organization,” what do you think of?

Communication pattern(s) and pathways in organizations like yours, right? 

I guess. 

Meanwhile, how people talk to each other in your company depends on many things. You talk about your company’s size, what the people there think is crucial, and your organizational objectives, among other things. 

Once a company’s communication pattern or structure is carefully determined, employees work better. Even as they get things done together. That only tells you the importance of communication in an organization

Read on till the end of this post because you’ll learn:-

  • Communication structure in organization
  • The factors that influence an organization’s communication structure
  • 4 types of organizational communication
  • 10 forms of communication at work

What’s The Communication Structure In Organization?

Communication structure in an organization refers to an organization’s communication structure and, of course, how messages, feedback, authority, and responsibility flow in a company. And that can either be from top to bottom or otherwise. 

In other words, people communicate in an organization in pretty different ways. One way is called formal communication. And can go down (from the boss to the workers), up (from the workers to the boss), and sideways (between coworkers). 

That said, there are a couple of other types of communication structures, which you shall learn in a moment. 

Types of Communication Structure

There are several types of communication structures used in organizations. Though each  of these ways has their pros and cons.

But as said earlier, your choice of these structures for your organization depends on your entity’s organization’s goals and objectives.

4 Types Of Organizational Communication

1. Vertical Communication

In this type of communication structure, employees at different levels in a company have a rapport with each other. It could be the bosses talking to the workers or the workers (subordinates) talking to their bosses. 

Often, vertical communication is more evident in functional organizational structure. That said, there are two kinds of vertical communication: formal and informal. Also, it can be upward or downward.      

As you know, formal communication is when people use official ways like email or meetings to talk. They might discuss crucial things like company rules and plans. 

On the other hand, informal communication is when people talk casually. Either through social media or phone calls. Here, employees might talk about (things like) ideas and how to work together better.

Vertical communication is essentially downward or upward

You say communication is downward when it flows from higher management to lower-level employees. Especially, when managers want to provide information to their subordinates. Often this information may be company policies, goals and objectives, instructions, and feedback.

Interestingly, the type of communication is evident in large and traditional corporations. And you may also call it Hierarchical communication.

Conversely, Upward Communication is a type of communication that flows from lower-level employees to higher management. And usually, employees use it to provide feedback, report progress, and share ideas, suggestions, and concerns. To their superiors. 

#2. Lateral or Horizontal Communication

First, you must recognize that in a company, there’s an organizational hierarchy. And that refers to the different levels of people in charge, such as bosses and managers.

In vertical communication, communication flows in that line of hierarchy. But in the case of lateral communication, people at the same level in the organization communicate with each other. 

The preeminent advantage of this type of communication is that it allows information sharing, easy coordination of activities, and problem-solving between departments or teams. 

For instance, in a work environment, horizontal communication occurs when two coworkers on the same team discuss a project they’re working on. In other words, it is safe to say effective lateral communication helps teams work together efficiently and achieve their goals.

#3. Diagonal Communication

Sometimes employees in a company need to talk to others who are not in the same department or level. And to achieve that, adopting the communication structure known as diagonal communication becomes paramount.

That way, workers can talk to people who might be in different parts of the company but still need to work together. In other words, diagonal communication helps a company’s employees share information and ideas from different departments.

You can always find this type of communication structure in a company with a matrix organizational structure

For example, if a company wants to make a new product, people from different departments might need to talk to each other to share their ideas and knowledge.

Based on that, they can develop new and creative solutions to problems because they’d often have different perspectives that can help the company grow and improve. Good examples of diagonal communication are cross-functional meetings and task forces.

#4. Circular Communication

In this type of communication structure, everyone in a team has a way that shows they all have an equal say. 

In other words, communication flows in a circle between team members. And that structure is best for smaller teams or organizations where working together is important. 

As a result, circular communication creates a sense of unity and collaboration within the team. 

So when you’re working in a circular communication structure, everyone gets to share their ideas and opinions. And that helps the team make better decisions and develop new and innovative solutions. 

Imagine a group of five people working on a crucial project, like making an ad for a new product. And make sure everyone has a say; the team adopted circular communication. 

Consequently, they take turns talking and listening to each other. And they write their ideas on a big board for all to see.

So as they work on the project, they keep talking to each other in a circle. Each person gets to share their ideas, and everyone gets to ask questions or give feedback. That way, they stay nice to each other, even if they don’t agree on a couple of things during the ideation process. 

Bonus Type Of Communication Structure 

  • Formal Communication

As its name implies, formal communication is an official communication structure that’s planned and follows strict rules. 

And in companies that adopt this organizational pattern of communication, messages flow from the boss to employees in a predetermined order. 

That said, some of the ways formal communication happens are through memos, reports, emails, and meetings. 

  • Informal Communication

Unlike formal communication, in informal communication, people talk to each other less formally. 

That’s because this kind of communication is not planned and can go in any direction. Examples are gossip or rumors (and grapevine). 

And since there are no rules to follow, it can spread quickly. Especially through talking or texting. So, it’s critical to be careful with what you say in informal communication because it can affect people’s feelings and relationships.

10 Forms of Communication at Work

You may be tempted to misconstrue forms of communication at work for types of communication structure in an organization. 

But they’re different. 

The forms of communication at a workplace refer to different ways employees communicate among themselves in a work setting. Which can be via email, phone calls, face-to-face conversations, and written documents. 

On the other hand, types of communication structure in an organization refer to the different ways that communication flows between a company’s staff. As we’ve considered above. Examples are upward, downward, lateral, diagonal, formal, and informal communication.

That said, there are many different methods people communicate in the workplace. But here are ten forms of communication commonly used:

1. Face-to-face communication

When people talk to each other in person, you can say they’re having face-to-face or one-on-one conversations. It can be formal, like a meeting, or informal, like a chat in the hallway.

2. Email

Another way people communicate with each other at work is through email. You can use emails for quick messages, longer reports, or sharing documents.

3. Phone calls

Phone calls are another method people communicate in the workplace. They can be used for quick questions or longer conversations.

4. Instant messaging

Instant messaging tools like Slack or Microsoft Teams are becoming more popular for real-time communication in the workplace.

5. Video conferencing

Today we have video conferencing tools like Zoom or Skype used to conduct meetings or have face-to-face conversations with people not in the same location.

6. Memos

Again, memos are a formal way of communicating important information or instructions. They are often used to communicate company policies or procedures.

7. Reports

You can use reports, a written form of communication, to summarize information or data.

8. Presentations

In different types of work environment, you can use presentations to share information with a larger group of people. Interestingly, they can be in person or virtual.

9. Newsletters

Other methods of communication at work are Newsletters. They are a way to communicate with a larger group (of people) about company news or updates.

10. Social media

While social media has its pros and cons, it’s a business tool that companies in the corporate world cannot afford not to leverage.

No wonder some companies use social media to communicate with employees or customers. And this can include company blogs, Twitter, or Facebook pages.


Final Thought 

Now you know what an organization’s communication structure is and the different types of organizational communication.

Also, you’ve learned the difference between types of communication structures in an organization and the forms of communication at work. 

That said, do not forget that there are several factors that determine the communication structure in an organization. And they include a company’s size, organizational structure, business goals, organizational culture and technological infrastructure.


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